San Francisco’s beloved Porch Light storytelling series is among the dozens of shows comprising the 19th annual SF Sketchfest. The extravaganza, opening Thursday and running through Jan. 26 in myriad spots across The City, bills itself as the biggest comedy festival in North America. Locals and guests, major stars and newcomers appear in not just sketches, but stand-up, alternative comedy, music, improv, films, tributes, live podcasts, family shows, workshops and panels. Publicists say there are more than 250 shows in 20 venues with over 900 performers over 18 days.
Porch Light, the 18-year-old program featuring guests sharing true stories in themed sessions, takes on the topic of bullies for its annual Sketchfest offering, on Friday in a partly seated show at Swedish American Hall. Series co-founders Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte — slated to appear in the jam-packed presentation they’re calling the “funniest” show of the year — advise arriving early for a good seat.
The lineup also includes Bobcat Goldthwait, the distinctively voiced comic and San Francisco favorite known for movies from “Shakes the Clown” in 1991 to his latest, “God Bless America” and the truly great “World’s Greatest Dad” starring Robin Williams. Since first being on David Letterman’s show at age 20, he’s expanded his resume to include behind the camera work on shows such as “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Demetri Martin show,” “The Chappelle Show,” “The Man Show,” and “Crank Yankers.”
Also on the bill are Bryan Safi, co-host and co-creator of the “Throwing Shade” podcast, an actor on “Modern Family,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Superstore,” now playing Alan Lowenstein on Freeform’s series “Young & Hungry” and Emmy winner for writing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Actress Erinn Hayes, who appears in the upcoming “Bill & Ted Face The Music” with Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter and stars in Netflix’s “Medical Police,” also appears, as does Josh Gondelman, a writer and producer for “Desus and Mero” on Showtime and former writer on John Oliver’s show, winning two Peabody Awards, four Emmy awards and three Writers Guild of America awards.
Marcella Arguello, an “LA Comedian to Watch in 2017” and writer on the series “Bill Nye Saves the World,” who at just over 6-feet tall, is “too lazy to shoot hoops and too tall to model” also performs, along with music by Marc Capelle, Kelley Stoltz and Allyson Baker.
IF YOU GO
Porchlight at Sketchfest
Where: Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10
Sketchfest’s Opening Thursday Jan. 9 Lineup
Medical Police: The premiere of the Netflix show includes appearances by Erinn Hayes, Rob Huebel, Krister Johnson, Beth Lisick, Fred Melamed, Jonathan Stern and David Wain; 7:30 p.m., Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., S.F., $35-$45
The Patdown Podcast: Ms. Pat is joined by cohosts Deon Curry and Chris Spangle; 8 p.m., Cobb’s Comedy Club, 915 Columbus Ave., $25-$45
Maria Bamford: The standup comic with the cult hit web series is joined by Nori Reed; 8 p.m., Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., $29-$49
SF Sketchfest Threesome: Hannah Einbinder, Matty Ryan and Jes Tom co-headline, with host Liz Stone; 8 p.m., Punch Line, 444 Battery St., $24