Moontower of babble: Reflections on the music of comedy

Patton Oswalt performs at the Paramount during the Moontower Comedy Festival.

By Wes Eichenwald
Special to the American-Statesman

The Velv, aka the Velveeta Room, is Austin’s comedy analogue to the Continental Club. Twenty-nine years after its founding, it’s become a local institution: a performer’s club, intimate without inducing claustrophobia, it’s definitely one of the classier joints on the carnival midway that is Dirty Sixth. Matt Ingebretson — an Austin native living in LA who, besides standup, writes, makes amusing YouTube videos and has a deal with Comedy Central for a sitcom, “Corporate” — is there emceeing a Thursday early-evening Austin Towers showcase during the Moontower Comedy Festival, with a dozen performers doing sets averaging about seven minutes apiece.

Some use their seven minutes more effectively than others. Brassy, stalwart local fixture Kath Barbadoro, with a date to open two nights later for Patton Oswalt at the Paramount, starts out with some inevitable remarks like “I like weed” but really energizes the room with some grade-A lines like “I’ve gone on so many dates in Austin that I know how to brew my own beer now.” Fellow Austinite Bob Khosravi, 35, bearded and cranky, gets laughs with rants like “I don’t like things if they make things easier for younger people. They don’t deserve it.”

If you spend enough time in comedy clubs – and I did three straight Moontower nights, seeing headliners Jay Pharoah, Colin Quinn, Margaret Cho and Oswalt, plus that showcase – you’ll realize the parallels with the music scene. Not just Austin’s, but any music scene. Instead of notes, comics play truths. Or at least, their particular truths. Some routines play like Coltrane-style jazz (solid, smoothly flowing), others like punk rock (aggressive, no prisoners taken), others like funk or salsa. And the 12-person showcase? That’s just another record-company promo sampler given out at South by Southwest; explore further if you’re interested, otherwise toss it.

The obvious musical analogue for Pharoah is freestyle rap; he’s done some of the actual stuff himself, and he streams his consciousness as he stalks back and forth across the stage Paramount stage, discussing Uber and drugs and President Donald Trump and marriage (“Marriage is hard. God knows it’s hard — that’s why he ain’t married”) and flowing from one to the other of the scores of impressions he’s famous for: Obama, Denzel, Eddie Murphy and Eddie’s recently deceased brother Charlie, a mentor of his whose death he mourns. “Be gangsta!” he advises towards the end.

Friday night over at the State, Quinn, a 57-year-old Irish-American from Brooklyn, holds forth with his working-class, self-taught philosophy, squinting into the lights like a mongrel cross between Cliff from “Cheers,” a vaudeville comic and a crusty old police sergeant in a 1940s Preston Sturges movie. Quinn titles his show “Bully,” and though he touches on the schoolyard anecdotes you’d expect, he veers off into the roots and history of bullying, from the Greeks (“Socrates: the passive-aggressive friend’) and Romans through to communism, capitalism and our current dysfunctional world.

What kind of music does Quinn’s monologue suggest? Garage rock with literate lyrics, maybe, or an experimental post-punk cult band from the ‘80s. Prowling the stage like Burgess Meredith’s Mickey, the aging boxing trainer in “Rocky,” he defines intellectual bullying in addition to the physical kind, and bemoans the shortage of democracy in even a supposedly democratic society: “Work is a dictatorship. Family is tribal. Traffic, a failed social experiment. Then you’re asleep for eight hours. You maybe experience democracy about two and a half hours a day.”

By the end, when the audience, rising, applauds vigorously, you realize that even considering everything, and despite all his faults, there’s something noble about Quinn’s quixotic endeavor to explain why things are the way they are. You also realize that this former “Saturday Night Live” news anchor, though he may have been a gigantic jerk at certain points in his past, may fit the living definition of “too smart for his own good.” Colin Quinn: the last of the moralists. In 20 years, he’s going to make a great old man.

As with musicians, the best comedians make it look effortless, a grand illusion of ease and simplicity. This was certainly the case with Cho and Oswalt in their back-to-back headlining sets at the Paramount on Saturday, Moontower’s closing night. About 80 percent of Cho’s set can’t be mentioned in a newspaper; let’s just say that she mounted the stage in ultra-high heels and black leather shorts, making a point to discuss her outfit and its effect on her, and things spiraled away from there. Cho is the extrovert’s extrovert, even for a comedian, and after her riffs on celebrity feuds and one-nighters, and extended bits on bodily functions and malfunctions, you felt directly wired into her thought process in real time. Her musical parallel: gutsy mainstream pop, probably.

