The 19th Annual SF Sketchfest Comedy Festival will be taking place January 9-26, 2020, featuring top comedic talent performing in various venues across San Francisco. SF Sketchfest offers fans the rare opportunity to see their favorite performers in intimate live performances, discussions and immersive comedy experiences. Audiences can expect another outstanding year of programming and fun as SF Sketchfest will host major comedy stars and the best up-and-coming acts from around the world for non-stop entertainment including sketch, stand-up, alternative comedy, music, improv, films, tributes, live podcasts, storytelling, family shows, workshops, panels and more. SF Sketchfest is excited to welcome iHeartRadio as the first-ever venue sponsor for the festival’s longtime home base the Gateway Theatre, presenting a series of podcasts and performances. The iHeartPodcast Network is home to more than 750 original podcasts that span every category from business and technology to comedy and true crime – and everything in between – making iHeartRadio the largest publisher of podcast content in the world with more than 157 million downloads each month.
SF Sketchfest will also present, in association with Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jenny and Jon Steingart, and Jill Furman, the Bay Area premiere of the hit Broadway sensation Freestyle Love Supreme. Created by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Anthony Veneziale, Freestyle Love Supreme lands in the Bay Area fresh from its critically acclaimed run on Broadway. Every performance, the 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.
The 2020 SF Sketchfest features live in-person Tributes to some of the most influential names in entertainment. Four time Emmy Award winner Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Monk”) will sit down with “Maisel” co-star and friend Kevin Pollak for a conversation and a 20th anniversary screening of the beloved film “Galaxy Quest.” Acclaimed actress Busy Philipps (“Freaks and Geeks,” “Cougar Town,” “Busy Tonight”) will be fêted by her friends in the comedy world with an onstage tribute and conversation. Legendary pop group and television icons The Monkees will be celebrated with an onstage conversation with Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz. Multifaceted actor, publisher, filmmaker and author Crispin Hellion Glover (“River’s Edge,” “Back to the Future”) will perform his Big Slide Show, Part 1, present a 15th anniversary screening of his film “What is it?” and take audience questions.
Several of the America’s top stand-up comedians of the past, present and future will be honored with onstage Tribute conversations celebrating their unique careers. Performer, singer, actress and author Sandra Bernhard, a pioneer of the one-woman show, will discuss her work and present a special screening of Martin Scorsese‘s classic film “The King of Comedy,” for which she was awarded Best Supporting Actress by the National Society of Film Critics. Stand-up comedy icon George Wallace, known for his many “Tonight Show” and “Late Night” appearances, will sit down for a chat with fellow comic Patton Oswalt. The legendary Robert Klein, the stage and screen star known as the first comedian to have a stand-up special on HBO, will be in conversation. Beloved “Saturday Night Live” star Kevin Nealon, known for his work in sketch comedy, stand-up and film, will discuss his hilarious take on comedy and life. Dubbed “your favorite comedian’s favorite comedian” by Entertainment Weekly, Brian Regan will sit down for an in-depth and hilarious Q&A about his life and work. Beloved by his peers and fans alike, comedian Eugene Mirman will chat with and be celebrated by his friends, including Michael Ian Black, Jon Glaser, Bobcat Goldthwait, Kristen Schaal and Sarah Vowell following the Bay Area premiere screening of “It Started as a Joke,” a feature documentary that chronicles the decade-long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival. The film celebrates Eugene’s unique brand of humor and his role in the alternative comedy movement. The festival also presents a special salute to the groundbreaking public access cult favorites The Chris Gethard Show with an evening of conversation and weird clips.
SF Sketchfest will screen iconic comedy feature films with in-person appearances by stars and filmmakers. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will celebrate its 45th anniversary with actors Barry Bostwick, Nell Campbell, Patricia Quinn and hostess Peaches Christ. “Airplane!” turns 40 with actor Robert Hays and filmmakers Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker. “Clue” turns 35 with actors Lesley Ann Warren, Colleen Camp and filmmaker Jonathan Lynn. Actor Macaulay Culkin will host his Bunny Ears Podcast with guest Thomas Lennon after a 30th anniversary screening of “Uncle Buck.” “Metropolitan” turns 30 and “Barcelona” turns 25, with filmmaker Whit Stillman joined by actors Tushka Bergen, Chris Eigeman, Carolyn Farina and Taylor Nichols. The year 1985 was a big year in cinema, as the festival celebrates the 35th anniversary of three wildly different films: “The Journey of Natty Gann” with actors Meredith Salenger and Ray Wise in conversation with Patton Oswalt, “Just One of the Guys” with an onstage chat with actors Joyce Hyser and Sherilyn Fenn, and “Re-Animator” with star Jeffrey Combs in conversation with Dana Gould.
SF Sketchfest celebrates the best in television comedy with the world premiere of Netflix Original Series “Medical Police” with stars Rob Huebel, Erinn Hayes, Sarayu Blue, and creators David Wain, Jonathan Stern and Krister Johnson; a 20th anniversary celebration of the Nickelodeon hit “SpongeBob SquarePants” with Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Carolyn Lawrence and Rodger Bumpass and producers Marc Ceccarelli and Vincent Waller; plus special panels spotlighting shows including Netflix’s “Archibald’s Next Big Thing” with Tony Hale; Adult Swim’s “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell” with Chris “Casper” Kelly, Eddie Pepitone, Craig Rowin, Matthew Servito, Dana Snyder, Dave Willis and Henry Zebrowski; Freeform’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay” with Josh Thomas; “Futurama” Live; a 25th anniversary of “Pinky and the Brain” with Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen; and an afternoon with the cast and creators of Cartoon Network’s “We Bare Bears.” The centennial of the late great Ernie Kovacs will be celebrated with a screening and panel with Edie Adams‘ son Josh Mills and comedians Dave Foley, Dana Gould and Wayne Federman.
