There’s lots to laugh at in Austin this summer

Comedy acts from Don Rickles to Joe Rogan land on Austin stages this summer.

Don Rickles and Regis Philbin.
Don Rickles and Regis Philbin perform at Austin’s Bass Concert Hall in June.

It seems as if the hotter it gets outside, the more difficult it becomes to laugh. Maybe that explains the relatively sparse list of big comedy names stopping in Austin over the summer (especially in July).

Or perhaps it’s just that comedy bookers — like comedy fans — are notorious procrastinators. For example, we still don’t know if Funny or Die, which has brought acts including Dave Chappelle and Flight of the Conchords to the Austin360 Amphitheater over the past two summers, is mounting a tour this year and whether or not it will stop in Austin (the tour usually begins in August).

Still, there are plenty of national headliners worth checking out, in addition to the locals, who never, ever stop.

Iliza Shlesinger
Iliza Shlesinger

Cap City Comedy Club (8120 Research Blvd.) brings in Tommy Davidson, Iliza Shlesinger and Tom Green in June; Michael Ian Black in July; and Mary Lynn Rajskub in August. For times, tickets and other information, call 512-467-2333 or visit www.capcitycomedy.com.

Aussie comic Jim Jefferies, star of the FX television series, “Legit,” brings his raunchy comedy to the Paramount Theatre (713 Congress Ave.) at 8 p.m. on June 4. For tickets, $39.50-$44.50, call 512-474-1221 or browse to www.austintheatre.org.

On June 24 at 7 p.m., the Paramount presents comic legend Don Rickles with TV legend Regis Philbin at Bass Concert Hall (2350 E. Campus Dr.). With an admirable lack of Cosby-like scandals, insult comic and “Mr. Warmth” Rickles remains the comedic elder statesman to see. Tickets range from $55-$130 and can be obtained by calling 512-471-2787 or surfing to texasperformingarts.org.

Puddles Pity Party brings the tears of a clown to the Stateside at the Paramount (713 Congress Ave.) at 7 p.m. on June 27. The imposing clown with the most beautiful and unexpected voice has been a standout at previous Moontower Comedy Festivals. $30 tickets can be purchased by calling 512-474-1221 or visiting www.austintheatre.org.

Perennial Austin visitor and “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” panelist Paula Poundstone returns to One World Theatre (7701 Bee Cave Rd.) for a pair of shows — 7 and 9:30 p.m. — on Aug. 22. For tickets, $25-$65, and information, call 512-330-9500 or visit www.oneworldtheatre.org.

Joe Rogan PHOTO: JOSHUA HEGES
Joe Rogan
PHOTO: JOSHUA HEGES

Stand-up comic, conspiracy theorist and former “Fear Factor” host Joe Rogan performs at ACL-Live (310 Willie Nelson Blvd.) at 8 p.m. on Aug. 29. $38 tickets can be purchased by calling 877-435-9849 or heading to www.acl-live.com online. (Weird Al Yankovic plays the venue on Aug. 20, but his gig is sold out.)

If Summer ends Labor Day weekend, then we are contractually obligated to include the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, running Sept. 1-7 at various venues in Austin. And why wouldn’t we? The festival — now in its 14th year — brings improv, sketch comedy and stand-up performers from all over to play with the locals. Find more information at www.outofboundscomedy.com.

The old magic returns in fits and starts at Moontower’s ‘Dr. Katz Live’

Jonathan Katz (left) and Dana Gould (right) do a therapy session at Stateside at the Paramount on Thursday, April 23, as part of Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival. Credit: Birdsong Imaging, Mandy Earnshaw, contributed by Moontower
Jonathan Katz (left) and Dana Gould (right) do a therapy session at Stateside at the Paramount on Thursday, April 23, as part of Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival. Credit: Birdsong Imaging, Mandy Earnshaw, contributed by Moontower

“Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” started as a low-budget, low-key animated show on Comedy Central show just a few years before “South Park” would become the animated show the network would become known for. It featured stand-up comics doing some of their material playing against the bone-dry wit of comedian Jonathan Katz, who played a put-upon therapist with a passive-aggressive secretary (Laura Silverman) and a dopey, lovable, layabout son (the brilliant H. Jon Benjamin, who’s become a voiceover star with “Bob’s Burgers” and “Archer”).