Finally came a brilliantly woven set from Oswalt to a packed house, likely Moontower’s hottest ticket this year. If you wanted to design the perfect thinking man’s standup comic, it might look and sound a lot like Oswalt, who showed quicksilver wit and impeccable timing in his interactions with the audience (“Everyone here is well-adjusted!” he complained. Nothing to work with!)

The actor/comedian took the stage just one day after the first anniversary of his wife Michelle McNamara’s untimely death. Everyone waited for him to talk about it, which he did towards the end (it’s hard to follow that kind of material with jokes about fast food).

Expressing his disgust with platitudes like “I wish you strength on your healing journey,” Oswalt, who described his experience as more of a “numb slog,” spoke movingly about breaking the news to his young daughter, about suddenly having to be the point person at her school, and his feeling of unreality about it all.

In the end even this, too, is great material for standup. Oswalt was an outstanding comedian before his wife’s death; now, with his venture into widower standup, he may be something close to inspirational. To me, it sounded for all the world like one of the better classical symphonies.

How are comedians reacting to life under Trump?

Colin Quinn at the Moontower Comedy Festival.

By Wes Eichenwald
Special to the American-Statesman

If stand-up comedy in America is an expression of the national psyche, one problem in particular these days is afflicting its practitioners: How do you make jokes about a reality whose very possibility was, until very recently, widely considered to be itself a joke?

Whatever your political preferences – and yes, the vast majority of stand-up comics lean to the left – the Trump Hangover must be acknowledged to be as real as the current situation in Washington. To comedians, this is one elephant in the room that everyone has to talk about, but even for the more politically vocal standups, the risk of Trump overload and burnout seems ever-present.

At least from my observations at the just-concluded Moontower Comedy Festival, President Donald Trump is mentioned, more often than not, with weariness by the comic near the beginning of their set, more out of obligation than burning desire. But most seem to feel the elephant must, at least perfunctorily, be addressed.

At Thursday night’s Austin Towers showcase, where a dozen comics performed for an average seven minutes apiece, Kerri Lendo compared Trump negatively to Bill Clinton: She preferred the latter because at least, she said, Clinton “was a fun pervert.”

PHOTOS: ‘My Favorite Murder’ from opening night at Moontower

The ever-popular standup topics of online dating, sex, drugs, rude bodily functions and the comic’s physical flaws were mentioned both more often and more enthusiastically than the present occupant of the White House.

“How do you feel about the president?” Matt Ingebretson asked, emceeing a Thursday night showcase at the Velveeta Room. “I just don’t think anyone should ever have children again…”

“Why did Trump win?” asked cranky, middle-aged barstool philosopher Colin Quinn at the Stateside on Friday. “Trump is the manifestation of all of us, for the past eight years,” arguing past each other on social media. “There’s going to be another civil war,” he said. “Instead of the blue vs. the gray, it’s going to be Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Starbucks.”

At the top of her Paramount showcase, Margaret Cho speculated that Trump was “our punishment for everything that didn’t happen during Y2K,” adding, “I’m not sure if Trump is an alien.” Echoing a few other comics’ thoughts, she applauded legalizing marijuana but said it wasn’t enough to cope during a Trump presidency: “They should legalize heroin and meth, too!”

Many comics alluded to a feeling of unreality, or of living in an alternate universe; Patton Oswalt, whose Twitter feed is chock-full of anti-Trump tweets, played with this theme with his usual adeptness, at one point wondering if a Trump presidency was just a hallucination induced by his grieving his wife’s recent death.

But perhaps Jay Pharoah had the most adroit adaptation of the theme, opening his Thursday set at the Paramount: “It has been rough as (expletive) …I cannot believe this actually happened … the Verizon man switched to Sprint!” He later imitated Trump, though it sounded more like an imitation of Alec Baldwin’s Trump impression.

Although for professional comics, Trump has long been a gift that keeps on giving, you do get the sense that most of them would just as well prefer to take the gift back to the Returns and Exchanges counter, with receipt in hand.

