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Sketchfest NYC 2009 Recap

SketchFest NYC 2008 logo_white Whew, what a weekend!

This year's fifth annual Sketchfest NYC featured 34 different sketch comedy groups from across North America, performing three days of the best sketch comedy in the nation June 11-13, 2009 at the UCB Theater in NYC. This was certainly the biggest year yet for the festival, with special performances including The College Humor Show, The Kids in the Hall's Kevin McDonald, The Whitest Kids U' Know, various video-based groups, and many new and returning stars of the ever-growing sketch comedy scene.

The festival kicked off to a packed house Thursday night with some NYC favorites, including Kristen Schaal, Rue Brutalia, Sidecar, The Apple Sisters, Murderfist, A Week of Kindness, and more. Shows were sold out and standing-room only throughout the first night. And that was only the beginning. (Late the next night, I was fed a pancake on stage. Keep reading for more about that later...)

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The party continued on Friday, when BriTANick explained why eagles are turning people into horses; The Money Kids were Candy Lawrence and Lauren Lapkus; Pangea 3000 said "God bless you," then had juicy ribs delivered to the stage (they were delicious, and inspired some ideas for a few new comedy sketches); Harvard Sailing Team rocked the Home Improvement theme song with a nine-person band and auditioned for a nightmarish new Pizza Hut ad; The Riot Act realized it's probably not a good idea to fake your own death (at least not without prior planning); The 3rd Floor fed me a pancake (more on that later) -- but not before waging a mariachi battle and disposing of some incriminating evidence.

KevinMcDonaldHammy&theKids09_07 And Kevin McDonald (The Kids in the Hall) talked about how his alcoholic father ruined his life but led him to The Kids in the Hall, and also sang about it -- badly -- in his one-man show "Kevin McDonald's Hammy and the Kids."

On Saturday, Striking Viking Story Pirates played a comedy show for kids at noon -- and then they came back in the evening to present a much less family-friendly show inspired entirely by items from Found magazine (including a grade school history paper, a naughty letter, and "The Booty Tape" remix); Free Love Forum suffered from a heart condition caused by a baby rattlesnake living inside it, and might have exposed its audience to certain death via Nabisco 100-calorie snack packs; BOF wanted to be painted, but discussed current events instead; New Exc!tement made a mess with chiggers, tear-induced orgasms, and lazer pointer snipers; Elephant Larry performed their themed sketch show "Elephant Larry presents Con Air," composed of sketches and videos based entirely from the '90s action film; and much, much more.

NewExc!tement09_31

During the Friday night performance by long-running Portland, OR troupe The 3rd Floor, my front-row seat inadvertently gave me a supporting role in the show. (Remember I told you I ate a pancake? More about that right now.) The scene began innocently enough: A very diligent chef tries to prepare the perfect stack of pancakes. But when two 3rd Floor members placed a little table in front of my stage-side seat, I knew I was in trouble. Then came the plate and napkin, the fork, the syrup, and the stack of fluffy pancakes. A bib was nicely tucked into my shirt and butter was spread over my pancakes.

All of this while being watched closely by five funny guys and a roomful of attentive fans. All I could think was, "I hope I don't get in the way while these dudes are trying to be funny." I guess I was in good hands though, because when I hesitated to eat my meal, The 3rd Floor collectively created a tunnel for a fork-and-pancake choo-choo train to make its way towards my mouth -- and how could I resist a choo-choo train pancake bite? (It didn't taste too bad, either.) I can't say my cameo got the biggest laugh of the night, but, well, I can lie and say it might have.

Back Stage is proud to have been a sponsor of the fifth annual Sketchfest NYC. Can't wait for another Sketchfest NYC next year!

HarvardSailingTeam09_11

Producers state: "SketchFest NYC is dedicated to promoting the art of sketch comedy. Sketch comedy, which is different from improv and stand-up, consists of short written scenes, rehearsed beforehand, usually presented by a group of people that can range in size from one to twenty... The last four years of the festival have been a huge success, featuring over seventy-five different sketch comedy groups from across North America, sold-out shows, standing ovations, and industry attendance."

Read our festival preview Q&As with The Money Kids and Murderfist, both of which were new additions to the 2009 line-up after auditioning live for producers. And check out Back Stage's coverage of last year's Sketchfest NYC, too!

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Below, watch two videos by Scott Gairdner, whose videos were featured in between some of the Sketchfest NYC live performances:

Photos (top to bottom): Pangea 3000 eats ribs; Kevin McDonald almost dances; New Exc!tement plays dead; Harvard Sailing Team rocks the boat; The Money Kids learn to kiss at a sleepover. All photos by Tracey B. Wilson/T. Wilson Photography.

-- Daniel Lehman

Bonus! Photos of The 3rd Floor "pancake sketch" below:

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All photos by Tracey B. Wilson/T. Wilson Photography. For more Sketchfest NYC 2009 photos, visit www.twilsonphotography.com.

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