Despite rosters of impressive comedic talent and a cleverly home-brewed animated style that became easy to love the more you watched it, the show was never a gigantic hit. At a live performance Thursday night as part of the Moontower Comedy Festival, I heard more people before the show explaining what the show was to others than recollections of bits from the show. “Dr. What?” one older gentleman asked his companion, who was about 25 years younger. The show was explained.

Another guy, sitting behind me at the show, explained to his friends, “I used to watch it, but I was too young to understand it when it was on in the early ’90s. I was 14.”

On stage, the energy was a little different, sometimes flailing, other times absolutely matching perfectly in tone what those of us who remember the show fondly came to see. Jonathan Katz, who moves slowly with a cane due to multiple sclerosis, did a few minutes of stand-up comedy at a microphone before the main set and it began with a rape joke. As horrible as date rape is, Katz suggested, even worse would be “Double-date rape.”

Improbably, the joke earned laughs, as did the rest of Katz’s short set, which mostly consisted of well-crafted wordplay and, memorably, short musical performances of Beatles, Rolling Stones and Eagles songs performed Bar Mitzvah-style. Who knew Dr. Katz (not a real therapist) could sing?

But the meat of the show was mock-therapy sessions featuring comedians Dana Gould, Andy Kindler, Maria Bamford, Dom Irrera and Emo Philps, all of whom had appeared on the original show except Bamford. On the stage, two chairs and a fern were set up, though Irrera complained multiple times that he missed the couch and was hoping for some cuddling.

Gould went topic with material about Bruce Jenner, joking that he’s confused about respecting Jenner’s privacy now as a transgender individual given the distinct complete opposite of privacy we’ve come to expect from the Kardashian clan.

Bamford turned out to fit right in and got some of the biggest laughs with material about her new marriage and a ridiculous song about her couples’ therapist.

Andy Kindler appeared with a non-working wireless microphone and, as Kindler does, turned the awkwardness into its own hilarious bit. “This is the story of my life, Dr. Katz,” he whined, as the microphone was swapped out. Kindler went trademark-meta, asking if he’s using humor as a defense mechanism (“No,” Katz said definitively, to huge laughs) and exclaiming, “even my psychiatrist has better material!”

As on the original show, Irrera got weird and overly affectionate quickly, having left a voice mail for Katz and asking for some snuggle time.

But it was Emo Philips who perhaps captured the original spirit of the show best with his quirky timing. While much of the show had the awkward pauses (completely appropriate for “Dr. Katz) that came with mixing improv with prepared bits, Philips’s felt most like the the animated series, with Katz serving as more of a straight man than a fellow comic breaking the fourth wall.

Apart from the Kindler microphone gaffe, there were other timing issues. It took a while for the show to begin after an introductory Moontower Fest video was shown and sometimes the lengthy pauses and fits-and-starts pacing of the therapy sessions felt less than intentional. But it was a delight to hear Laura Silverman’s familiar, grumpy voice played as an intro to each comic. And the play-off music meant to signal the end of a therapy session turned out to be its own comedic highlight as it always seemed to happen just as a comic was making a point or on the edge of a revelation. It was all about timing and the joy of getting a large dose of Katz’s absurdist, punchline-driven humor, which still kills.

On the matter of an aunt’s death, Katz revealed to Kindler that she was cremated. “We think that’s what did it,” he said.

The show happens again 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Stateside at the Paramount.

