Ring in 2016 with laughter

Dana Gould

Is there a better way to bid farewell to one year and welcome the next than laughing ’til your sides ache?

Much of Austin’s comedy scene goes slack on New Year’s Eve, and I don’t get it. When I was in a sketch comedy group, it was always our biggest night of the year.

In any event, there are still a few places you can kick 2015’s butt out the door in hilarious style. Check out these options:

The Hideout Theatre rings in the New Year with an enchanted evening of improv games, scenes and a champagne toast at midnight. Improvisers reflect on the year that’s passed, speculate about the year to come and celebrate that magical moment of transition between the two. The early show at 8 p.m. features five of Austin’s finest professional improvisers. The 10:30 performance careens full speed into the new year with a special champagne toast as the ball drops at midnight. $30, 8 and 10:30 p.m.; 617 Congress Ave. hideouttheatre.com

Tickets are going fast for Esther’s Follies’ annual New Year’s Eve Bash. In addition to the usual mix of musical and sketch comedy magic (and magic magic, too, courtesy of prestidigitator Ray Anderson) tickets for the pair of New Year’s Eve shows include a Tex-Mex buffet, a glass of champagne and a NYE hat and goody bag. $55-$65, 8 and 10:30 pm.; 525 E 6th St. esthersfollies.com

Local comics including Martin Urbano, Kelsey Caine, Sam Harter and others plan to tickle funny bones at Speakeasy’s Rumrunners Comedy Showcase. The band Suede plays, too. $49-$200, 8:15 p.m. 412 Congress Ave. Get tickets here

Want to laugh in 2016 but don’t want to bother with the downtown crowds? New Year’s Eve will be hopping at Cap City Comedy Club, where comic’s comic, writer for “The Simpsons” star of the late, lamented Fred Savage sitcom “Working” and Moontower Festival stalwart Dana Gould cracks wise. As if that’s not enough, Austin celeb and host of The CW’s “ATX Uncensored-ish,” Brian Gaar, performs, too. The early show includes a general admission pass for two that can be used in 2016 (not valid for special events); the late show includes that same pass as well as party favors, a midnight champagne toast and a dessert treat. $20-$25, 8 p.m.; $40-$45, 10:30 p.m.; 8120 Research Blvd. capcitycomedy.com.

Here’s how to attend KLRU’s free ‘Overheard’ taping with Mary Lynn Rajskub

Mary Lynn Rajskub
Mary Lynn Rajskub

Evan Smith‘s KLRU series, “Overheard with Evan Smith,” is taking advantage of comic/actress Mary Lynn Rajskub‘s September stint at Cap City Comedy Club to get her into the studio for a taping.

Rajskub, a touring stand-up and Moontower Comedy Festival veteran best known for portraying hacker Chloe O’Brien on Fox television’s “24,” sits down with Smith at 3:45 p.m. on Aug. 28 (doors open at 3:15 p.m.). The taping takes place at KLRU’s Studio 6A, located on the east side of Guadalupe St. between 25th and Dean Keeton Streets.

Admission is free, but RSVPs are required. They can be obtained by clicking here.

The comic is also a veteran of HBO’s “Mr. Show With Bob and David,” poised to make a comeback on Netflix, and can be seen as a panelist on “Chelsea Lately.” She plays Cap City Aug. 27-29.

Brian Gaar to host new, late night comedy show on The CW

Brian Gaar
Brian Gaar

When we say “local boy makes good,” we mean local.

Austin stand-up comic Brian Gaar, who worked as a reporter for many years at the Austin American-Statesman, has snagged an original, new, local late night comedy show on The CW.

The station is touting the show, called “ATX Uncensored-ish,” as “similar to a clip show, a little like a talk show and hopefully a bit funny…ish.” Gaar, along with co-hosts Kath Barbadoro and Joe Barlow, will poke fun at local events and topics that Austinites are talking about on social media.

“If it happens in or around Austin then it’s fair game and no one is safe,” a CW Austin press release reads.

Gaar should be familiar to Austin comedy fans. He can be heard on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog comedy channel and he was named one of the funniest people on Twitter by Playboy and Paste magazines. He has contributed material to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Funny or Die, Esquire, CBS News, Playboy, Salon and the Huffington Post. And his hour-long comedy special, “Jokes I Wrote at Work,” can be found on Hulu.

His CW Austin show is scheduled to begin this fall. We’ll let you know when the station announces a date and time.

Meanwhile, to learn more about” ATX Uncensored-ish,” log onto thecwaustin.com or follow the show on Twitter at twitter.com/ATXuncensored.

Watch: Maggie Maye performs on ‘Conan’ on Thursday

Update: Watch Maggie Maye perform on “Conan” below.

Earlier: Remember when I told y’all that this was going to be Maggie Maye’s year?

Well, the Austin standup comic is slated to perform on Conan O’Brien’s late night TBS talk show Thursday, and it’s only August.

