I’m Your Lobster

Gilda Doll

Being a part of the San Francisco sketch comedy community is an electrifying experience. Joyous energy surges through laughter. We’re getting better by the year.

I recently had the honour of appearing on Killing My Lobster‘s sensational podcast, The Alphabet. You can hear me on Episode B as multiple, well-written, perfectly-edited characters. I feel like Gilda Radner in her Lampoon’s Radio Hour Days. J’adore KML.

Come see Killing My Lobster live at SF Sketchfest on Tuesday, January 27th. The Lobsters are crushing it with stylish, witty pincers.

Of course, I’ll be flitting about Sketchfest again this year with enthusiastic abandon. Come see a show or three. The lineup is absolutely to die for.

Your Friendly Giggle Wonk


Jazz Bear Nest

Jazz Bear Nest

Comedian Keith Lowell Jensen and Crisman Richards discuss atheism, jazz, and multiple arrests. Featuring music by Snarky Puppy (courtesy of Ropeadope Records).

Listen to episode: http://bit.ly/1cCpj4Z

See Keith‘s jazz/comedy experiment, Session at Punchline SF on May 7th.

Produced by Crisman Richards. Theme Music, Engineering, and photography by Graham Richards.

The Smartest Conversation in the World


Sensai Greg Proops and I sat down at the Punchline in San Francisco before he recorded the Buzzers episode of his Smartest Man in the World podcast — imagine my delight when he quotes me on the air. I prepared three years for this interview. Notice how I don’t so much as look at my carefully constructed question cards. Here we bond over old radio, Southern oppression, and then casually debunk Christianity.

Read my essay, The Gospel of Greg Proops.

Stay tuned to Laughspin.com for more fantastic conversations betwixt yours truly and the intellectual voices of comedy.

Support TCS: Treat Yourself To Your Own Jingle


Photography by TIffany Black, blackbirdphoto.com

Hey Mysterious Strangers,

First: thank you for paying attention.  We just love you for it.  If you would like to support the Crisman Show in a way that is so fun it crosses over into pure narcissism, please consider donating to our IndieGoGo campaign.  You can help us get our merchandise store up and running (Gas Up the Mini Van flasks, anyone?) and get a little something pretty for yourself while you’re at it.

To wit: your own original jingle composed by the brilliant monster, Graham Richards.  Plus merch goodness and production credits.

Our goal is to document revolution in the most playful and joyous manner.  We want to spend 2014 touring International comedy festivals to meet our supporters and carry on riveting conversations.  Your generous donation will equip us to transition our pirate public radio operation into a self-sufficient production company.

What We Need & What You Get

  • By contributing to our first round of merchandising, you will receive a Crisman Show care package filled with TCS merchandise you helped bring into existence.  The more you give us, the more we give you.
  • Contributions will also go to cover the expense of a professional-grade portable rig. Donors will receive advanced tour dates and links to subsequent coverage in monthly newsletter updates (We promise not to Spam your box).

The Impact

  • We are committed to excellent programming, bangin’ hip hop, and laughing through the beautiful mire of planet earth.
  • We do not accept corporate financing.  What does The Man hate more than a talking lady?  The freedom of indie production allows us to interview whomever we please: activists, journalists, protesters, authors capable of original thought.  Contributing to us sticks it to the establishment.

Other Ways You Can Help

IK Multimedia #iRigCrisman Winners

Follow us on Instagram @CrismanShow

Follow us on Instagram @CrismanShow

Congratulations to Nathan and Madison!  You two had our favorite #iRigCrisman segment ideas.   Listen in to hear what we’re cooking up and stay tuned for the imminent mischief provided by IK Multimedia iRig Mic and/or iRig Mic Cast.

Produced by Crisman Richards.

Theme Music and Engineering by Graham Richards.

Music by G Koop & O-man.

Check out this episode.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Download G Koop & O-man Mixtape.

Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Crisman Show Podcast: Silent Applause

Comedian Sarah Crisman offers political commentary, audio essays, and interviews laced with Bay Area hip-hop.

This week, Crisman sits down with Oakland producers G Koop, O-man, and Anthony Caruso — masterminds to all the sounds heard on this program.