Never caught the original show? Here’s some classic bits:

Here’s the day-by-day Moontower Comedy Festival schedule

Sasheer Zamata
Sasheer Zamata

The folks over at Moontower have been busy finalizing the day-by-day lineup of headliners and club shows for the 2015 event, which takes place April 22-25 in various downtown Austin venues and the Cap City Comedy Club, 2180 Research Blvd.

Shows include single performances from headliners such as Patton Oswalt, John Mulaney, Pete Holmes, and TJ Miller, as well as group events including “Shebang” with Ophira Eisenberg, Sasheer Zamata, and Jena Friedman; “1st & Ten” with The Sklar Brothers, Alingon Mitra, Byron Bowers, and Nate Bargatze; and “Stars in Bars” with Hasan Minhaj, Emo Philips, Andy Kindler, and Emily Heller. As always, local talent including Matt Bearden, Chris Cubas, John Ramsey, Kath Barbadoro, Bob Khosravi, Mac Blake, JR Brow, Maggie Maye, and more share stages with national acts.

A limited number of single tickets for select group club shows will go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m.

MOONTOWER SHOW SCHEDULE
(Subject to change; additional performers may be added)

Weds., Apr. 22
Ron White’s Texas Toasted
 – 7p.m., Paramount Theatre (with Margo Rey and other special guests)
Opposites + Pilot’s License – 8 p.m., New Movement
Good Fight – 9:30 p.m., New Movement

Thurs., Apr. 23
Tim Minchin – 7 p.m., Paramount Theatre (hosted by Mac Blake)
Marc Maron – 9:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre (hosted by John Ramsey, with Ashley Barnhill)
Dr. Katz Live – 7:30 p.m., Stateside (with Dom Irrera, Maria Bamford, Andy Kindler, Dana Gould, Emo Philips)
Maria Bamford – 9:30 p.m., Stateside (hosted by Kerri Lendo, with Ophira Eisenberg)
Shebang! with Sasheer Zamata – 8 p.m., The Speakeasy (hosted by Phil Hanley, with Ophira Eisenberg, Kate Berlant, Jena Friedman, Michelle Wolf, Michelle Buteau, Liza Treyger, Avery Moore, Karen Kilgariff, Sasheer Zamata)
Stars in Bars with The Sklar Brothers – 10 p.m., The Speakeasy (with Emo Philips, Michelle Wolf, Jermaine Fowler, David O’Doherty, Sasheer Zamata, Hari Kondabolu, Ted Alexandro, Robert Kelly)
Todd Barry Show – 8:15 p.m., The Parish (hosted by Maggie Maye)
Unhinged with Eddie Pepitone – 10:15 p.m., The Parish (with Kate Berlant, Dana Gould, Erica Rhodes, Judah Friedlander, Mike Lawrence, Alingon Mitra, Randy Liedtke, Guy Branum, Simon Amstel, Rachel Feinstein)
Austin Towers – 8:30 p.m. The Velv Comedy Lounge (hosted by Randy Liedtke, with Ralph Hardesty, Pat Dean, Brian Gaar, Chris Cubas, Mike MacRae, Lashonda Lester, Caroline Bassett, Kerri Lendo, Ryan Cownie, Jay Whitecotton)
Blue Moon – 10:30 p.m., The Velv Comedy Lounge (hosted by Satan, with Kurt Metzger, Liza Treyger, Brendon Walsh, Michelle Buteau, Cody Hustak, Bridget Everett, Monroe Martin, Doug Mellard, Dom Irrera)
SuperShow! – 8:30 p.m., Google Fiber Stage (hosted by Matt Bearden, with Joe Zimmerman, Liza Treyger, Nate Bargatze, Monroe Martin, Byron Bowers, Troy Walker, Guy Branum, Ted Alexandro, Robert Kelly)
Andy Kindler’s Particular Show – 10:30 p.m., Google Fiber Stage (hosted by Andy Kindler, with Mike Lawrence, Karen Kilgariff, David O’Doherty, Blaine Capatch)
Rachel Feinstein – 8 p.m., Cap City Comedy Club (hosted by John Buseman, with Matt Sadler)
The Hat-Trick – 8 p.m., New Movement
The Real @ChrisTrew Show – 9:30 p.m., New Movement

