Petaluma is gearing up for its inaugural Pet-A-Llama Comedy Festival occurring Thursday, August 16th to Saturday, August 18. A little bit up the US-101 from San Francisco, the North Bay town is a gem for restaurants, wine, beer, and now, comedy. Pet-A-Llama will host Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Program), the Sklar Brothers (Comedy Central), Todd Glass (The Todd Glass Show), Scott Thompson (Kids in the Hall), Rory Scovel (Conan, Netflix), Guy Branum (Chelsey Lately, Talk Show The Game Show), and a number of comedy’s rising stars, all within a few blocks of each other. It’s a comedy fan’s dream, a one-of a kind experience, a reason to plan a weekend getaway or a day trip, or, as a Petaluma resident, to wonder, “what’s going on over there?”
In regards to a limited time and a contracted space, a festival is the most exciting thing in the comedy world. Comics and the producers on the come up are ready to show fresh audiences, “this is me, I am dope.” Comedy stars embrace the attentive, warm crowds and relaxed vibes for loose or murderous performances. Legends are praised, superfans are overwhelmed, after parties get weird. Shows happen early enough in the day to rally for another (and another). Your favorite comedian may ask you for drugs, or directions to the coffee shop or for a ride to their hotel. Voices you’ve only heard on podcasts, faces you’ve only seen on screens are live and in person with unbelievable closeness. And then you can go sleep in the comfort of your (relatively) close home, or crash nearby, soaking in the FOMO likes on Instagram, cursed to never being able to completely relay to others the unique phenomenon.
Personal recommendations include:
The Imaginary Radio Program with Drennon Davis (Friday, 10PM, The Big Easy, $15, Tickets)
Drennon Davis is one of the most inventive minds on the planet. He commands a looping device and effect pedals like a wizard, bringing amazing parodies, homages and hilarity to life for music and comedy fans alike. You’ll never be able to listen to the music he mocks the same way again. You’ll be singing his catchy tunes for the rest of your life. The real kick is that Drennon also gets a kick: he’s joyful in the shared silliness, fully immersed in his absurdity. Watch this clip of him on Conan with Petaluma native Karen Kilgariff!
Caitlin Gill’s Lab Oratory (Saturday, 6PM, The Big Easy, $15, Tickets)
I love Caitlin Gill. Love, love, love Caitlin Gill. Every time I’ve seen Caitlin perform, through anecdotes or off the cuff riffing, I feel safe and serene. It’s like, even if Caitlin’s material is making me challenge pre-existing misconceptions or my ego, I’m seeing something very special and welcoming. That’s meaningful because the world is in chaos and usually unkind, but Caitlin is the opposite. Her ability to spin a yarn of winding words into a relaxing, spontanious web is . Caitlin shows her world, and the world in general, as an opportunity to expand and explore.
On stage she emanates a glow that makes you feel seen from the darkness. The show will also feature Kaseem Bentley. I love, love, love Kaseem Bentley, for the exact opposite reason I love Caitlin Gill. Kaseem, a supremely talented insult comic, makes you feel seen, like a 8th grader recognizing you have bootleg designer clothes on; you want to hide. And if you aren’t the target, as a spectator, you will want to hide your face in shock, or in titillated schadenfreude, as Kaseem roasts any and all in his path.
A (Premature) Tribute: The Dress Up Gang (Friday, 6PM, The Big Easy, $15, Tickets)
Donny Divanian and Cory Lokasek have always stood out. Starting comedy in San Francisco about a decade ago, the two impressed as stand-ups. Donny was a offbeat virtuoso, Cory was a laidback, pondering provocateur. Together, with director Robb Boardman as Dress Up Gang, they made truly spectacular short films, like “My Roommate, My Friend” and “Mr. Perfect”. The group got a deal from TBS, took down most of their videos, went into the lab and got cooking. Then, silence. See them unveil a special screening of their new project at the Pet-A-Llama Comedy Festival!