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KQED Perspectives: Marc Vogl

KML Co-founder Marc Vogl recently offered an opinion for KQED’s Perspectives series. The subject: the economy and the arts. And how the former profits from the latter.

Take a listen right here.

Nachtrieb Chosen as one of SF’s

The tastemakers at SF’s 7×7 magazine have deemed KML alum and Hunter Gatherers playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (pictured right from his appearance in our 2002 sketch show KML Tango Dell’Amore) one of 2007′s “Hot 20 Under 40.” Cheers, Peter! This piece names Peter as one of the hot cultural somethings of our fair city–and we could not agree more with their praise, or with what the article itself says about him.

KML's Sean Christensen Takes Top Honors

KML writer and filmmaker Sean Christensen recently won a web-only contest from the producers of WNET/Channel 13 in New York. The subject was short films and Sean’s first place entry “Fan Mail” was greenlit for broadcast as a part of their Reel 13 shorts program. The film was about Sean’s awkard/endearing/funny attempt to write a fan letter to Miranda July, and we hope she gets to see the film someday. Congratulations, Sean!

To see a film Sean co-created with lobsters Miriam Wilson and Greg Wild-Smith (a film that went to CANNES this year, actually) called “Ignorance is Bliss” please click here.

Hi/Lo Turns TEN!

April 12 through 15, 2007



Founded by Killing My Lobster, Annual Festival of High Concept/Low Budget Cinema From Around the World April 12 through 14 at SF’s Brava Theatre And April 15 at Oakland’s Parkway Theater

Festival Features Three Programs of New Short Films and One 10-Year ‘Best of’ Retrospective

WHAT: The 10th Annual Hi/Lo Film Festival

WHEN: April 12 through 15, 2007

WHERE: The Brava Theatre Center The Parkway Theater 2789 24th Street, SF 1824 Park Blvd., Oakland

SHOWTIMES: Shorts Program 1: Thurs, April 12 @ 7:15 pm; Sat, April 14 @ 5 pm Shorts Program 2: Fri, April 13 @ 7:15 pm; Sat, April 14 @ 7:15 pm Shorts Program 3: Fri, April 13 @ 9:15 pm; Sun, April 15 @ 2 pm “The Best of Hi/Lo “’97-‘07” Sat, April 14 @ 9:15 pm; Sun, April 15 @ 5 pm *All screenings on Sunday, April 15 will be held at the Parkway Theater in Oakland. Screenings April 12, 13, and 14 will be held at Brava Theatre Center, San Francisco

TICKETS: $9 per program INFO: www.hilofilmfestival.com and 415-558-7721

SAN FRANCISCO, CA––Since it’s inception in 1997, Killing My Lobster’s Hi/Lo Film Festival has focused its attention on filmmakers who have more ideas than they do money. Now celebrating its tenth anniversary year, the festival is championing a decade of innovative ideas and boasts its most competitive festival yet. From over 400 submissions, 40 short films were chosen to showcase at San Francisco’s Brava Theater Center April 12, 13, and 14, and Oakland’s Parkway Theater on April 15. Films accepted embody the concept behind the hi/lo festival and their mantra that “$40 million dollars can kill a good idea.”

Showtimes for each of the three individual programs are listed above. A special “10-year Best of Hi/Lo” program highlighting the last 10 years of high concept/low budget cinema—will screen Saturday, April 14 at 9:15 pm at SF’s Brava Theatre Center, and Sunday April 15 at 5 pm at Oakland’s Parkway Theater.

The 10th annual Hi/Lo film festival features over 40 films including:

-12 new films from Bay Area filmmakers -Films from Singapore, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, and points across the United States

-Selections from six filmmakers whose work has been showcased by Hi/Lo in the past -Five entries from our partner, The SloMo Film Festival

-Music videos from the bands Mates of State and Pretty Things; A film about searching for Bill Gates; A film about the adventures of a wily pomegranate; animations, short narratives, micro-features, experimental shorts, documentaries, and uncategorizable works of the imagination.

Though in some cases these films are as different as night and day, they all belong in the same festival that champions big ideas over big budgets––proving that talented, dedicated people can bring their visions to the screen no matter the cost.

What the media says about Hi/Lo: 7×7 magazine has called the Hi/Lo film festival “one of the top 5 must-do Bay Area film festivals.” FilmThreat Magazine says “[The Hi/Lo] provides a sampling of works from all around the country [and] there is an eclectic selection here that personifies what being different is––and it’s worth it.” And the San Francisco Chronicle says, “this film festival has ideas you won’t find anywhere else!”

