Funny fests in Chicago, San Francisco and Sundance

The festival season for comedians already has begun in 2009, and if you're in Chicago, San Francisco, or Park City this weekend, then you can join in the fun. At least as a spectator.

Chicago long has been known as a hub for aspiring sketch comedy performers, and this weekend puts the finishing touches on the 8th annual Chicago Sketchfest, with performances tonight, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in three locations within Theatre Building Chicago featuring troupes from around the country.

It's also the 8th go-around for SF Sketchfest in San Francisco, which really has grown to become much more than sketch comedy, into an event that is so big and lengthy and full of great bookings that you wish you lived in San Francisco to enjoy all two weeks and three weekends of it. Tim and Eric helped kick things off last night, as did Jimmy Pardo. Robert Smigel does TV Funhouse Live tonight, then talks with Dana Carvey on Saturday in airing previously unseen footage from both of their shows. So many other great acts that naming all of them would make you think there's no comedy going on anywhere else in America. Other highlights include: Celebrity Autobiography on Jan. 19; A Salute to Bud Cort with "Harold & Maude," one-man shows from Kevin Allison and Will Franken, a live CD recording with Aziz Ansari and Nick Kroll, and a special "Better Off Dead" screening, all on Jan. 22; The Sound of Young America live, on Jan 23; Invite Them Up, on Jan. 23-24; The State reunion on Jan. 24, plus a screening of "Wet Hot American Summer" later that night, and State and Stella silliness the next night; a Fernwood reunion of Fred Willard and Martin Mull on Jan. 28; ASSSSCAT with Andy Richter, a "Game Show Explosion" that involves celebrity matching (nice fake-out!) with Jimmy Pardo and friends, and Comedy Death-Ray, all on Jan. 30, and a whole bunch of craziness closing it out. And I'm leaving a lot out, I know. That's how action-packed San Francisco will be the next couple of weeks.

And I already have told you just how many comedians and comedy films will be screening at Sundance 2009, which opened officially last night. Seth Herzog, who brought his "Sweet" show to Park City last year, is back again, and rounding up some of the comedians for "Sweet at the 'Dance" shows on Sunday and Monday. Rob Corddry will be Herzog's sidekick/DJ for both shows, with Jim Gaffigan, John Viener, Donald Glover and Aubrey Plaza performing Sunday, and Patton Oswalt, sketch group Derrick, and Aubrey Plaza on Monday's lineup.

All sounds like much fun. Of course, I'm sitting in my Brooklyn apartment, trying to stay out of the bitter cold, so I'm staying warm. At least until I change my mind and head out to a show! And so should you!

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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