Brently Heilbron Builds an Empire for Everyone

Brently Heilbron
(Credit; Unknown)

Audio By Valerie, Words By Richard


URGENT AND TIMELY HEADS UP: Make it a priority to grab tickets to the February 19th live taping of Standup Empire. Go now. We’ll wait.

Done? Great. Let’s continue.

Comedy fans in Austin will almost certainly be immediately familiar with the name Brently Heilbron. Whether from his twisted emo puppet band Fragile Rock, or the ongoing PBS series he hosts, Standup Empire, you’ve almost certainly run across Heilbron’s work. It’s always a pleasure when Valerie Lopez finds a kindred soul with a fascination for the art behind the art, and this interview is an a shining example.

Heilbron got a very early start in performing, trading schoolwork in 8th grade in his hometown of Dallas, Texas, for the arguably more valuable exposure and healing experience on the stage. It was a pattern that continued after he moved to Austin to study at the University of Texas and ultimately had to make a choice between his theatre studies and honing his craft. You can no doubt guess which path he chose.

Comedy Wham Presents: Brently Heilbron

With a career that includes fascinating and sometimes randomly crossed paths with big names like Woody Allen and Paul McCartney, Heilbron has accumulated knowledge, skills, and delights in a variety of comedic formats. From writing a musical about the ass of an iconic American actor, to the aggressive ditties he bangs out on his ukulele, there’s simply no denying the joy he gets from the limelight and – something he adores – providing a place in that light for others. While Standup Empire is Heilbron’s show, he makes it patently clear that it’s first and foremost a platform for others, and for the Austin comedy community.

There’s simply no way I can capture everything Lopez and Heilbron cover in this episode, so download and get listening.

Now that you’ve grabbed those tickets (seriously, not going to say it again), check out more of Heilbron at his website, and on Twitter. For music for all moods, but mostly the emo puppet kind, check out Fragile Rock on their websiteTwitter and Facebook pages. He’s also starting a monthly column in the Austin American Statesman in March about the Austin comedy scene, so keep your eyes peeled.


Brently Heilbron 

Valerie Lopez

Richard Goodwin


Funniest: The Life and Times of Austin Comedy

(Credit: Dustin Svehlak, Font: Mario DiGiorgio)
(Credit: Dustin Svehlak, Font: Mario DiGiorgio)

Audio by Valerie, Words by David

I’ve known Dustin Svehlak (pronounced “Sway-lock’) and Norm Wilkerson (pronounced “Norm”) for some time. As I wrote in the Katie Pengra article, I met Svehlak several years ago while he was recording material at Cap City Comedy Club, and in other venues around town. I’ve seen Wilkerson at some intentionally blue comedy shows like the Punch Comedy Cringetacular and Wilkerson’s own, Comedy Séance. He likes to occasionally cosplay as Jesus Christ’s Ivan Drago, Satan.

Wilkerson started in the comedy scene while living in the Washington D.C. area. He began his career at an age older than most of our interviewees. He quickly embraced the gritty, blue style of comedy popular in D.C at the time and brought it with him to Austin – where he’s endeared himself to the local scene. Wilkerson’s self-effacing, nonchalant style of comedy makes you love the guy, and while his comedy may make a few sensitive types cringe, it will make you think.

We’ll be seeing both of them again soon in a documentary called Funniest. Well, we’ll be seeing Norm Wilkerson along with several other Austin comedians. As for Dustin Svehlak, he was behind the camera and in the editing room with Katie Pengra.

Comedy Wham Presents: Funniest

Funniest follows Wilkerson and his peers (representing a cross-section of Austin’s stand up scene) over several weeks surrounding the 2015 Funniest Person in Austin Contest that’s held annually at Cap City Comedy Club. I could write several hundred more words about Funniest, but I want Valerie Lopez’s interview with Svehlak and Wilkerson to do the talking (no pun intended).

I will say this. Funniest isn’t only about stand-up comedy. It’s about the people behind the scene, their lives, and the events that shape their personas on the stage.  Svehlak and Pengra follow Wilkerson and his fellow comedians as they nervously have a smoke before performing their sets; deal with illness; care for loved ones; choose the path less taken; and fight time, age and the daily grind. It makes you want everyone to win the contest. Unfortunately like Highlander, there can only be one.


Ah, it looks like I wrote those extra words anyway. Here are some details:  Funniest is premiering at the Austin Film Festival 8:30 pm on October 16th in the Rollins Theater at the Long Center.  If you’re unable to make that date, there will be another showing at 9 pm on Wednesday, October 19th at the Stateside Theater.  To keep up with the Funniest documentary, follow it on Facebook.  Svehlak’s other projects can be found at Voltaic Video.

As for Norm Wilkerson, despite being grey headed and a new father of twins, he’ll be donning the dark lord of Hell’s garb once again on October 29th for the annual Comedy Seance at the Spider House Ballroom at 7:30 pm.



Norm Wilkerson

Dustin Svehlak

Valerie Lopez




John Tole Comes Clean

(source: John Tole)
(source: John Tole)

Words by Dave

Some folks are good at thinking outside the box. John Tole excels at it. The walking epitome of the fused brains of Bill Hicks and Ken Kesey is establishing a clean comedy showcase named Come Clean in town between his busy touring schedule and other projects.


A Family Friendly Show


Here it is in a nutshell, Come Clean is, well, a clean comedy showcase – one of the few, if not the only one in Austin. There’s plenty of comedy in town. There are several clean comics but I don’t think I can recall a purely clean comedy show… unless you count that youth minister who travels around to guitar churches but even that doesn’t exactly apply here.