Written and Produced by Sarah Crisman
Produced and Engineered by Graham Richards

Recorded at Blanketfort Studios, California. Themes by Graham Richards (BMI). Other music by G Koop & O-man, ©2012 RM Moods & Colors (BMI), “Lige”, “Juice” featuring Blush, Foreign Legion, DJ Toure, DJ Platurn; “Guitar Jam” featuring Jerome Rodgers. Kim Manning, and The Mastrs. For licensing information, contact Rob@gkoop.com.

For more visit gkoopandoman.com


Jack Benny

Jack Benny

“Silent Applause”

The sound of my little sister’s breath deepens.  She always fall asleep before me.  The chow chow next door barks again.  I think about the creepy image of a little girl staring saucer eyed into the darkness and shut my eyes tight.  I roll over toward the drafty window as the wind swirls through the tall pine trees surrounding our street.  I reach my arm between the bed and the wall and grab the handle to the pink boom box my Mom gave me for my 8th birthday.  The plastic scrapes along the wall, knocking a bit of plaster loose.  My sister lets out a tiny snore.  I hold still then carefully pull the radio under my Strawberry Shortcake pillow.  My fingers navigate the dial in the darkness.  I make sure the volume is at zero before clicking the power on.

Bringing the sound up a single notch, Diana Ross sings a muffled melody through the pillow to my waiting ears.  I imagine myself on stage with the Supremes.  The station cuts to commercial.  I edge the dial through the static along less satisfying channels and long distance dedications.  I know every station by ear. Oldies. Classic Rock. Love songs.  Jazz. Pausing on a big band at the edge of the dial, I remember it is Sunday and immediately flip the switch to AM.  More static.  I turn the volume down and ease the knob silently to the general vicinity of WBBM.  AM stations are better for Golden Age programming as they operate on the preferred wavelength of World War II veterans and odd, insomniac children.

Talk radio and Tejano crackle by as I nimbly hone in along one edge of my fingertip to the other.  My deft ears are rewarded with trumpeting fanfare as the voice of Don Wilson announces: “The Jack Benny Program!”


I close my eyes and listen to the great miser’s familiar quips and the space between every laugh.  Jack Benny’s poignant pause.  The longer his silence between subdued jokes, the louder the audience laughs.  I am tickled by Mr Benny’s indignant banter with Fred Allen and wonder what the audience got to see that I cannot.  Something is terribly funny.  Even Mary Livingston is breaking through her lines — and she’s married to him!  Jack lets out an exasperated “Now cut that out!”

My own laugh escapes into the darkness.  I broke.  I slap my hand over my mouth and listen to my sister mutter incoherently and turn over under her quilt.  I mute the radio until I am sure she is fully asleep.  A car rolls into the gravel driveway next door and I bring the show up to an audible yet undisturbing level, just in time for a Lucky Strike cigarette spot.  I close my eyes and drift off to sleep to the smooth sophistication of 1947 advertising.

Jack Benny grew up in Chicagoland, only an hour away from where I was growing up.  We were both on the skirts of the Second City.  I wonder if he longed for the city as much as I did, ever searching the horizon for the towering skyline.  Jack Benny’s Chicago was shorter than mine.  The city taught him vaudeville.  I learned improvisation.  We gravitated to the stage.  My great grandfather was a vaudevillian in those days.  I wonder if they ever met and if Dr Clutterhouse was as mean to Jack Benny as he had been to me.  The historical overlap inspired me to one day write my own vaudevillian character, Dr Clusterfuck.

Jack Benny’s sidekick, Rochester is my favorite character; played by an astute, seemingly flustered Eddie Anderson.  Unlike many black supporting characters of the time, Rochester was a regular member of the fictional household of Benny — and actually black. Benny treated Rochester as a partner rather than hired domestic, writing Anderson’s character to subtly transcend racial stereotype.  This conscientious equal treatment on the show is clear during World War II episodes when Benny pays frequent tribute to the diversity of Americans drafted into military service.

