SF Sketchfest: Proops, Pepitone, Peretti — and (Surprise!) Robin Williams — Master Set List

The concept of Set List is simple. Yet to most comedians (even the most seasoned) the idea represents a yawning hell's mouth of the purest terror. Set List requires that each comic take the stage without any prepared material. Each is given a list of five or six topics. Using each of those topics in succession, the comic must improvise a 15-minute set.

On Friday night at Cobb's, SF Sketchfest hosted an edition of Set List featuring seven well-established comedians (plus one surprise addition) who, despite professions of discomfort and anxiety, made mostly effortless magic out of the show's daunting challenge.

Bay Area native and podcaster supreme Greg Proops (he of Whose Line is it Anyway?) worked through his set sketch-style, improvising multi-character scenarios for several of his topics, which included “Crucifixion Backstage Pass” and “Lost Shakespeare Play.” Watching Proops tackle the latter was jaw-dropping. Here was a man speaking in plausible Elizabethan English and making it funny at the same time. I had never seen anyone improvise Shakespeare before — or even thought it was an option.

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