January and February are typically slower months in San Francisco in regards to events and fun things to do, however the is one silver lining to the post-holiday lull. SF Sketchfest, which takes place in January and February every year brings the joy of comedy to the Bay Area.
Founded by Janet Varney, David Owen and Cole Stratton, three actors/comedians who met while attending SF State, the group created the comedy festival based on the fact that it was hard to find a lot of good outlets for live comedy in San Francisco. As they tried to further their careers, it was difficult to find stages to perform on, so they decided to do something about it. Now, fast forward almost 30 years later, the trio has brought a whole lot of comedy to San Francisco.
The festival is not just a bunch of sketch comedy in tiny clubs, it is really a celebration of everything in the genre, including Improv, Sketch Comedy, Group Performers, Television Reunions, Movie Tributes and more. The schedule is filled with a huge variety of great activities and performances, which truly has something for everyone.
The lineups over the years have included the top names in comedy including Carol Burnett, Margaret Cho, Rick Gervais, Jane Lynch, The Kids in the Hall, Patton Oswalt, Dana Carvey, Billy Crystal, Upright Citizens Brigade, Aziz Ansari, Fred Armisen, Robin Williams, Adam McKay, Rob Riggle, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Sudeikis, Tim Meadows, Conan O’Brien, Chris Hardwick, Zach Braff, Gary Shandling, Amy Poehler, Jordan Peele, Jon Heder, Andy Dick and, well, pretty much every comedian you can think of.
One of the coolest parts of the festival, in our opinion, are the movie and television reunions, which are typically followed by a roundtable discussion with members of the cast and sometimes a few unannounced surprises. For instance, in 2014, SF Sketchfest hosted a 10 year reunion screening of Napoleon Dynamite with writer and star of the movie, Jon Heder, appearing afterwards for a Q&A session. However, little did the crowd know that there was another surprise in store. Once the credits started rolling, Clive Harrington (The Lead Singer in the band “When in Rome”) came one stage and performed “The Promise” live (which happens to be the song playing during the ending credits of the movie. It’s the cool and unique attention to detail by the festival organizers that has built the festival into the success that it is today.