PHOTOS: Ali Wong at the Moontower Comedy Festival
PHOTOS: Thursday night at the Moontower Comedy Festival
PHOTOS: Chris Hardwick and more from Friday at Moontower

 

Moontower memories: Trump impressions, Martin Short and a musical, cathartic tribute to Prince in ‘Princess’

By Dale Roe, Special to the Statesman

The fifth annual Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival has come and gone. The laughs have died down and, with a day’s separation to mull over the experience, here are some random thoughts.

Though the great James Adomian delivered a killer Bernie Sanders impression, Donald Trump’s footprint was all over this year’s festival. The best Trump joke I heard has to go to British comedian Jimmy Carr. “I love America,” Carr cracked Saturday night at the fest’s new 800 Congress venue. “I’m excited to see how it ends.”

Best Trump vocal impression honors go to “Saturday Night Live” featured player Jon Rudnitsky. By the way, Rudnitsky is extremely funny and woefully underused by “SNL.” His talents go way beyond the vocal. During his set at the “G— D— Comedy Jam” on Saturday at the Parish, the comic showed off impressive physical skills, especially during his bizarre and hilarious impression of the unconfident son of a world-famous break dancer.

Another fine bit of physical comedy came, unexpectedly, from former “The Simpsons” writer and Moontower stalwart Dana Gould, who did a bit Saturday at the Townsend in which he fantasized about hijacking a time machine and traveling back to attack baby Hitler with baby Manson. During the flailing pantomime, Gould shouted, “I know this looks wrong, but trust me … these are bad babies!”

By the way, that show featured killer sets by Gould, Arden Myrin, Andy Kindler, Jackie Kashian, Erin Foley and the Lampshades, but the undisputed highlight was former Funniest Person in Austin winner Brendon Walsh. The unkempt comic had the crowd in stitches and must have been a hard act to follow.

The Townsend was a new venue for the festival this year, and some growing pains are to be expected. Even so, the performance room was really small, with audience members packed in. It’s debatable whether it was more comfortable to stand for the whole show or sit in one of the super uncomfortable chairs.

At least there were no hecklers at that show, unlike during Piff the Magic Dragon’s Thursday headlining gig at the Stateside. We’ve been through this before, notoriously during a performance by Dave Chappelle several years ago, and you’d think we’d have learned our lesson. Yet here was one idiot – drunk, high or just obnoxious – trying to turn the crowd’s attention to himself and spoiling the show for hundreds in the process.

The comic magician deftly dispatched the heckler early on, but he piped up again toward the end of the show, causing security guards to stand at the end of his aisle and stare him down. It wasn’t the best atmosphere for a smart show that required the audience’s undivided attention.

The best Austin joke I heard came from little-person comedian Brad Williams during Saturday’s Stars in Bars. He talked about our city’s “toxic” Lady Bird Lake, in which we’re not allowed to swim. To mess with people, Williams said, he waded out into the water then waited until somebody came by. “Then I walked out, looked down at my body and screamed, ‘Aagh! What the hell happened to me?’ ”

It was great to see Janeane Garofalo back in form after a meandering and unfocused headlining performance a few years ago. Her tight, short set featured hilariously dry observations on St. Louis (“Have you been there? You needn’t bother”); the “Twilight” movies and television. “Who out there is under 26?” she asked the crowd as hands darted upward. “I have something to tell you,” Garofalo went on in serious tone, giving the set-up an air of gravitas.

“There was a time, before you were born, when ‘Law and Order’ was not on.”

More from our Moontower crew

Thursday night at the Paramount, Martin Short reminded fans that he is a master of showbiz smarm, able to wring belly laughs out of material that in a less comic’s would have the audience cringing. He even subjected Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson to his Jiminy Glick character, the latter one of the nastiest parodies of celebrity journalism ever devised. It was hilarious. — Joe Gross

Ron Funches, an exceptionally strong midlevel comic, headlined three nights at Cap City Comedy Club, delivering confident sets (he recently dropped about 100 pounds and was feeling good about it) without sacrificing any of his laconic charm. His sets included a brilliant description of walking around sans pants that involved a beloved childhood literary figure and an unspooling bit about getting into a fight in a Canadian weed dispensary. — J. G.

Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum lead Princess, a Prince cover band, at Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival Saturday, April 23. Credit: Rustin Gudim / contributed by Moontower
Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum lead Princess, a Prince cover band, at Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival Saturday, April 23. Credit: Rustin Gudim / contributed by Moontower

Princess,” a full Prince cover band led by comics and longtime friends Maya Rudolph and vocalist Gretchen Lieberum, had been on the lineup since February. It seemed like a fun musical curiosity, something along the lines of Fred Armisen’s Ian Rubbish show from two years ago. With the death of Prince, the show became so much more. What was already going to be a tribute to Prince’s music and persona became a necessary, cathartic tribute. At times it was funny; Rudolph’s Prince-like sexy declarations and her on-point dance moves and shoulder hiccups made it impossible not to giggle. But it was also incredibly sad, especially as the night concluded, when a tearful Rudolph clearly didn’t want the performance to end. After throwing batches of flowers to the audience, she thanked the Austin audience and said the performance was therapeutic. Read the full recap. — Omar Gallaga

David Cross preaches to the converted: On Friday night, comedian, writer and actor Cross taped two shows at the Paramount Theatre for an upcoming TV special. The prolific “Arrested Development” actor and “Mr. Show” co-creator is calling the special “Making America Great Again!” and for potentially wary longtime fans of Cross, the title was a clear tip-off of what he’d spend the most time covering in a 90-minute run with no opening act. — O.G.

SheBang lineup delivers: On the “Statesman Shots” podcast last week, one of the featured stand-up comics on the annual “SheBang” show, Maggie Maye, called the show a collection of the funniest people around… who also happen to be women. She was right and then some when Friday night at the new and spacious 800 Congress venue she and many more stand-up comics took turns blowing minds and winning hearts with one great set after another. I wasn’t able to stick around for some the lineup’s biggest names including Janeane Garofalo and Erin Foley, but 90 minutes in as it was time to run to the David Cross taping across the street, I’d become a new fan of Jo Firestone, Debra DiGiovanni and host Greg Behrendt, sole male of the night, who kept the show moving at a brisk clip after a stellar bit about his 11-year-old daughter’s cartwheels and drinking habits. — O.G.

Leslie Jones is fierce: It’s becoming increasingly clear that Leslie Jones might be getting too big for “Saturday Night Live.” And that’s a great problem to have. The comedic powerhouse couldn’t even be contained by the massive Paramount Theatre stage on Saturday night at Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival. In a 7 p.m. show called “Leslie Loves Colin” with fellow “SNL” Weekend Update star and head writer Colin Jost, Jones erupted with a fiery stand-up set that saw her coming down from the stage to address audience members right to their face. It was a crazy, brilliant, absolutely electrifying set that didn’t return to normalcy until Jost (who is a fine comedian, but was completely outmatched here) returned to the stage to do a filthy Q&A bit with her. — O.G.

Piff the Magic Dragon and his chihuahua sidekick bring the oddity, and comedy, to Moontower

By Dale Roe, special to the American-Statesman

I’m not sure if Mr. Piffles is an old dog, but Thursday at Stateside, he pulled off a few new tricks. The nearly-catatonic Chihuahua performs as the sidekick of Piff the Magic Dragon, a laconic hybrid of magician and comedian.

Are you looking for the oddity part of the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival? The duo (runners-up on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”) qualifies. Both man and beast are dressed in cartoon-green, cloth dragon outfits festooned with patches and pockets (27 of the latter, according to Piff’s recent count).

The Las Vegas headliner’s act ably straddles the comedy/magic line, drawing laughs from the audience (many of them at the Chihuahua’s expense) while mixing a few silly tricks with some genuinely baffling minor miracles. One memorable bit was a mind-reading trick performed by the headliner’s guest, “Chris Angelfish” – a forgetful, self-promoting goldfish swimming at first in a glass and later, distressingly, in a blender.

Piff’s impatient onstage behavior resulted in a lot of laughs during his crowd work with several audience members who assisted him onstage, and his well-timed inclusions of Mr. Piffles never failed to elicit a chorus of “awws” or “ews” from the crowd, depending on how the performer was handling (or mishandling) him. Occasional, cringe-inducing sound effects aside, no animals were harmed during this show.

Unfortunately, Thursday’s show was marred by the behavior of a particularly rude heckler (I thought we were over this, Austin). Piff deftly silenced the troublemaker in the first half of the show, but was less effective later when the same pest again drew attention away from the stage and toward himself. Security guards eventually made their presence known and the rabble-rouser behaved for the show’s remaining few minutes.

I know I wasn’t the only one wishing Piff could have made him disappear.

(Piff the Magic Dragon and Mr. Piffles perform at 7 p.m. Friday, April 22 at Stateside at the Paramount.)

Out of Bounds Comedy Festival returns this week

Parallelogramophonograph (Kaci Beeler, Kareem Badr, Valerie Ward, Roy Janik) is just one of the improv acts you can catch during the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival during Labor Day weekend.
Parallelogramophonograph (Kaci Beeler, Kareem Badr, Valerie Ward, Roy Janik) is just one of the improv acts you can catch during the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival during Labor Day weekend.

Austin Java Parkway. “Sure Thing,” a weekly comedy show. 8 p.m. Saturday. Free. 1206 Parkway. 512-476-1829, facebook.com/SureThingATX.

Cap City Comedy Club. Mary Lynn Rajskub, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $17. “Dudley and Bob + Matt: Live Sideshow,” 8 p.m. Thursday, $15. 8120 Research Blvd., No. 100. 512-467-2333, capcitycomedy.com.

Esther’s Follies. The election season keeps getting more and more ridiculous and you can bet the Esther’s ensemble members are licking their chops. This month’s top target is Donald Trump (complete with piñata). The crew also takes on Texas textbooks, schooling us on Jesus and the dinosaurs. As if that wasn’t enough, magician Ray Anderson debuts a new levitation illusion, “Torched.” 8 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Esther’s Follies Theater, 525 E. Sixth St. $25-$35. 512-320-0553, esthersfollies.com.

The Institution Theater. Improv and off-beat theater. “(expletive), it’s Hot,” 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. ‘The Source,” 10 p.m. Fridays. “Impromp-Two,” 7 p.m. Sundays. “The Rubber Room,” 8 p.m. Sundays. Free-$10. 3708 Woodbury Drive. 512-895-9580, theinstitutiontheater.com.

Joe Rogan. The stand-up comic, conspiracy theorist and former “Fear Factor” host lands in Austin at the end of the month. Or does he? Maybe he’s just a hologram — or a robot! Perhaps he was killed in a bizarre gardening accident and replaced with a duplicate. 8 p.m. Saturday. ACL Live, 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. $38. 877-435-9849, acl-live.com.

The New Movement. “Pass the Mic,” 8 p.m. Sunday. Plus more improv and stand-up shows throughout the week. $5-$10. The New Movement, 616 Lavaca St. 512-696-2590, newmovementtheater.com.

Out of Bounds Comedy Festival. Every Labor Day weekend for the past dozen years has found comics from Texas and beyond gathering in Austin to entertain us locals (and each other). What started as a smallish improv gathering with a dash of sketch comedy at the Hideout has become, in its 13th year, a weeklong celebration of improv, sketch and stand-up at a host of venues throughout the city. That’s a lotta laughter, people. Hey — where else are you going to find a 10-year-old female stand-up from Mesquite, a comedy troupe called “Daaang Judi Dench,” MadTV’s Stephnie Weir, and the 15th anniversary reunion of Austin improv legends Fatbuckle? Tuesday-Sept. 7. Festival passes, $119-$129; individual show tickets available;outofboundscomedy.com.

The Velveeta Room. Sad Trombone with Avery Moore, $5, 11 p.m. Friday. Eric Krug with Yusef Roach, $10, 9 p.m. Friday and 9 and 11 p.m. Saturday. Speed Mic, $5, 9 p.m. Thursday. 521 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9116, thevelveetaroom.com.

This week’s comedy: Aug. 14-20

Austin Java Parkway. “Sure Thing,” a weekly comedy show. 8 p.m. Saturday. Free. 1206 Parkway. 512-476-1829, facebook.com/SureThingATX.

Cap City Comedy Club. Erik Griffin, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $17. Summer Homegrown Comedy Series, 8 p.m. Tuesday, $5. Tommy Johnagin, 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, $10 -$12. 8120 Research Blvd., No. 100. 512-467-2333, capcitycomedy.com.

