What to See at Sketchfest


It's been a great first week at SF Sketchfest, marred only by the cancellation of the Conan O'Brien tribute that was scheduled for Sunday. (O'Brien asked to cancel his appearance due to the Tonight Show brouhaha that will have him leaving NBC, but promised to reschedule for a later date; if you had tickets, hold on to 'em.) The second and third weeks of the festival (Thursday, January 21 through Tuesday, February 2) are going to feature some heavy hitters, the best of which we're previewing below. Tickets for a lot of the Sketchfest shows are going fast, and sold-out status forced us to leave out some great events. All of the events below were still available at posting time, but may sell out in the next few days, so be sure to grab your tickets at Sketchfest's website before they're gone forever.

"Weird Al" Yankovic: Call us nerds if you want to, but we're really fond of "Weird Al" Yankovic. The guy has consistently found ways to reinvent himself over 25 years, gently but vividly mocking everyone from Michael Jackson to Coolio to Don McLean with aplomb. He's also responsible for UHF, one of our favorite weird cult movies of all time. (The Wheel of Fish segment is a particular favorite.) He'll be doing two events on Saturday: a sit-down conversation about his work with Chris Hardwick in the afternoon, followed by a midnight screening of UHF, where he'll talk before the film. Saturday, January 23. Chat: 2 pm at Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus Ave., North Beach. Admission is $20. Film: 12 am at the Clay Theater, 2261 Fillmore St., Pacific Heights. Admission is $12.

The Dave Hill Explosion: Comedian Dave Hill hosts this live chat show, at which he "talks, reads, sings, dances, shows a short film or two, and just sort of touches hearts in general," according to his publicity write-up. Even more alluring than Hill, however, is his delightfully odd pair of special guests: talk-show legend Dick Cavett and Violent Femmes singer Gordon Gano. It's not too often that one can brag about seeing both of those guys in the same place. Tuesday, January 26, 8 pm, at Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus Ave., North Beach. Admission is $25.

Invite Them Up: Eugene Mirman and Bobby Tisdale's New York comedy show Invite Them Up was so beloved, it eventually merited its own live album. Now, the two hosts, along with several top comedians, are doing a one-night-only SF edition. Guests include Greg Behrendt of He's Just Not That Into You fame, Brendon Small, the creator of Home Movies and Metalocalypse, and the hilarious Maria Bamford, whose Black Friday ads for Target made our entire Thanksgiving weekend. We'd invite this group up anytime. Friday, January 29, 8 or 10:30 pm, at Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus Ave., North Beach. Admission is $25.

John Hodgman: Regular 7x7 readers will remember that John Hodgman did a very funny interview with us a few months back. It's no surprise, then, that Sketchfest is giving him their Comedy Writing Award. Hodgman, who started his writing career with the "Ask a Former Professional Literary Agent" column for McSweeney's, will talk with Dave Eggers about his meteoric rise to the title of Famous Minor Television Personality. Can't catch Hodgman on Saturday? He'll be the guest "wine expert" for the Red Wine Boys (Todd Barry and H. Jon Benjamin) the next evening, alongside musical guests Mates of State. Chat: Saturday, January 30, 2 pm, at Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus Ave., North Beach. Admission is $25. Red Wine Boys: Sunday, January 31, 9 pm, at Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St., SOMA. Admission is $25; 21 and up only.

Cinematic Titanic: If you had a sense of humor and a pulse during the 90's, you've probably seen at least one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the iconic parody show in which one man and two robots shot down some of the worst films ever made. The MST3K team has since split into two groups: Rifftrax primarily does commentaries meant to overlay current films, while Cinematic Titanic has stuck with their B-movie roots. The lineup (and their former MST3K roles): Joel Hodgson (Joel, the show's first host), Trace Beaulieu (the evil Dr. Forrester and the original Crow T. Robot), Frank Conniff (TV's Frank), Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester), and J. Elvis Weinstein (the original Tom Servo). The victim: Danger on Tiki Island, a film about vicious mutant plants in the South Pacific. Tuesday, February 2, 7 pm, at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro St., Castro. Admission is $25.