Screening times for specific films and film descriptions available! Please call for a PREVIEW VIDEO! 415.558.7721! Or info@hilofilmfestival.com.

Critic's Pick: KML Faces the Music

Originally published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, November 15, 2006

*Killing My Lobster Faces the Music ODC Theater, 3153 17th St; 863-9834, www.killingmylobster.com. $12-17. Thurs/16-Fri/17, 8pm; Sat/18, 7 and 10pm. Bay Area theater and film production company Killing My Lobster has been putting on plays in San Francisco since 1997. That might not be long enough to make them the city’s most eminent chronicler, but it certainly qualifies them to play the role of its court jester. San Francisco isn’t difficult to poke fun at, and Faces the Music — a purely musical extravaganza with singing, dancing, and a four-member live band — hits its marks pretty well. Targets include stereotypical briefcase-wielding yuppies, fixie-riding hipsters, and spandex-wearing Castro dwellers. Ammunition comes in the form of a gospel-style tribute to Mission burrito joints and a freestyle competition between the Marina and Mission. Of course, much of the show has nothing to do with the city due to KML’s comic randomness and off-the-wall humor. There are also laugh-out-loud skits involving a hallucinogenic drug called “purple sticky” and gothic teen wannabes who worship evil. It’s funny stuff, and the songs are catchy, so go check it out. (Laura McCaul)

SF Weekly Rave: KML Faces the Music

Originally published in the SF Weekly, November 15, 2006

Killing My Lobster Faces the Music
A gleefully entertaining musical, complete with gospel ode to the Mission burrito

Killing My Lobster has traditionally sung balls-out musical numbers to end each of its sketch comedy shows, so now these Mission District hipster poster children have decided to do an entire show of musical nonsense — and it’s gleefully entertaining. The San Francisco-themed vignettes dip into hip hop, show tunes, church hymns, and even gothic headbanging, while the plot is hilariously off-kilter. Two fathers battle for the honor of “World’s Greatest Dad,” one girl tries to buy incense and ends up getting a bag of “purple sticky” that induces an orgiastic dance of goofy elves and snowmen, and a new STD is introduced when a young lover gets a case of the “bagpipes.” Some sketches abruptly run out of story, with the charismatic cast awkwardly abandoning ship and running off stage, and the recorded interludes broadcast from a huge boombox at center stage almost steal the show. But it’s the 10-minute show-stopping spiritual about the foil-wrapped Mission burrito (complete with gospel singers and a legless homeless man) that raises Music to true cult status. — Nathaniel Eaton

SF Weekly Names "Hunter Gatherers" Top Pick

Lobster and Lamb : KML dishes out a full-length play

From sfweekly.com
Originally published by SF Weekly June 7, 2006
©2006 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.

By Chloe Veltman

A few weeks ago, the producers of the world premiere of Bay Area playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s dark comedy Hunter Gatherers invited John Chakan, a lamb-slaughtering expert from Plantation Farm Camp in Sonoma County, to a production meeting. According to co-producer Marc Vogl, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound butcher strode into the room with a massive insulated bag filled with slabs of meat and proceeded to instruct the assembled cast, director, and other collaborators in the art of lamb slaughtering. “He came to tell us how to stun the baby lamb before killing it and how best to slice the neck and let the blood drain,” said Vogl. “He took cuts of meat out of his bag to show us the correct texture, look, and feel of properly slaughtered lamb.”

With the exception, perhaps, of productions of Sweeney Todd, this carnivorous kind of show-and-tell is a rarity in the nonprofit theater world. Yet with the eating of meat on stage being such a pivotal part of the action in Hunter Gatherers, Chakan’s lesson proved to be useful to the artists involved in the production, the first ever full-length drama to be staged by the peripatetic sketch comedy/film/short-play company, Killing My Lobster.

An exploration of the Neanderthal in us all, Hunter Gatherers begins as a sophisticated urban hipster dinner party and gradually erodes into a primeval bone-dance of wrestling, sex, and — you guessed it — animal sacrifice. When Pam and Richard invite their longtime friends, Wendy and Tom, to dinner, the light atmosphere soon thickens with buried secrets and covert rivalries. As the evening progresses, the members of “the Fab Four,” as the cozy clique likes to refer to itself, question the hand that fate — and their respective spouses — has dealt them. It’s not exactly The Flintstones, but you could say we’re dealing with a modern stone-age family.

