SF Sketchfest Review: Sasheer Zamata Party Time! at Cobb’s Comedy Club, 1/26/18

by Dakin Hardwick on February 1, 2018

Photo by Julie Schuchard

There are many unique things about SF Sketchfest, but one of the most interesting thing they do is book monthly and weekly shows that happen in other metropolises, and bring them to the Bay Area. Tonight we got to enjoy a special delivery from New York City: Sasheer Zamata Party Time!. This is a variety show hosted by SNL’s Sasheer Zamata. We got to enjoy comedians, musicians, and even “party games” played with the audience. I guess this is what you do at parties in New York? As somebody that loves taking in new cultures, I’m up to experience what they do in New York for fun.   

There was a strange beginning to the festivities… The house music went off, as did the house lights. And then, DJ Donwill, our evening’s DJ, came out, put on his headphones, and then proceeded to, um, stand there. It was probably only two minutes, but it felt like 10 in the audience (and, if I were in DJ Donwill’s shoes, I’d bet it felt like four hours). Then, a booming voice came in from nowhere, and it was… THE RULES FOR THE EVENING. It was exciting. Then he played a few songs to get the crowd going for the arrival of the host of the evening, Sasheer Zamata.

Zamata opened the show with a fantastic 20 minute set of stand up. If you were only familiar with her time on SNL, then you would be very ill prepared for her stand up. Her joke telling style is bubbly and high energy, which only hit the punchlines harder when covering some fairly dark material. She told anecdotes about race, including a scenario where she called the cops on a man masturbating in his car, only for the operator to ask if the person was “black or hispanic.” She also spent a great deal of time discussing how weird it is that people are disgusted to touch their own genitals, while it’s OK for other people to. She even spent a great amount of time discussing how she’s one of the biggest celebrities in the “foot fetish” community.

Solomon Georgio was the next featured comic. Today was my first time experiencing this comic, and he was bloody fantastic. He is an openly gay Somalian immigrant, which means he’s already had a rough run of life, which is great for telling jokes. The first thing out of his mouth was “I used to be gay, but since Trump took office, I’ve become ‘hardcore’ gay.” He is such a wit, and made some excellent observations as well about race. He called out straight guys on passive homophobia by asking “How much would you charge to give a blow job to a man?” The punchline, “Why would I pay a beginner so much for a blow job?” was punctuated nicely by putting his arms to the side of his mic stand, forcing an actual shadow of a penis on his chest.

The next comic was Brooke Van Popplen. She kept the energy up, and opened the show by informing us that she only just started wearing dresses on stage because she only felt safe dressing androgynous. This was something that I never even considered before… That simply looking feminine as a stand up comic can put you in danger. She then did about 15 minutes of storytelling humor that provoked a few chuckles. She told an excellent story of a “make-a-wish” kid asking to taser a cop. Which is an epic and wonderful thing!

Ahead of the musical guest, we were treated to a game called “Emotional Never Have I Ever.” Basically, everyone needed to stand up, and if you hadn’t done what Zamata said, then you sat down. Questions were things like, “Have you ever learned a major lesson from drugs?” or “Have you ever won an argument where you were definitely wrong?” The last one landed with me being the only one standing. Which prompted me to tell a story that I won’t repeat here out of my own safety. That being said, Zamata looked at me while I told the story, and it was one of the most beautiful and intense experiences of my life. I’ve never made eye contact with a more active listener, and if she ever decides to leave the comedy field, I’d pay top dollar to hire Zamata as my therapist.

The show closed with Thao Nguyen doing an all too short three-song set. She opened with a solo mandolin version of “Nobody Dies,” which included some serious mandolin shredding while dancing around the stage. Why Nguyen never appears on “best guitarists” lists is beyond me. While switching over to acoustic guitar, she said that “Stand up comedy must be the most terrifying thing on Earth.” Which is very, very true. She played two more songs: the classic “Fear & Convenience” from her fine 2008 album We Brave Bee Stings And All and “Age Of Convenience.” Her voice was in fine form, although she mocked the notion of an acoustic guitarist playing a “party.” In a perfect world, Thao Nguyen would be playing arenas.

Zamata thanked the crowd again, and ended the show by going into the crowd and giving everyone that wanted to some time to chat, and being one with the people. It was a lovely way to close out a wonderful night of entertainment. Hopefully we can get her to bring the show to SF way more often!

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