‘Porchlight’ live podcast entertains at SF Sketchfest with hilarious, varied storytelling

Porchlight
SF Sketchfest/Courtesy

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SF Sketchfest has a long tradition of bringing comedy to the Bay Area and the performances at Saturday night’s “Porchlight, A Storytelling Series” carried on this tradition.

“Porchlight, A Storytelling Series,” founded by Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte, is a storytelling series in its 15th year. For each show, Lisick and Klatte invite six individuals to tell true and humorous stories. They draw from a diverse range of storytellers, including “school bus drivers, mushroom hunters, politicians, socialites, sex workers, musicians, authors, systems analysts and social workers.”

Storytellers Aisling Bea, Chris Garcia, Maeve Higgins, Kevin McDonald and Mo Willems together created a night of laughter and community. There is something universal about storytelling, and “Porchlight” illuminates this universality: It did not matter the extent to which the audience had experienced the particular circumstances being recounted on stage. The audience knew what it was to have found themselves in a strange situation and be searching for what was, perhaps, not the most sophisticated way out — as the storytellers put it, searching for “low-hanging fruit.”

From ill-timed AIDS sketches to questionable choices allegedly made by Pierce Brosnan’s son, Saturday’s stories were simply funny. When every day offers increasingly distressing news cycles, it was nice to be in a room full of people remembering how incredibly absurd life can be.

Perhaps this is the ultimate power of storytelling — or at the very least, this is what “Porchlight” is counting on. Life is ridiculous. As the storytellers reminded the audience, sometimes we’re randomly accosted by dolphins off the coast of New Zealand, or we refuse to learn to write the number two because we miss our sister.

Sometimes, as both Willems and Bea recounted, life quite literally drops shit in our laps, and in those moments it seems nearly impossible to see any reason to it, let alone feel anything but staggering defeat. Perhaps, though, we would do well to remember that we may yet make a great story of that shit — one that might just leave a room full of people gasping with laughter.

Contact Danielle Hilborn at [email protected].