On Saturday, Jan. 21, lucky attendees of SF Sketchfest got to witness an event a decade in the making: A staged recreation of the cult classic "Wet Hot American Summer" by (most of) the original cast at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre in San Francisco, CA.
The 2001 summer camp movie parody, made primarily by members of comedy troupe The State on a shoestring budget, was a box office failure upon its theatrical release. But the following decade has been kind to "Wet Hot." Today, the movie has become a sort of comedy calling card, and telling someone that you're a fan of "Wet Hot American Summer" immediately sends a message about your sense of humor: Straight faced and silly simultaneously, hyper self-aware and more than a little ironic.
At SF Sketchfest, one of most highly regarded comedy festivals in America that leans on so-called "alternative" comedy, much of the "Wet Hot" cast got together to perform an adapted "radio play" of the movie. Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, two actors from the original film whose profiles have risen considerably since the movie's release, reprised their roles, as did stars Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Molly Shannon, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Samm Levine, and Marguerite Moreau.
And yes, Christopher Meloni reprised his small role as Gene, the crazed cafeteria worker whose talking can of vegetables encourages him to come to terms with his secret perversions.
David Wain, the director of "Wet Hot" (as well as "Role Models" and the upcoming "Wanderlust"), narrated the production.
While bigshots from the original movie like Bradley Cooper and Elizabeth Banks did not attend, other comedy luminaries stepped into their roles. David Cross filled in for David Hyde Pierce playing Henry, a timid astrology professor and love interest of camp counselor Beth, who was played by "Cougartown" star Busy Phillips instead of original actress Janeane Garofalo.
Also appearing as substitutes for the original actors were "Conan" sidekick Andy Richter (as Ron), John Hodgman (as Keith), Gillian Jacobs (as Lindsay), Joshua Malina (as J.J.), Colin Hanks (as Gary), Marc Evan Jackson (as Ben), Bruce McCulloch (as Aaron), Jessi Klein (as Abby), Craig Cackowski (as Moose), Hal Lublin (as Melvin), Annie Savage (as various), and Zancy Hartig (as Nurse Nancy).
Replacing Jon Benjamin as said talking can of vegetables was Bobcat Goldthwait.
Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, the masterminds behind the popular stage show and podcast "Thrilling Adventure Hour," adapted the play for the stage. The show was produced for SF Sketchfest by David Owen, Cole Stratton and Janet Varney.
All photos courtesy Jakub Mosur.