“I found out I got it while walking my dog in my neighborhood,” says the Moontower Comedy and Fun Fun Fun Fest veteran who recently headlined at Austin’s Velveeta Room. “I just started screaming and had to quickly carry my dog home so I could call my siblings without causing a ruckus in the street.”
Messages of congratulations are filling Maye’s social media streams, and she’s overwhelmed by the support from fellow comics and Austinites.
Well, the folks behind this slick and funny Austin web series are having a marathon screening of the comedy’s first season at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar at 6:30 Monday, Aug. 3. Since each of the 10 episodes are short, the entire event should be wrapped up in about two hours.
Wait a minute — did that say first season? Hopefully, this means there will be more coming down the pike.
The cast and crew are supposed to be there, so it’s a perfect opportunity to thank them for all of the hard work and laughs.
Seeing “Master Class” on the big screen is just too good of an opportunity to miss. Check out the series trailer, below, then click to get your $10 tickets here.
Big congrats to Ashley Barnhill and Abby Rosenquist, Austin comics who are performing this week in the New Faces showcases at Montreal’s Just For Laughs.
Big congrats to Ashley Barnhill and Abby Rosenquist, who are performing this week in the New Faces showcases at Montreal’s Just For Laughs comedy festival. Both stand-ups are current or former Austin performers.
The festival website claims superstars are born at the showcases, and while it’s debatable if that is still true — the development deal market for up-and-coming comics isn’t what it used to be — an appearance at the event is still a huge feather in the cap of any aspiring comic performer.
Barnhill, who studied law at the University of Texas at Austin, is a skilled joke-crafter who made a name for herself on Twitter. A Moontower Comedy festival veteran now living in Los Angeles, she works with the likes of Marc Maron and Dave Chappelle, and is slated to appear during the Austin stop of Funny or Die’s annual Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival on Oct. 17.
The Paramount Theatre has space available in its summer stand-up comedy course for teens.
Think you’re funny, kid? Do you want to be?
The Paramount Theatre still has some space available in its upcoming Theatre Academy classes for older students, including one for stand-up comedy.
Running from July 20-31 at the home of the Moontower Comedy Festival, Ralphie Hardesty — the “Funniest Person in Austin” finalist who has appeared at Fun Fun Fun Fest as well as Moontower — will introduce students to the process of writing and performing a stand-up comedy routine. Students will learn everything from writing jokes to working a crowd.
I was lucky enough to catch a preview of this class during Moontower, and it looked like a ton of fun. I didn’t see any insult comics, but I won’t consider my life complete until I’ve had my chops busted by a high-schooler doing crowd work.
Tickets are now on sale for the Festival, which features 500 performers in 120 shows ta nine downtown Austin venues.
Passes are now on sale for Austin’s 2015 Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, taking place Sept. 1-7.
Looks like the little comedy festival that could, did. Started in 2002 by members of local improvisation group Well Hung Jury and staged over a couple of days at downtown’s Hideout Theatre, the fest has become something of a very jolly grin giant.
This year, 84 improv groups, 41 standup comics, and 16 sketch acts from around the globe (including talent from our own white-hot comedy scene) will perform in nine downtown venues over the course of seven days. ending on Labor Day. That’s more than 500 performers in 120 shows, for those of you who are counting.
An All-Festival Pass goes for $119 and includes full access to all shows (including headliners), after-parties, and area discounts.
The upgraded All-Festival Pass Plus will set you back $129, includes all the benefits of the regular pass plus an OoB Fest T-shirt and a free pack of Official 2015 OoB Trading Cards.
Tickets for individual shows are also on sale. Visit the festival’s schedule page (where you can find the complete lineup of acts and schedule of performances) to buy tickets for a specific show, or reserve a spot if you’ve purchased a pass (not all venues offer single-ticket purchase or reservations).
I didn’t have to go see Friday’s “Dr. Katz Live” at the Stateside Theatre, part of the 2015 Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival. My colleague Omar Gallaga went on Thursday and did a great job in his write-up of the event which, except for a few different comics (I got to see Eddie Pepitone, Todd Barry and Marc Maron instead of Dana Gould, Maria Bamford and Andy Kindler) seemed pretty much the same.
But, like Omar, I could not resist the chance to see a memorable part of my past played out live onstage. For those not in the know, comic Jonathan Katz plays a psychiatrist named Jonathan Katz whose patients are all stand-up comics.
As in Thursday night’s outing, Emo Philips (he played both shows along with Dom Irrera) best embodied the spirit of the original squiggle-vision cartoon, and not just because of his spastic movements. He drew great laughs from the crowd throughout his visit, mostly with cleverly placed lines from his stand-up act, while Katz sat by and watched.
Phillips is not a Scientologist, he insisted, explaining that he’s “not a fan of stupidity even when it’s not evil.”
The neurotic Maron, as you might imagine also fared extremely well on the bogus therapist’s couch (well, chair). At one point, he told Katz he was uncomfortable talking about his problems in front of a theater full of people, asking, “Are we still in the bit?”
