Among this year's local participants in the SF Sketchfest line up is Michigan native turned San Franciscan, Paco Romane. This will be his fourth time in the comedy festival but as he explained it this year will be the first time he will be appearing solo as in a stand up. "I am so thrilled and honored because they selected me from so many others to do a bit from 'The Romane Event,'
Cole Stratton, one of the producers of the two-week extravaganza which is coordinated at over 25 venues around San Francisco is pleased that Romane is part of the comedy festival troupe.
"We're thrilled to include Paco's cool stand-up show, 'The Romane Event' in the festival this year for the first time, and to shed some light on Paco's stand-up, which is really strong," Stratton said.
He affirmed, "Paco Romane has been a part of Sketchfest for four years, as has his fantastic group Killing My Lobster, who are a fixture in the bay area and the fest," he said. Romane was interviewed by KQED's FORUM show last year with Stratton and Janet Varney along with some of the "Killing My Lobster" members."We talked about comedy, said Romane and the 'Killing My Lobster' project; and performed live on the air!"
For those outside of San Francisco, "Killing My Lobster"
is a home-grown production. 'The Romane Event' is also a home-grown production that Romane writes and produces himself. It is pure Romane at his comedic original self. To refer to Romane as an original is not an exaggeration, as this reporter sees it. Because, in many ways the life of a comedian or any performer for that matter requires intrinsic elements that propel the person into a self-motivated on-going quest for work on stage. Many of Romane's fellow comedic performers like Howard Meehan of the Meehan Brothers
know all too well how difficult it is to find work not only as a comedian but as an actor and performer. Meehan's younger brother Chris worked with Romane in the Mary Jo Pritchard written and produced comedy "Trailer Town."
Romane still recalls that experience of "Trailer Town" with happiness and deep appreciation as one of the best experiences of his career. It is from that experience that he seeks to build and help others to find or create a venue.
And for a place like San Francisco where affordable performance venues are slim,
Romane like so many others is happy to find a venue anywhere. In many instances, just like his fellow "Killing My Lobster" cast members, he too has had to create a venue-show which is how the 'The Romane Event.' was conceived. It emerged out his on-going struggle to keep working in comedy. The Romane Event Comedy Show is a showcase comedy show that features different comedians each month. It is highly praised as one of the best comedy shows in the Bay Area and is the longest running monthly comedy show in San Francisco. Voted "Best Comedian" this year by SF Weekly.
"It was a-three- way tie, noted Romane, but a win is a win!"
Yes, he has worked other 'day-jobs' but nothing is as gratifying and as fulfilling as working on stage.
While he manages to keep his own show up and running, Romane is also proud of other shows has been a part of and still is a part of, like "Killing My Lobster." Currently, as he mentioned to this reporter, Romane is now collaborating to be a director some time in February. He will be performing and also direct a portion of the long-running comedy performance project. Founded in 1997 it continues to provide creative outlets for local talent.
1997 is about the time when Romane came to San Francisco and eventually settled into the Haight-Asbury District where he lives. This reporter initially met with Romane back in 2005 while on assignment for the Haight-Ashbury Beat newspaper. And, then interviewed him again in 2011.
He was then and now still is as enthusiastic about the work of a comedian as ever. Romane is able to see opportunities just about everywhere to making an impact upon the San Francisco comedic scene. "I go back to Michigan to visit, but I love it here, San Francisco is home to me," he said.
This reporter observed that maybe another reason why Romane is so excited about Sketchfest in particular is because it is two weeks solid of work, doing what he loves so much, comedy. "Sketchfest is amazing said Romane, each year it keeps getting better." "And, it seems as if each year when one would think the fest has reached a peak, the following year it achieves even greater heights," he said. "It's really cool. I feel as if the fest has really found its groove; now they even do show's throughout the year, not just for the festival," he said. Romane notes that the festival is the place to be for anyone who loves comedy.
Along with a "tribute" to a show, there is a 'question and answer' session with the cast. This year one of the show's spotlighted in tribute will be the hit show "Portlandia."
"Much like Paco, the festival is a mash up of all things funny -- sketch, stand-up, improv, you name it," said Stratton. The 12th Annual SF Sketchfest begins on January 24 and continues until February 10. For details visit the SF Sketchfest web site.