SketchFest serves up a delicious comedy sampler

By KANAK GUPTA | September 6, 2018

As part of the second Baltimore Comedy Festival, the Station North arts venue Motor House hosted Sketchfest, a two-hour screening of various comedy shorts, on Friday, Sept. 1.

Max Levine, the director and organizer of the event explained that Sketchfest received submissions from across the country and around the world. 

“We had around 76 submissions this year from places like Australia, [the] U.K., France and India,” Levine said. 

The event featured 22 shorts, of which seven were from local artists and 15 were international submissions. The selections exhibited a variety of comedy genres and styles, ensuring there was something for everyone in the mix. Brian Kidd, another member of the audience at the show and a junior at Hopkins, said the show was particularly enjoyable because of the variance of the comedic material. 

While most of the show was entertaining, some of the shorts were more memorable than others — either because of their intelligent humor, or, as was the case with All The Animals Are Dead Now by Noah Aust, just their sheer absurdity. 

The short begins in a cartoonish, brightly colored room with two characters dressed as mimes with clown-like faces. The characters begin their journey under the influence of marijuana, which sucks them into a loud psychedelic fantasy with inexplicable sexual overtones and where they meet God (who bears a striking resemblance to the Laughing Buddha). 

The fast paced short jumps through fantastical scenes one after the other until the two characters are obliterated and end up back where they started — smoking in their seats in the bright room. The short, which makes one laugh out of confusion if not comedic appreciation, was deservedly awarded the LOLWUT award at the festival.

Grace Palmer’s Blind Tasting was another memorable film that riffed on the pretentious culture of wine tastings. 

A group of young hipsters at a blind tasting discuss the underrated “Romanian” wine culture while drinking wines and correcting one another on the pronunciation of “Bucharest.” The descriptions slowly escalate from places, years, rich aromas and “a hint of pear” to the wine tasting like “apple pie,” “lime Kool-Aid” and “menthol cigarettes,” with a few interspersed jokes about spitting and swallowing it. 

The punch line of the sketch occurs when one of the tasters serves the group an especially coppery wine which he, to the swallower’s chagrin, reveals to be “New Jersey Housewife, 2016.” 

Palmer’s second short Patties won the Funniest Film award at the festival. The sketch shows Palmer and another actor working on an ad campaign for a burger company, “Patties,” with Palmer playing the genius behind their very popular ad campaigns. The sketch is full of punchy one-liners and hilarious slogans for marketing the brand, making it a deserving winner. Palmer was also the only creator who was featured twice in the line-up of the show. 

Second place for Funniest Film went to A Piece of the Pie by Bryan Brooks, a period sketch that takes place in 1943 Germany as three American soldiers wishfully imagine what they’re going to do when they return home. One wishes to see his love, one simply wants to “sit on his porch, sipping on tea, with a piece of peach pie.” 

The third, their superior, chimes in saying that all he wishes to do when he returns home is go to his neighbor’s backyard and “fuck the tractor.” His plan is naturally met with incredulity and hilarity ensues, ending with the general saying that perhaps, he would “even fuck a piece of the peach pie.”

SketchFest was the first event of its kind in Baltimore, exhibiting many such amusing and well-crafted shorts and comedic talent not only from the City but also from around the world, and it was met with a great reception from its unanticipatedly large audience. 

“I am genuinely surprised by how well SketchFest went last night at the Motor House. By the end of the night, it was standing room only and I really don’t know how that happened. We had some filmmakers show up to see their work on the big screen, a lot of laughs and overall a great time,” Levine wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Thanks to everyone who came out and made this possible. I think SketchFest 2019 is gonna be even better.”

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