Adrienne Dawes and her company, Heckle Her, brings their comedy music cabaret Hoot! back to the Salvage Vanguard Theater for the second year in a row.
I saw part Dawes’ sketch show, Love Me Tinder a while back at the New Movement Theater and was enamored by it. But Love Me Tinder isn’t her only project, she’s written and produced several plays and has won Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for Playwriting. I could post all her credits, but it’s written more eloquently on her website. In a nutshell, Adrienne Dawes is busy, and her hard work has paid off.
Hoot Is Back
Hoot! is a music and comedy cabaret in its second year. The concept is to mix local comedians and musicians into a night of entertainment befitting a venue like the Salvage Vanguard Theater. The theater will be closing soon but they are going out with a bang… or hoot. Dawes has curated an extensive line up for this year’s Hoot! Check it out:
Girls Girls Girls – Improvised Musicals
Michael Ferstenfeld (SONDEIM FOR ONE)
Megan Sherrod & Quinn Buckner
Bryan ‘Lubu’ Roberts (Ghetto Sketch Warlock)
Ryan Darbonne (Dem Beach Boys)
Nitra Gutierrez, Katie Goan & Mandi LeBlanc
Khattie Q (Catalina la O)
Michael Joplin (Manateeman)
Christine Hoang & Annie Kim Hedrick
Jay Byrd (Edith Piaf and a Washtub Bass)
Jarrett King & friends (Mouth House)
Loose Threads (Tapestry Singers)
Love Me Tinder
The line up is a cornucopia of Austin’s music/comedy scene. Southpaw Jones brings his folky flair and love of Fatty Arbuckle to the event whileDe MC Harold mixes improv and rap. Whether you’re a rap, or folk fan (or anything else for that matter) Hoot! has something for you. On top of that, you get to see Maggie Maye live.
There are plenty of ways to get those sweet sweet Hoot! tickets. If you buy them early bird style, they only cost $8.00 on the Heckle Her site. Hoot! has two shows this weekend Friday, April, 29th and Saturday, April, 30th at 10:30pm. The Salvage Vanguard Theater is located at 2803 E Manor Rd in Austin.
Kelsey Caine is a comedy runaway. Originally from Houston, Caine left her joke cracking family to pursue higher education in Austin, which is where she got going in comedy and finally landed in New York. This is another interview that becomes a wild ride as Valerie Lopez barely has time to buckle up before Caine mashes the gas and throws it into 5th gear.
In part one of her interview, Kelsey Caine speaks to Valerie about watching Seinfeld at six years old, growing up in what can only be described as a ball-busting family and her love of Pat Dean and Martin Urbano.
Lashonda Lester is a sweetheart to talk to. She’s always approachable and easy to chat with. But beneath that friendly exterior is an iron resolve forged in the fires of The Motor City.
12 Years ago Lester left her native Detroit, MI. for Austin. Several years later, she seriously got into the comedy game and has been going full throttle ever since. In part one of their interview, Lashonda Lester tells Valerie Lopez about sneaking around and listening to “dirty” comic albums, and her very first open mic in Detroit. Go ahead and click the link below.
In part two, Lester talks with Valerie about medical setbacks, and getting her momentum going again. She also talks about giving back to the comedy community by hosting comedy seminars. In fact, I took my son, Tommy to one last year. We had a great time and found the seminar insightful. Tommy still carries a little notebook with him where he jots down joke ideas. He won’t let me see it though. Anyway you know what to do, right?
Recently Lashonda Lester has started ramping up her performance itinerary. In the immediate future she’ll be performing with Matt Sadler as they open for Ron Funches at Moontower Comedy Festival, and performing in other showcases. She’s also competing in the Funniest Person in Austin Contest this year; and in May, she’s putting on her popular show, Weird True Hollywood Talesat the Salvage Vanguard Theater.
My Comedy Wham cohorts mentioned picking shows and performers for Moontower Comedy Festival is like picking your favorite kid. I’d love to get in on the analogy but due to the brouhaha, I got to get to brass tacks.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
I am already torn. Missing Austin Towers at the Velv Comedy Lounge would be a travesty. The show starts at 8:3opm and features an amazing cross section of Austin comedy. Andrew Dismukes, Pat Dean, and Derek Phelps alone make the show worth seeing. Then they throw in Brian Gaar, Zac Brooks and Kath Barbadoro and that still isn’t the entire lineup. This is a show I normally wouldn’t think twice about.