Fri., Apr. 24
Wanda Sykes
 – 7 p.m., Paramount Theatre (with Keith Robinson)
Patton Oswalt – 9:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre (hosted by Mike MacRae, with Brian Gaar)
TJ Miller & Pete Holmes – Midnight, Paramount Theatre (hosted by Chris Cubas, with David O’Doherty)
Dr. Katz Live – 7:30 p.m., Stateside (with Dom Irrera, Todd Barry, Emo Philips, Eddie Pepitone, Marc Maron)
Maria Bamford – 9:30 p.m., Stateside (hosted by Ralph Hardesty, with Kate Berlant)
1st & Ten – 8 p.m., The Speakeasy (hosted by The Sklar Brothers, with Dom Irrera, Troy Walker, Alingon Mitra, Byron Bowers, Joe Zimmerman, Nate Bargatze)
Come to Papa Live – 10 p.m., The Speakeasy (with Tom Papa, Dana Gould, Karen Kilgariff, Mike Lawrence, Todd Barry, Bridget Everett)
Stars In Bars with Hasan Minhaj – 8:15 p.m., The Parish (hosted by Hasan Minhaj, with Emo Philips, Randy Liedtke, Michelle Wolf, Brendon Walsh, Jena Friedman, Tom Papa, Robert Kelly
Shebang! with Sasheer Zamata – 10:15 p.m., The Parish (hosted by Guy Branum, with Liza Treyger, Erica Rhodes, Maggie Maye, Michelle Buteau, Ophira Eisenberg, Lashonda Lester, Emily Heller, Sasheer Zamata
4Eyes – 8:30 p.m., Vulcan Gas Company (hosted by Judah Friedlander, with Andy Kindler, Maggie Maye, Hari Kondabolu, Blaine Capatch, Mike Lawrence, Monroe Martin, Karen Kilgariff, Kerri Lendo, Matt Bearden, Emily Heller)
New York’s Finest – 10:45 p.m., Vulcan Gas Company (hosted by Kurt Metzger, with Jena Friedman, Monroe Martin, Michelle Wolf, Jermaine Fowler, Hari Kondabolu, Judah Friedlander, Michelle Buteau, Nate Bargatze, Robert Kelly, Ted Alexandro)
Unhinged with Kate Berlant – 8:30 p.m., Google Fiber Stage (hosted by Phil Hanley, with Pat Dean, Eddie Pepitone, Kate Berlant, Randy Liedtke, Blaine Capatch, Daniel Webb, Ophira Eisenberg, Guy Branum, Sasheer Zamata)
SuperShow! – 10:30 p.m., Google Fiber Stage (hosted by Doug Mellard; with Alingon Mitra, Erica Rhodes, Liza Treyger, Zac Brooks, Hasan Minhaj, Joe Zimmerman)
“Meet Jermaine Fowler” – 8:30 p.m., The Velv Comedy Lounge (hosted by Matt Sadler, with Bob Khosravi)
Austin Towers – 10:30 p.m., The Velv Comedy Lounge (hosted by Troy Walker, with Derek Phelps, Danny Palumbo, Kerri Lendo, Pat Dean, Jay Whitecotton, Bob Khosravi, Mac Blake, Daniel Webb, Jonathan Pace, Avery Moore)
Rachel Feinstein – 8 p.m., Cap City Comedy Club (hosted by Kath Barbadoro, with Joe Hafkey)
Rachel Feinstein – 10:30 p.m., Cap City Comedy Club (hosted by Caroline Bassett, with Bryan Gutmann)
“To Be Free” with Simon Amstel – 8 p.m., The Townsend
Stupid Time Machine + Charles – 9 p.m., New Movement
Revolver + North Coast – 10:30 p.m., New Movement