After the war, when the depths of Nazi racism and hatred were seen, Benny made a conscious effort to remove the stereotypical aspects of the Rochester character. In 1948, it became apparent to Benny how much times had evolved when a 1941 script for “The Jack Benny Program” was re-used for the show one week. The script included mention of several African-American stereotypes— for example, a reference to Rochester carrying a razor— and prompted a number of listeners to send in angry letters protesting the stereotypes. Thereafter, Benny insisted that his writers make sure that no racial jokes or references be heard on his show. Benny also often gave key guest-star appearances to African-American performers such as Louis Armstrong and The Ink Spots.

I would have never pursued a life in radio had it not been for Jack Benny.  Though we were not alive at the same time, we followed a parallel path.  In one episode he talks about his first live performance playing violin on Market and Taylor, less than two miles from where I first stepped on to a San Francisco stage.  Jack Benny’s influence over my ear remains in tact thanks to Netflix, Spotify, and Stitcher radio.  You’d be hard pressed to know what year it is if you passed through my mind today.  I have my show.  I have my stage.  Now all I need is my Rochester.

The Crisman Show Podcast: Petionnaire


We’ve evolved to a properly written program.  Inspired by these new surroundings and my voracious news-addiction, I am putting my writing chops to the test to bring you a fresh, thoughtful program every week.  Graham is by my side with G Koop & O-man providing musical accompaniment to rival The Roots.  As always, I promise to make every episode better than the last.  Thank you for listening.  Here is this week’s audio essay for your eyeball reading pleasure.


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Nerd Lady Awry: SF Sketchfest 2013

Every laugh lead to this moment.  For 12 years, the deepest nerds in the comedy industry have gathered in San Francisco for the mother of comedy festivals, SF Sketchfest — a triumph of talent and endearing crowds standing in applause for days on end.  Three weeks into my new life in the promised land, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a troupe of enthusiastic volunteers, smiling maniacally as Kenneth on 30 Rock.  I just love comedy so much.

SF Sketchfest welcomes seasoned veterans and bright-eyed rubes like myself in a playful bond united by the joy of laughter — Pure laughter filling 26 venues across our Beloved San Francisco.  Between green room hospitality and directing fan traffic, my own laughter laced into a fraction of these programs.  I stepped into my element in service to my heroes.

My first assignment:  Drew Carey Presents The Midnight Show at Eureka Theater.  When given the chance I believe it important to communicate a champion’s influence over one’s life in the least sociopathic way possible.  I have personally thanked President Obama for inspiring me to great things and Stevie Wonder for existing.  Drew Carey is no exception.  When Drew Carey first appeared on Johnny Carson, his stand up set made me laugh until Orange Fanta came out my nose.  The other girls at the slumber party found this hilarious.  They weren’t even paying attention to the television.  I made them laugh because Drew Carey made me laugh.  In that moment I experienced the surprising cycle of being tickled and getting a laugh.  Simultaneous horror and delight.  I was hooked.  21 years later I stood over a box of empty beer bottles thanking Drew Carey for sparking me into life in comedy.  He thanked me earnestly and told me the toilet in the green room wasn’t flushing.

The California Academy of Sciences proved to be an overwhelming rush of energy as hundreds of Nerdists descended upon Golden Gate Park in a swirling mass of Tig enthusiasts and Proop Kittens.  I confess I find it a challenge keeping my shit together around Greg Proops.  His esoterism is as close to religion as I care venture.  Though we met last year in Hollywood, I still broke into a full-on, immediate ass sweat the moment he appeared vampire-like at my side.  Serendipitously, I was in the middle of a wildly animated discussion with SF Sketchfest founder, Janet Varney, when the Smartest Man in the World popped up out of nowhere.  When I told Janet my story, she said they built Sketchfest for me.  Our kindred passion and determination born of a deep commitment to the art of live comedy had lead us to this very moment.  It was this precise moment that Greg Proops materialized at my side.  Flop sweat.  Startling hug.  Comics, in general, are not a huggy-bunch.  But there I was enveloped in Greg Proops.  He remembered me from numerous fan Tweets, my email two days earlier, and excessive reminders detailing the first time we met.  Poor Mr Proops labored graciously under the tyranny of my affection as I stood in silent panic until he asked me the way to the Green Room.  Follow Janet, I said.

