By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Returning for its second year, the Comedy Central-sponsored Clusterfest brings a host of the network’s stars to San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza including former and current hosts of ‘The Daily Show’ Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah, Amy Schumer comedic musical group The Lonely Island and much more.
While comedy has become a significant part of many major music festivals ranging from Washington state’s Sasquatch! Music Festival, Bonnaroo and San Francisco’s own Outside Lands, last year’s inaugural Colossal Clusterfest flipped the script by presenting a three-day celebration of mostly stand-up, sketch comedy, live podcasts and interactive attractions with an array of musical performers mixed into the schedule.
Though it’s name has been shortened to simply “Clusterfest” this year, the second edition of the festival will feature a similar combination of comedy and music on the large outdoor Colossal Stage. Meanwhile, there will be four different spaces inside the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium presenting a variety of stand-up, panel discussions, video screenings and live podcast recordings. In addition to steady schedule of stand-up the main Bill Graham Stage, events will be ongoing at three more intimate performance areas: the Larkin Comedy Club, the upstairs Room 415 Comedy Club and the return of last year’s popular recreation of Paddy’s Pub from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, though this time the pub will be located on the plaza instead of the ground floor of the Civic.
The Colossal Stage will be hosting the event’s main headliners: current host of ‘The Daily Show’ and popular South African comedian Trevor Noah will take the stage for an early set prior to Berkeley’s own musical comedy trio The Lonely Island featuring former ‘SNL’ favorite Adam Samberg performing songs the crew made famous with its SNL Shorts (“Lazy Sunday,” “D–k in a Box” and “I’m on a Boat”) on Friday. Brutally honest stand-up and television/film star Amy Schumer along with a host of friends (including raunchy singer/stand-up Bridget Everett — who also plays an earlier set with her band, the Tender Moments — comedians Nikki Glasser and Rachael Feisnstein) closes the main stage on Saturday and celebrated political commentator and retired ‘Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart ends the festivities on Sunday. Those headliners will be making additional appearances during the weekend, with Noah will participate in The Daily Show Live with fellow “fake news” correspondents Roy Wood, Jr., Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta and Desi Lydic early Friday in the Larkin Comedy Club, while Stewart will appear in conversation on the Bill Graham Stage Sunday afternoon with SF Chronicle columnist Peter Hartlaub. And there is always a possibility of big names dropping in unannounced on some of the smaller stages over the course of the weekend.
In addition to Paddy’s Pub, Clusterfest will erect several several other immersive environments themed around various popular shows. ‘South Park’ fans will once again be given many photo opportunities with the South Park County Fair offering carnival games like Member Berries Skee Ball and Kick the Baby in addition to life-sized ‘South Park’ scenes for pictures. In one of the main rooms on the first floor of the Civic Center will be The Daily Show Presents the Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library that will creatively display some of the “unpresidented” nuggets of wisdom the 45th President of the U.S. has blessed his constituents with from before and after his election. The festival will also pay tribute to ‘Arrested Development’ with Bluth’s Frozen Banana Stand serving up icy treats and the Bluth family’s Stair Car available for more photo ops (the cast will also participate in a Sunday episode screening and conversation with cast members David Cross, Tony Hale and Kyle Mooney). And while it was not a Comedy Central show, a nostalgic celebration of the ’90s Nickelodeon show Double Dare is sure to be full of fans running through the game show’s iconic obstacles and enjoying the live version of the show.
The Colossal Stage takes a more hip-hop focus as far as the music acts being featured this year. Aside from local indie-rock heroes Third Eye Blind on Friday, the Colossal Stage line-up will be spotlighting some spectacular DJ talents (onetime Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli turntablist Cut Chemist and DJ Dials on Friday, DJ Dials and Dam-Funk Saturday, and Beat Junkies turntable wizard J Rocc on Sunday) as well as such hip-hop heavyweights as T-Pain, pioneering old-school female crew Salt-n-Pepa, rising MC and actress Awkwafina, Viceland reality television star and established lyrical giant Action Bronson and legendary Staten Island hip-hop crew, the Wu-Tang Clan.
But as one might expect from a Comedy Central-sponsored festival, the majority of the entertainment will focus on stand-up, including a number of network regulars and hosts. A veritable who’s who of current comedy talent will take the mic including such theater and club headliners as Jon Mulany, Nick Kroll (featured players on ‘Kroll Show’ and collaborators on their Broadway stage hit, Oh Hello, whose characters will kick off the Bill Graham Stage Friday), ‘Lady Dynamite’ creator and lead Maria Bamford, breakout Girls Trip star Tiffany Haddish, weekly Comedy Central late-night show host Jim Jefferies, Mike Lawrence, Chris Redd, roastmaster Jeff Ross and many others.
Staged versions and Q&A sessions about a variety of Comedy Central programs also fill the schedule with Derek Waters hosting Drunk History and Friends early Saturday, a sneak peak at new series Ronny Chieng’s International Student featuring the ‘Daily Show’ correspondent, ‘Nathan For You’ creator and star Nathan Fielder and Kyle Mooney presenting their “video treasures,” and a live version of the popular storytelling show ‘This Is Not Happening’ with new host Roy Wood, Jr. are all part of the schedule. Additional highlights include Friday night’s live recording of the horror/true crime obsessed Last Podcast on the Left, a pair of live script readings co-presented by SF Sketchfest — Saturday’s 20th anniversary tribute to the modern camp classic Spiceworld featuring a cast of superstar drag queens doing the bulk of the reading and lip synching, followed by Sunday’s take on Planes, Trains and Automobiles featuring ‘Silicon Valley’ star and comic improviser Thomas Middleditch, Ben Schwartz (‘Parks and Recreation,’ ‘House of Lies’), David Cross and Sasheer Zamata with musical backing from bandleader Marc Cappelle and his renowned Red Room Orchestra. For tickets, additional information on the three-day festival and more, visit the Clusterfest website.
Friday-Sunday, June 1-3, 2 p.m. (5 p.m. Fri.) $99.50-$599.50
San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza