'Tis the season to wet yourself laughing
STAGE Ho there! You with the sad-face! Check out these whoop-whooping upcoming comedy events and turn that ;( onto a :) right quick.
It's no laughing matter. Twelve San Francisco improv teams will enter Kitchen Stadium — sorry, the Ninth Street Independent Film Center — but only one will rise to the top like clownin' Mario Batalis. Not only does the winner score the honor of beating less funny peers in front of a crowd (and G-list celebrity judges — the author of this article included), but he or she also gets a four-week run at the venue. We hear the art of improv involves never saying "no" — how you gonna turn down the cutthroat crazy of The Endgames?
Thursdays through Nov. 11, 9 p.m., $10
Ninth Street Independent Film Center
145 Ninth St., SF
It ain't easy being a woman in the stand-up biz. But you'll never know it watching the four women who will be onstage for this long-running (11 years!) annual lineup from Kung Pao Kosher Comedy. Kung Pao began as a haven for Jews on Christmas and has expanded into a year-round lineup of multicultural, multi-hilarious events. This year's Funny Girlz include Pakistani native Brit Shazia Mirza ("at least, that's what it says on my pilot's license," she quips); San Franciscan Clara Clayy; Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, one of India's rare female comedians; and Kung Pao founder Lisa Geduldig. Breaking boundaries, busting glass ceilings? Try being an intelligent, funny female stand-up. Unfortunately, that can be radical enough at times.
Weds/29, 8 p.m., $25
2781 27th St., SF
So your stash ran out, or you're detoxing, or you're done with the hallucinogenics, or whatever. Page back through your neatly stacked Guardian Best of the Bay issues and there it is: "Best Alternative to Psychedelic Drugs": comedian Will Franken. Shall we listen in on one of his absurdist rants? "Every 60 seconds in America, 60 seconds go by. For every one minute, there are 59 others just waiting to form an hour. By the time this sentence is over, I will have finished saying it." Franken is one of SF's glorious bizarros, spackling his acts with TV commercials that fold into dual-voiced skits that segue to celebrations of diversity ... for profit! Just don't freak when does his Antichrist voice.
Fri/1 and Sat/2 8 p.m., $20
The Purple Onion
140 Columbus, SF
Improv is a strange beast. Improv comedians find more thrill from throwing body and soul into the dark abyss of audience suggestion and happenstance genius than they do from conventional stand-up's hours in front of the mirror perfecting that ever-so-crucial eyebrow raise or purposefully awkward arm movement. But from the abyss, great rewards they reap. No company in San Francisco has learned this lesson more effectively than BATS Improv, which has been entertaining Bay Area audiences since 1986. This week's offering? "Warp Speed" is an all-improvised take on Star Trek – no Kirk, no Spock but a flurry of new characters made up on the spot, as well as, we're sure, some seriously kooky props and alien situations.
Fri/1 8 p.m., $17–$20
B350 Fort Mason Center, SF
It's a tricky line, but one Kristen Schaal walks well: that fissure between cute and psycho. She's gone and perfected the odd balance on TV's "Flight of the Conchords" as Mel, the persistent stalker of the eponymous New Zealand folk-humor duo. But standup comedy is where she got her start and laid the groundwork for her nerdy suave. Her sets vary between dark and light — she wants to tell you about her dream! Her sex dream. Featuring Winston Churchill. (The sex wasn't great.)
Thurs/7–Sun/10 8 p.m., $17.50–$20.50
Cobb's Comedy Club
915 Columbus, SF
It may not be the first comedy mélange devoted to our hilarious homos — Assemblymember Tom Ammiano's Valencia Rose Cabaret flounced off with that title in the 1980s — but the four-day Out Loud fest may be the brightest and most focused yet. Shall we lead with the high-wattage names? Castro Theatre will be packed for "An Evening with Sandra Bernhard," whose Nancy Bartlett on Roseanne was the first recurring lesbian character on American TV. Film snark Frank Decaro from The Daily Show will also be out and about, sassing up a corner of The Lookout interviewing his fellow festivators and performing with a swath of TV feys at the Swedish-American Music Hall for an evening called "Rooftops and Bottoms." But you don't gotta be on TV to kick it. Local drag cutup Sasha Soprano has rousted six of the finest becoiffed and becoming spotlight stars for Saturday's "The Drag Queens of Comedy" at the Castro Theater. How exactly will their shtick be different from the rest of the shows on our fall highlights list? We asked one of the night's main acts, Miss Coco Peru, a classy redhead who has kept New York City audiences enthralled since the early 1990s with monologues that switch between the weighty and the witty. "Well, it takes us all a lot longer to get ready," she said. Oh, and you don't heckle a drag queen — unless you think a stiletto to the sacrum will straighten out your kinks down there.
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