At the end of the meeting with Chakan, the play’s producers realized that they’d need a lot of lamb for the production’s month-long run. “The actors hack at chunks of meat with their bare hands throughout the show,” Vogl explained. Luckily, Chakan came to the rescue: He’s become Hunter Gatherers’ official lamb sponsor.

Date/Time: Through July 9
Price: $12-$25


The Thick House
1695 18th St. (at Arkansas)
San Francisco, CA

SF Bay Times review of "Hunter Gatherers"

The Lies that Bind in Hunter Gatherers
By Tom W. Kelly
SF Bay Times, June 23, 2006

Ever hosted one of thosssse dinner parties? You know, where everything goes wrong, or the guests are absolute beasts, or both? Well, you’ve certainly never come anywhere close to the social disaster that hysterically implodes in the world premiere of Hunter Gatherers by local writer Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. Produced by Killing My Lobster at the Thick House, the wonderful script is aided and abetted by a first-class cast, dynamite directing, and terrific tech. WOW!

What begins as a 10-year reunion dinner party in a trendy Soma loft for two very close couples, it all quickly devolves into a battle of the alpha male and female against their mates and each other. Richard, inarguably the alpha male, is the evening’s chef, and because he likes the absolutely freshest meat possible, he coerces his upbeat, puppy dog wife Pam into assisting with the slaughter. When Wendy and Tom (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? knock-off’s) arrive, long-buried secret lusts emerge. ‘We took life by the balls,’ Richard proclaims about their younger years, ‘and we swallowed.’ Throw in some red wine, and suppressed passions explode. A bevy of social taboos are eagerly violated. And actually, throughout the play, artist Richard is dead-set on making a Jackson Pollack in amiably passive Tom’s guts.

Jon Wolanske as the certifiably maniacal alpha male grabs the audience’s attention and never lets go. He’s a force of nature. He quickly morphs from eccentric husband into an absolutely primordial, insane, and completely out-of-control fuck machine. And he’s hot. (What IS the sex appeal of the crazies?) Melanie Case as his eager-to-please wife Pam diligently puts forth a happy face that cracks under the inhuman pressures around her. Alexis Lezin as the clinically depressed alpha wife runs roughshod over her passive husband portrayed by John Kovacevich. Lezin’s comic timing works perfectly with the abundance of bitchy banter, and Kovacevich’s forlorn depiction dutifully garners audience sympathy.

Playwright Nachtrieb writes about two straight couples, but gay audiences will get it to the point of screaming aloud in shock and awe. Nachtrieb digs deeply into the animal natures that lurk beneath our civilized surfaces. And he seems to suggest that, given the (im)proper circumstances, the beast within each of us (complete with primal urges) will eventually tear free of our self-imposed civility. His dialogue is packed with punch lines suffused with just enough truth to force some painful realizations. And the script is tighter-than-tight with never a dull moment. Once the trajectory is set, outrageous disaster must and does befall.

Tracy Ward directs with a clear understanding of the play’s insane world, yet she grounds it just enough to keep us identifying. She honors the strengths of the script, keeps the pacing bullet-swift, and creates a bounty of strong stage pictures. Erik Flatmo’s Soma loft set design is perfectly constructed, instantly communicating the socio-economic strata of its inhabitants. Lighting by Christopher Studley and costumes by Sally Thomas solidly complete the look of the play.

After ten years of theatre production, Killing My Lobster has mounted their first full-length play. And what a glorious mounting it is. For a scream-out-loud good time, Hunter Gatherers receives the highest recommendation. Hunter Gatherers continues until July 9 [editor's note: the show has been extended to July 23] at the Thick House Theater, 1695 18th St., SF. For mature audiences only! Tix ($20-$25) at the door or go to www.killingmylobster.com

Press Release: KML Presents "Hunter Gatherers"







Directed by Tracy Ward, Production Features

Some of the Best Young Comedic Actors in the Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, May 2, 2006–––San Francisco comedy group Killing My Lobster (KML) proudly presents the world premiere of its first-ever full-length comedic play: Hunter Gatherers, written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, and presented June 8 through July 9 [Wednesdays through Sundays] at San Francisco’s Thick House Theater. Press night is Thursday, June 15 at 8 pm. Tickets–ranging from $20 to $25 [students get $5 off regular price with valid ID]–are on sale now at www.killingmylobster.com and at the door on the night of the performance. Lower-priced previews ($15 tickets) are scheduled June 8 through 14. All Wednesday evening shows are pay-what-you-can performances.