Sat., Apr. 25
John Mulaney – 7 p.m., Paramount Theatre
John Mulaney – 9:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre
Star Cluster: Teen Open Mic – 3 p.m., Stateside (hosted by Ralph Hardesty. Any teenager between 12 and 18 can sign up to try out their favorite joke. Admission is free, but all comics and audience members must RSVP at www.austintheatre.org/teeheeteen)
Maria Bamford – 7:30 p.m., Stateside (hosted by Avery Moore, with Joe Zimmerman)
Dana Gould – 9:30 p.m., Stateside (hosted by Blaine Capatch, with Kate Berlant)
Todd Barry – 11:30 p.m., Stateside
New York’s Finest – 8:15 p.m., The Parish (hosted by Michelle Wolf, with Hari Kondabolu, Kate Berlant, Kurt Metzger, Michelle Buteau, Judah Friedlander, Nate Bargatze, Ted Alexandro, Sasheer Zamata, Robert Kelly, Jermaine Fowler)
The Sklar Brothers – 10:30 p.m., The Parish (hosted by Mike MacRae; with Alingon Mitra)
Cashing In with T.J. Miller – 6:30 p.m., Cactus Cafe
Moontower at the Cactus – 8 p.m., Cactus Cafe (hosted by Pat Dean, with Alingon Mitra, Liza Treyger, Doug Mellard, Monroe Martin, Ryan Cownie, Chris Tellez)
Moontower at the Cactus – 10:15 p.m., Cactus Cafe (hosted by Maggie Maye, with Troy Walker, Erica Rhodes, Byron Bowers, Randy Liedtke, Chris Cubas, Zac Brooks)
Stars in Bars with Matt Bearden – 8:30 p.m., Vulcan Gas Company (with Emo Philips, Hasan Minhaj, Tom Papa, David O’Doherty, Karen Kilgariff, Andy Kindler, Ted Alexandro, Emily Heller, Ophira Eisenberg, Eddie Pepitone)
Blue Moon – 10:45 p.m., Vulcan Gas Company (hosted by Satan, with Jay Whitecotton, Liza Treyger, Monroe Martin, Cody Hustak, Kurt Metzger, Brendon Walsh, Michelle Buteau, Eddie Pepitone, Robert Kelly)
SuperShow! – 8:30 p.m., Google Fiber Stage (hosted by Brendon Walsh, with Guy Branum, Randy Liedtke, Troy Walker, Jena Friedman, Chris Cubas, John Ramsey, Erica Rhodes, Simon Amstel, Phil Hanley)
The Bridget Everett Show – 10:30 p.m., Google Fiber Stage (with Guy Branum)
Austin Towers – 8:30 p.m., The Velv Comedy Lounge (hosted by Joe Zimmerman, with Cody Hustak, John Buseman, JR Brow, Joe Hafkey, Derek Phelps, Norman Wilkerson, Kath Barbadoro, Danny Palumbo)
4Eyes – 10:30 p.m., The Velv Comedy Lounge (hosted by Doug Mellard, with Blaine Capatch, Mike Lawrence, Nate Bargatze, Ted Alexandro, Tom Papa, Ryan Cownie, Emily Heller, Monroe Martin, Hasan Minhaj
Rachel Feinstein – 8 p.m., Cap City Comedy Club (hosted by Chris Tellez, with Bob Khosravi)
Rachel Feinstein – 10:30 p.m., Cap City Comedy Club (hosted by Kath Barbadoro, with Danny Palumbo)
Feathers + Au Pair – 6 p.m., New Movement
Stupid Time Machine + Charles – 7:30 p.m., New Movement
Bad Example – 8 p.m., New Movement
Revolver + North Coast – 10:30 p.m., New Movement

For a complete list and schedule, visit the Moontower website. Follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter.