Fans, critics and fellow comedians know him as a “race-ist” and someone who “can’t dunk a basketball.”
But San Francisco comedian W. Kamau Bell — who made his mark after telling the first-ever recorded Barack Obama joke on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend” — stays busy performing stand-up and hosting comedy events, including an appearance at “LOL-SF: A Celebration of Comedy On Screen,” which runs Thursday through July 15 at the Vogue Theatre.
The festival features local comedians hosting screenings of their favorite comedy films.
Bell is known for his smart humor that touches on race, politics and pop culture, and he will introduce the often-forgotten Eddie Murphy film “Coming to America” at 5 p.m. July 10.
When asked to choose a film for the festival, Bell says he began to wonder if “maybe I don’t like comedies,” because most films he thinks are funny actually aren’t classified as comedies — he finds his humor in an off-beat manner.
As a kid, he would sneak out to the TV after bedtime to watch “Saturday Night Live,” seeing Murphy as “explosive and unexpectedly sexy.” Murphy’s performances were surprising for the 1980s; they even swayed Bell’s decision to become a comedian.
Bell continuously has looked to Murphy as an influence. Murphy’s 1987 “Raw” is still one of Bell’s favorite stand-up routines, although Bell says there was “no way he could screen it” at LOL-SF. But Bell quickly determined that “Coming to America” would be an appropriate choice after friends plastered his Facebook page with favorite quotes and moments from the film.
The movie, about a prince from Africa played by Murphy who ventures to the U.S. in search of a bride, is an under-the-radar, unexpectedly funny movie that’s high on many comedians’ favorite-films lists.
In addition to the comedians and screenings, the festival also features independent film selections, movies for kids and a panel called “Why Comedies Aren’t Taken Seriously” at 5 p.m. July 11.
IF YOU GO
LOL-SF: A Celebration of Comedy on Screen
Where: Vogue Theatre, 3290 Sacramento St., San Francisco
When: Thursday through July 15
Tickets: $10 each screening; $50 for pass
Contact: (415) 346-2288, www.sfntf.org
Thursday: “Soul Kitchen” (7:30 p.m.)
July 9: “Made in China,” presented by Dhaya Lakshminarayanan (7 p.m.); “The Overbrook Brothers” (9:30 p.m.)
July 10: “Coming to America” (5 p.m.); “Divorce — Italian Style,” presented by Don Novello, aka Father Guido Sarducci (8 p.m.)
July 11: “Groundhog Day,” presented by Bob Sarlatte (7:30 p.m.)
July 12: “The Blues Brothers,” presented by Debi Durst (5 p.m.); “The Pink Panther,” presented by Will Durst (7:30 p.m.)
July 13: “Up in Smoke,” presented by Dhaya Lakshminarayanan (5 p.m.); “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” presented by Marga Gomez (7:30 p.m.)
July 14: “Sleeper,” presented by Lisa Geduldig (5 p.m.); “Midnight Run,” presented by Kevin Pollak (7:30 p.m.)
July 15: “May the Best Man Win” (5 p.m.); “Colin Fitz Lives!” with director Robert Bella in person (7:30 p.m.)