The production is produced by Lisa Busby, Paul Charney, Sally Garbarini, and Marc Vogl. KML’s world premiere production is made possible in part by support from The Fleishhacker Foundation, the Theatre Bay Area/New Works Fund, and The Tournesol Project.

A darkly comedic tale, Hunter Gatherers explores the animal core of human beings. Pam and Richard are hosting their longtime friends, Wendy and Tom, for a special dinner party. But what begins as a celebratory gathering between beloved acquaintances soon erupts into a chain reaction of unearthed secrets, pent-up feelings, secret rivalries, and sudden urges. As the evening progresses, Pam, Richard, Wendy and Tom (who refer to themselves as “the Fab 4”) question the hands that fate––and their respective spouses––have dealt them. As they struggle to come to terms with their true identities and ultimately reconcile with their spots in the food chain, they take part in a series of hilarious and emotional confrontations, in addition to an animal sacrifice, some illicit sex, sudden violence, Greco/Roman wrestling, and some very bad dancing.

“KML’s mission is developing new and unique comedic work, and though this is our first full-length play, Hunter Gatherers has a rightful place in what we do,” says Paul Charney, one of the play’s producers and Artistic Director of KML. “Many great minds have started in the sketch comedy world and have gone on to create remarkable theatrical works—people like David Mamet and Steve Martin not to mention works such as Urinetown and Spamalot that have directly come out of that world—and like them, Peter employs a biting brand of social satire and some grandiose characters to examine deeper and more penetrating social themes. Peter is a remarkable writer and a longtime friend and we know he will achieve great heights. We are very proud to be presenting his great work as our first foray into full-length theatrical play producing.”

KML’s world premiere of Hunter Gatherers will be directed by Tracy Ward, whose recent directing credits include Missives at Theatre Rhinocerous and who directed the off-Broadway world premiere of Nachtrieb’s Colorado at the New York Summer Play Festival in 2004.

“The first thing that you notice with Hunter Gatherers—and this is a thread with all of Peter’s plays—is that it’s hysterically funny,” says Ward. “The characters and what they say to one another are at times so extreme that it is as if someone has turned their volume up to 11. And yet, these situations are so funny because these characters are so deeply rooted, and their observations come from such very real and at times very dark places. Hunter Gatherers introduces characters who essentially question their own nature as they provoke one another to uncover their own deeply held secrets. The play asks such big questions—questions that a lot of us ask ourselves in day-to-day life: How strongly are we driven by our primal desires? How conscious are we of our biological selves, and how does that affect the world around us? Is there such a thing as ‘human’ decency, or are all of our impulses rooted in our own self-interest? I am thrilled to be directing this wild and affecting world premiere—and I think there are a lot of great surprises in store for our audiences.”

Hunter Gatherers features some of the best young comedic actors in the Bay Area. Most recently seen in Eric Coble’s Bright Ideas at Shotgun Players, Melanie Case portrays Pam, the kindest and most central character in Hunter Gatherers and the least combative of the “Fab 4.” Best remembered for her performances in Denis Johnson’s Hellhound on My Trail with Campo Santo and Adam Bock’s Five Flights with Encore Theatre Company, Alexis Lezin portrays Pam’s best friend Wendy, an earthy sensualist with not-so-secret desires to become a mother. A longtime KML member and executive director of BATS Improv soon to be seen in the Will Smith film The Pursuit of Happyness, John Kovacevich plays Tom, Wendy’s repressed doctor husband who seems to receive an endless amount of abuse from his friends. And longtime Killing My Lobster member Jon Wolanske (most recently seen in Word for Word’s production of Daniel Handler’s 4 Adverbs) portrays Pam’s husband Richard, a virile and instinctual sort who is only as philosophical as his limited intelligence will allow him to be.

The production team for Hunter Gatherers includes Erik Flatmo (sets), Sally Thomas (costumes), Chris Studley (lights), and David Sophia Siegel (sound). Dave Maier is the fight director.

