Artist you should knowArts and CultureComedyMusicNewsPerformer you should knowSatire/Humor/ComedySF Bay Area

Fred Armisen’s Comedy for Bass Players (but Everyone is Welcome)

The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news

by Tommy Lau Photography

I don’t think Fred Armisen needs an introduction, but for journalism purposes here it goes: he is one of the funniest people alive! He did SNL. Portlandia, Documentary Now!, Los Espookys and was recently on Wednesday besides many other great shows. One of my very favorites is his Netflix special: Stand Up For Drummers. It was shot at Great American Music Hall in 2018 and it’s also where he decided to do his latest Sketchfest residency “Comedy for Bass Players (but everyone is welcome)”.

Fred Armisen and guest bass player, Les Claypool from Primus. Photo by Jakub Mosur

He said the Great American Music Hall is his favorite venue in the US and he loves the San Francisco crowd. It was pretty clear that the love is mutual, his 3-day residency sold out quickly even before announcing who the special guests were: on Friday it was Les Claypool (Primus), Saturday Kathy Valentine (The Go-Go’s) and on Sunday, Bay Area’s own Mike Dirnt (Green Day). What a cool lineup of guests! Events like this are a great reminder that SF is still cool!

Fred Armisen and Les Claypool from Primus
Photo by Jakub Mosur

Fred and Kathy Valentine from The Go-Go’s by Tommy Lau Photography

Fred and Mike Dirnt from Green Day by Tommy Lau Photography

I attended two nights (Saturday and Sunday) and couldn’t get enough. There were a lot of musicians in the audience but also a lot of comedy fans, and everyone seemed very pleased with the content, it really is a show for everyone. But if you geek on music and play any instrument, you’d wish you were there! He is also a prolific musician, and it was a treat to see him perform with such great artists, on Saturday the audience did a sing-a-long while Kathy on bass, and Fred on drums played “Our lips are sealed”, “We got the Beat”and “Vacation” from The Go-Go’s.

Sunday it was Mike Dirnt’s turn to jam with Fred to Green Day and The Who.

Mike Dirnt by Tommy Lau Photography

Kathy Valentine and Fred Armisen by Tommy Lau Photography

Fred told the story of Punk Rock through different drum styles and bands from Ramones, The Clash, Devo (remember when he played drums at Burger Boogaloo with DEVO?!), Green Day, and ended with an homage to Mimi Parker from the band Low who passed away last year. His impressions of Phil Collins, Kansas, and the funniest of all: Diana Ross’s drummer playing “I’m coming out” are going to stay in my mind forever and it will always crack me up when I hear these songs again.

Fred Armisen by Tommy Lau Photography

He also invited people from the audience to participate in a couple of skits with the guests and at the end of the show he took requests and played hits like Maggie Thatcher (from SNL), Catalina Breeze (from Documentary Now!), and the epic Fist Fight in the Parking Lot (from SNL).

Fred Armisen by Tommy Lau Photography

I hope this becomes his new special, he could do a whole Season just with these skits, impressions, and observations and it would be the most amazing show! There were funny props like a glove with drumsticks attached à la Edward Scissorhands, an edible bass head made out of chocolate cake, and a double-arm guitar with no body, impossible to play. Honestly, he can go as far as he wants cause everyone was so into it!

I haven’t laughed that hard since the John Waters Christmas Show, and that’s my new dream: John and Fred performing together at Great American! I would probably die from laughing and it would be a beautiful death. If you watched Stand Up For Drummers, you know that Fred is a huge John Waters fan, so this dream is not that farfetched.

More info here:  Fred Armisen

Previous post

The Story of 3 Generations of Pima Women: 'Cashed Out' at SF Playhouse

Next post

This "Qamp" Co-Created a Full Album in 3 Days

Patricia Colli

Patricia Colli

Patricia Colli is an artist, printmaker and music enthusiast based in San Francisco. Meet me at the mosh pit!