Director Dave Haaz-Baroque says having glam rocker Kat Robichaud from TV’s “The Voice” emcee the latest iteration of his adult goth puppet variety show is a way of paying tribute to “The Muppet Show” and its ongoing cast of human guest celebrities.
“The Shadow Circus Show” returns to San Francisco to celebrate its 15th anniversary Saturday at Viracocha. Although the production’s concept might sound similar to Peter Jackson’s infamous 1989 “Muppet” parody “Meet the Feebles,” Haaz-Baroque’s humor comes from a gentler place.
While Jackson’s ersatz Muppets sexually exploit each other and use hard drugs, Shadow Circus puppets (such as Hipster Sasquatch) are more likely to get rebuffed for making an awkward pass and then drown their sorrows with Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Haaz-Baroque’s approach allows him to lampoon cultural trends and skewer their proponents without being mean. For example, Wicker, a New Age hippie puppet (operated by performance artist Allison Daniel) thinks the show is cursed and uses a blessing app to clear the venue of its negative energy.
Another Shadow Circus performer is the secret individual who played Webberly the Fact Rat on TV’s “Creepy KOFY Movie Time.” Haaz-Baroque was a frequent guest on the recently canceled horror show; Webberly reunites with him to voice Hipster Sasquatch’s sleazy friend, Pickup Artist Nessie.
Robichaud, who appeared on the fifth season of “The Voice” in 2013 and has sung with CeeLo Green and Sara Bareilles, also is promoting her crowd-funded 2015 album, “Kat Robichaud and The Darling Misfits.”
Other “Shadow Circus Show” guests include aerialist Bramani Quinn, horror-comedy burlesque artist Grace Bones and contortionist Natalie Rhae.
Puppets aren’t the only cast members whose bad attitudes threaten to ruin the show. Shadow Circus alumni Victoria Victrola and Bronica Blue are sexy, surly stagehands who verbally abuse members of the audience and can’t stay off their phones.
IF YOU GO
The Shadow Circus Show
Where: Viracocha, 998 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 8:30 p.m. June 20
Tickets: $15 to $20