Tracy Ward is a San Francisco based director, whose work has also been seen in Los Angeles and New York. Specializing in new plays, she has collaborated on the premiere of more than 20 plays/musicals/opera productions. Selected work includes: Missives (Theatre Rhinoceros), Ariadne (City Summer Opera), Horse Latitudes (Jon Sims Center for the Arts), Alien Ambition, (Playwright’s Arena/ LA), Summerland (Z Space Festival of New Work), Reading in Bed (HERE Theater), and Multiplex (Thick House), also by Peter Nachtrieb. She has an M.F.A. from UCLA, and is adjunct faculty at Diablo Valley College.

Peter Sinn Nachtrieb is a Bay Area native whose play Colorado premiered off-Broadway at the NY Summer Play Festival (producer Arielle Tepper) in 2004. The award wining Meaningless received its world premiere at Bailiwick Repertory Theatre (Chicago) and was published online (Lodestar Quarterly). His One act Multiplex was produced at Killing My Lobster’s Bruno’s Island New Plays Festival [one-act plays] and was part of SFSU’s mainstage season. His short play Self Help won an Emerging Playwright Award from Playground ( San Francisco). As a writer/performer, he has created solo shows at venues around the Bay Area and worked extensively with Killing My Lobster as a writer, director, and performer in KML’s early days. A Brown University graduate, he has just earned an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State. He is currently a Tournesol Emerging Playwright Resident at the Z-Space Studio.

Paul Walsh, former A.C.T. Dramaturg and Director of Humanities, raved about Mr. Nacthrieb’s work in the November 2004 Theater Bay Area Magazine: “A new writer on the scene, Peter is already making a splash on the national front. It’s not surprising. Peter writes with scandalous panache about the American family in crisis and the results are surprising, unnerving and hilarious making him a writer to watch.”

Killing My Lobster is a Bay Area non-profit theater and film production company. Hailed by the SF Chronicle as “the closest thing we have to Second City” and heralded as “an orgy of comic genius” by Comedy Central, KML has created original work for HBO, is a two-time winner of the Best of the Fringe Award at the SF Fringe Festival and was voted “Best Comedy Group” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The group also produces the annual Hi/Lo Film Festival and has created numerous award-winning short films taking home the Golden Spire Prize at the SF International Film Festival. Killing My Lobster receives support from Grants for the Arts and the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation.

KML has launched a website exclusively devoted to the production—www.huntergatherers.com, with an interview with playwright Peter Nachtrieb, future podcasts, and more fun surprises. More information about the show, the artists, and KML may be found at www.killingmylobster.com.

FOR PHOTOS, interview requests, press tickets, or other inquiries, please write to press@killingmylobster.com or call 415.845.1041.


Killing My Lobster presents

The world premiere of
Hunter Gatherers

Written by Peter Nachtrieb

Directed by Tracy Ward

June 8–July 9

Cast: Melanie Case (Pam), John Kovacevich (Tom), Alexis Lezin (Wendy), Jon Wolanske (Richard)
Designers: Erik Flatmo (sets), Sally Thomas (costumes), Chris Studley (lights), and David Sophia Siegel (sound).
Previews: June 8–14

Opening night: June 15 at 8 pm

Final Performance: July 9 at 7 pm

Performances: Wednesdays through Saturdays @ 8 pm

Sundays at 7 pm

Location: Thick House Theater

1695 18th St, San Francisco

Potrero Hill

Tickets: Previews: all tickets $15

June 15 through July 9:

Thursdays and Sundays: $20 [students with I.D.: $15]

Fridays and Saturdays: $25 [students with I.D.: $20]

All Wednesday performances are pay-what-you-can

More information: www.killingmylobster.com and www.huntergatherers.com

Contra Costa Times "Takes A Cruise" Review

KML cruises into uncharted waters

By Pat Craig

Originally published by Costa Contra Times, February 25, 2006.
(c) 2006, All rights reserved.

Killing My Lobster weathered some rough seas before cruising into hilarious smooth sailing with its newest sketch comedy show, “Killing My Lobster Takes a Cruise.”
Performing in San Francisco’s Brava Theatre Center, a much larger than usual venue for the company, a number of the early bits in the show that opened Thursday were lost in the enormous size of the renovated Mission District movie/vaudeville theater. That was thanks in no small part to a sound system that muffled voices and blunted some of the sharpness of opening numbers, such as an audition for a new captain, a competition between Capt. Nemo, Capt. Ahab, Capt. Hook and the Skipper from “Gilligan’s Island,” to replace the Captain who was late for the beginning of the voyage.