Musical highlights include a special comedy and guitar-focused residency at The Chapel with Fred Armisen, who will be joined by guests including country music sensation Brad Paisley, jazz luminary Bill Frisell, and Prince and the Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin. Other music shows include Jonah Ray and his “Weird Al” cover band You Can’t Call Me Al; Bill Frisell’s HARMONY; Wheels Off with Rhett Miller; and two shows with local ensemble The Red Room Orchestra, one recreating the soundtrack of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “Boogie Nights,” the other a concert celebrating the 30th anniversary of two David Lynch projects, “Wild at Heart” and “Twin Peaks” with an all-star band under the direction of bandleader Marc Capelle, with special guests Margaret Cho, Sherilyn Fenn, Ray Wise, and more.
Returning festival favorites include Maria Bamford in an opening night show at the Castro Theatre; iHeartRadio’s hit podcast Stuff You Should Know; Judge John Hodgman; the Upright Citizens Brigade ASSSSCAT with Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh; The Thrilling Adventure Hour in a special immersive comedy experience presented with Boxcar Theatre at the 1920s-set Palace Theater; the Benson Movie Interruption, where comedian Doug Benson and friends will watch and make jokes while watching “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw;” Riffapalooza with former “Mystery Science Theater 3000” stars Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, Mary Jo Pehl & Jonah Ray; a special night of comedy featuring Paul F. Tompkins and more at the California Academy of Sciences; Celebrity Autobiography, celebrating its 12th consecutive year at SF Sketchfest with Scott Adsit, Rachel Dratch, Laraine Newman and more; the return of Dana Gould‘s staged reading adaptation of the Ed Wood cult classic “Plan 9 From Outer Space” with Paget Brewster, Jeffrey Combs, Bill Corbett, Dave Foley, Kevin Murphy, Jonah Ray, Eban Schletter, Paul F. Tompkins, Janet Varney and more; and Fake TED Talks with Jonathan Coulton, Jean Grae, Paul & Storm and Adam Savage. Four members of the legendary comedy troupe and festival favorites The Kids in the Hall, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson, will each perform in separate solo projects.
Improv shows include Naked Babies with John Ross Bowie, Rob Corddry, Brian Huskey & Seth Morris; The Improvised Shakespeare Company; members of The Groundlings; The Astronomy Club; The Black Version; Facebook Improv; Theme Park Improv and a live Trump vs. Bernie Debate featuring comedians Anthony Atamanuik and James Adomian. The craft of sketch comedy is represented by The Birthday Boys; Kasper Hauser; Killing My Lobster; The Valleyfolk; The Chris & Paul Show, and more.
As part of the festival’s partnership with iHeartRadio, the Gateway Theatre will feature its original series Alchemy This with Kevin Pollak, The Bechdel Cast, Behind the Bastards, Couples’ Therapy with Naomi Ekperigin & Andy Beckermann and The Daily Zeitgeist live on stage. Audiences can attend many other live recordings of popular podcasts including Doughboys; Dumb People Town with The Sklar Bros. & Daniel Van Kirk; Endless Honeymoon with Natasha Leggero & Moshe Kasher; Why Won’t You Date Me? with Nicole Byer; The Margaret Cho Podcast; Superego; RISK!; The Art of Process with Aimee Mann & Ted Leo; Never Thought I’d Say This with Jodie Sweetin & Celia Behar; Never Not Funny; The Patdown Podcast with Ms. Pat; The Three Questions with Andy Richter; Womp It Up with Lennon Parham & Jessica St. Clair; Voyage to the Stars with Steve Berg, Colton Dunn, Felicia Day, Kirsten Vangsness & Janet Varney, and dozens more.
The art of stand-up is well represented with performances by “Saturday Night Live” star Chris Redd, plus Nico Santos, Rhea Butcher, Jon Glaser, Beth Stelling, Michael Ian Black, Bobcat Goldthwait, Eliza Skinner, Adam Conover, Brooks Wheelan, Todd Barry, an album release show by Moshe Kasher, and variety shows such as Asian AF, Desi Comedy Fest, Filipino AF and Women Crush Wednesdays with Marcella Arguello.
The SF Sketchfest Dozen, the annual festival spotlight on twelve buzzworthy stand-up comedians, this year features Byron Bowers, Kelsey Cook, Jena Friedman, Vanessa Gonzalez, Phil Hanley, Dina Hashem, Yassir Lester, Atsuko Okatsuka, Samantha Ruddy, Tom Thakkar, Whitmer Thomas, and Ahamed Weinberg.
SF Sketchfest’s Edinburgh International Spotlight is back this year with shows including last year’s smash hit play Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist; plus solo performances by Josie Long, Tiff Stevenson, Seann Walsh, Myq Kaplan, Jena Friedman, Tom Lenk, Camilla Cleese, Jamie Loftus, and more.
The diverse programming of the festival is reflected with family shows with Story Pirates featuring special guest Patton Oswalt and The Children’s Show with the cast of The Groundlings, along with the aforementioned “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Journey of Natty Gann,” “Pinky and the Brain,” “We Bare Bears,” and more.
A week after the festival ends, SF Sketchfest is pleased to co-present, with Broadway SF, Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live: The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour with original host and creator Joel Hodgson at the Golden Gate Theatre on January 31-February 1, 2020.