It is a telling sign of the times that this year’s SF Sketchfest lineup has more star power than the upcoming inauguration of the President of the United States. This year’s 16th annual SF Sketchfest, kicking off tonight at The Curran, offers 257 shows at 17 venues over 17 nights (and days on the weekends!), with a combination of big-name comedy celebrities and the finest locally sourced Bay Area funny people. We’ve sketched out a primer of the prime Sketchfest 2017 standup acts, storytelling events, drag shows, and live podcasts that still have tickets available and are not yet sold out. (Note: Every show with Jon Hamm is sold out. Here are your other available options.)
Thursday, January 12
StarTalk Live with Bill Nye the Science Guy
The StarTalk podcast, which begat the StarTalk TV show, begets StarTalk Live which tonight is nigh upon us with Bill Nye the Science Guy and Bob’s Burgers voice Eugene Mirman, plus Claudia O'Doherty, Ariel Waldman and others.
The Curran, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 14
Soundtracks Live: Scenes and Songs from a Classic 80s Movie
Bad 80s movies get a good send-up at this benefit for 826 Valencia, with live reenactments of movie scenes and songs featuring Viva Variety’s Michael Ian Black. Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Chelsea Peretti, and other formidably funny individuals.
Marines Memorial Theatre, 4 p.m.
Kids in the Hall: 'Brain Candy' Live Staged Reading
Original Kids Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson perform a live stage reading of their 1996 film that Roger Ebert hailed as “awful, terrible, dreadful, stupid, idiotic, unfunny, labored, forced, painful, bad.”
Castro Theatre, 7 p.m.
Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra
The 7:30 show is sold out, but you can still get tickets to the 10:30 late show to see Facebook meme Jeff Goldblum perform with his jazz band and engage in trivia contests.
Swedish American Hall, 10 p.m.
Images: AishaTaylor.com and Comedy Central
Sunday, January 15
Tribute to Aisha Tyler, In Conversation with John Hodgman
Archer voice and The Talk co-host Aisha Tyler gets talked up by human PC manifestation John Hodgman before both ultimately submit to an audience Q&A.
Marines Memorial Theatre, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, January 18
The Mission Position
A whole bunch of our favorite Bay Area comedians slip the surly bonds of the Alamo Drafthouse to do a glorified Sketchfest-edition Mission Position at the Punch Line with with Casey Ley, Adrian McNair, Abhay Nadkarni, Jessica Sele, Eddie Della Siepe, Irene Tu, Torio Van Grol and Kate Willett.
The Punch Line, 8 p.m.
Friday, January 20
Will Durst and Friends on Inauguration Day: What Now?
With Donald Trump now presumably sworn into office, anyone who has not yet been deported is highly encouraged to lick their wounds and laugh the pain away with Will Durst, Nato Green, Dhaya Lakshminarayanan and Brian Malow.
Cobb’s Comedy Club, 7:30 p.m.
The Grawlix Yacht Rock Party with Mustache Harbor
Mustache Harbor will perform the hits of Christopher Cross, Steely Dan and Kenny Loggins. If that’s not enough to keep you away, they’ll be joined by Talking [Insert Name of Television Show Here] host Chris Hardwick plus Jessica Kirson and Mike Phirman.
Swedish American Hall, 10 p.m.
Saturday, January 21
People, this is the only “Weird Al” Yankovic show at Sketchfest that is not yet sold out. The wildly popular accordionist will be joined by Rock Solid podcast hosts Pat Francis and Kyle Dodson.
Swedish American Hall, 4 p.m.
Upright Citizens Brigade: A.S.S.S.S.C.A.T.
The Upright Citizens Brigade gets downright hilarious at an improv show featuring UCB bigwigs Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh, Jon Gabrus and Jessica McKenna.
The Curran, 7 p.m.
Porchlight at The Oasis
There are actually two Porchlight storytelling events at the Oasis for Sketchfest 2017 (the other being Friday, January 20), but at this one your hosts Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte welcome extremely famous people Tara Jepsen (Transparent), Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects), and others.
The Oasis, 7:30 p.m.
Image: Universal Studios
Nerdist Podcast with Chris Hardwick
Widely adored speechless GIF Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Serenity, Guardians of the Galaxy) joins Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick to wax hilariously on their runaway blockbuster careers along with fellow nerds Matt Mira and Jonah Ray.
The Curran, 10 p.m.
Sunday, January 22
A Conversation with Daniel Handler: Inside 'A Series of Unfortunate Events,' moderated by Charlie Jane Anders
Hey, the Lemony Snicket Netflix show A Series of Unfortunate Events premieres Friday, January 13! Local literary titans Daniel “Lemony Snicket” Handler and Charlie Jane Anders will discuss this and other fortunate events in a rollicking 90-minute conversation.
Swedish American Hall, 2 p.m.
SF Sketchfest Tribute to Ricky Jay
Magician, character actor, and author Ricky Jay will engage in highly intellectual, NPR-caliber conversation with musical arranger Van Dyke Parks.
Marines Memorial Theatre, 2 p.m.
SF Sketchfest Tribute to Fred Willard
Fred Willard has delighted audiences by playing the exact same character for 40 years, and his decades of hilarious feigned ignorance will be celebrated by special guests Christopher Guest, Robert Klein, and Laraine Newman.
Marines Memorial Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 26
Above And Beyond The Valley Of The Ultra Showgirls
SFist was tickled pink by this glam-rock musical stage show last year, and it has Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances in a Sketchfest closing weekend run this year.
The Oasis, 8 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Image: Latino Comedy Project
Friday, January 27
The Latino Comedy Project: Gentrif*cked
You’ve got four chances to see the Latino Comedy Project’s hilarious skewering of gentrification of Latino neighborhoods, with twice-nightly Friday and Saturday shows this weekend.
Brava Theater, 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m
Saturday, January 28
Story Pirates, with Patton Oswalt and Sasheer Zamata
Humongously popular comedian Patton Oswalt only has one show at Sketchfest this year. It’s a children’s show. Would really take your kids to see Patton Oswalt? Here’s your chance.
Marines Memorial Theatre, 11 a.m.
Sunday, January 29
I Seem Fun: The Diary of Jen Kirkman Podcast
Chelsea Lately regular Jen Kirkman will do a live version of her stream-of-consciousness Diary of Jen Kirkman podcast for the Closing Night of Sketchfest 2017 that certainly . seems fun.
Swedish American Hall, 7:30 p.m.