Esther’s Follies. Beat the summer heat with Sixth Street’s coolest comedy venue. The a/c might be cool, but the election season is just heating up. The Esther’s crew’s “Beach Blanket on the Beltway!” tackles that topical tournament in “GOP Superstar,” in which Rick Perry wrassles with the Bush Boys. Hillary and Bill find themselves in “Beach Blanket on the Beltway” with a party-crashing appearance by Donald Trump. As far as romance goes, there’s an app for that. ”Computer Love” pits Tinder and Cupid.com against the bar scene. Comedy, music and magic, too. 8 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Esther’s Follies Theater, 525 E. Sixth St. $25-$35. 512-320-0553, esthersfollies.com.

The Institution Theater. Improv and off-beat theater. “(expletive), it’s Hot,” 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. ‘The Source,” 10 p.m. Fridays. “Highly Suggestible,” 10 p.m. Saturdays. “Impromp-Two,” 7 p.m. Sundays. “The Rubber Room,” 8 p.m. Sundays. Free-$10. 3708 Woodbury Drive. 512-895-9580, theinstitutiontheater.com.

The New Movement. “Pass the Mic,” 8 p.m. Sunday. Plus more improv and stand-up shows throughout the week. $5-$10. The New Movement, 616 Lavaca St. 512-696-2590, newmovementtheater.com.

The Velveeta Room. Stand-up comedy hosted by Avery Moore, $5, 11 p.m. Friday. Chip Pope with Avery Moore, $10, 9 and 11 p.m. Friday. Jimmy Pardo, $20, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Speed Mic, $5, 9 p.m. Thursday. 521 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9116, thevelveetaroom.com.

This week’s comedy: July 24-30

Photo from justinwilliamscomedy.com
Photo from justinwilliamscomedy.com

Austin Java Parkway. “Sure Thing,” a weekly comedy show. 8 p.m. Saturday. Free. 1206 Parkway. 512-476-1829, facebook.com/SureThingATX.

Cap City Comedy Club. John Heffron, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $15-$17. Pat House, 8 p.m. Wednesday, $10. J.R. Brow, 8 p.m. Thursday, $12. 8120 Research Blvd., No. 100. 512-467-2333, capcitycomedy.com.

Esther’s Follies. This month, the Esthers ensembles’ pointed, political pens poke the Bush brothers — Jeb and George — by way of “Hee Haw.” Then candidate Rick Perry takes the siblings on in “GOP Superstar.” Local topics lampooned include the open-carry gun laws and hipsters (via L. Ron Hipster’s “Church of Austinology”). All this musical comedy and Ray Anderson’s magical miracles, too. 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Esther’s Follies Theater, 525 E. Sixth St. $25-$35. 512-320-0553, esthersfollies.com.

The Institution Theater. Improv and off-beat theater. “Boys of Summer,” 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. “Booker and a Buddy,” 10 p.m. Saturday. “Impromp-Two,” 7 p.m. Sunday. “The Rubber Room,” 8 p.m. Sunday. Free-$10. 3708 Woodbury Drive. 512-895-9580, theinstitutiontheater.com.

Justin Williams and Friends. New York favorite Williams is headed to Austin, and he’s bringing some very talented performers with him. They’re all part of the weekly “Gandhi is that You” stand-up showcase, featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MTV, Bravo, the New York Daily News and Time Out New York. Austin’s Ralph Hardest hosts. 7:30 p.m. Friday. The New Movement, 616 Lavaca St. $7. 512-696-2590, newmovementtheater.com.

The New Movement. “Pass the Mic,” 8 p.m. Sunday. Plus more improv and stand-up shows throughout the week. $5-$10. The New Movement, 616 Lavaca St. 512-696-2590, newmovementtheater.com.

The Velveeta Room. Stand-up comedy hosted by Avery Moore, $5, 11 p.m. Friday. Paul Oddo with Matt Golightly, $10, 9 p.m. Friday and 9 and 11 p.m. Saturday. Speed Mic, $5, 9 p.m. Thursday. 521 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9116, thevelveetaroom.com.

This week’s comedy: July 17-23

Promotional hand out photo of comedian Michael Ian Black. cREDIT: Courtesy of Michael Ian Black. Received 09/28/11 for 1006bets.
Courtesy of Michael Ian Black.

Austin Java Parkway. “Sure Thing,” a weekly comedy show. 8 p.m. Saturday. Free. 1206 Parkway. 512-476-1829, facebook.com/SureThingATX.

