Comedy festivals like to bring in hotshots with long resumes to kick off their runs, and the San Francisco Improv Festival is no different, bringing in … Emo Phillips. We put that ellipsis in there because, well, shit … it's Emo Phillips. The man was huge in the ´80s, a cross between Pee-Wee Herman, a slinky looking for a fix, and a shy, goth ferret, and he was ruthlessly weird, delivering Stephen Wright[en]like one-liners with maximum affectation. But what you might not know about the stand-up (in the event that you can recall him at all) is that he's a wizard joke writer, even landing three zingers on GQ's all-time joke list of many years back. This isn't one of them, but it's one of his: “I ran three miles today. Finally, I said, 'Lady, keep your purse.”'
This weekend he'll sit in an imaginary boat with the troupe Bassprov, improvising lines that, if we know our bass fisherman, will be about the country going to hell and waitresses. The festival then continues for six more weeks, featuring national groups along with locals such as Oui Be Negroes, Storytellers Unplugged, Revolving Madness, 4 in 1, and Un-Scripted Theater.
Phillips and Bassprov perform with 3 for All at 8 p.m. (the show runs June 14-16) at Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton (at Webster), S.F. Admission is $20; call 863-1076 or visit www.sfimprovfestival.com. The SFIF continues through July 28. —Michael Leaverton