Laraine Newman

Photo by Heather Wilson

In the world of comedy, Laraine Newman is an industry legend. She’s been consistently working for over 40 years, starting as a member of the legendary first cast of Saturday Night Live, and branching out into dozens of roles in television, film and voice acting. She has an amazing amount of stories, and when I heard she was going to be doing a one-woman show as part of Sketchfest this year, I jumped at the chance to experience her live.

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A variety show on acid: Imperfect but fun documentary considers Saturday Night Live

The official movie poster for Bao Nguyen’s new documentary.

In 1975, a new variety show premiered on NBC that was unlike anything that had come before it; it was, according to Laraine Newman, one of the show’s original cast members, a cross between 60 Minutes and Monty Python. Despite its ups and downs, after 40 years on the air, Saturday Night Live (or SNL, as it’s more commonly known in the pop culture lexicon), shows no sign of slowing down, and continues to both reflect and influence American culture. Director Bao Nguyen’s new film, Live from New York!, which takes its title from the show’s opening introduction, explores the history and impact of the storied comedy program in a documentary that is both highly entertaining and slightly frustrating.

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The Music Edition.

The Music Edition.

This year, I seem to have been a little cursed when trying to get to a Sketchfest show at Marines Memorial Theatre. I had two events there this year, and both times, I couldn’t avoid being late. The first time, I missed most of the show due to insane traffic. This past weekend, I missed fifteen or twenty minutes because I had to make a choice: leave the day’s first event (The Benson Movie Interruption: “Twilight: New Moon,” something I looked forward to all year long) early, or take my chances with being late to event number two. I opted for the latter, rushing out in the rain to my car, across town, and to do my best to quickly find parking near the venue. Even so, I was late and there was nothing to be done about it except sit down, shut up, and enjoy the rest of the show. I’ve requested to review Celebrity Autobiography before: Rachel Dratch, Fred Willard, Florence Henderson, Pamela Adlon… Need I say more? [read the whole post]

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one-star

There is something about Yelp that inspires some of the finest creative writing out there today. I really enjoy reading pieces where the writer is in so much pain and frustration over the poor treatment they got at a commercial establishment, that they feel compelled to write a letter to the entire world about the demons that can be found in such a place. One Star with Thomas Lennon and Matt Mira is a show that pays loving tribute to those passionate writers. Until last night, those voices could only be heard if you stumbled across them on the web. Now, those voices can be heard by all.

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Florence Henderson in a sleeping in a nighty, while a dog eats pizza. Just one of the many things you will see live on stage at this year's Sketchfest.

Florence Henderson in a sleeping in a nighty, while a dog eats pizza. Just one of the many things you will see live on stage at this year’s Sketchfest.

Wouldn’t it be great if cloning was already a thing? So we could be at 8 places at once and not have to decide which Sketchfest events you are going to? Well, until science improves greatly, we are stuck with one body and being in one place at a time. Because of this trouble, I have taken the time to dissect the entire Sketchfest schedule and help you out by highlighting the best of the fest. A complete schedule and tickets can be purchased here. A lot of shows have already sold out, and more shows are selling out every day, so don’t forget to purchase in advance!

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This is a picture of Chris Hardwick. He's not related to me, but he will be in San Francisco for Sketchfest. I will be hitting him up for birthday money, anyways. Hopefully I can fool him.

To the uninitiated, San Francisco’s Sketchfest is probably the most overwhelming 2 1/2 weeks out of the entire year, in terms of live entertainment booking. Its closest cousin is probably Austin’s SXSW festival, where you have a wide array of up-and-coming talent mixed with veterans, all playing some very intimate spots.

As a person that considers himself to be an expert of sorts on taste, I am going to sift through this year’s line-up, and let you know what you should be going to at this year’s Sketchfest. I will guide you through which Emmy winners or CSI corpses (both of which are well represented by this event), in my humble opinion, is most worthy of your hard earned dollar.

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