Acts to See at Sketchfest 2017

Do not even think about Netflixing-and-chilling between Jan. 12-29.

Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant (Courtesy of SF Sketchfest)

Hide your bongs and put the child lock on the TV — San Francisco Sketchfest is now 16 years old!

Like all children, Sketchfest has grown rapidly since beginning as a small gathering of sketch groups in 2001. It’s now a three-week bonanza of A-list talent and the best performers from every facet of comedy. While many of us may remember our teenage years as an unending series of awkward moments and painful self-reflection, it wasn’t entirely bad. Take, for instance, the time-honored tradition of yearbook superlatives, that misguided attempt to prognosticate what your peers were “Most Likely” to do. Given that we fancy ourselves a bit more qualified than the dweebs on the yearbook staff — disclaimer: that was totally us, too — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to honor Sketchfest’s 16th year, superlative-style.

Most Likely to TEACH You Something

Stuff You Should Know
Sunday, Jan. 15, 1 p.m., Castro Theatre, $22

Who thought education could be funny? That’s the formula that has won critical acclaim for Stuff You Should Know, the award-winning podcast hosted by Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark, since 2008. Whether the guys are giving the story of the Donner Party or exploring the intricacies of the Witness Protection Program, every episode is a mini-course in something fascinating.

Most Likely to Fight the Patriarchy

Reductress Live
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 8 p.m., Punch Line Comedy Club, $20

Like The Onion, Reductress has made a name for itself with hysterically funny satirical news written from a female perspective. The brand now boasts a podcast (Mouth Time) and book (How to Win at Feminism). This special live edition features Nicole Calasich, Faith Choyce, Luna Malbroux, Irene Tu, Kate Willet, and host Samantha Ruddy.

Best Way to Pretend You’re in Brooklyn

Night Train With Wyatt Cenac
Friday, Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Cobb’s Comedy Club, $30

Take a trip to the East Coast with former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac as he brings his weekly Brooklyn stand-up showcase to Sketchfest. The 7:30 p.m. installment includes guests Steve Agee, Marina Franklin, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Claudia O’Doherty, while the 10:30 p.m. show has Joel Kim Booster, Joyelle Nicole Johnson, Natasha Muse, and Seaton Smith. Both performances also feature the musical stylings of DJ Donwill.

Best Exit Strategy

Pop My Culture
Sunday, Jan. 15, 4 p.m., Eureka Theatre, $20

Since 2010, Pop My Culture has featured a steady stream of choice guests and biting commentary on our tabloid-obsessed world. Hosted by Sketchfest co-founder Cole Stratton and Groundlings alum Vanessa Ragland, the show is ending with one final hurrah. How better to bid adieu than with the triumvirate of Paul F. Tompkins (Bajillion Dollar Propertie$), Rhett Miller (Old 97’s), and Samm Levine (Freaks & Geeks)?

Most Likely to Seduce Velociraptors

Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra
Saturday, Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Swedish American Hall, $50

If you don’t know what to expect from a show that features Jeff Goldblum, that’s OK. He doesn’t, either. This largely improvised evening finds Goldblum behind a piano, where songs, conversation, audience Q&A, and more is on the table. Embrace your weird side and get down with a man who can tame dinosaurs with his bare chest.

Most Weirdly Wonderful

SF Sketchfest Tribute to Comedy Bang Bang
Saturday, Jan. 21, 1 p.m., Marines Memorial Theater, $35

While the podcast of the same name lives on, Scott Aukerman’s brilliantly surreal Comedy Bang Bang television series on IFC aired its final episode in December. Featuring an unparalleled mix of guests, characters, and bizarre scenarios, the show ended after five seasons. Thankfully, Sketchfest is bringing Aukerman back together with one-time bandleaders Reggie Watts and “Weird” Al Yankovic, along with writers Dave Ferguson, Mike Hanford, Neil Campbell, and Tim Kalpakis for a conversation moderated by Mad TV’s Phil LaMarr.

Most Entertaining Book Club

Wild Horses Improv
Sunday, Jan. 29, 4 p.m., Eureka Theatre, $22

The Wild Horses (Stephanie Allynne, Mary Holland, Erin Whitehead, and Lauren Lapkus) like to begin their long-form improvs in the form of a book club or meeting. From there, things tend to get insane and hilarious quite quickly. While Lapkus won’t be present for this installment, the Horses have recruited the immense talents of Tig Notaro to help fill the void. Gallop — don’t walk — to this one!

Least Likely to Leave Texas

King of the Hill 20th Anniversary Reunion
Thursday, Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m., Marines Memorial Theatre, $35

Forever in the shadow of big brother The Simpsons, King of the Hill was an underrated masterpiece of suburban life in Arlen, Texas, during its 13-season run on FOX. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of its debut, creator (and voice of Hank Hill) Mike Judge is joined by Kathy Najimy (Peggy Hill), Pamela Adlon (Bobby Hill), Stephen Root (Bill Dauterive), Toby Huss (Khan Souphanousinphone Sr.), Johnny Hardwick (Dale Gribble) and David Herman (Buckley) for an evening of conversation and a live reading of an episode. R.I.P., Brittany Murphy, but go Longhorns!

Class Clown

The Benson Movie Interruption: Fifty Shades of Grey
Sunday, Jan. 15, 4:20 p.m., Castro Theatre, $20

Comedian Doug Benson’s love of film is perhaps second only to his love of pot. (Note the start time on this one.) For years, he’s brought special guests like Patton Oswalt and Zach Galifianakis to sit in the front row of the Castro Theatre with him and live-riff awful films. Having already burned through the entire Twilight Saga film series, this time the target will be the — ahem — painful S&M romance Fifty Shades of Grey.

Best Reality Check

Rhea Butcher
Saturday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., Punch Line Comedy Club, $22

Rhea Butcher’s comedy isn’t inherently angry or highly politicized by default, but one should be ready for the accomplished stand-up and Take My Wife co-star to get real when she hits the Punch Line stage. Along with her wife, comic Cameron Esposito, Butcher is the host of popular Put Your Hands Together podcast, where their inspired banter draws equally from daily life and society’s biggest flaws. Butcher’s sets at Sketchfest are not to be missed.

Most Likely to Trigger Nostalgia

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy Live Staged Reading
Saturday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m., Castro Theatre, $45

While hard to imagine, it’s been 20 years since the Kids in the Hall’s groundbreaking television sketch series signed off. Now, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson will reunite for a live reading of their lone feature film, 1996’s Brain Candy. Given that these guys could live read the phonebook and it would likely be amazing, this is one of the crown jewels of Sketchfest’s 2017 schedule.

Best Party

SF Sketchfest Tribute to Fred Willard
Sunday, Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m., Marines Memorial Theater, $35

Fred Willard brings the party. A treasure of film and television, he’s stolen the show for decades with roles in Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, WALL-E, and Modern Family. It’s only fitting then that Willard will be feted by the likes of Christopher Guest, Robert Klein, and Laraine Newman in an event moderated by actor Kevin Pollak.

Class Presidents

Zamata & Byer
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2 p.m., Swedish American Hall, $25

With her work on Saturday Night Live, Sasheer Zamata has quickly proved to be one of Lorne Michaels’ smartest hires in recent years. Joining her for an afternoon of improv is Nicole Beyer, who stars in MTV’s Girl Code and was recently seen on Maria Bamford’s brilliant Lady Dynamite series on Netflix. Paired with the sketch group Sadie Hawkins Day, this event is a showcase of the best of comedy’s future (and present).

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