Fall Arts 2017: Comedy

Trevor Noah is coming to town! And Peaches Christ takes on the 1993 Halloween comedy Hocus Pocus with queens from RuPaul's Drag Race.

Jen Kirkman
Sept. 6, Cobb’s Comedy Club, cobbscomedy.com

The Boston-raised Jen Kirkman has a lot to say. So far, she’s shared it on venues like Chelsea Lately, and in two books, several specials, and her podcast, I Seem Fun. As likely to focus on the minor details of a Morrissey album as the ugly reality of our political landscape, Kirkman’s take-no-prisoners approach to her craft has made her a fixture on the L.A. comedy scene and a veteran of the national club circuit. Active on Twitter and ready to obliterate any heckler foolish enough to challenge her, Kirkman should have plenty of ammo when she hits Cobb’s in September.

Jim Gaffigan
Sept. 17, Shoreline Amphitheatre, livenation.com

How does Jim Gaffigan do it? While often mentioned in the same breath as other industry heavyweights like Louis C.K. and Dave Chappelle as one of the best in the business, Gaffigan has somehow managed to build an arsenal of legitimately hysterical material that is safe for all ages. Often drawing on the challenges of being a father of five children, eating too much, and the exquisite joys of laziness, Gaffigan (and his creative partner, wife Jeannie Gaffigan) has found a way to make suburban woes into universal laughs. Clearly, the public agrees. Otherwise, why would Gaffigan be at Shoreline, of all places? In this case, the trek down south is worth it. Just be prepared to hit McDonald’s on the way home.

Nathan Fielder
Oct. 2, Palace of Fine Arts, ticketmaster.com

People love to lob Andy Kauffman comparisons around every time a new comedian on the scene works outside the mold. With Nathan Fielder, the connection is more than deserved. Appearing to preview the fourth season of his brilliant pseudo-reality show, Nathan For You, Fielder will hopefully be just as painfully awkward on stage as he is on screen. It is the latter where, for three seasons, he has tried to “help” small businesses with insane ideas like a fecal matter flavored frozen yogurt or an all-weather jacket made to promote Holocaust awareness. Acutely talented at finding the humor that comes from pushing the cringe-factor to its zenith, Fielder’s warped brilliance is not often available for in-person consumption, making this show a must-see.

John Mulaney
Oct. 4 and 5, Davies Symphony Hall, ticketmaster.com

Having finally scraped off the old-man makeup he wore alongside Nick Kroll during the Broadway run of their two-man show, Oh Hello, John Mulaney is back on the stand-up circuit. After making a name for himself as a writer on Saturday Night Live — where he was the co-creator of Bill Hader’s beloved character, Stefan — Mulaney plays two nights at Davies with a new batch of shaggy-dog stories and peculiar observations that are subtly sharp and painfully funny. Following his special, The Comeback Kid, Mulaney has become quite the hot ticket. So despite the large venue, don’t wait too long to spend an evening with the guy who once played “What’s New, Pussycat?” on the jukebox until an entire diner lost its collective mind.

“Hocum Pokem” with Peaches Christ, Jinkx Monsoon, and Ginger Minj
Oct. 7, The Castro Theatre, store.peacheschrist.com

As she has done countless times before, local drag legend Peaches Christ is making the movies fun again. This time, there’s a Halloween theme to the madness, as Peaches and RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Jinkx Monsoon and Ginger Minj revamp 1993’s Hocus Pocus. Playing the trio of witchy sisters — originally Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy — the tricks are quite likely to outpace the treats when these three queens unite to form a most unholy coven. As Peaches Christ Productions continues to keep the true spirit of San Francisco alive, join them for an exorcism of a Disney classic that will surely raise your spirits.

Trevor Noah
Nov. 20, 24, and 25, The Masonic, sfmasonic.com

Apparently, hosting The Daily Show during one of the most insane years of political turmoil in memory and writing an acclaimed memoir isn’t enough for Trevor Noah. That’s why he’s hitting the Masonic for five shows in November. The South African-born comic has long possessed a gift for finding humor in seemingly somber moments, mining episodes like his upbringing during the fall of Apartheid for laughs that punch up rather than exploit. Hs 2016 autobiography, Born a Crime, shows how Noah is a fiercely intelligent and inspiring voice — one who’s even better in the uncensored confines of the stage.

Check out more from our Fall Arts 2017 Guide:

From the LED artist who lit up the Salesforce Tower to the collision of Rodin and Klimt, it’s going to be a busy fall.

We’re waiting to see what Hillary Clinton reveals in “What Happened,” but Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Eugenides and Matt Taibbi are high on our list, too.

Film and Film Festivals
A Salinger biopic, an adaptation of Stephen King’s creepiest clown, and the return of “Art House Theater Day.” Time to huddle in a darkened cinema!

No Treasure Island Music festival this year, sadly, but there’s a ton of excellent acts swinging through town this fall.

A relative dearth of powerhouse musicals about the Founding Fathers this season means that Bay Area theater has room to breathe again.

24-Decade Party People: Taylor Mac Hit S.F.
Performed in four six-hour segments, Mac’s drag-splosion, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, will be the defining event of the fall.


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