Go Do This: Big Names Come Out For Sketchfest
SF Sketchfest has so many big stars it’s like Love Boat went to Fantasy Island but wrecked at the Comedy Central Roast of Andy Dick. And in its 14th year, the annual comedy showcase has escaped small, sketchy stages and is hosting swank events at the California Academy of Sciences (with the Groundlings and Peaches Christ), the Marines Memorial Theater (John Hodgman, Maria Bamford), Mezzanine (Maya Rudolph’s Prince cover band Princess) and naturally, the Castro Theatre (Penn & Teller).
That’s just scratching the surface of the classy-sounding big-name events. Luckily for the plebs, there are also plenty of big-name Sketchfest events that do not sound very classy at all! Let’s take a look at the highlights and lowbrows.
“Weird Al” Yankovic: (Fri. Feb. 6) In 2014, “Weird Al” had the No. 1 album in America for the first time in his 39-year recording career. The accordion maestro follows this up with an SF Sketchfest tribute appearance moderated by @Midnight host Chris Hardwick and with the musical stylings of Hard ‘n Phirm and Garfunkel & Oates.
RiffTrax Night of the Shorts 5: (Thu. Feb. 5) The RiffTrax.com gang brings their vault of awful educational and scientific films to the Castro Theatre screen, and adds special guest riffers John Hodgman, Mythbuster Adam Savage, Todd Barry from Louie and more.
Christopher Lloyd with a 30th Anniversary Screening of Back to the Future: (Fri. Feb. 6) With Back to the Future 2-depicted year 2015 now playing in reality everywhere, what better time to join “Doc Brown” himself for a live Q&A (“What’s the only power source capable of generating 1.21 gigawatts of electricity?”) and a screening of the original 1985 Back to the Future.Christopher Guest Michael McKean & Harry Shearer: (Sat. Jan. 31) Mythbuster Adam Savage holds court as moderator while the three improv movie impresarios wax over the on-set antics from Best in Show, This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffmann, and A Mighty Wind.
Maya Rudolph’s Prince cover band Princess plays Purple Rain: (Sun. Feb. 8) Timelier than Morris Day, more darling than Nikki, and more shocking than Chaka Khan, Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum are the comedian Prince proteges your teenage years so richly deserved. The duo closes SF Sketchfest at Mezzanine with its new Prince cover band Princess, playing a Purple Rain homage set 2 U, 4 U and with U.
An all-star cast of TV show and movie tributes: Lots of original casts reunite onstage to pay tribute to that one show or movie you really like! “Futurama: Still Canceled” (Jan. 30) recreates the show live onstage with all the original voices, while “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Taking Over SF Sketchfest” (Jan. 31) serves as an intellectual analysis of that show’s clips, place in history and performer anecdotes. Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) boasts an appropriately repetitive title, and Better Off Dead: 30th Anniversary Live Read brings together much of the original cast with famous stand-ins Jon Heder and Kevin Pollak.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the many brilliant local acts highlighted in SF Sketchfest. Bawdy Storytelling brings its dirty mouth to the Verdi club (Jan. 31) with Nerdist’s Sex Nerd Sandra, sexpot standup Kate Willett, and sexy ukelele chanteuse Rachel Lark.
SF Sketchfest runs through Feb. 8, check SFSketchfest.com for showtimes and details. Take your bartender, tip the veal, and try my wife, please.