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SF Sketchfest: Refried Sit-Coms Make Tasty Theater

San Francisco Sketchfest, the annual Bay Area comedy festival, doesn’t limit itself to showcasing local-grown talent. Nationally-known comedians, -- especially a brigade of Late Great comics (not dead, just no longer eligible for prime time) are here to answer the burning question, where are they now? In past years, celebrated but sorta superannuated icons such as Paul Ruebens, Gene Wilder and Jonathan (AKA Dr.)  Katz have all been showcased at the festival.

For the Eighth Annual SF Sketchfest, classic comics from the MTV sketch-comedy group The State will be reunited for the first time in years and Martin Mull and Fred Willard from the classic sit-coms "Fernwood 2Night" and "America 2Night" will perform in a special Fernwood Reunion.

Also, the very where are they now?-ey Laraine Newman will perform in “Totally Looped” (January 17,18), an improv act in which comedians ad-lib new lines over old film, television and commercial clips. Newman was an original (1976!) cast member of Saturday Night Live, for you whippersnappers.

But perhaps the reigning prince of oh, yea, whatever happened to him? is Bud Cort, who will be tributed and interviewed before a screening of Harold and Maude January 22 at the Castro.  Back in the day, Cort was called a “midnight movie poster boy” for his performance as Harold,  a gloom and doom near- necraphilic in the 1971 cult sensation. In past decades, he’s been more of a recluse, refusing to be typecast as weirdos and crazies.

This year a slew of other stars, including some very here they are now stars will also grace the sketchfest: Rachel Dratch, Rob Corddry and Rob Riggle from The Daily Show, Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Janeanne Garofalo, Robert Smigel (Saturday Night Live, TV Funhouse),  Tim and Eric, (Adult Swim) and Kate Flannery (The Office’s Meredith, the drunk).

If moviecals --   movies that morphed into Broadway musicals (Billy Elliot, Shrek) continue to successfully milk the source material (and movical movies more so -  Hairspray the movie, the musical and the movie of the musical), then Sketchfest offers a similar form of rehashed content –TV-as-theater.

TV-based performances include: The Hills: A Staged Reading (of transcripts of the MTV reality show,) a live version of the shows TV Funhouse and The State and other tele-spin-offs.

Of the festival's zillion shows, one sure fire winner is  “Celebrity Autobiography” a bi-coastal foray into found-comedy, as comics read earnestly from celebrity’s memoirs. The likes of Burt Reynolds, Ivana Trump,  Mr. T (he wrote an autobiography?) and Vanna White are some of the star-authors mercilessly monologued.