Tenacious D opens SF Sketchfest @ Castro Theatre 1/23/13

© 2014 Photo by Jakub Mosur

This past Thursday night marked the start of the annual SF Sketchfest, a city-wide comedy + music + arts festival that invades the venues in the city with top-tier comedy and entertainment talent and lets them run wild with their new ideas. Or perhaps they’ll ask some old comedic talent to reunite and do some “old” stuff for the fans in the city — either way, it’s one of the best comedy festivals in the country and there’s a huge lineup of talent rolling through San Francisco in the next few weeks. Opening night brought some big players to the Castro Theatre in the heart of the city, with a reunion of the cast of Napoleon Dynamite opening the festivities and a performance and chat with Tenacious D to close out the evening, the second show of which I was set to attend thanks to their press team.

castro theatre marquee

The D was set to begin at 9:30pm but the show prior to that one got out a bit late, so everyone filed into the theater and got comfortable and were finally greeted with the opening remarks from the SF Sketchfest founders, David Owen, Cole Stratton and Janet Varney. Without too much fanfare at all, they introduced the month-long festival and welcomed Paul F. Tompkins to the stage for a bit of a primer on the band and how he got involved. He gave a little warmup set to the crowd then gave way to a hilarious montage video showing the humble beginnings of Tenacious D all the way through their Pick of Destiny days. Then the duo came out and joined Paul on stage for a chat.

© 2014 Photo by Jakub Mosur
© 2014 Photo by Jakub Mosur

Admittedly, I’m not some uber Tenacious D fan, so a lot of what we learned in the discussion was all new to me. The group started as more of a comedy effort for an HBO show than something with a grand vision, but the writing they did together definitely spawned more and more efforts which lead to the group taking it up as a “full time” project. They said “Tribute” was the first song they had written together, and somewhat unexpectedly — that’s what they opened their set with after the discussion was over. They even included a bit of “Kyle Quit the Band” after a fake fight on stage.

© 2014 Photo by Jakub Mosur
© 2014 Photo by Jakub Mosur

The crowd was equal parts drunk Tenacious D fan and drunk comedy club fan, so the “questions” that came from the crowd were somewhat awful but really hilarious. And I just so happened to be sitting pretty close to one guy that couldn’t understand the sound dynamics of the room and he thought every word he shouted was clearly making it to the front of the crowd, which certainly upset his girlfriend a bit, but it made for a fun evening for me despite. The show was exactly what I wanted and expected from SF Sketchfest, and there’s so much more happening in the next few weeks that it’s hard to choose what I’d want to see next (the Revenge of the Nerds reunion looks amazing, by the way).

Here’s the setlist from the show: