Watch: Comedian Ron White talks about his Tuesday night Hurricane Harvey benefit at Paramount Theatre

Comedian Ron White watched from his home in Atlanta two weekends ago as his home state of Texas got pounded by Hurricane Harvey. Then he did something about it. The comedian partnered with Jim Ritts, CEO of the Paramount and State theaters; Turk and Christy Pipkin; John O’Connell; and the  Moontower Comedy festival and decided to help in the best way he knows how: making people laugh.

Ron White will kick off the 2015 Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival in Austin.

White headlines Harvey Relief Benefit: Comedy Helps Tuesday night at the Paramount Theatre, on a bill that includes Iliza Schlesinger and Chris D’Elia. Tickets are still on sale, and range from $75 to basic admission to $1,000 for front-row seats, along with pre and post-show parties and free drinks at the Paramount. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Paramount box office (700 Congress Ave.)

We caught up with the “Blue Collar Comedy” star on Tuesday afternoon to talk about the event and what his home state means to him.

Moontower preview: Margaret Cho’s deep Austin ties include recording with Patty Griffin and David Garza

Margaret Cho performs on April 22 at the Paramount Theatre as part of the Moontower Comedy Festival.

You know Margaret Cho is an iconoclast. You know she is merciless and brave and gives zero flips. You may know she had a show on network television two decades before “Fresh off the Boat” became a hit.  But did you know she got her comedy career started in San Francisco as part of a comedy duo with Sam Rockwell? She did. And, did you know she has made regular visits to Austin for years? She has.

Cho, who headlines Moontower Comedy Festival next weekend in Austin, has been a regular visitor to Austin,  which she calls her “musical Mecca.” Not only has she recorded with singer-songwriter David Garza, her Grammy-nominated album “American Myth” includes a song called Topaz about Austin saxophonist Topaz McGarrigle, and she even recorded a song with the great Patty Griffin, whom Michael Corcoran once dubbed “The Meadowlark of Hyde Park.”

We caught up with Cho before Moontower to talk about her 33-year career, Donald Trump and how to Keep Austin Weird. Read the entire interview here. 


Interview with Michelle Wolf: ‘Daily Show’ writer finds humor on Twitter

Murder and Moontower: Why a podcast about crime can make you laugh

Festival information, headliners, set times, et al

Breaking: Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint popping up tonight in Willie Nelson’s Luck, Texas

Dave Chappelle has not only been slaying comedian fans of late, he’s been throwing some damn good parties, as well. His Juke Joint parties have been hits in his home state of Ohio and outside of New Orleans over NBA All-Star Weekend. The comedian announced he will be throwing one tonight at 9 p.m. in Luck, Texas. Expect live music (including Frédéric Yonnet), laughs and a goood time. Also: NO PHONES OR CAMERAS. Seriously. Tickets are $85 and a limited number are on sale to the general public.  The party pops off after Chappelle’s final show at ACL Live, with buses to Spicewood available for Juke Joint ticket holders.

If the party is half as good the show we saw Wednesday night, expect a good time.

Dave Chappelle kills at ACL Live; jokes he was wrong to hold out hope for Donald Trump

Nevermind what you feared, Dave Chappelle is back and on top of his game.

In this Jan. 21, 2008 file photo, comedian Dave Chappelle attends a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

When his two Netflix specials dropped recently, some worried Chappelle might not be keeping up with the times. There were tone-deaf jokes about the transgender community and rape. Those subjects aren’t off-limits in stand-up comedy, but Chappelle’s jokes weren’t worthy of the triggering. They didn’t enlighten or enliven the societal conversation. Referencing a line Chappelle told Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” recently, they didn’t highlight an “irreconcilable moment of paradox.”

With those imperfect advertisements, some may have been skeptical about Chappelle’s form. But those sets were almost two years old (the Austin shows edited into episode two were from April 2015). Chappelle proved at his Wednesday night late show, amidst a sold-out weeklong run at ACL Live, that he’s  as sharp as ever.

He didn’t walk close to the fire from his Netflix specials, instead rallying the crowd from the moment he took the stage. Chappelle proved he is a uniter, not a divider.  And nothing brings us together quite like comedy.

Maybe it was simply a nod to the West, but Chappelle seemed aware of the ripples created by his recent specials and the bullseye-on-your-back role of comedian in world of social media and instant reaction, taking the stage in a black cowboy hat to Bon Jovi’s “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” following a fire set from opener Donnell Rawlings. (We sadly missed former Austinite Ashley Barnhill.)

