Once again, the holidays have arrived for early for comedy fans with today’s release of the initial lineup for the 19th annual San Francisco Sketchfest. Headlining next year’s festival is actor Tony Shalhoub (TV’s Monk), comedian Sandra Bernhard (The King of Comedy), and Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz of beloved pop outfit The Monkees.
All of the above — along with Busy Philipps, George Wallace, and more — will be the focus of live tribute events when Sketchfest returns from Jan. 9-26. The festival’s 2020 offerings also include the Bay Area premiere of Broadway’s Freestyle Love Supreme. Co-created by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show features a “crew of MCs, musicians and beatboxers take the audience on a freestyle, hip-hop, improvisational, never-before-seen comedy ride, all based off audience suggestions,” according to the press release. It is unclear if Miranda will take part in these performances.
Sketchfest will also fete a number of beloved films. Actresses Lesley Ann Warren and Colleen Camp will join director/co-writer Jonathan Lynn for a 35th anniversary screening of the cult classic Clue. Some may be shocked to learn that the Nickelodeon cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants has been around long enough to celebrate its 20th anniversary, but the occasion will be marked by a special event featuring appearances from voice actors Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, and more.
Back to the Future star Crispin Glover is scheduled to perform something entitled “Big Slide Show, Part 1” (your guess is as good as ours), present a 15th anniversary screening of What Is It?, and take audience questions.
A plethora of podcasts will also tape live episodes at Sketchfest 2020. Musicians Aimee Mann and Ted Leo will appear on behalf of their podcast, “The Art of Process.” Legendary improv performance and public television personality Chris Gethard will conduct a live installment of “Beautiful/Anonymous,” which finds the host speaking with a perfect stranger for up to an hour. Returning favorites include Jimmy Pardo’s fast-paced “Never Not Funny” and the food coma insights of “Doughboys” hosts Mike Mitchell and Nick Wiger.
Several shows will also focus on music, including a performance from You Can’t Call Me Al, comedian Jonah Ray’s Weird Al Yankovic cover band. Local collective Red Room Orchestra is scheduled to return to Sketchfest to tackle live renditions of the Boogie Nights soundtrack and the music of TV’s Twin Peaks in separate performances.
As usual, there are plenty of stand-up comedy shows to choose from as well. In addition to tributes focused on comics Brian Regan, Eugene Mirman, and Robert Klein are performances from Saturday Night Live’s Chris Redd, former Last Week Tonight with John Oliver writer Josh Gondelman, and “Three Swings” podcast host Rhea Butcher. Oakland native Moshe Kasher’s performance is also slated to serve as the release party for his new album, Crowd Surfing VOL: ONE.
For those looking to take their own comedy to the next level, workshops from The Kids in the Hall’s Kevin McDonald and Kevin Allison will address sketch comedy and storytelling respectively. Those with children will be delighted to learn that beloved Sketchfest mainstay “Story Pirates” will welcome comedian Patton Oswalt to their 2020 installment, while L.A. improv group The Groundlings will also offer a show aimed at young fans.
As always, there are a few shows that defy categorization. This year, they include comedians Anthony Atamanuik and James Adomian debating in character as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, respectively, as well as a staged reading of Ed Wood’s infamous “Plan 9 From Outer Space:” Sketchfest’s 2020 plans also include a number of interactive game shows, a curated selection of performances that originated at the Edinburgh International Festival, and numerous offerings dedicated to improv and sketch comedy.
Venues for the 19th annual Sketchfest include Alamo Drafthouse at the New Mission, the Castro Theatre, the Punch Line Comedy Club, Speechless, and Swedish American Hall. Tickets are scheduled to go on sale on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 10 a.m.