Choosing your SF Sketchfest sherpa is a statement. Sweet and emphatic. Stodgy and direct. Trendy and analytical. These individuals look at the daunting deluge of comedy excellence and attempt to steer towards you and your shared preferences. Some are successful in inspiring a deeper look, an expanded consciousness or at least a reflective gauge. A few give scope to top-heavy line-ups. And others lament at the diverging, gravitational enormity.
San Francisco Sketchfest is a guide within itself. The events are carefully curated and crafted over months (if not standing on years of work and prestige). Every year is a varied cornucopia of comedy’s many disciplines and disciples. The 200-something show celebration seems like a manifestation or manifesto inspired by quirky, reference-heavy debates on ASpecialThing forums. Or that it could be from the incoherent rambles of a sleepy comedy nerd murmuring their dream line-ups. “I wanna see Bill Nye and Zasheer Samata and the cast of this television show that only lasted one season. I want my kid to see improv in the afternoon and I want to party with The Fly!” Go home, comedy nerd. You’re drunk. Alas, Sketchfest is real; the most concentrated, critically acclaimed show business San Francisco can handle. You already know what you want the moment the schedule drops in November. Or do you?
The entertainment titan that sells itself still warrants a ton of press coverage, of which favors “the guide”. They are people who gorge media and regurgitate previews and reviews, raise praise and lead cheers. Sketchfest is everything. But seeing everything is expensive and impossible. And shows sell out quick. And the miles between the Financial and the Mission districts (and parking woes) deal a whirlwind night a challenging blow. Guides see the flat circle from their past Sketchfests, hear the approaching footsteps, read tea leaves and know art and entertainment like they are adopted parents.
So, with all that in mind, and a third of Sketchfest finished and those suggestions made moot, here’s what the guides are saying (and what that say about you).
San Francisco Magazine’s “Four can’t-miss acts coming to SF Sketchfest.“
What you’d read in a fancy hotel lobby waiting for your more accomplished to come down for dinner. The four events make you say “Oh hey, I’ve heard of them.” Barely. Your friend asks you what you’re reading and you reply, “something about Sketchfest.” They don’t know what that is.
Rally’s “The Best of SF Sketchfest 2017“
This is an Eventbrite-backed roundup spiritually akin to Buzzfeed listicles. Quick takes, pics and ticket links. The guide pairs well with groups, benefiting from fun celebs or novelty. You begrudgingly respect how good and balanced it is. There’s a vested interest, some of the tickets are directly available through Eventbrite. But, since you’re “in the know”, and fux with the Rally app, and you have some money to blow, and comedy is really just the first bar, and there’s really no reason to go out besides boozing, you share one of the events with your “squad” Slack group.
The Mercury News “SF Sketchfest 2017: Don’t miss these shows“
This is what you read after scanning the Times and the Journal during your second cup of coffee. Feels good to support the local press. Paying for three newspapers sounds like a lot but newspapers need your money, especially in these times. This guide features that good, honest, to-the-point copy. The day, time and price are listed clearly and you know what you’re getting into. “Hey, there’s some quality acts,” you think to yourself, like San Francisco stalwart Will Durst or comfortingly diverse “Gentrif*cked”. Most showtimes being before 8pm is a bonus!
San Francisco’s Examiner’s “16th annual SF Sketchfest bigger and better than ever“
Somebody handed this to you while we’re transferring from BART to Caltrain. You take it to be nice and read a page to be respectful. You’re the same person who reads the Mercury News but the even more to-the-point copy feels more like high school sports stats. You throw the paper away in the garbage bin reassured the trash is recycled off site.
You read 7×7 because you always read 7×7. Easy to digest, good-humored editorial with quotes from the Sketchfest Trio. You’ve lived in San Francisco long enough to remember reading local blogs only on your MacBook, before reading exclusively on your phone, before your “Medium Long Reads Sundays”. You miss the Bold Italic and Uptown Almanac, the real Bold Italic and Uptown Almanac. Truth is, you already have your tickets, or you’re burned out from going to Sketchfest over the years.
SFWeekly’s “Acts to See at Sketchfest 2017“
When your weekend is in doubt, whip out the Weekly. This is the guide that reinforces SFWeekly as the preeminent publication for comedy in the San Francisco Bay Area. These slick mofos took Sketchfest’s 16-year-oldness and imagined the line-up as high school students and their selects as yearbook superlatives. The genius is compacted by credible hat tips, true insight and range. Add this to their sober, in depth profile pieces masquerading as a “guide” and you’ll definitely feel in the know.
Considerably more a “piece” than a “guide”, this straightforward, minimalist media group suggest less heralded but crowd pleasing acts like Aisling Bea and Chardonnay. They also offer this refreshingly candid caveat:
“What delights us most, frankly, is that readers could ignore all our suggestions and would still be guaranteed a great time.”
You scan this while FOMO panic sets in. And if you subscribe to the Trump jab in this guide’s first line, you could really use comic relief. Times running out: here’s an extensive laundry list of cool shows throughout the three weeks. Are they still available?! I don’t know!? Your lifetime of procrastination has come to this. You could have been a doctor.
Spinning Platters’ “A Nerd’s Guide to Sketchfest 2017“
An annual tradition of individual determination. You’ve read it before or somebody who really knows has hipped to Dakin and his due diligence towards identifying shows and the kind of nerds that enjoy them. Dakin is an enviable enthusiast. His Instagram are filled with snaps from too cool for my radar. This guide features one of San Francisco’s resident comedy and music professionals, let loose with tons of YouTube clips, to identify the gems hiding in plain sight.