Michael Showalter defends dinner, under duress
MS: Topics! Topics is actually all improvised. Basically the two of us are in character as two guys who take themselves very seriously and think very highly of their own opinions. The main thing with Topics is we try not to tell jokes — we're just being these characters who are really, really serious about what they're talking about, but they don't actually know anything. We just start out with a topic and we improvise for half an hour. [Ed. note — December brought us such topics as "Regret," "The Middle East," and "Paranormal Activity." It's excellent.]
SFBG: There are some of us for whom The State is still the gold standard in sketch comedy. Do you think it would work on TV right now? There hasn't really been anything like it since.
MS: You know, I think we were very much a product of our generation. It was Kids in the Hall and The State and the Upright Citizens Brigade...and I think at that time, sketch comedy was still a kind of theatrical thing; it hadn't yet become so video-based. I don't know if sketch in that traditional sense is still as viable. But I'm sure another great sketch show will come along, figure out the next thing.
SFBG: As for Sketchfest — of the events you're scheduled to perform in, I'm most excited about the Uptown Showdown debate on breakfast vs. dinner. Can you say what side you're on?
MS: (Sighs deeply.) OK, which do you think will win, should win?
SFBG: I would say breakfast, hands down.
MS: Yeah. So I am on dinner. I did not choose to be on dinner; dinner was given to me. Here's the thing: This will be my fourth time competing in Uptown Showdown. The first time was cats vs. dogs. I was on cats, and we lost to dogs. The second time was Christmas vs. Hanukkah. I was on Christmas, and we lost to Hanukkah. The third time, last year, we did the '80s vs. the '90s, and I was on the '80s, and we lost to the '90s. So this year — dinner vs. breakfast — I already know I'm going to lose, and I'm livid about it. I'm not even joking. I could read you my emails back and forth with [the organizers] where they're asking me to do this and I'm saying I don't like it — here, I'll pull it up. I wrote, "I'm sick and tired of losing at this." I'm not being facetious. It's making me feel bad about myself. Like a loser. It really pisses me off.
SFBG: How did this happen, exactly? Who gets to choose?
MS: Here, let me find this email: "David Wain prefers that his team defend breakfast as the superior meal." Sure. What's the point? I know we'll lose. I have the Uptown Showdown curse.
SFBG: You sound pretty defeatist about this. Are you even going to prepare?
MS: Oh, yeah. I mean, don't get me wrong. When it's game time, I'll come to do battle.
Uptown Showdown: Breakfast vs. Dinner
Sat/1, 10pm, $30
Marines Memorial Theatre
609 Sutter, SF