His jokes weren’t uncomfortable but he didn’t play it safe,  as the self-proclaimed feminist proved with a self-aware bit about  how the feminist movement needed a man in charge, a joke that required a deft touch and a strong sense of absurdist vulnerability

Chappelle made news earlier this year with his great “Saturday Night Live” monologue, which aggravated and moved people with his call to give Donald Trump a chance. But, Chappellehas pumped his breaks on that one. The living legend said he had made a mistake with that plea. Trump has fallen apart and can’t do anything right, Chappelle said to raucous and relieved consensus.

The comedian suffered a train-wreck of fan interference when he visited the Paramount in 2012, when he was just starting to take swings on big stages again, but he rolled with the few interruptions and created a few of his own Wednesday night, embracing fans, not alienating or shaming them. He delivered watermelon juice to one audience member for her cocktail and sent another couple tequila shots. The relationship between performer and audience was made tighter by the lack of cell phones. On entering, attendees had to put their phones in sealed pouches that were unlocked on exiting, an awesome touch that meant no glowing phones, no selfies, no shots of Chappelle, and, the main reason, no recording. It was a touch that gave the night a retro feel, tripping back to when community was less disrupted and more organic. I would love to see the policy at every concert, movie and performing arts show.

Phones or no, Chappelle would have had the audience rapt all night, however, as he moved from easy but hilarious jokes about Bill Cosby’s “shenanigans” to more poignant societal statements about the late Emmett Till, the latter proving that not only is Chappelle back on top, he is exactly the comedian America needs in these uneasy times.

SXSW review: Tracy Morgan at Funny or Die

Tracy Morgan performs at the Funny Or Die party at SXSW on March 14, 2016.
Tracy Morgan performs at the Funny Or Die party at SXSW on March 14, 2016.

Tracy Morgan took the stage at Funny Or Die’s party at the Scoot Inn Monday night and told the crowd he was “the Desmond Tutu of entertainment.” And with that non sequitur, everyone’s crazy and dirty comedic uncle was back.

The beloved former star of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” almost died in a horrible collision with a Wal-Mart freight truck in 2014, making the night’s sponsor both ironic and on-the-nose, and Morgan spent a good portion of the first part of his set mining the accident for material. The whole time he was in a coma, he said his grandmother wore God out with her prayers, eventually inspiring the Man Upstairs to reprimand her (and Tim Tebow) for wasting his time when he had better things to do, like make sure Donald Trump didn’t get elected president. He said he went to heaven but didn’t stay long, because you don’t go toward the white light if you think it might be the cops.

Morgan used his reputation as rebellious bad boy to set up such jokes, and it’s not just a comfortable comedic device. From his anecdotes about selling crack to his myriad stories about graphic sex and masturbation, Morgan doesn’t worry with offending anyone. Even when the jokes were simply confessions of his sexual proclivities and not very funny, in the age of political correctness, it was good to see someone fearless, though I don’t expect the New Yorker to be earning any medals from feminist groups anytime soon. But when you’ve almost died and lost the ability to speak, being fearless probably comes easy.

The boundary pushing naturally followed Morgan into satirical discussions of race, as he wedded slavery metaphors and sexual humor. Morgan, whose wife is of mixed race, also defined the difference between arguing with a white woman (she’ll call her lawyer on you) and a black woman (she might kill you). In one of his bits that brought the biggest laughs and guffaws, he called out Tiger Woods for not identifying as back, saying Earl Woods (Tiger’s dad) is undoubtedly the name of a black man.

“The blackest thing he ever did was suck at golf,” Morgan said of Tiger Woods.

Morgan engaged in some biting crowd work, while his act repeatedly bounced from tales of physical therapy and the accident back to his sexual desires. Understandably, it wasn’t Morgan at his most manic or funniest, but it was great to see him back on stage taking swings. Comedy isn’t like sports – you don’t get to rehab in private and wait to come back and perform for the public at 90 percent. Morgan, who was performing in only the 12th show of his first tour since the accident, isn’t all the way back, but from the immediate standing ovation at Scoot Inn, it’s clear his fans are ready to help him rally back to his old self.



Moontower Comedy releases full schedule

Maria Bamford performs at the Paramount Theatre on April 21 as part of the Moontower Comedy Fest.
Maria Bamford performs at the Paramount Theatre on April 21 as part of the Moontower Comedy Fest.

How are you going to take in over 100 comedians at more than a half dozen downtown venues in three days? That’s up to you. But Moontower Comedy recently announced its complete schedule, which should help with planning.

The fifth annual festival features Paramount Theater headliners like Martin Short (4/21) and David Cross (filming his new special on 4/22), Maya Rudolph, performing with her Prince tribute act, Princess, and Leslie Jones on April 23.

The club schedule, as always, is packed, with performers like Dana Gould and Arden Myrin, Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, Ari Shaffir, Big Jay Oakerson, Ron Funches, Matt Bearden, Lashonda Lester, and many more.

