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In Attendance at SF Sketchfest: Doug Benson, Chris Gethard and "Purple Rain"

February 13, 2014  |  11:15am
In Attendance at SF Sketchfest: Doug Benson, Chris Gethard and "Purple Rain"

After 18 days of comedy shows, SF Sketchfest has come to an end. From sketch comedy to improv group performances to podcast recordings to reunions of classic cult movies, it more than satisfied us enough until next year’s festival. I wish I could have gone to every single show, but that would have been impossible, of course, unless I had the power of multiplicity. Unfortunately, I am not Michael Keaton. For me, the festival ended just as well as it started: with magic, wonder, a whole lotta vampires, weird Olympic games and “Purple Rain.”

The Only Way to Watch a Twilight Movie

America’s stoner sweetheart and movie lover Doug Benson continues his quest to do a “Benson Interruption” of every Twilight movie. Actually, it’s not really a quest; it was due to popular demand. His interruption of the first Twilight was such a hit at last year’s Sketchfest that he continued this year with the second installment, New Moon. Joining him to skewer the movie of teen vampire angst was Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Thomas Lennon and Chris Hardwick, a fine lineup of funny gentlemen. Benson took a quick evaluation of the audience, seeing who had seen the movie and who hadn’t. Surprisingly, there were more people in the audience who haven’t seen the movie, Hardwick being one of them.

After a good round of snarking on the movie’s unnecessary 130-minute run time, the guys noticed an eight-year-old in the audience. In their own special way, they probably made whoever brought the child to the screening question their decision. They jokingly apologized for what the little boy was about to be subjected to and throughout the movie they made sure to point out every sexual innuendo to the boy. It was a special moment that every child should experience.

They touched on the best things in the movie: Kristen Stewart’s acting abilities, Robert Pattinson’s flat face, Taylor Lautner’s abs, the pregnant pauses, the fact that the movie is one long Ambien commercial and, best of all, the wild amount of bad wigs. In the end, they made me realize how bad this movie really was. That said, I cannot wait till next year’s interruption of Eclipse.

The Sochi Olympics Alternative

During the live staging of The Chris Gethard Show, the show’s namesake jokingly asked, “Why the fuck do people like watching this show?!” Well, to be honest, it is absurdly entertaining and funny as hell. If you’re a fan of Gethard’s popular public access show, you would have loved this live staging of the show. If you are not familiar with his show, you’d probably have a bunch of “WTF” clouds floating above your head the entire time—but you still would have laughed your ass off.

From its low-budget props to its quirky in-house band, the LLC, the show really does feel like a public access show. It’s essentially part talk show, part improv show, part variety show with a bunch of recurring characters. The live staging at Sketchfest wasn’t any different.

In honor of the Sochi Olympics, Gethard put on his own Olympics with different versions of sports that you would see at the winter games. The way the games were played were simple: three people in the audience were chosen and they picked someone from the cast of Chris Gethard Show characters to represent them in a sport. The roster of favorites was impressive: the Human Fish, the Hintman, the Audience Member with a Sleeping Baby, Olympian Connor Ratliff, Vacation Jason, Messenger Bag, Bee, Murf and Shannon O’Neill.

The alternative Winter Olympic events were quite exciting. The luge was replaced by crowd surfing and figure skating was replaced by an event where a blindfolded person performed graceful motions of skating while people hit them with tubes of wrapping paper. Then there was the curling event, which involved one team member putting as many curlers in their other teammate’s hair while they swept.

When the smoke cleared, there was a tie between two of the audience members. The tie was broken by an arm wrestling match between the Human Fish and an drunk audience member who managed to get involved in the show. In the end, the drunk audience member won.

I just hope his new Comedy Central show will be as magical as this.

Soaked in “Purple Rain”

On the last night of the festival, it happened to be raining in San Francisco…inside and out. But the indoor rain was all purple courtesy of Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum. Their Prince cover band, Princess, brought the house down at last year’s Sketchfest, and they did it again this year. Backed by a band dressed in eccentric Prince & The Revolution-style garb (which included ruffles, pearl necklaces, some skin and lace gloves), the duo performed some of the Great Purple One’s songs.

You have to be a hardcore Prince fan to be familiar with the full collection of songs they performed. They played a couple of songs from Purple Rain, but they like to dig deep into the catalog in order to quench the thirst of loyal fans. In addition to songs from Controversy, 1999 and Graffiti Bridge, they do some popular b-sides like “17 Days.” But my personal fav is “Darling Nikki.” Complete with the warped and weird outro, it has become a good closer for their shows.

Whether or not you know the songs, Rudolph and Lieberum put on one hell of a show that paid homage to Prince’s hey day when he was making music that was simultaneously innovative and nasty. With songs like “Head,” “Jack U Off” and “The Beautiful Ones,” these two fine gals give his music the celebration it deserves…and they do it damn well.

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