Stand-up comic Maggie Maye.
Stand-up comic Maggie Maye.

“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.

“It’s like a dream,” she says.

Kevin Bacon will also appear on the program, so we’ve all just knocked one more degree of separation off of our connections.

Catch the hilarious Miss Maggie on “Conan” at 10 p.m. Thursday on TBS.

“Set your DVR,” Maye wrote on Facebook. “Also, teach your mom how to set her DVR.”

Fun Fun Fun Fest announces comedy lineup

Tig Notaro is slated to perform at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015.
Tig Notaro is slated to perform at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015.

The producers of the annual Fun Fun Fun Fest have announced the acts performing on the Yellow stage.

Tig Notaro, Doug Benson, Eric Andre, Todd Barry, Eugene Mirman, Sabrina Jalees, Jonah Ray and Kurt Braunohler are some of the big name comics performing in the stage, which is sponsored by JASH, the digital comedy collective spearheaded by Sarah Silverman and others.

In addition, popular events including the Air Sex Championship, Altercation Punk Comedy tour, The New Movement, Live Wrestling (ACW and Inspire Pro), and the infamous FFF Taco Cannon will take place on the stage.

Here are the day-by-day lineups for the Yellow stage. Because the fest organizers love a good joke, they’ve placed these performers in this list from last-performing-to-first, and also put several music acts on the Yellow stage each night (musical acts are indicated with an asterisk — please do not laugh during their performances or repeat their lyrics the next day as punchlines).

Todd Barry
Todd Barry


King Khan & BBQ Show*, Benjamin Booker*, Tops*, Tig Notaro, Kurt Braunohler, Eugene Mirman, Derrick C. Brown (poet), Bad Example, Altercation Punk Comedy Tour, Greetings from Queer Mountain


Murder By Death*, Cass McCombs*, East Cameron Folkcore*, Doug Benson, Jonah Ray, Sabrina Jalees, GZA (the science of hip hop)*, Dr. Scott Bolton (NASA Scientist and founder of Artistic Sciences), Sandbox with Rob Gagnon, The Secret Group (Houston Comics), Master Pancake’s Saturday Morning Cartoons


BADBADNOTGOOD*, Andrew Jackson Jihad*, Steve Gunn*, Andrew W.K. (motivational speaking), Twerking Lessons with Big Freedia, Todd Barry, Eric Andre, Lil Freckles, Air Sex Championships, ATX Comedy Hour, The New Movement

Single-day and weekend passes are now on sale and available online. Single-day tickets are available for $89 while three-day passes are $199. The big-deal Ultimate Smooth Pass (USP) is available for $450.

Passes and further information are available on the festival website.

Austin comics Ashley Barnhill and Abby Rosenquist represent at New Faces in Montreal

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.

Ashley Barnhill
Ashley Barnhill

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.

Abby Rosenquist
Abby Rosenquist

Rosenquist, who came to Austin via Omaha, Nebraska, is an Out of Bounds and Moontower veteran who made a splash at this year’s Funniest Person in Austin contest and can be seen at local haunts including The Velv.

Of course, both comics have worked out material on Austin’s Cap City Comedy Club stage.

Best of luck to Barnhill and Rosenquist in Montreal.

Paramount classes teach stand-up to teens

The Paramount Theatre has space available in its summer stand-up comedy course for teens.

Ralph Hardesty
Ralphie Hardesty

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.

The classes are for students grades 6-12.

More information can be found at online at austintheatre.org.

Barry Sobel comes to Austin in July

Here’s one that arrived too late for the monthly comedy roundup: stand-up Barry Sobel, who toured relentlessly and achieved a level of success in the ’80s, is playing two Austin dates in July. He’ll be performing with unnamed locals at both stops and insist’s this is not his “comeback tour.”

Sobel appeared on his own HBO specials, MTV, Comedy Central, sitcoms such as “Dave’s World” and “227,” as well as in movies including “Revenge of the Nerds II” and “Punchline.”

These days, Sobel hosts “The 3 Minute Talk Show” at LStudio.com, and is developing an animated project with Tom Hanks, “Cartoon03.”

Here are Sobel’s upcoming central Texas dates:

July 10, Rumi’s Tavern, Jonestown
July 11, Coldtowne Theater, Austin
July 12, Starland Live, Austin
July 14, Jokers Southern Nights, Copperas Cove
July 16, Taxi’s, San Marcos

And here’s a clip of him performing on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” …

Out of Bounds Comedy Festival releases lineup, places tickets on sale

Tickets are now on sale for the Festival, which features 500 performers in 120 shows ta nine downtown Austin venues.

Sketch group Magician vs. Clown is slated to perform at the 2015 Out of Bounds Comedy Festival in Austin.
Sketch group Magician vs. Clown is slated to perform at the 2015 Out of Bounds Comedy Festival in Austin.

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).

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

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.