Put Your Hands Together turned out to be the perfect start to my 2016 Sketchfest experience. It was a room full of friendly people and a lot of great stand up comedy. I had become a fan of the hosts, Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher after seeing them at You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes last year and was excited to get the chance to see them again. Now I am so happy I did.
Put Your Hands Together is a weekly stand up show and podcast, usually Tuesday nights at UCB in LA. It is hosted by Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher and to me seems like the new Meltdown (two comics host, short sets by other comics while hosts do short sets between each). The audience was definitely there to see Esposito, so everyone else had a bit of a battle to get them on their side, but for the most part they were able to.
The show started with Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher talking about the holidays, their recent marriage, and their dads. It was all funny but pretty conversational. Esposito let us know that they had performed and taught at Stanford the night before and got to put her name on the wall between Slash and Spike Lee. It was definitely fun but the audience wasn’t fully warmed up when it was time for the first comedian.
Howard Kremer was up first and his set felt like an uphill climb to get the room on his side. He started off with some material that felt improvised or like something new he was working out and it didn’t go over as well as I’m sure he hoped. He went back to more practiced material which was good, but by then it just felt like people weren’t in the mood to give him a chance.
After his set Rhea Butcher came out and did a solo set with the rough job of warming everyone up again. She started off with more conversational material, but when that got a lukewarm response (we wouldn’t even cheer for having a good Christmas) she went to her known killer jokes and the room warmed up real fast.
After that Joe DeRosa came out and proceeded to really kill it right away. He started with a long rant about what assholes people are for going through a period of Star Wars/George Lucas hate. It was funny and original and really worked. He did his more practiced bits after that but ran out of time and had the audience vote for his closing bit. Jizz Test won, which was a surprise for me, and I think DeRosa since his one joke that didn’t kill was about a blow job. But Jizz Test was great and went over really well, so the audience was feeling really good when Cameron Esposito came out for her solo set.
Her set was definitely more off the cuff and pretty quickly went into a rant about how we should respect Hillary Clinton no matter who we support for President (agreed sister). It got a little rough after that because it was just surprising to see her that angry, but we all recovered and enjoyed the rest of her set.
Then she brought out Todd Barry and he proceeded to lay waste to everyone else. He was so polished and wonderful and read the room perfectly. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone navigate a weird San Francisco room that well and he did it with a completely natural quiet grace. He really made a fan out of me, and I think everyone there.
Then the show sadly came to an end with Esposito and Butcher together again. They apologized for the missing Scott Thompson, who couldn’t do the show because of food poisoning, then they called it a night. I was sad to go home but at least happy to have seen so many great performances and totally energized for the eight more shows I have to look forward to in the next three weeks.
Viva la SF Sketchfest!