The true captain finally made it, and the show sailed into less troublesome waters with skits including a peg-leg aerobics class taught by a pirate and a look into the engine room, where the ship is powered by frenetic dancers following the video instructions from the kind of dance machine that seems to occupy so many pre-adolescent boys in arcades and movie theater lobbies.

In a sense, “Takes a Cruise” is the most difficult show for the company, simply because, unlike more loosely constructed earlier shows, this one is built around a pretty narrow theme — cruise ships, something not many of KML’s audience has experienced. Of course, the program notes made reference to TV’s “Love Boat,” which has become something of a perverse cult favorite.

The main difficulty with the show, however, appeared to be a lack of adequate rehearsal and the opportunity for the cast to work with the material and adapt it to their own style. Since much of the cast is new to the company, they needed additional time to get into the Lobster rhythm that made previous shows so strong.

This is something additional performances should resolve. Certainly the bits that worked — a number in the first act and most in the wonderfully frenetic second — indicate the cast has the comedy chops to pull off a wonderfully funny show.

Director John Dixon kept the pace lively, and some of the sketches, including a Ninja parody of “Brokeback Mountain” and a surreal little bit that moved through time and space from the past to the present and from the cruise ship to Alameda and then to a BART train, were enormously clever and had the familiar Lobster touch.

KML continues to be the Bay Area’s most reliable sketch comedy troupe, both in terms of consistent material and production values of shows. The company, for example, usually uses live music for its production, this time with a jazz trio led by Erik Jekabson, who also composed the original music for the show.

Pat Craig is the Contra Costa Times Theater Critic.

Gelf Magazine Interview with Jelly-D

Gelf magazine out of NYC has a poppin fresh interview with Jelly-D–rapping party pastry sensation otherwise known as KML’s very own Andrew Bancroft. It’s a far ranging and deliciously filling interview with the Donut and his alter ego… And worth checking out right here right now.

SF Weekly "Nothing Is Original" Review

Night&Day: This Week’s Day-by-Day Picks

by Michael Leverton

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It’s easy to create visual art out of found objects — you simply label them as such — but what about making comedy out of them? That’s the idea behind Killing My Lobster’s Nothing Is Original, a series of sketches centered on found notes, old advertisements, newspaper clippings, and other informational detritus. Highlights include an overwrought letter of apology from a Boy Scout who swiped a candy bar, Civil War era sweethearts who confuse modern advertisements found on doorknobs with love letters, and a notorious Microsoft e-mail scam, in which performers embody each member of a long message thread (including the genius who hits “Reply to all” to tell everybody to stop hitting “Reply to all”). Even when the material lags, the players carry the sketches — particularly Andrew Bancroft, who elevates a bizarre jazz-cat poetry reading with masterful feline quirks.

The show closes tonight at 7 at the Thick House, 1695 18th St. (at Arkansas), S.F. Admission is $12-17; call 587-4465 or visit www.killingmylobster.com.

From sfweekly.com
Originally published by SF Weekly November 16, 2005

©2005 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.

HI/LO Film Festival 2005 Guardian Review

Hi/Lo Film Festival
Thurs/14-Sun/17, Red Vic Movie House and Parkway Theater

BACK FOR ITS eighth year of presenting “high concept/low budget” cinema, the Hi/Lo Film Festival packs three shorts programs and two documentary features into four days of free-thinking creative combustion. With local comedy collective Killing My Lobster pulling the strings, Hi/Lo delivers plenty of laughs: “Secret Santa,” about an insanely jealous husband who tracks down his wife’s coworker after a scandalous exchange of candy-filled mugs and Christmas socks; “Tales of Mere Existence,” a deadpan, animated take on day-to-day annoyances (including muscle-bound coworkers who hog all the cute-girl customers); the awesomely non sequitur “Spam-ku: I won a haiku contest about spam,” which contains the immortal phrase “I wouldn’t call myself a loser – I’m more of a nonwinner”; and the vaguely disconcerting “Broadcast 23,” which puts a Planet of the Apes spin on Deliverance (by way of The Blair Witch Project).