After a brief stop at the Moontower Lounge on the second floor of the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, I headed next door to the Paramount Theatre to see Patton Oswalt (“King of Queens,” “Ratatouille”), the festival’s hottest ticket.
The Moontower organizers did a stellar job of arranging the openers for Oswalt. Mike MacRae ably warmed up the crowd for Brian Gaar, who absolutely nailed his set with stories and jokes about parenting, video games and the city of Waco, where he grew up. Gaar explained Waco with a single sentence: “They built a new road … and they named it New Road.” Later, he told the audience he was awakened by a police officer at 3 a.m. because the cop wanted his help in stealing the New Road sign. A joke about a Master’s Degree in English was a masterclass in comic timing.
Gaar was followed by “Mr. Show” actor Karen Kilgariff who, with beatboxer Drennon Davis, entertained the crowd with original musical numbers, the funniest of which was a song about horrible tattoos. “I think we struck a nerve,” Kilgariff cracked in the middle of the number, which really couldn’t have been more tailor-made for the Austin crowd.
Oswalt, naturally, delivered in spades.
He began with a 10-15 minute bit about waiting on the Congress Avenue bridge for the bats to appear, a visit he had just made prior to the show. The brand new routine was, remarkably, as polished as his standard tour material. It contained detailed descriptions of crowd members and ended with a killer line about a man who had been waiting in front of him for an hour, only to finally turn around and ask the other crowd members what they were all waiting for.
Other material touched on religion, his worst gig ever, his parents, clowns, and the song “The Little Drummer Boy.”
Oswalt was also in hilarious form during his crowd work. He nearly whiffed with the first two audience members he singled out — a woman who did marketing for start-ups, and a Family and Sports Medicine doctor. But he struck comic gold with his third victim, an author who wrote modern feminist fiction under a pen name. When pressed about why she used a pseudonym, Oswalt got the woman to admit it was because some people would consider the work to be erotica. Oswalt then guessed that her pen name must be “Vulva Fantastic.”
I’m sure that wasn’t the woman’s actual nom de plume, but “fantastic” is actually a pretty accurate way to describe Friday at Moontower.
Weird things happen after midnight, man. Just some real bananas stuff. Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival attendees who packed the Paramount Theater after the witching hour know this firsthand, thanks to the insomniac lunacy of Pete Holmes and T.J. Miller, who closed Friday out in fraternal, tag-team style.
The pair co-headlined the time slot, which got off to a slightly late start thanks to a late-running Patton Oswalt set. Holmes, current host of the “You Made It Weird” podcast and former host of an eponymous cable talk show, and Miller, star of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” and a “Big Hero 6” voice actor, made frequent reference to their long-running friendship throughout the show, including their roots in the Chicago comedy scene.
The rubber-faced, unfailingly amiable Holmes took the audience on a sleep-deprived mission to find joy in the little moments. Among his best bits along the way: his memories of attending an Enrique Iglesias concert alone; his encounter with a flute-playing cab driver and ruminations on the trustworthiness of different instruments (saxophones are honest, trumpets are hiding something); and the power of the phrase “What you know green eggs and haaaaaam?” (Guaranteed to lift your spirits in both TSA and holiday shopping situations.)
Miller took the goofiness baton from Holmes and made a dead sprint into surrealism. The comedian, wearing an ill-fitting suit that he might have gotten from Steve Harvey’s swap-meet, told what he guaranteed would be the only textile loom joke the audience would ever hear (at Eli Whitney’s expense, obviously); speculated on George Washington Carver’s sex life (with his wife Martha, which may or may not have been the name of his wife); and laid out his ultimate nightmare prank scenario (build an exact replica of a person’s bed so that it’s facing theirs, jolt up and scream just as they do, turn on an array of floodlights).
The duo closed the night/early morning out with a little team hijinx, sharing the stage to reminisce and, in one of the best parts of the evening, do their impressions of each other’s early-career jokes. Miller’s recreation of Holmes’ early material — piñatas teach children that if you hit animals, candy will fall out — was amusing, but Holmes’ brought it home with a re-enactment of Miller’s bit about a family sharing a tandem bicycle. By Miller’s estimation, his pal did the joke even funnier than he did.
Mixed-race families. The trials of getting older. Genetically modified organisms. Wanda Sykes swam deep into the complexities of life Friday night at the Paramount Theater during her blisteringly funny and effortlessly relatable Moontower Comedy Festival headlining set.
Sykes is a pop culture fixture, familiar to fans of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and a respectable bundle of animated films. She’s quick with a barb, at ease with exasperation and an auteur of raucous, withering observations. The comedian served up all of that from the stage of the historic Austin theater, but it was her sane, sympathetic humanity that shined through the set.