Special programming features include Ian Abramson’s Seven Minutes in Purgatory, where comedians have to perform in a soundproof booth unaware of audience response, and Next, an industry event showcasing rising (yet-to-be-named) talent.

Podcasters at this year’s festival include Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes (Jay & Silent Bob Get Old), and Brendon Walsh and Randy Liedtke (The Bone Zone).

The complete schedule is below, with lineups subject to change. Head to for tickets and more information.


*Show lineups are subject to change; additional performers coming soon


Anjelah Johnson presents Bon Qui Qui’s Gold Plated Dreams Tour featuring Group 1 Crew – 8:00 p.m.; Paramount Theatre


An Evening with Martin Short – 7:00 p.m.; Paramount Theatre

Featuring Martin Short, Mac Blake

Janeane Garofalo – 7:30 p.m.; Stateside at the Paramount

New York’s Finest – 8:00 p.m.; 800 Congress

Hosted by Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson (2 Dope Queens); featuring Joe List, Tony Rock, Mark Normand, Andy Kindler, Joe DeRosa, Jesse Joyce, and Sean Donnelly

Ron Funches – 8:00 p.m.; Cap City Comedy Club

Featuring Ron Funches, Lashonda Lester, and Matt Sadler

This Is Not Happening – 8:15 p.m.; The Parish

Hosted by Ari Shaffir; featuring Debra DiGiovanni, Big Jay Oakerson, Dan Soder, and more

Austin Towers – 8:30 p.m.; The Velv Comedy Lounge

Featuring Brian Gaar, Aaron Brooks, Andrew Dismukes, Bryan Gutmann, Joe Hafkey, Kath Barbadoro, Kelsey Caine, Kent Juliff, M.K. Paulsen, Zac Brooks, and Pat Dean

James Adomian – 8:30 p.m.; The Townsend

Featuring James Adomian, Mike MacRae, and special guest

Stars in Bars – 8:30 p.m.; Antone’s

Hosted by Matt Bearden; featuring Jon Rudnitsky, Randy Liedtke, Beth Stelling, The Sklar Brothers, Dana Gould, Greg Behrendt, Brad Williams, Arden Myrin, and Martha Kelly

Piff the Magic Dragon – 9:30 p.m.; Stateside at the Paramount

Maria Bamford – 9:30 p.m.; Paramount Theatre

Unhinged – 10:00 p.m.; 800 Congress

Hosted by Daniel Webb; featuring Erin Foley, Fahim Anwar, Johnny Pemberton, Ahmed Bharoocha, Debra DiGiovanni, Kate Flannery and Scot Robinson, Brad Williams, Scout Durwood, and Dana Gould

Stashbox – 10:15 p.m.; The Parish

Hosted by Danny Palumbo; featuring Andy Kindler, Allen Strickland Williams, Maggie Maye, Brendon Walsh, Randy Liedtke, Chris Cubas, and special guests

Blue Moon – 10:30 p.m.; The Velv Comedy Lounge

Featuring Abby Rosenquist, Annie Lederman, Brad Williams, Nick Mullen, Big Jay Oakerson, and Dan Soder

7 Minutes in Purgatory – 10:30 p.m.; The Townsend

Hosted by Ian Abramson

Goddamn Comedy Jam – 10:30 p.m.; Antone’s

Featuring Josh Adam Meyers, Jeremiah Watkins, the band Elemenope, Big Jay Oakerson, and more


SiriusXM’s The Bonfire – 4:00 p.m.; 800 Congress

Featuring Big Jay Oakerson, Dan Soder, and special guests

Sklarbro Country podcast – 5:00 p.m.; Speakeasy

The Sklar Brothers, Guests TBA

The Bone Zone – 7:00 p.m.; The Velv Comedy Lounge

Featuring Brendon Walsh, Randy Liedtke, and Johnny Pemberton

David Cross taping Making America Great Again – 7:00 p.m.; Paramount Theatre

Piff the Magic Dragon – 7:30 p.m.; Stateside at the Paramount

1st and 10 – 8:00 p.m.; Speakeasy

Featuring The Sklar Brothers, Tony Rock, Fahim Anwar, Erin Foley, Dan Soder, and Ahmed Bharrocha

Ron Funches – 8:00 p.m.; Cap City Comedy Club

Featuring Ron Funches, Brian Gaar, and Avery Moore

SheBang – 8:00 p.m.; 800 Congress

Hosted by Greg Behrendt; Featuring Erin Foley, Jackie Kashian, Jenny Zigrino, Debra DiGiovanni, Beth Stelling, 2 Dope Queens, Maggie Maye, and special guests

Blue Moon – 8:15 p.m.; The Parish

Hosted by Mark Normand; featuring Annie Lederman, Brad Williams, Big Jay Oakerson, Nick Mullen, Jenny Zigrino, and special guests

