A Nerd’s Guide To Sketchfest 2018

by Dakin Hardwick on January 8, 2018

It’s that time of year when the best possible three weeks of comedy programing take over Bay Area theaters, art spaces, and nightclubs: SF Sketchfest! There is so much good stuff happening that it’s impossible to make heads or tails of where to go when. Well, I’ve been studying the schedule in great detail for the last several weeks, and since I am of impeccable taste, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt what the best things are to do each day of the event.

Of course, you can always disagree with me. You can just make your own schedule then! Tickets to everything are on sale right now!

Thursday, January 11th

Judge John Hodgman

The great John Hodgman, with bailiff Jesse Thorn, brings in real people having real live disputes and settles them both in front of an audience and on the radio. Well, in podcast form. This may not be a legit court, but you will see actual conflict resolution before your very eyes.

For: Law Nerds, Conflict Resolution Nerds

Friday, January 12th

An SF Sketchfest Tribute to Dick Cavett: 50th Anniversary of the Dick Cavett Show

You probably have no idea who Dick Cavett is. If you do, chances are that I’d like to be friends with you. And, looking at the guests on this show (John Hodgman, Dave Hill, and Lance Bangs), well, I’d like to be friends with all of them too. (I think Lance Bangs is friends with my friend Clare, so we are close!) To give you a very brief history lesson, he’s the man who pioneered “late night talk show as political commentary.” So, really, without Dick Cavett, we probably wouldn’t have Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, or any of the current late night talk shows running today. And, obviously, he’s probably got some stuff to say about this modern world, so it’s gonna be a good one.

For: TV History Nerds, Politics Nerds

Saturday, January 13th

An SF Sketchfest Tribute to Twin Peaks
The Music of Twin Peaks

What?!?! Two Twin Peaks themed events, neither of them happening in the actual neighborhood of Twin Peaks?!?! How absurd! It’s almost as absurd as having a tribute to a murder mystery series as part of a comedy festival. Of course, there is an “Audrey Dance Contest” at the music event, so everyone can live their dream of being Sherilyn Fenn.

For: Murder Nerds, 90’s Nerds, TV History Nerds

Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher

Ever want to learn what it’s like to see a married couple where both members do the same work, and one is slightly more famous than the other, but both are really good? Well this is your night! And the show is at the Swedish American Hall, which is one of the most intimate rooms these two comics have played in years.

For: Standup Comedy Nerds

Sunday, January 14th

Rocko’s Modern Life 25th Anniversary: Rocko’s Modern Sketchfest

Dear god … Rocko’s Modern Life premiered 25 years ago? HOW OLD ARE WE NOW?!?! Well, the centerpiece of the golden age of Nickelodeon is getting a tribute at Sketchfest, complete with a script read by the original creators and voices, Q&A, and even an opportunity to make those collectibles left over from the ‘90s slightly more eBay friendly by getting them signed!

For: TV Nerds, ‘90s Nerds, Animation Nerds

Tuesday, January 16th

Sara Schaefer: Little White Box

Sara Schafer is one of those folks who, although you may not know what she looks like, you’ll at least know her work. She’s probably least famous for her work on the amazing website Reductress, but she’s also written for Amy Schumer, Jimmy Fallon, and Who Wants to Be a Millionare?! Tonight she’s doing a one-woman show that I know nothing about, but her resumee is so good that I can’t expect anything other than brilliance!

For: Not really any type of “nerd.” I just expect it to be good.

Thursday, January 18th

The Music of Rushmore
The Music of the Royal Tenenbaums

Tonight at the Chapel we have two sets of complete performances of two different Wes Anderson film soundtracks. This isn’t, however, just a simple cover band show. We have just about the greatest Bay Area superband, fronted by folk rock legend Peter Asher and featuring Thao Nguyen, Bart Davenport, and members of Dirty Ghosts, American Music Club, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Dance Hall Crashers, Flamin’ Groovies, Cibo Matto, Wax Idols, Cake, and more. We have 50 years of music history taking the stage tonight, playing some of the greatest songs of the pop music songbook.

For: Music Nerds. Serious Music Nerds. Rob Gordon will mock you for not going to this show

Friday, January 19th

When Puppets Are Your Only Friends

Puppeteering is an underrated and underappreciated art form. Tonight we get the Bay Area debut of the popular LA puppet variety show, “When Puppets Are Your Only Friends,” and we can only hope that your attendance means more puppets will come to the Bay!

For: Puppet Nerds

With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus

For those who saw this the last time it came to down, at 2015’s Treasure Island Music Festival, you’ll recall something so funny, you were in tears. I know I was. The premise: Lauren Lapkus is the special guest for somebody else’s show. And she doesn’t know what’s happening until she gets to the stage and finds out what her collaborators created for her.

