Holidays and Beyond: Comedy

How bad do you want to see Bill Murray? He's coming this Friday to the Masonic.

Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends
Dec. 8, The Masonic,
Fans know a chance to see the brilliant and enigmatic Bill Murray doesn’t come often. Teaming up with renowned cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Mira Wang, and pianist Vanessa Perez, Murray presents a program that “showcases the core of the American values in literature and music.” At a performance earlier this year at Festival Napa Valley, Murray recited passages from Mark Twain, sang a few ditties from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, and later handed out roses to members of the crowd. It boggles the mind why anyone wouldn’t do everything they can to bask, even momentarily, in Murray’s infectious magic.

Maria Bamford
Dec. 17, Palace of Fine Arts,
Maria Bamford is, simply put, one of the best stand-up comics working today. Drawing heavily from her own struggles with mental illness, Bamford’s material is both deeply personal and brilliantly funny. Her knack for voices — be it a stuck-up Gap employee or her well-meaning but misguided mother — is second to none, and the way she infuses difficult topics with empathy and laughs galore is truly something to behold. It’s hard to imagine another comic who could have successfully pulled off taping a major comedy special performed in her parents’ living room with only her mother and father as an audience.

Greg Proops
Dec. 28-31, Punch Line,
Greg Proops is a San Francisco treasure. Sure, he may call L.A. home these days, but the Bay Area will always be the place where he first made a name for himself as a hyper-intelligent, bitter wordsmith. Be it the latest woes of the San Francisco Giants or the death of an obscure but notable jazz musician, give Proops a topic and stand back. Behind those ubiquitous black glasses is one of the brightest comedians in the business — or, as the title of his podcast proclaims, “The Smartest Man in the World.” Making his annual New Year’s Eve run at The Punch Line, Proops is an ideal choice for anyone who prefers zingers to fireworks.

San Francisco Sketchfest
Jan. 11-28, multiple venues,
A mere paragraph could never begin to encompass the staggering array of comedy being offered at this year’s San Francisco Sketchfest. One of the finest comedy festivals on the planet, Sketchfest is home to live podcast tapings, movie tributes, surreal sketch troupes, game shows, concerts, and much, much more. A few of the numerous highlights for the 2018 edition include a tribute to Jane Lynch, a cast reunion celebrating the 40th anniversary of Animal House, stand-up from Janeane Garofalo, and an evening honoring television legend Dick Cavett. Whoever you are, whatever you’re into, there is something at Sketchfest for you.

Ricky Gervais
Jan. 24-25, The Masonic,
It may not take a lot to offend celebrities, but The Office creator Ricky Gervais took things to a whole new level as a four-time host of the Golden Globes. He is also known for his work in film and television, and has anchored a number of popular podcasts. With the world nearing dumpster-fire levels of unraveling, the moment for Gervais to hit San Francisco for two evenings seems ideal. While the easily offended are advised to steer clear, most folks will enjoy the truth that underscores Gervais’ poisonous barbs and daring one-liners. Not one to appear on tour in the U.S. very often, this is a rare chance to see Gervais live in all his wicked glory.

The Roast of Heklina
Feb. 17, Castro Theatre,
Heklina is San Francisco drag royalty, perhaps best known as the co-owner of Oasis nightclub and for playing Dorothy Zbornak in the city’s best holiday tradition, The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes. Now, after booking them at her club for years, the time has finally come for Heklina to have her wig snatched by some of drag’s biggest stars. Scheduled to roast the ever-loving shit out of her are San Francisco’s own Peaches Christ and Sister Roma, as well as RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Jinx Monsoon, Katya Zamolodchikova, and Detox. Julie Brown will also get some digs in, and Jackie Beat will emcee the whole ordeal. There are not enough cocktails in the world to get you ready for this historical evening of mayhem, mascara, and mirth.

Check out more from our Holidays and Beyond issue here:

At the Midway, Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Year
Breakfast of Champions rings in 2018 at the Dogpatch venue with increasingly big artistic ambitions.

Holidays and Beyond: Art
From a retrospective on hip-hop style to an investigation into Hitchcock’s Vertigo, the season’s exhibits cover virtually everything.

Holidays and Beyond: Books
A new novel by Dave Eggers, essays by Zadie Smith, and Denis Johnson’s posthumous short-story collection.

Holidays and Beyond: Film
Star Wars, Madeline L’Engle, and Daniel Day-Lewis’ last role. It’s so much more than Paddington 2.

Holidays and Beyond: Music
St. Vincent is coming! St. Vincent is coming!

Holidays and Beyond: Theater
From the Golden Girls (in drag) to Harold Pinter to Marga Gomez’s newest comic masterpiece, it’s a season of the highbrow and the lowbrow (but never the middlebrow).

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