Friends of Single People – 8:30 p.m.; The Velv Comedy Lounge

Featuring Jo Firestone and more

David Cross taping Making America Great Again – 9:30 p.m.; Paramount Theatre

Jimmy Carr: Funny Business – 9:30 p.m.; Stateside at the Paramount

Stars in Bars – 10:00 p.m.; 800 Congress

Hosted by Jesse Joyce; featuring Ari Shaffir, Joe List, James Adomian, Jon Rudnitsky, Matt Bearden, and more

Goddamn Comedy Jam – 10:15 p.m.; The Parish

Featuring Josh Adam Meyers, Jeremiah Watkins, Elemenope, Joe DeRosa, Brad Wlliams, and Matteo Lane

Ron Funches – 10:30 p.m.; Cap City Comedy Club

Featuring Ron Funches, Bob Khosravi, and Daniel Webb

SiriusXM’s The Foxxhole – 10:30 p.m.; The Velv Comedy Lounge

Featuring Jak Knight, Lashonda Lester, Raul Sanchez, and Tony Rock

The Tinkle Twins – 10:30 p.m.; The Townsend

Featuring Dana Gould, Arden Myrin, The Lampshades, and more

Nightcap with Kevin Smith – 11:59 p.m.; Paramount Theatre


Jay and Silent Bob Get Old live podcast – 5:00 p.m.; Speakeasy

Featuring Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes

Leslie Loves Colin – 7:00 p.m.; Paramount Theatre

Featuring Leslie Jones, Colin Jost, and Jon Rudnitsky

Jim Norton: Mouthful of Shame – 7:30 p.m; Stateside at the Paramount

Featuring Jim Norton and guests TBA

SuperShow – 8:00 p.m.; 800 Congress

Featuring Ian Abramson, Debra DiGiovanni, Dana Gould, Mark Normand, Martha Kelly, Matteo Lane, Randy Liedtke, and special guests

Ron Funches – 8:00 p.m.; Cap City Comedy Club

Featuring Ron Funches, Raul Sanchez, and guest TBA

This Is Not Happening – 8:15 p.m.; The Parish

Hosted by Ari Shaffir; guests TBA

Austin Towers – 8:30 p.m.; The Velv Comedy Lounge

Featuring Amber Bixby, Brently Heilbron, Brian Gaar, Duncan Carson, Ella Gale, Jay Wahitcotton, John Buseman, Lisa Delarios, Matt Sadler, Ralph Hardesty, and Sara June

Andy Kindler’s Particular Show – 8:30 p.m.; The Townsend

Hosted by Andy Kindler; guests TBA

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King – 9:30 p.m.; Stateside at the Paramount

Princess – 9:30 p.m.; Paramount Theatre

Featuring Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum

Goddamn Comedy Jam – 10:15 p.m.; The Parish

Hosted by Josh Adam Meyers; featuring Jeremiah Watkins, Elemenope, Fahim Anwar, and guests TBA

Ron Funches – 10:30 p.m.; Cap City Comedy Club

Featuring Ron Funches and guests TBA

Bye Felicia! – 10:30 p.m.; The Velv Comedy Lounge

Featuring Matteo Lane, M.K. Paulsen, Erin Foley, Daniel Webb, James Adomian, Maggie Maye, and Ralph Hardesty

Piranha – 10:30 p.m.; The Townsend

Featuring Matt Bearden and guests TBA

Jim Norton: Mouthful of Shame – 11:30 p.m.; Stateside at the Paramount

Featuring Jim Norton and guests TBA

David Cross to record comedy special at Moontower; Maya Rudolph added to lineup

Princess photoMoontower Comedy Fest audiences may eventually hear their own guffaws on David Cross’ next comedy special, “Making America Great Again.” The acerbic and thoughtful comic will tape his new special over back-to-back shows at the comedy festival in Austin at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on April 22. Tickets for the David Cross shows at the Paramount Theatre go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at

The festival also announced that Prince cover band, Princess, fronted by “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum, will perform at the festival. (Check out their blazing cover of “Darlin Nikki” here.) Individual tickets for the Princess show go on sale Thursday.

The festival begins rolling out individual tickets sales for all the headliners Thursday, with sales spread out over the 11th (Maritn Short, Maria Bamford, Anjelah Johnson presents Bon Qui Qui’s Gold Plated Dreams Tour featuring Group 1 Crew), 12th (Kevin Smith, Leslie Jones & Colin Jost in “Leslie Loves Colin”), and 15th (Jimmy Carr, Janeane Garofalo, Piff The Magic Dragon, Jim Norton and Hasan Minhaj’s one-man show “Homecoming King”). Tickets will go on sale for the respective shows at 10 a.m.

For badge sales and complete details on ticketing process, visit or call 512-474-1221.