Comedy

Harmon's way

Dan Harmon charts his own course through the comedy universe

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Dan Harmon, performing at this year's SF Sketchfest, is on the phone, talking about therapy. He's explaining his belief that a person can find a mental illness for anything they can name, with some fetishistic examples. "There are people out there who like to be walked on," the creator and former show runner of NBC's Community says. "There's people who like to eat human fecal matter. There's people who want to have sex with kites."Read more »

All kinds of work and one play

SF Sketchfest's yearly gamut of comedy formats includes a remounting of 1998's off-off-color hit, 'SEX a.k.a. Wieners and Boobs'

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He likes to talk: extended Dan Harmon interview

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Note: don't miss Ryan Prendiville's article on SF Sketchfest's Harmontown event in tomorrow's paper.

"I like to talk," Dan Harmon said at the end of our Harmontown phone interview, while I was apologizing for going over the scheduled time. "And then everyone goes 'I'm sorry, I love this but you know this is a 50-word piece next to the weather.' I get, I get it." Given that, post-Community, Harmon co-created a series for Cartoon Network, successfully crowd sourced an animated Charlie Kaufman film, pitched a Harmontown spin-off Dungeons & Dragons web series, and written pilots for Fox and CBS, there were a lot of topics to cover. Here's an extended Q&A for the Harmonites.

San Francisco Bay Guardian With the options you have now with the internet and cable channels like Cartoon Network, why go back to network TV?

Dan Harmon That's easy. Because nobody gets offered those opportunities, and although the networks are losing out to an increasingly fragmented media, you can still reach more people with a CBS sitcom in a half hour than with other things in a few weeks.

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W. Kamau Bell plays the Fillmore, but doesn't hold back for the home crowd

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A word of advice to the person who shouted, “who’s your favorite clothing designer?,” at W. Kamau Bell during his December 9th show at the Fillmore: a guy who wears a "Legalize Arizona" t-shirt during a night he considers one of the biggest moments of his career probably doesn’t give a shit about fashion. (Initially befuddled by the question, Bell eventually responded "Dickies.") In addition, to the person who asked Bell whether or not he thought was a whore for being on TV, if he is a one ... well you paid for your ticket to the show, right?

Glad we could get that out of the way first. Read more »

W. Kamau Bell returns triumphant to the Bay, needs burrito

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Attention burrito vendors of the Mission, there is a sale to be made at the arrivals gate of SFO this weekend when newly-minted TV star W. Kamau Bell makes his triumphant return to the city in which he spent 15 years honing his comedic chops. He is aching for a Mission burrito like this city is aching for a more efficient MUNI system.

Culinary yearnings aside, this Sunday Bell headlines a standup show at the Fillmore as part of his “Kamau Mau Uprising” tour. The tour's moniker should come as no surprise to those who are familiar with Bell's politically progressive, acerbic wit. Read more »

GOLDIES 2012: PianoFight

A multi-faceted, multi-armed organization of sketch comedy, original drama, new play festivals, and comedy-horror-ballet about ducks

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GOLDIES A PianoFight show can be almost as striking for its audience as for what the company puts onstage, even if few audiences will upstage a machine that blows ducks out of people's butts, per Duck Lake. PianoFight crowds are conspicuously not your typical theatergoers — they're closer to the boisterous women in office attire I noticed at the now-defunct Off-Market Theater, PianoFight's old haunt, who had smuggled in a bottle of Chardonnay and were picnicking in a back row like it was Baker Beach. Read more »

Damn, that's crazy: Frankie Quinones' TV debut on Nickelodeon

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W. Kamau Bell's recent success notwithstanding, when it comes to Bay comics, we love Frankie Quinones as our stand-up ambassador. His shows -- including a packed-to-the-brim gig a few we attended months ago in the cozy basement space of Bossa Nova -- are where you want to go to watch the grown-and-sexy of the Bay Area crack. Up.Read more »

Oh no they didn't! Hilarious horror stories at Mortified

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Why is it that I like myself most when looking back on my years as a college freshman, drunkenly spooning peanut butter into my mouth amid the squalor of my dirty kitchen? Why is it that I appreciate a boyfriend most when I see his elementary school photos and realize he used to look like a well-fed lizard in glasses?

I'm going to wager that it isn't my own affinity for the less-than-socially acceptable and is actually a testament to the fact that humans often love that which is most, well, human. And humanity has the tendency to do some painfully embarrassing stuff.
 
This is the concept that drives Mortified, a collection of short readings and performances of the sometimes brilliant, sometimes artistic, sometimes sad, and always humiliating personal musings its performers created as children and teens. The brainchild of creators and producers Dave Nadelberg and Neil Katcher, Mortified has a constantly changing cast, mainly consisting of adults who have, fortunately, left most of their adolescent angst behind — but still have plenty of stories to tell about it.

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Chuckle connection: The Bay's most diverse comedic line-up goes on tour

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There's no question that a childhood spent growing up Ethiopian in Haight-Ashbury made fertile ground in which to grow a stand-up career. That's where Yanye Abeba is coming from. Abeba is performing in Kung Pao Kosher Comedy's second Color of Funny comedy tour on Thu/21 and Fri/22. Her schtick will be part of a unique line-up -- and afterall, how many other people can pull on the interactions between their first generation African father and the homeless kids on Haight Street for their funny? Read more »

The Performant: Strangelove

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“City of Lost Souls” at ATA, and “Awkward Dinner Party” at the EXIT Theatre, subverted the Valentine spirit.

Talk about a hot mess. The florid, fluid, City of Lost Souls (1983), Rosa von Praunheim’s seldom-screened, "transgendered ex-pat food-fight sex-circus musical extravaganza" begins with a motley cast of unapologetic misfits sweeping up a trashed-out Berlin burger joint, the “Hamburger Königin” (Burger Queen). Shimmying on the counter, falling out of her lingerie, punk rock’s first transwoman cult darling, Jayne County, belts out “The Burger Queen Blues” while her fellow wage slaves, Loretta (Lorraine Muthke), Gary (Gary Miller), and Joaquin (Joaquin La Habana) gyrate suggestively across the linoleum until the boss-lady, Angie Stardust (as herself), a regal, “old school” transsexual wrapped in an enormous fur coat, curtails their goofy antics with a whistle and megaphone.

In stern German she orders them back to work—preparing for the next round of abusive food fights, which characterize the “service” at her uniquely unappetizing restaurant. A Theatre of the Ridiculous-style foray into the secret lives of gender outlaw ex-pats in flirty, dirty Berlin, “Lost Souls” isn’t your typical romance—but it’s a love story all the same.

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