This year though, I do have to think twice about Austin Towers because Maria Bamford is headlining the Paramount Theatre at 9:30pm with Erin Foley and Jackie Kashian. If you’re an Elite or Ace badge holder, or if you’ve purchased a ticket to the show, then beating feet from the Velv to the Paramount may not be a big deal. If you’re holder of a Fan Badge, you may be forced to choose between the shows, since Fan Badge holders get in after ticket and upper level badge holders – making it a first come, first serve scenario.
I’ve recently immersed myself in Bamford’s comedy and I would very much like to see her live. Besides, she’s also performing with Jackie Kashian and Erin Foley. I’ve been able to see Kashian and Foley on past Moontower Comedy shows and I dug their sets. Austin Towers or Maria Bamford… maybe I should rethink my intro paragraph.
Friday, April 22, 2016
SheBang is a female themed showcase taking place at *pm from 800 Congress. Greg Behrendt (not a female) hosts a fun crew of female comics including Erin Foley, Jackie Kashian, and of course, Austin’s very own, Maggie Maye. If you recall my dilemma from my Thursday recommendations, you’ll note that two out of the three performers from Maria Bamford’s show are on SheBang. So if you’re a fan badge holder and chose Austin Towers, this may be a bit of a consolation for you/us (I won’t make up my mind until I stand in line on Thursday).
My experiences watching Jackie Kashian, Erin Foley and Maggie Maye have always entertaining. On top of that, what other time will you be able to see Janeane Garofalo, and The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams in a smaller venue?
At 10pm staying at 800 Congress is a good idea for the Stars in Bars showcase. Locals Mike MacCrae, Matt Bearden and Martha Kelly tell jokes alongside Ari Shaffir, Hasan Minhaj and others. I enjoy line ups like Stars in Bars. It lives up to its name. Bearden, MacCrae and Kelly are old school members of the Austin comedy scene and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see them live, let alone on the same show.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest checking out the Ping Pong Slapdown at Stateside at the Paramount. The event starts at 2pm and is hosted by the Sklar Brothers. Believe it or not, the comedians participating get very competitive. It’s a fun event and there may be a chance to get some free stuff.
Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are recording their podcast, Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, at 5pm from Speakeasy. This is one of several podcasts being recorded over the course of the weekend. This event is badge only and seats are sure to fill up fast.
This Is Not Happening is… ahem, happening at 8pm from The Parrish. Many of the acts on the bill have been mentioned in my other recommendations. The reason why I suggest this show is because of Kurt Meztger and Kat Ramzinski. I love these two comedians. The NYC based Metzger’s blunt style of comedy is appealing to me and Ramzinksi is one of the rawest female comedians you’ll come across. Austin is lucky she calls it home.
Wednesday is the official start of Moontower. While the schedule is light, there are shows at Stateside at the Paramount, Cap City Comedy Club, and the Paramount Theatre.
The Stephen F. Austin bar serves as the official lounge of Moontower Comedy Fest. It gets the busiest after the shows start wrapping up. While they accept cards and open tabs, it’s a good idea to take cash to make things quicker at closing time.
Many comedians are on a variety of shows during the festival. If you miss a particular act, you have a good chance of catching it again.
Be sure to pay attention to the time your shows start, and travel time between venues.
As soon as he could, Yusef Roach left his home in the Vrigin Islands, and its conservative culture, in the proverbial rear view mirror. Oddly enough, he ended up in St. Louis and much like fellow comedian Aaron Brooks, he left St. Louis for Austin. St. Louis wasn’t all bad though. Yusef Roach did his first open mic in the Gateway to the West.
In his interview with Lara Smith, Roach talks bout his early stand up influences, his partnership with Martin Urbano and his quest to find his comedic voice. The take away for anyone listening to the interview is to keep working. Nothing is earned by rubbing some lamp you found in the desert. Anyway,
Asking someone to pick their favorite lineup for Moontower is like asking someone to pick their favorite kid, no one wants to do it, but if you get mom and dad drunk enough, they’ll talk! So I’m sitting down with a nice gin and tonic to give you my picks for Moontower Comedy Festival.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
I’m taking it easy on you day 1. Maybe your plane just landed and you’re still getting acclimated. Maybe you live in the area, but didn’t take the day off of work. I’ll keep it simple for you. You’re welcome to hit up the Pre-Show Happy Hour at the Stephen F. Austin Bar & Terrace at 5pm. After that, find a seat at The Parish by 8pm for This Is Not Happening, the long-form storytelling podcast hosted by Ari Shaffir. The lineup for Thursday includes Debra DiGiovanni, Big Jay Oakerson, and Dan Soder. I’ve heard both Soder and Oakerson tell some incredible stories and I would feel terrible if I let you miss out on this.
