SF's Castro Features “Twas the Night Before Sketchfest”

Depending on your degree of holiday-related accomplishments this season, you likely have naughty or nice thoughts, as we approach Christmas Day.

Luckily, the Castro Theater in San Francisco has you covered for both on Saturday, with “Twas the Night Before Sketchfest.”

All day, the theater is screening holiday-themed classics, both of the sweet and saucy varieties.

The Jim Henson Muppet tale “Emmett Otter’s Jug-band Christmas” may put a grin on your grill, especially considering longtime Muppeteer, Dave Goelz, will be a special guest at the screening at 3 p.m.
Goelz was one of the early puppet builders in the Henson workshop and has been a regular Muppet performer since the ’70s. (Psst, he’s Gonzo and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew!)

“Emmett Otter” is a heartwarming holiday tale that sees Emmett and his Ma compete in a talent contest in order to win enough money to buy Christmas gifts for one another. (There’s a clever “Gift of the Magi” twist, too.)

The 1978 TV special used traditional hand puppetry and marionettes and is packed with comical woodland critters—including the rockin’ Riverbottom Nightmare Band.
Goelz said he actually created several of the puppets used, including “Pop-Eyed” Catfish and Stanley Weasel.

“It was a lovely shoot,” Goelz reminisced. “It sort of mirrored the feeling of ‘Emmett Otter’ of family. Jim had circles of people around him wherever he worked. He accumulated people he liked to work with. As a relative newcomer, it was great to arrive and have friends ready-made.”

Goelz said Jim Henson’s philosophy about work is also reminiscent of the themes within “Emmett Otter.” Essentially it’s that all people are good and if you share work together you will find things in others to admire.

“All that was really remarkable,” Goelz said. “The process of creating the relationships inside our company was organic, not forced.”

“The Bells of Fraggle Rock,” on which Goelz also worked, will be screened with “Emmett Otter.”

Switching gears completely, later in the day there will be a screening of the love-it-or-hate-it comedy “Bad Santa,” which will feature appearances by the director, Terry Zwigoff, as well as co-stars Lauren Tom and Tony Cox, who played Marcus, the naughtiest of elves.

If you’re in the mood to see Santa and his elf do some of the vilest things ever on the big screen, “Bad Santa” at 8:30 p.m. is your bag.

“I never thought the movie would be shot,” Tony Cox said about reading the script for “Bad Santa.” “The language! I did think it was a great role for a little person, though. I thought, ‘Wow. This is different!’”

It’s the role he is most recognized for—especially in other countries, Cox added. He said he had a great time improvising with co-stars Bernie Mac and Billy Bob Thornton, who played the title character. “He’s one of those method actors,” Cox laughed about Thornton really getting into some of the nastier moments of the film.

Visit sfsketchfest.com for more information.

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