The remainder of my evening was a roving blur of jellyfish and happy fans attending podcast tapings and all star stand up sets in various corners of the world class museum.  I carried one other thank you note tucked into my lady business jacket.  A fart joke on fancy paper scrawled addressed to Chris Hardwick, the leader of the Nerdist world himself.  After fulfilling my volunteer responsibilities and wandering star-eyed through the aquarium, I caught his stand up set in the Piazza then nipped to the Green Room to say goodnight to my Lovely Lady Crush, Janet.  As I passed through the security checkpoint I saw Mr Hardwick in nearby conversation and immediately pretended to check my phone.  Really I was curving the alarming spike in my heart rate, wiping my clammy palms against my skirt and ironing out the fine stationery now subtly shaped by my breasts.  As he broke in my direction, I slipped right into his line of sight.

“I wrote you a fan letter.”  I said, presenting the ivory card in the least creepy way I could muster.

“You did?” He said with a satisfying amount of genuine surprise.

“Yes, well, your work has shaped my career; so, thanks.”

“I’m going to read the shit out of this!”

I introduced myself and took no more of his time.

“I’ll see you around.”  I said and fucked off into the night, thus marking myself as a wee blip on the Nerdist radar.

“Yes,” he said.  “I will see you around.”

Two days later I was at Cobb’s Comedy Club.  The next message to deliver was simple:  “Pete Holmes, you bring such joy to my life!”  That was it.  I will be happy to one day get lost in hours of bawdy enlightenment with the host of You Made It Weird — but not today.  Today, he must simply know he brings me joy, specifically.  Pete was my favorite 2012 discovery thanks to Comedy Central shows like TJ Miller’s Mash Up and John Oliver’s New York Stand Up.  The hours I spent listening to his podcast inspired my New Year Resolution: Be playful, be joyful.  I also meditate a lot more than I did before I became a bonafide Weirdo.  It works.  I am playful.  I am joyful.  And Pete Holmes gave me a hug.

Nothing short of Conan O’Brien himself could have improved my final night of Sketchfest.   Armed with coffee and a jar of fresh lavender from my “Calm the Fuck Down” garden, I returned to the Eureka to serve the current regime of my ultimate comedy dream job: Conan’s Writers.  Josh Comers and Laurie Kilmartin joined Write Now! with Jimmy Pardo — a panel game show hosted by gentleman responsible for warming up Conan’s studio audience and one of the most influential podcasts drifting through the ether.  Simply meeting Pardo and super producer Matt Belknap would have left me with enough revenge bliss to make my ex-boyfriend wild with a lifetime of professional jealousy (at least in my imagination).  Instead, I left elated.  I had not anticipated so much face time with Mr Pardo, nor did I shirk my responsibility at quick-witted banter.  Never Not Funny taught me how to handle party conversation — and boy, was our conversation a party!  His was the first podcast I followed in earnest.  I thanked them for teaching me the importance of Yes, And-ing in repartee.  I surprised myself.  I made them laugh.

The Crisman Show: Bay Area Blanket Fort


We’re back!  Reporting from our new Blanket Fort studio in the East Bay of San Francisco, California.  Crisman and sidekick producer Graham Richards discuss SF Sketchfest, Nichols and May, and the importance of pestering public officials.

Written by Sarah Crisman
Original Music by Graham Richards (BMI) and G Koop & O-man (RM Moods, BMI).
Featuring Marc Stretch (“Bulletproof”); DB tha General and Indu$treet AV (“My Turn”).
Contact Rob@gkoop.com for licensing information.