Remember when I said I was taking it easy on you today? You don’t even have to leave The Parish to catch my next pick. You’re welcome, because up next is Stashbox at 10:15pm. Hosted by Austin’s reigning Funniest Person in Austin winner, Danny Palumbo, Stashbox includes a lineup of Andy Kindler, Allen Strickland Williams, Maggie Maye, Brendon Walsh, Jak Knight, Randy Liedtke, Chris Cubas, and Jenny Zigrino. The blend of comics on this set is incredible and Cubas and Maye are two of my favorites that still call Austin home. Spoiler alert: With Walsh and Liedtke on the lineup, this is my peace offering for making you miss The Bone Zone on Friday.
Friday, April 22, 2016
You have a day of great comedy ahead of you, but let’s focus on the night. I warned you that I was going to make you miss The Bone Zone, but it’s for good reason. David Cross is finally getting back on the road after a brief hiatus and has picked the Moontower comedy Festival to record his new special, Making America Great Again. Since he’s doing two recordings, I’ve chosen the 7:00pm show (there’s also a 9:30pm) because I have more things in store for you later tonight. It’d be a shame to miss it. If you’ve never been to Austin, The Paramount is a beautiful historic theater that just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Come for the comedy, stay for the atmosphere… but not too long.
After the Paramount Theatre, head north to Cap City Comedy Club to see Ron Funches at 10:30pm. I picked this particular set of Funches’ because Bob Khosravi and Daniel Webb are on the bill. Khosravi has an amazing gift of taking audiences on a story-telling journey. Sometimes it’s to a dark place, but it’s always a great ride! Webb brings a fabulous high-energy performance that will have you smiling for hours after. With Funches (Comedy Central’s @midnight and NBC’s Undateable) closing out your evening, you’ll be set! No need to thank me (@snowflake1138 on Twitter).
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Have I steered you wrong yet? I didn’t think so (thanks for all the tweets), and today won’t be any exception. I’ve given you plenty of time to roam during the day and there’s a lot to see, but we know the nighttime is the right time. Tonight, go to Google Fiber to see Stars in Bars.
This is the showcase that Moontower offers up each year to allow you to see big names in more intimate settings than you normally would. Tonight’s lineup brings you JR Brow, Greg Behrendt, Mike MacRae, James Adomian, Arden Myrin, Brad Williams, Jessica Williams, Phoebe Robinson of 2 Dope Queens, and Erin Foley. I’ve personally seen Brow, Behrendt, and MacRae in the past year and you are in for a treat! I can tell you with these three alone, there will probably be music, unforgettable impressions, and if you think Behrendt is giving an Oprah-esque class, you’re wrong. His stand up is on point!
Last but not least, I give you my heart, a show so fabulous; I did my first Comedy Wham article on it. At 10:30pm, make your way to The Townsend to see Piranha! Hosted by Matt Bearden, Jesse Joyce is already listed on the panel, and Bearden always has great guests up his sleeve. I could gush about this show, but I already have (go read it). See it for yourself!
I hope this gives you a little guidance and makes your Moontower experience even brighter than the towers of its namesake. Hope to see you out there! Don’t forget, all badges, tickets and information is available on the Moontower Comedy Festival website.
Picking a show to see at Moontower Comedy Festival is like picking your favorite child. You end up feeling guilty afterward and someone inevitably hassles you for making the wrong choice. Well, here goes nothing. I’m sure I’ll feel guilt, or at the very least, experience FOMO (fear of missing out) by missing many other splendid shows during the festival.
Thursday April 21, 2016
For the first night, I recommend heading up to Cap City Comedy at 8pm to see Ron Funches with Lashonda Lester and Matt Sadler. Lester and Sadler are fantastic local comics and this is a really cool opporunity to see them with Ron Funches, a Seattle-based comic whose own star has risen over the last few years largely due to his role on the NBC show Undateable.
Lester is a prominent feature of the locally produced Funniest movie and has appeared in Comedy Central shows. Her brand of comedy will pair nicely with Sadler and Funches. Matt Sadler has been very active over the last year. His high energy performance is extremely contagious and his style is reminiscent of Sam Kinneson’s style without making you feel like you’ve done anything wrong. Between Matt Sadler, Lashonda Lester and Ron Funches, you’re promised a great time.
