SAN FRANCISCO —Making people laugh with musical comedy isn’t always easy. Making people laugh with musical comedy sex songs: easier.
This became the unspoken theme of the evening for Comedy Music Night at the 17th annual SF Sketchfest show at the Gateway Theatre.
Seven comedians including host Eric Rubin, a member of San Francisco sketch group Killing My Lobster, took turns taking the stage to offer up a variety of musical styles and comedy acts, with nearly every set punctuated by a funny song about sex to guarantee laughs from the audience.
The evening of craftier stand-up comedy kicked off with an acoustic song from Rubin called “Penguin Love,” which included lyrics about drinking chardonnay with a penguin and about penguin genitalia.
JR De Guzman puzzled over why sex generally gives you bad things such as STDs–“Why can’t you get sexually transmitted character strengths?” Comic and musician Bhama Roget lamented the lack of pubic hair these days, with lyrics such as “surrounding all our treasures in a fuzzy blanket of love” and “flowers ripped from the garden”–all with a folk music twist.
But Thursday night’s comedians didn’t rely solely on sexual humor. Plenty of other entertaining songs rounded out the show.
Paul Schlesinger, a finalist in the 2017 Portland’s Funniest Person Contest, talked about being 33 and worrying how his mom won’t pay his cell phone bill once he turns 40. To remedy this, he’s not looking for a cheaper mobile plan, he’s looking for a new mom. Schlesinger discouraged the crowd from laughing at his jokes, “I need tough love right now, and you’re enabling B.S.”
A highlight from the night was musical improvisation pro Anthony Veneziale, who has previously collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda. Veneziale was joined by Rubin for some beatboxing and impressive freestyle rap improv based on audience suggestions. It was mesmerizing to watch Veneziale take random things shouted out by the audience–from cream cheese to Alvin and the Chipmunks, and weave them into lyrics on the spot.
Comic musician Megan Simon amused the audience with a song called “Pedicab Boyfriend,” with lyrics about an unambitious beau: “Pedicab boyfriend take me away/ To your sublet where you’ve got six weeks to stay.”
Half of hip-hop duo Death Ray Astray, self-described as a mix of Smash Mouth and Wu-Tang, talked about recently having his appendix taken out. His duo counterpart joined via video as an “appendix” on a stick with a backdrop of London. “I’m on my way to Liverpool; there was no Appendixpool.” The appendix-on-a-stick added some political humor as well, “I got deported by Trump because he said I lived in a shithole: your body.”
Performers mixed bathroom humor and sex jokes with a variety of topics and musical styles, from folk to rap to emo, the latter musical style often being part of the joke itself.
In addition to performing musical comedy, Roget chatted about going on auditions after age 40: “Do these pants make me look … smart?” and wondering if casting directors are thinking she’s “too old to play a woman.”
The evening’s showcase of stand-up comedy demonstrated the challenges and occasional awkwardness of adding music and lyrics to a routine, but also that when it works, it really works.
Follow reporter Lea Blevins at Twitter.com/leablevins.