TNM Tonight Kicks Late Night Talk in the Kiester

TNM Tonight poster
TNM Tonight is an edgier version of a late night talk show.

We’ve all seen the clips. Jimmy Fallon pretending to be Neil Young, Jimmy Kimmel playing mean tweets and so on and so forth. The Tonight Show has historically made comedian’s careers. The late night talk show has an exorbitant amount of power over pop culture. So naturally Austin shatters that ivory tower with TNM Tonight.

TNM Tonight is Two Years Old

TNM Tonight began in January 2013 when UT film and TV student, Devon Powell, wanted to do his version of a late night talk show.  In December, 2013 he passed the reigns to Odin Armador who then hosted the show until October, 2014 when Chris Sebilia took over hosting duty.

Chris Sebilia has been active in the Austin Comedy scene since he stepped on stage at the No Shame open mic at the Salvage Vanguard Theater four years ago. The engineer needed a creative outlet and found stand-up as a good way to express himself.

A Show With No Limits

Hosting TNM Tonight has been a long time goal of Chris Sebilia. The uniqueness of the show (there isn’t another one like it in town) and lack of censorship fosters a creative environment that has an anything goes vibe.  Where Kimmel, or Fallon has to kowtow to the FCC, investors, advertisers, and network censors, Chris Sebilia and TNM Tonight’s writers have nothing like that to worry about allowing them to go hard on pop culture, current events, and news topics.

Creating new content weekly is no small task but TNM Tonight has plenty of writers up to the task. Martin Urbano heads a team of writers comprised of Adam Wolf, Jesse Mundy, Austen Silver, Chris Levi, Donny Rodriguez, Cene Hale, Trace Holt, and Chance Garcia. Together with Chris Sebilia, they create a show featuring all the bells and whistles (guests, monologues, comedians, sketches, etc.) of a show, that according to Sebilia, is a, “A Jimmy Fallon show if he had a soul.”

Maintaining Forward Motion

Chris Sebilia on stage
Chris Sebilia has been hosting since October, 2014

TNM Tonight is something special and Austin comedy fans know it. The shows has steadily grown a loyal audience over it’s 1 1/2 year run and continues to foster an audience thirsty for creative humor.  TNM Tonight is currently rocking a solid schedule through the month of February and on into March. SXSW won’t slow them down either as they are going to be a part of a “secret” SXSW comedy show called...

The next TNM Tonight is this Saturday February 21st at the The New Movement Theater, conveniently located at the corner of 7th and Lavaca. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are $7.00.  If I were you, I’d buy them in advance. These shows fill up pretty fast.


TNM Tonight

The New Movement Theater

Chris Sebilia


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Pretty Awful is Premiering at the Highball

Amber Bixby and Katie Pengra outside
Amber Bixby and Katie Pengra outside
Pretty Awful stars Amber Bixby and Katie Pengra (credit: Erin Holsonback)

What do you get when you mix to friends who happen to be comedians with a video director with an eye for comedy? You get a web series called Pretty Awful, and it’s pretty amazing.

From a Skit to a Show

You may not know Dustin Svehlak, but I can almost promise you that if you’ve been to any comedy showcase, you’ve seen him. He’s the tall dude with a goatee and camera. Svehlak owns and operates Voltaic Video. It started in 2005 when Svehlak began shooting weddings and corporate events. In 2012, it became all about comedy as he began recording local comedy sets, and creating unique short videos and clips featuring local comedians.

The characters have a few vices (credit: Erin Holsonback).
The characters have a few vices (credit: Erin Holsonback).

A while back he was chatting with local comedian Amber Bixby about a small scene between two friends who were fighting. Svehlak and Bixby felt they had something more than just a couple of  minutes of video. After talking things over, they decided to turn it into a web series and Pretty Awful was born. Without thinking twice about it, Bixby brought in her friend and fellow comedian Katie Pengra.

Beavis and Butthead Meets Mean Girls

For Amber Bixby, picking Katie Pengra was a no-brainer. While the two are real life friends, their characters aren’t representative of that relationship. Bixby explains, “Yeah, she’s a very good friend of mine – but the series is very much a work of fiction. It’s a bit absurd. We’ve been comparing it to Mean Girls meets Beavis and Butthead. It’s not based on our real friendship – the friendship in the series is pretty unhealthy.”

From what I’ve seen, the two star characters are going to be a glorious train wreck; and Bixby’s allusion to Beavis and Butthead meeting Mean Girls is a bullseye. Anyone who’s seen either of those shows knows what a perfect storm of misadventure is brewing for Amber Bixby’s and Katie Pengra’s characters.

The collaborative effort between Dustin Svehlak, Amber Bixby, and Katie Pengra is on the ball. As of right now, Season 1 is ready to go with 3 episodes and Season 2 is in the works. While Svehlak handled the direction and camera work, Bixby took the role of head writer while Pengra helped and punched up the writing a bit. But they weren’t alone, Dustin Svehlak recruited his wife, Jen, for set design / producing, Terance McDavid as production assistant, and Chelsea Robinson for audio recording and post mixing.

Highball Premier

Pretty Aweful will premier at the Highball (credit: Erin Holsonback).
Pretty Aweful will premier at the Highball (credit: Erin Holsonback).

Svehlak, Bixby and Pengra are excited about their new project and they want Austin to celebrate it’s premier with them. Sunday, February 15th, they will be throwing a Pretty Awful premier party (get it?) at the Highball. The Highball is located at 1120 South Lamar Blvd, and they will have swag for sale in the form of t-shirts designed by David McQuary who also did the website art.  This will be a good post-Valentine’s Day palate cleanser and I am personally looking forward to it.

If you want more information click the links:

Pretty Awful

Voltaic Video

Amber Bixby

Katie Pengra


As usual, follow me on Twitter, @ElDavidThomas