Cruise downtown to catch Unhinged at 800 Congress at 10pm to see Daniel Webb host for several out of town comics. Webb has been enjoying his own meteoric rise over the last year, possibly accelerated by his appearance as Selena at the 2015 Comedy Seance hosted by Norm Wilkerson (a.k.a. Satan). Daniel Webb recently hosted for The Sklar Brothers and is set to host for Ron Funches on another night of Moontower. He’s been very and you can check out his Comedy Wham Presents interview posted in March. His high-energy sets and hosting skills will lead to a top-notch evening at 800 Congress.
Friday April 22, 2016
This one is fairly easy since I’m an avid fan of the Bone Zone podcast with Brendon Walsh and Randy Liedke. They’re dragging along their frequent guest, Johnny Pemberton, to do a live from The Velv Comedy Lounge at 7pm. You never quite know what to expect with a Bone Zone podcast and Brendon and Randy have a great dynamic together. Brendon is the 2004 FPIA winner and left for Los Angeles in 2009. He comes back to Austin regularly either as a solo act or with Randy.
After the Bone Zone, stay put at The Velv Comedy Lounge to watch The Foxxhole at 10:30pm. Catch Lashonda Lester again along with San Antonio transplant Raul Sanchez. They will be sharing the stage with Jak Knight and Tony Rock. Lester is great of course and Sanchez has been performing more and more in Austin. Having spent a few years in San Antonio, I appreciate his spot-on depictions of life in San Antonio.
Saturday April 23, 2016
If you’ve heard my segment on Radio Tatas “The Lady Warrior Mmmmatt Moment”, a tongue-in-check dedication to Matt Bearden; is it any wonder I wouldn’t let this weekend go by without recommending a Matt Bearden show? You can see him perform every single night if you’re a super fan, but the highlight for me will be seeing him roll out his Piranha show at The Townsend at 10:30pm with Jesse Joyce.
This show is loosely based on those car auction shows. Instead of cars, comics auction their jokes to the highest bidder. Matt is an actor (known for MTV’s Austin Stories), an FPIA winner and current permanent 3rd chair of 93.7 KLBJ FM’s Dudley and Bob with Matt Morning Show. He’s developed several comedy shows including Punch and Slug.
Since the Piranha show is so late, sneak in a show beforehand like Leslie Loves Colin at 7pm at the Paramount Theatre. Colin Jost and Leslie Jones are the current cast members of Saturday Night Live. If you don’t know, Jost and Jones have a running bit on SNL News Update where Jones flirts relentlessly with a relentlessly awkward Jost. It’s one of my favorite recurring bits on SNL and their dynamic is nearly as lovable as the dynamic created between Seth Myers and Bill Hader’s character Stefon several years ago.
Tickets to this show are likely to sell out, so if you don’t have a badge, you may be out of luck. It’ll be well worth the effort to try to catch these two mismatched comic love-birds in action. Plus, watching Leslie Jones is a great opportunity to watch one of the rebooted Ghostbusters movie stars in person.
Behind Chris Sebilia’s low-key demeanor is a very funny comedian. As with our other interviewees, his journey to the Austin Comedy scene is unique. The California native holds a masters degree in structural engineering from the University of California at San Diego. He came to Austin seeking a job in his career field and found a love of performing comedy.
Since his start in the Austin comedy scene, Chris Sebilia has taken on many projects that also include acting and writing. In part two of his interview, Chris Sebila talks with Valerie about being the host of ATX Tonight, performing in a variety of festivals and the upcoming Funniest Person in Austin Contest.
While Chris Sebilia will be passing the helm of ATX Tonight on to Blake Wilson, you still have plenty of opportunities to check out his comedy. In fact, you can see him try to become the Funniest Person in Austin on April 11th at Cap City Comedy Club. For other appearances, all you got to do is check out his website.
I enjoy the Moontower Comedy Fest. Every year I have to force myself to pry away from showcases dedicated to local comedians and see out of town comedians. When I do, I always find an act I haven’t heard before and go home with new comedians for my teenager to check out.
Always Something New
Hosted by Austin’s iconic Paramount Theatre, the festival runs from April 20th to April 23rd and features a cross section of the best comedians the nation and Austin has to offer. I always enjoy seeing acts like Big Jay Oakerson, Maria Bamford and Andy Kindler in same weekend. Some of these acts rarely pass through town and quite a bit of time passes between visits of those we consider regulars. Getting to see many of these acts in one weekend helps fill the gaps a bit.
