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San Francisco’s ‘best, biggest and dumbest’ sketch troupe debuts at new city theater

A man kneels down to propose to a woman in a purple skirt while another woman looks in comedy sketch by the San Francisco performance troupe Killing My Lobster.
Elaine Gavin, Tirumari Jothi and Jen Marte perform in the Killing My Lobster sketch “Interrupted Proposal” by Meg Trowbridge. | Source: Kayleigh McCollum/Courtesy Killing My Lobster

The pandemic may have killed Killing My Lobster’s home at the beloved indie performance venue PianoFight a little over a year ago—but it hasn’t destroyed the collective’s unkillable spirit. 

The 27-year-old performance troupe will celebrate its last decade of laughs with a weekly revue compiling the “best, biggest, and dumbest sketches” from its “GOAT” years—that’s the “greatest of all ten” years—starting on Wednesday through March. But now Killing My Lobster will crack jokes at a new home base—Valencia Street’s old-but-new-again Eclectic Box theater. 

The new nonprofit venue at 446 Valencia St. took over the black box theater space formerly occupied by Stage Werx in November and is now hosting a wide range of performances, from Drunk Theatre’s whiskey-fueled, improvised plays to SF Neo-Futurists’ wild sports-meets-poetry fusion to Killing My Lobster’s latest trip down memory lane.

Eclectic Box theater in San Francisco's Mission District has an electric blue and pink facade.
New Mission theater Eclectic Box took over Valencia Street's Stage Werx in November. | Source: Courtesy Eclectic Box

“That’s really why we chose the name ‘Eclectic,’” said the theater’s co-founder Joe Waterman. The goal is to showcase “a wide array of things that don’t fit in a normal box.”  

Although Killing My Lobster is best known for its live sketch comedy performances, some of its most viral comedic moments can be found on YouTube or in deep pockets of the web. Devotees of the group may remember the troupe’s Ken Burns-style faux documentary of San Francisco’s artisanal “Coffee Wars” circa 2011, an arch “Twilight Zone” parody about no one seeming to work a day job in the city, and a now infamous—and most generally agree outdated—satirical promo of Oakland from the perspective of gentrifying hipsters that earned the group both accolades and grief.  

A man stands against a black backdrop wearing a bonnet.
Performer Tirumari Jothi reprises his role as Jane Austen in "White Noise" written by Ela Banerjee. | Source: Kayleigh McCollum/Courtesy Killing My Lobster

The troupe debuted a version of its 10-year GOAT show during San Francisco’s Sketchfest at the end of January, which attracted a good-size crowd at Gateway Theatre for a Wednesday night, said artistic director Nicole Odell. One absurdist sketch, called “Deal of a Lifetime,” takes it back all the way to 1997, when Killing My Lobster was founded by a bunch of transplanted Brown University alums in the city. The gag rests on a Wolf of Wall Street-style deal in a boardroom. 

“Then you discover that they’re negotiating and eventually blackmailing a guy over Beanie Babies,” Odell said.

Another vignette pivots on a drag Jane Austen bemoaning the unbearable whiteness of the English countryside, while another toys with a Southern gentleman’s odd obsession with oranges.

“Over the course of the three monologues, you find his attachment to oranges is not quite normal,” Odell said.

Three performers act in a "Wolf of Wall Street-style" comedy sketch that bargains over Beanie Baby stuffed animals.
Elaine Gavin, Mark de Dios and Jen Marte bargain over Beanie Babies in the comedy sketch "Deal of a Lifetime," written by Nicole Odell. | Source: Kayleigh McCollum/Courtesy Killing My Lobster

The highlight reel kicks off a season of Killing My Lobster taking creative risks. Later this season, the troupe will attempt to write and rehearse one half of a show in a day for a production dubbed “Lobster Boil” and test a variety-style showcase with comedic friends in March. 

“This is a big experimentation year,” Odell said. “We’re trying to shake up the formula that we’ve been working with over the last couple of years. Some of it’s pretty out there.”   

The Best of KML: The Last 10 Years 

🗓️ Feb. 7-March 6
🎟️ $16.50-$50