After opening with a hilarious bit about her fear of black women with baby powder on their chest — she can explain it better — Sykes waxed upon what it means to be a woman getting older. The 51-year-old comedian, who had a double mastectomy in 2011 after being diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, spun gold from the contrast between her old breasts (which, she said, could be mistaken for the opening sound effect from “Law and Order” when she removed her bra) and her new breasts (which she is sure are scheming and plotting something, as they are far too alert in the morning). Also, her poise in recreating her colonoscopy, balancing on a stool, was more impressive than any Cirque du Soleil feat.
Another complication, though a welcome one, in Sykes’ life: Married to a white French woman, Sykes now finds herself the mother to two blond white children who speak French and terrify her nightly when they recreate scenes from “Children of the Corn” at the foot of her bed. Which, she said, is an unexpected turn of events for a woman who attended a historically black college. And Sykes’ jokes about race relations — which doesn’t sound funny when you type it like that, but that’s why Wanda Sykes in a standup comedian and this is a blog post on a news website — rang with righteousness and funny-bone vibrations. Watching news reports about the shooting of unarmed black men alongside a Caucasian wife from a different culture, refusing to watch “12 Years a Slave” out of knowledge of her patience limitations, imagining throwing down with Mitch McConnell’s wife were she in Michelle Obama’s shoes: Sykes tackled all with razor wit.
At another point in the night, the state of food in America (including the aggressive sales tactics behind McNuggets despite their questionable composition) served as a perfect punching bag for a gleeful Sykes. The line of the night, or at least in the top ten: “I don’t (expletive) with tilapia.”
In ending with the heights of insanity that her love for her wife inspires, the comedian tied a bow around a performance that exuded contentment through the travails of society. Earlier in the set, Sykes said she is now the happiest she has ever been, and even if her relationship leads her to snowboarding misadventures and romantic getaways that feel like hostage situations, the audience is lucky that she finds the laughs. That’s what a Wanda Sykes show is all about at every turn, saying in one way or another or another:
This is crazy, right? We both know, so let’s just say it aloud.
At Moontower Comedy Festival‘s all-women showcase, “Late Night with Seth Meyers” writer Michelle Wolf cut right to the point: Anticipating smooth sailing for presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is an interesting thing to hold out for in a country where some dark, basement-dwelling corners riot over the very idea of an all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot.
The She Bang showcase at Speakeasy on Thursday night charted a nine-stop tour of all the different voices comedy has to offer, with the added bonus of being a (mostly unspoken) comedypolitik statement on women in comedy. Host Phil Hartley, the only Y chromosome to set foot on the stage, made the sarcastic wasn’t-she-hilarious-dramatic-pause-for-a-girl joke only once, which seemed inevitable and unnecessary (and yes, tongue in cheek). Any combination of the evening’s comics would make the the Stay-Puft marshmallow man explode in laughter (and ectoplasmic fluff), and everyone in attendance knew it.
The show was a survey of every way you can do standup. Local comic Avery Moore served up underdog eccentricity and her crowd-pleasing, country-pop-skewering “Dirt Road” bit, which everyone in Austin should see at least once. “The Daily Show” producer Jena Friedman went abrasive with a 9/11 joke and other barbs that we don’t feel comfortable writing in this blog, and cringe-comic Erica Rhodes repped for small-voiced discomfort. On opposite ends of the performance spectrum, Ophira Eisenberg (of NPR’s “Ask Me Another”) exuded seasoned confidence, and limber experimental comic Kate Berlant took the audience on a riotous trip to art school.
The standouts of She Bang set the audience on fire with chain-reaction chuckles: Liza Treyger, who’s appeared on”Chelsea Lately,” cruised with the sharp confidence of a woman who takes a stretch Hummer limo to a Miley Cyrus concert. (On couples who don’t hold hands and squandered opportunities: “That’s like thin people who don’t dress well.”) The aforementioned Wolf, crackling, elicited righteous laugh-tears at the audience’s expense on a Malaysian Airlines bit. Michelle Buteau, a VH1 host who’s appeared on “Key & Peele,” claimed the most riotous performance of the night, drawing all in with her bawdy confidence — especially an older woman in the audience named Nancy, whom Buteau roped in as her sidekick whether she was willing or not.
Much to this reporter’s chagrin, audience members started trickling out before the end of the showcase, which closed with a thoughtful set by “Saturday Night Live” featured player Sasheer Zamata. Have you seen Pixar’s “Big Hero 6”? Zamata has — stoned — and she demonstrated how the cartoon brought out her inner Angela Davis. The “SNL” performer is a sharp social observer if not a noted impressionist; hopefully the NBC sketch show gives her a little more room to speak her mind in the future. (Not to hint too blatantly, but it’s not like anyone else is really using the Weekend Update desk for the common good these days.)
Catch another She Bang showcase at the Parish on Friday at 10:15 p.m. Zamata, Treyger, Rhodes, Buteau and Eisenberg will be joined by Maggie Maye, Lashonda Lester, Emily Heller and host Guy Branum.