For more mad beats, check GKoopandOman.com

Interview with Jesse Thorn

Jesse Thorn

Photo by Noe Montes

Today is #MaxFunDay in podcast land, and we are celebrating with this extra-special interview with Maximum Fun creator, Jesse Thorn.  The San Francisco native has carved out a delightful niche of pop culture and unbridled creativity — from podcasts, to blogging, and a summer camp for grown-ups — Maximum Fun delivers.  They’re listener supported: listen and support here.  
How did growing up in San Francisco shape your comic sensibility?
I think that people think San Francisco is a very politically correct place, and it is, but usually in the good way. People can tell if you’re respectful of other people, and if you are, you can really do anything. We got to be peripherally part of the amazing stand-up scene there – folks like Al Madrigal and W. Kamau Bell and Brent Weinbach and Jasper Redd – and I also idolized the SF-based sketch group Culture Clash as a kid. They were (and are) amazingly funny, and also lived in my neighborhood. That meant a lot to me.
What drew you to radio?
It’s cheap and easy to manage, logistically. I loved This American Life as a teenager, and have always loved public radio. I grew up listening to baseball on the radio all the time. When I tried it, it felt right.
Where do you go for a laugh in the Bay Area?
Real answer: We just got back from the San Francisco Comedy & Burrito Festival, and I used to work at SF Sketchfest, and both of those are totally amazing operations. And the Punchline and Cobb’s are as good as mainstream comedy clubs get.Fake answer: Berkeley! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Where should comics new to the Bay go to earn their stripes?
Get your ass to an open mic and meet some other comics. Do as many sets as you can and get good. That’s pretty much all there is to it, from what I understand.
What is your favorite podcast (outside the MaxFun Universe)?
99% Invisible, a show about design by Roman Mars. And Never Not Funny. (I know, that’s two, sue me.)
What is your research process in preparing for an interview?
I watch or listen to or read all of the person’s stuff. Then I read all the articles and especially interviews with them I can find. Then I sort of let it marinate. Usually they suggest things I wonder about, and I try to note that when it happens.
How do your listeners inspire you?
What is the driving force behind MaxFunCon?
We wanted to find a way to bring our community together physically, and reinforce the values we have – basically making stuff and laughing. At first we were going to do a more con-like con, but I couldn’t figure out how to make that good, and then when someone at UCLA suggested the Lake Arrowhead conference center, I knew immediately what it was. Summer camp for grown-ups.
How did Prank the Dean come into existence?
Jordan (Morris) and I invited the brilliant, amazing sketch group Kasper Hauser on our show when we were in college, and they asked us if we had a sketch group. Jordan told them yes (we didn’t), and they offered to book us a show. So we formed a sketch group and did the show. And it was great. We had a great run – lots of festivals around the country, lots of local stuff. It was a blast.
What’s it like to have Marc Maron as your podcast baby?
Marc’s so gracious, it’s been wonderful. He probably gives me more credit than I deserve, because it feeds his origin myth of how incompetent he was. The truth is his producer is a brilliant guy, and Marc is a brilliant guy, and I just helped Marc set up his mics.

Special thanks to Jesse Thorn for inspiration and quick response emailing!

In Praise of Old Time Radio Podcasting

Artwork by Tom Fowler


Like most homeschoolers growing up in 1980s suburban Chicago, I learned about comedy listening to 40-year old broadcasts of Jack BennyBurns & Allen.  Since my first willing audience was comprised of grandparents, vaudevillian routines went over well in our living room comedy club.  This behavior continued unchecked for years.  You can imagine how popular I was in public high school (hint: my bullies were theater geeks/teachers).

Still I clung to the Golden Days of Radio to make sense of the world.  Sure, the better dancers shoved me into my gym locker after tap class — but Fibber McGee & Molly were waiting to keep me company after school.  The Golden Age of comedy was anytime I could sit beside my bright pink tape deck.  In those days (way back 20 years ago), WBBM aired my favorite serials late at night.  I’d stay up late Saturday nights listening to The Shadow or Little Orphan Annie, then catch a nap on the way home from (during) church the next morning.  My funny bone was shaped through my ears.

Today, my favorite podcast is, naturally, in the style of old time radio: Acker & Blacker’s The Thrilling Adventure Hour features numerous serials and a multitude of hilarious characters that could make NBC roll in its grave.  My personal favorite is “Beyond Belief” — the adventures of Frank and Sadie Doyle, two drunken, happily married mediums played brilliantly by Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster.  A spitting image, I might add, of my grown-up home life.  Yes.  We see ghosts!  Rather, I see ghosts while my other half humours me with fine craft brews.  Here’s to us!  CLINK.  

Have a listen, or better still, go see a live recording in Hollywood.  If you are as old at heart as I am, you’re in for a real treat.