Even more unsettling is the short doc “Found Artists: Gary Crom,” about a Florida man who uses animal parts (and his own hair and teeth) to create the kind of masterpieces that wouldn’t be out of place on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre homestead. Hi/Lo’s longer entries include Skateboarding Is Not …, a doc by Utah filmmaker Drew Barlow, and the high point of the festival, University of San Francisco grad Nic Hill’s five-years-in-the-making Piece by Piece: The History of San Francisco Graffiti. For connoisseurs, this fiercely authentic film offers a nostalgic look back (it covers 1983 to the present), as well as an appreciative study of recent artists who’ve put their work on display. For anyone who’s dismissed this form of “creative destruction” as vandalism, Piece by Piece is both an educational experience, with opposing schools of style discussed by those who perfected them, and a thoughtful document of an ever evolving art form – “the only art form created by youth,” according to one graffiti scholar interviewed here. For show times see Rep Clock or go to www.hilofilmfestival.com. (Cheryl Eddy)

Rave Review for "Nothing is Original"

All Remaining Shows Sold Out!

REVIEW: Lobsters’ Fantastically Funny Show Dripping With Wit, Absurdity
by Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times, November 7, 2005

Really good comedy seems to happen when a wide-eyed sense of wonder collides with a sharp attitude of outrage. Laughter bubbles naturally from this vinegar and baking soda combination, as demonstrated once again by San Francisco’s Killing My Lobster sketch comedy group, back for the next several weeks with “Nothing Is Original,” something visual arts fans might view as comedians pioneering into the arena of found-object art.

The group collects things — discarded notes, advertisements, stray signs and other scraps evidencing the downside of a literate culture — and turns them into sketches on subjects as random as a musical tribute to MySpace.com, and a Civil War romance story told through advertisements found dangling from doorknobs.It is a devilishly clever idea that plays right into the Lobster strong suit of finding wildly funny, and incredibly innovative, comedy in the most ordinary places. Because the group can spin humor off such mundane objects as angry notes left under windshield wipers, and pathetic, barely literate, letters of apology, those in the audience quickly lock onto the Lobster wavelength.The players’ agenda is simple — they are interested in making you laugh. They seem to have no interest in bitter irony or tortured stabs at political commentary. Instead they poke joyously at the insane asylum we all know as life, to create some of the freshest and funniest comedy going.This time out, there are seven Lobsters on stage — Andy Alabran, Andrew Bancroft, Melane Case, Tonya Glanz, Daniel Lee, Nick Olivero and Shaye Troha. Jon Wolanske, a veteran Lobster performer and writer, directs with a deft sensibility and style, which grasps the notion of ending a bit before the audience either tires of it, or gets ahead of the jokes.All of the sketches play with minimal scenery in front of a floor-to-ceiling wall of cubby holes, containing what appear to be the contents of several garage sales, all neatly arranged on shelves.The set does little more than put you in a mood for randomness, which is happily provided by the Lobsters, as they launch into a film noir sketch using dialogue consisting only of movie titles, to a killer snowman, a running gag throughout the show, who has puzzledauthorities by leaving nothing but a carrot nose and a couple of raisin eyes at the crime scene as clues.Disc jockey Russ Hogg holds the piece together with recorded music that fits the show well but in some ways isn’t as satisfying as the live music that has been a part of previous Lobster shows.Altogether, though, the Lobsters serve up what could be the best comedy buffet in the Bay Area.

SF Weekly Award Show Preview

Music Awards
Award Show Performers
SF Weekly Music Awards

From sfweekly.com
Originally published by SF Weekly October 19, 2005
©2005 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Killing My Lobster comedy troupe has been tickling funny bones (and other body parts) in the Bay Area since 1997, when a bunch of Brown University crackups decided to reconstruct their old collegiate group, Out of Bounds. Actually, the first couple of years saw Marc Vogl, Erin Bradley, Paul Charney, Brian Perkins, Daniel Lee, Jon Wolanske, and other Lobsters toiling in anonymity.

But a 1999 Fringe Fest skit called Killing My Lobster Boards Flight 354 won the troupe a “Best of Fringe” award and garnered attention from HBO. Since then, KML (which was named via a drunken game of Celebrity) has played venues large and small, composing several new shows a year from scratch as well as offering the more free-form Killing My Lobster Kabaret and the annual Mustaches for Kids contest (both of which benefit worthy causes).

KML shows have focused on politics, travel, sports, science, financial windfalls, fairy tales, sex, and 21 other topics, all with sidesplitting results. Where magazine called the troupe “hip, irreverent, and brilliantly funny,” while Comedy Central online deemed one KML show “An orgy of comic genius.”

In November, the Lobsters will offer their latest comic tour de force, Nothing Is Original, a series of sketches created out of recycled ad copy, junk e-mails, yellowing photos, Hollywood screenplays, to-do lists, and random litter. KML is sure to prove, once again, that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.