Cap City Comedy Club. Michael Ian Black, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday. $18. John Heffron, 8 p.m. Thursday. $10-$12. 8120 Research Blvd., No. 100. 512-467-2333, capcitycomedy.com.

Esther’s Follies. This month, the Esthers ensembles’ pointed, political pens poke the Bush brothers — Jeb and George — by way of “Hee Haw.” Then candidate Rick Perry takes the siblings on in “GOP Superstar.” Local topics lampooned include the open-carry gun laws and hipsters (via L. Ron Hipster’s “Church of Austinology”). All this musical comedy and Ray Anderson’s magical miracles, too. 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Esther’s Follies Theater, 525 E. Sixth St. $25-$35. 512-320-0553, esthersfollies.com.

The Institution Theater. Improv and off-beat theater. “The Ladies Room,” 10 p.m. Friday. “Boys of Summer,” 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. “Impromp-Two,” 7 p.m. Sunday. “Whiteboard,” 10 p.m. Sunday. $10. 3708 Woodbury Drive. 512-895-9580, theinstitutiontheater.com.

The New Movement. “Pass the Mic,” 8 p.m. Sunday. Plus more improv and stand-up shows throughout the week. $5-$10. The New Movement, 616 Lavaca St. 512-696-2590, newmovementtheater.com.

The Velveeta Room. Stand-up comedy hosted by Avery Moore, $5, 11 p.m. Friday. Mac Blake with Abby Rosenquist, $10, 9 p.m. Friday and 9 and 11 p.m. Saturday. Speed Mic, $5, 9 p.m. Thursday. 521 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9116, thevelveetaroom.com.

Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer to headline Oddball comedy fest

Amy Schumer.
Amy Schumer.

Amy Schumer’s star has been rising this year, with the increasing popularity of her Comedy Central show, pretty much everything she says going viral and the impending release of the Judd Apatow-directed “Trainwreck.”

Now she’ll be returning to Austin, and several other cities, as the co-headliner with Aziz Ansari of the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival.

Tickets go on sale this Friday, July 10, for the fest, which comes through Austin on October 17 at the Austin360 Amphitheater. See below for the full Austin lineup.

Aziz Ansari
Amy Schumer
Bridget Everett
Anthony Jeselnik
Ashley Barnhill
Jeff Ross
Nick Thune
T.J. Miller
The Redd’s® Apple Ale Festival Stage Hosted By: Big Jay Oakerson

 

This week’s comedy: June 19-25

Tommy Davidson.
Tommy Davidson.

Austin Java Parkway. “Sure Thing,” a weekly comedy show. 8 p.m. Saturday. Free. 1206 Parkway. 512-476-1829, facebook.com/SureThingATX.

Cap City Comedy Club. Tommy Davidson, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $18. lliza Shlesinger, 8 p.m. Thursday. $17. 8120 Research Blvd., No. 100. 512-467-2333, capcitycomedy.com.

Esther’s Follies. “Texas Two-Steppin’ on Sixth Street” finds Austin’s homegrown sultans of satire preaching the gospel according to the GOP in “GOP Superstar,” Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg breaking it down as “The Notorious RGB” and Texas readying itself for the Jade Helm invasion. All this and magician Ray Anderson’s crowd favorite, the Claw. 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Esther’s Follies Theater, 525 E. Sixth St. $25-$35. 512-320-0553, www.esthersfollies.com.

The Institution Theater. Improv and off-beat theater. “Dorm Daze,” 8 p.m. Friday. “You Can’t Stay Here,” 10 p.m. Friday. “Whiteboard,” 10 p.m. Saturday. “The Rubber Room,” 8 p.m. Sunday. Free-$10. 3708 Woodbury Drive. 512-895-9580, theinstitutiontheater.com.

The New Movement. “Pass the Mic,” 8 p.m. Sunday. Plus more improv and stand-up shows throughout the week. $5-$10. The New Movement, 616 Lavaca St. 512-696-2590, newmovementtheater.com.

The Velveeta Room. Stand-up comedy hosted by Avery Moore, $5, 11 p.m. Friday. John Tole with Pat Dean, $10, 9 p.m. Friday and 9 and 11 p.m. Saturday. Speed Mic, $5, 9 p.m. Thursday. 521 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9116, thevelveetaroom.com.