Published by the American Bar Association
The Dealmaker's Ten Commandments provides a practical, no-nonsense
The first Colossal Clusterfest built a city-within-a-city in the shadow of San Francisco City Hall over the weekend, providing a buffet of food, music and laughter, and a steady skewering of S.F. values.
“I don’t like your weather or your basketball team,” comedian Hannibal Buress, a Chicago native, told the crowd Sunday night after the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
“They’ve got noise ordinances?” comedian Bill Burr said during a headlining Saturday night set, as he crept up on an 11 p.m. curfew. “Don’t want to wake up the homeless people?”
The crowd took the bulk of it in good humor. While the mostly out-of-town comedians — headliners were Burr, Kevin Hart and Jerry Seinfeld — gave the Bay Area some tough love, the inaugural festival hosted by Comedy Central and co-produced by Superfly and Another Planet Entertainment seemed to run smoothly.
Sarah Silverman, Buress and Fred Armisen rounded out some of the biggest comic names, while Ice Cube, Vince Staples, Les Claypool, and twin sister duo Tegan and Sara performed music sets on the outdoor stages. Several performers blended the two forms, including “Saturday Night Live” alum Maya Rudolph in the Prince tribute band Princess, and comedy-infused rapper Lil Dicky. The live 25th anniversary reading of “Wayne’s World” also melded the two perfectly, with “Broad City” stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson nailed their impersonations of Wayne and Garth and original cast member Tia Carrere wailing on the mike for a couple songs.
A few fans complained on social media about misogynist content by some comics, and what they said was a poor value return for the more expensive VIP tickets. But there seemed to be many more people on Twitter and Facebook expressing regret that they didn’t go, than wishing they stayed home.
Brother and sister Steven Carmack and Courtney Adams of San Carlos said they took advantage of the early festival learning curve, stumbling into incredible seats.
“It was kind of chaotic yesterday, and we kind of snuck in to the front, because no one knew what was up,” Adams said Saturday night. “I had Ice Cube about 12 feet in front of me. It was amazing.”
Overall, they gave the first two days a strong positive review.
“Considering they haven’t done it before, it’s been pretty seamless,” Carmack said. “I hope they come back every year.”
The aforementioned curfew was honored each night, crowds were large but manageable and there were plenty of distractions — including a “South Park” village that seemed designed for marijuana smokers and selfies, and impressive replicas of the apartment from “Seinfeld” and the pub from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
“We put a lot of time and energy into it, and we feel really good about it,” said Comedy Central president Kent Alterman.
Festival officials said they expected attendees “in the tens of thousands,” but didn’t release firm numbers as of Sunday.
“This weekend exceeded expectations,” said Allen Scott, vice president of Another Planet Entertainment. “The feedback from artists and the audience has been overwhelmingly positive. ... We hope to make this an annual event in San Francisco.”
The comics and other celebrities on the bill seemed to be enjoying themselves, even as they riffed about the cold or carefully timed sets. T.J. Miller, co-star of “Deadpool” and “Silicon Valley,” was seen hanging out near a beer garden, while Doug the Pug posed for pictures with fans.
Burr, while conducting his Q&A with Seinfeld on Sunday, commented on how impressed he was with how Clusterfest transformed the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium into what felt like an intimate comedy club despite being able to pack in 6,000 people per set. “It just has that vibe where you feel, ‘I don’t think I’d vomit here,’” Burr said.
“Well, this is a great group of people,” added Seinfeld, looking out into the crowd during his afternoon appearance. “They’re all interested in comedy. ... It’s fantastic and very different from when I started in the ’70s.”
Seinfeld closed the festival Sunday night with a 75-minute set, which drew a standing ovation. The old-school entertainer was the only headlining comic to wear a suit for the occasion.
“It’s Always Sunny” co-star and co-creator Rob McElhenney was a surprise attendee; a close friend happened to get married across the street at San Francisco City Hall on Friday, so the creator of the show’s Paddy’s Pub dropped by the Clusterfest copy of his TV bar.
“They got everything right,” McElhenney said, sitting in a booth in the festival version of Paddy’s Pub. “Everything I’m seeing looks like a replica from the set. … It’s crazy. It’s a working bar.”
Paddy’s Pub hosted Flipadelphia tournaments, karaoke and even a NBA Finals Game 2 watch party jam-packed with Golden State Warriors fans.
Outside, a group of comics were roasting San Francisco again. On the Piazza del Cluster Stage, a band led by comedians played a version of Starship’s “We Built This City.”
But Bay Area residents did have a few loyalists. Comedian Natasha Leggero seemed quite at home during her sets in Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
“San Francisco has the best crowds,” Leggero said. “They’re all smart, and we all hate the same things.”