For: Improv Nerds

Saturday, January 20th

Rock Solid With Pat Francis and Special Guest Rick Springfield

Rick Springfield is a fascinating character. He was a soap star and a one-hit wonder. This means he’s perfectly suited to be the butt of many jokes. This also means he’s got to have a pretty thick skin. So a comedy podcast where you discuss a musician’s career? Springfield is either going to kill or be killed here.

For: Music Nerds, Pop Culture Nerds

“Jawbreaker”: The Peaches Christ Experience

Nope. This isn’t a drag tribute to the recently reunited ‘90s pop punk band. This is a night where tribute is being paid to one of the greatest bad movies of all time. The spunk and energy of this film is like no other, and the soundtrack was about 5 years ahead of its time, a perfect encapsulation of the indie and garage movements coming up just around the corner.

For: Pop Culture Nerds

Sunday, January 21st

I Think I’d Be Good at That

It’s a pretty straightforward show: five comedians coach a non-comedian, and then the non-comedian has to do a set. Definitely looks like the scariest possible night you can have!

For: Nerds Willing to Try Anything

Tuesday, January 23rd

SF Sketchfest Tribute to Ricky Gervais, in Conversation With Christopher Guest

Ricky Gervais is a comedy legend across the pond. His wit is sharp and biting, and I truly love that he is so committed to social welfare that he actually takes pride in paying taxes. (I seriously love this about him and agree with him wholeheartedly) Sketchfest is paying tribute to his body of work with a live, in person conversation with a man that might be a BIGGER legend than Gervais, the great Christopher Guest.

For: Anglophiles aka British Stuff Nerds, Socialism Nerds, Improv Nerds

Thursday, January 25th

Audible’s Wish List

This event will likely be remembered as the most boring name in all of Sketchfest. Even the description sounds pretty dull: An evening of short sets by up and coming comedians. Yawn. BUT THEY BOOKED REALLY GOOD COMICS! Seriously. For a mere 15 bucks, you get to see Brett Erickson, Al-Jazeera’s Francesca Fiorentini, Julia Hladkowicz, Bob Rubin, Taylor Williamson, Nick Youssef, and, my favorite Bay Area comic, the great Natasha Muse. And, Doc’s Lab is the original site of the Purple Onion, one of the great historic North Beach comedy clubs!

For: Underground Comedy Nerds

Friday, January 26th

Hold On With Eugene Mirman

Hold On, on the surface, is a simple interview show. Go deeper, and you’ll see that it’s the most combative interview show ever, constantly questioning all stories the interviewee tells. The guests tonight include popular actress Paget Brewster, writer/actor/person who does everything and you didn’t even know it Thomas Lennon, and former SNL and 30 Rock writer Paula Bell. I’m kind of guessing she has the best stories of all these folks after decades in the biz.

For: Conspiracy Theory Nerds

Sasheer Zamata Party Time!

Sasheer Zamata helped usher in the current, newly awakened and politically aware, Saturday Night Live. She has since left the show, and without a major television network involved in what she’s doing, I expect tonight’s show to be especially relevant and honest. We have both musicians and comics playing tonight, including the aforementioned Thao Nguyen, DJ Donwill of Tanya Morgan, Solomon Georgio, and Brooke Van Poppelen.

For: Political Nerds, Music Nerds

Saturday, January 27th – Sunday, January 28th

Kevin McDonald’s Improv and Sketch Workshop

This is a once-in-a-lifetime shot to spend two full days working with the great Kevin McDonald of Kids in the Hall fame. Sure, it’s not cheap ($300), but you’ll be learning from one of the best improv and sketch performers of all time.

For: Improv Nerds, Sketch Nerds, Canadian Comedy Nerds

Saturday, January 27th

Soundtracks Live: Scenes and Songs From a Classic 80’s Film

Here’s the deal: A live cast is performing a classic film from the ‘80s, including the music. However, for legal reasons, you won’t know what movie it is until the day of the show. I think that should sell this well enough, right?

For: Nostalgia Nerds

Since we don’t know what movie they are doing, here’s David Hasselhoff:

Sunday, January 28th

Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra

Back in the Bay Area for the fifth time in three years, Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra is one of the strangest things to become very, very popular. There are basically two shows happening at once here. We have an evening of classic pop tunes performed by a big band with Jeff Goldblum on piano and a rotating cast of singers. We also have Jeff Goldblum hosting classic film trivia with the audience. Both shows are super fun, and you get both in one night! A WIN!

For: Nostalgia Nerds, Film Nerds


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