Last year was particularly fun for me. I was able to see Irish comedian David O’Doherty on Pete Holmes’ podcast, You Made It Weird, and catch his stand up. The dude is magic with a Casio keyboard. This is where Moontower Comedy Fest shines. If not for the festival, I probably wouldn’t have seen O’Dohetry live since he rarely comes to the U.S. (well, that was the case when I spoke to him last year).
More Than Stand Up
Event goers should be very excited about the line up this year. Maya Rudolph, Janeane Garofalo and Martin Short are just a few of the
headliners scheduled to appear. On top fo that, the SiriusXM radio show Opie with Jim Norton will be doing two shows
over the weekend. Besides Opie with Jim Norton, The Sklar Brothers and Brendon Walsh are bringing their podcasts to town. Sklarbro Country will be doing a live podcast from Speakeasy on the 22nd at 7pm. Bone Zone is podcasting from the Velv Comedy Lounge on the same day at 5pm. Sklarbro Country isn’t the only podcast Speakeasy is hosting. The dynamic duo of Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are bring Jay and Silent Bob Get Old to the Moontower Comedy Fest for a badge only event on the 23rd at 5pm.
It’s cool the festival organizers have expanded into radio/podcast broadcasts. It gives fans an opportunity to see and interact with the comedians in a casual atmosphere. What many people enjoy about these formats is that they feel like they’re part of a conversation – almost like sitting on a front porch and sipping lemonade with the hosts – or something like that.
Don’t Be Overwhelmed
Moontower Comedy Festival staples return in the form of the lounge at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel where fans can have a few drinks and mingle with comedians over the weekend. At 2pm on the 23rd, the Sklar Brothers will host the annual Ping Pong Smackdown. This is always fun to watch as comedians vie for the championship while the Sklar Brothers provide color commentary.
Choosing which show, headliner or event to attend can be overwhelming for a fan. Don’t worry, we at Comedy Wham have you covered. Over the course of the next week, Valerie, Lara and I will be posting our recommendations for the Moontower Comedy Festival. Of course, these are only recommendations and are not intended to be a yellow brick road.
Badges and single tickets to headlining shows are still available. All badges come with reduced rate parking at One American Center which is just a block west of the Stephen F. Austin Hotel. All festival information can be found on Moontower Comedy Fest’s website.
Piranha. Is it a vicious fish found in the Amazon? Is it a series of campy horror films? Yes, and it’s also the latest genius comedy showcase creation from Austin’s legendary comedian, Matt Bearden. Slated as a “game show style-up event,” Bearden self-describes it as a “rip off” of the television show Shark Tank.
How it Works
A panel consisting of Matt Bearden and two other seasoned comedians serve as judges and investors. Previous panel members have included Chris Cubas, Mike MacRae, Brian Gaar and Johnny Hardwick. A lineup of some of the best up-and-coming comedians perform jokes that they are willing to part with… for the right price. The panel is given a budget for the night to bid on jokes they would like to purchase for their own. These are the basic mechanics of Piranha. What actually happens is an absolutely unique comedy experience.
What You Get
On top of getting several great sets from the performers, audiences are treated to cross-talk between the judges, interactions with the performers and panel, bidding wars, and a whole lot of ball-busting! What this showcase offers that others don’t, is an opportunity to see the nuances of comedy and joke writing. Bits get broken down and sometimes even reworked in front of the audience.
Judges offer feedback on what jokes they love and sometimes what jokes to reject entirely. Often, members of the panel shell out large chunks of their budget just for the rights to a single phrase. You get to see behind the curtain at a part of comedy that often takes place at 3 AM in living rooms after a show. The crowd feels like it’s part of the bidding war as its cheers and shouts of suggested offers go flying around the room. It is truly one of the most energizing comedy events that Austin has to offer.
If you haven’t gotten to see an edition of Piranha, don’t worry, the showcase is coming to Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest April 23rd 10:30 PM at The Townsend. If you can’t make it to that, follow Matt Bearden’s production company, Punch! Comedy on Facebook, Twitter, or visit its website for upcoming shows. Also, Matt Bearden hinted that there may be podcast version of Piranha coming soon. Stay tuned to Comedy Wham for updates. You can also hear Matt Bearden weekdays, 6am – 10am on 93.7 KLBJ FM’s Dudley and Bob With Matt Morning Show.