Tole is always looking for a challenge and the positive potential for a clean, family friendly show was too much for him to turn down. He explains it like this:

“Working clean is a whole different energy, and working with ideas that cross generation leads to an opportunity where a kid can have their first comedy experience with their parents. I saw Eddie Murphy with my dad in the 80’s and it’ll be something that’ll be with me forever.”

Tole has decided to kick off the show with a bang. He said it wasn’t hard getting a few comics willing to do a clean show. Maggie Maye, Pat Dean and Carina Magyar have stepped up to the plate and will be performing on the inaugural show.

John Tole is back with family friendly comedy (source: John Tole)
John Tole is back with family friendly comedy
(source: John Tole)

Phil’s Icehouse in the Austinville shopping center is the location. If you’re unsure of where this is, it’s next door to iFly at 13265 US Hwy 183 N. Why Phil’s Icehouse? Here’s why:

“We wanted to work with Phil’s because I’m a huge fan of their culture and having a buddy who works for the company made it real easy to lock in. It’s a different experience: No stage, all ages, and the background (weather permitting), will be the activity on a jungle gym.”


Paying It Forward


I’m excited about a show like Come Clean, it’s the type of show I can take nieces and nephews to without their parents losing their collective minds. The best part is that John Tole wants to grow it into a form of mentorship –paying it forward to future generations of young comedians by pairing teenagers with comedians. Even if the comedy angle never pans out, it’s a good way to learn public speaking, which is still a top fear of Americans.

Come Clean’s first show is tonight, August, 17th, at 7:30pm. It should run roughly an hour which means families can get their young’uns home by a fairly decent hour. Also, Phil’s Icehouse will be fully staffed and as always, it’s right next door to Amy’s Ice Cream. What’s more to ask for on a Wednesday in August?


Internet Sources

Tole keeps himself busy with comedy,  music and his podcast,  Cart Path Diem. As usual, we list the best way to follow him. Don’t forget to visit Phil’s Icehouse online and in real life. 

John Tole
Phil’s Icehouse

Comedy Wham


Roxy Castillo Wants To Put A Spell On You

Words by David Thomas

I have covered quite a few comedy shows on this site. There was that one person sketch show about the Mothman Prophesy. Then there was the other one about dating. Surely we shouldn’t forget the one where the audience votes on who was funnier, the drunks, stoners or sobers. That’s just scratching the surface, there have been shows involving singing and comedy, plays, two person improv, one person shows and on and on.

(Poster Credit: Daniel Solano)
(Poster Credit: Daniel Solano)

This is what makes the Austin comedy scene so fun. The creators, curators and performers in these shows are limited only by their imaginations… and sometimes other stuff, but mostly their imagination. These endeavors have made my writing experience an eclectic tilt-a-whirl of word craft.

From Denver to Austin

One of these creative comedic types is Roxy Castillo. Castillo, who originally hails from Denver (Colorado, not Missouri) got her start in the stand up comedy scene in the Mile High City eight years ago. Here’s her abridged version:

“I always liked comedy as a kid, but it was in college that I took an elective theater class that was a comedy course. So they taught us basic improv, sketch, and stand up. When I excelled at that, it just fit my life. Gave me an outlet for my oddities and need for attention and ever since that silly class, I was hooked.”

Castillo on stage at The New Movement
Castillo on stage at The New Movement

Castillo went on to tell me that shortly after the class, she decided to move to Austin on a whim. She got the idea in December and by April, she was packed and gone – no job prospects, no housing plans, just a few personal items and a big jug of faith in that it was the right thing to do. She felt Austin was more suited to her, so she packed and moved, having never visited Austin before and according to her, it was a perfect fit for her and her sense of humor. In Austin where she started expanding into improv and sketch comedy. Her involvement with the sketch group, Bad Example, introduced her to the New Movement Theater and the topic of this article.

The Witching Hour

Roxy Castillo has decided to blend her love of comedy and the occult into her new show, The Witching Hour. What is it and why? Because this:

“It’s an occult comedy talk show. It’s a mix of Pee Wee Playhouse and a Hogwarts class taught by me. I’m really into mystical/occult/new age type stuff (tarot, crystals, astrology, etc) and a lot of my friends come to me for information on this stuff, so I figured I should put a show together where I can explain some of these things thru a comedic lens.”

Sign outside the New Movement Theater
7th and Lavaca y’all.

In case you were wondering, yes there will be character guest interviews and presentations with the help of Kelsey Rogers, Zaftigg Von Bon Bon, Vanessa Gonzalez, Cody Cartagena, Stephanie Pace and Ariel Greenspooon. For the first show, Castillo is focusing on crystals, tarot, and magik (with a “k” not “C” like that David Blaine stuff). As a bonus, the show is sponsored by Nature’s Treasures, a local gem and crystal store, and audience will receive a few free gifts and coupons to start them on their cosmic journey.


Of course the show is at the New Movement Theater. It’s also this Saturday, May 28th, at 9pm. As you should all know by now, The New Movement is a BYOB establishment and is nestled near the corner of 7th and Lavaca in scenic downtown Austin. Ticket info can be found on this Eventbrite page. Remember, they’re cheaper in advance *wink.*

As for Roxy Castillo’s other projects and appearances, she be can be seen all over town doing all sorts of things. The best thing to do is follow her on Twitter. She also dabbles in burlesque under the name Miss Fahrenheit and performs weekly with Bad Example.


Lara’s Moontower Wrap-Up

I love it when a plan comes together. This year that is exactly what happened at Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest. We released our picks for the festival the week before and I told you it wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I did it. I stuck to my plan, with a few extra additions, and it really made for an awesome comedy experience.

Volunteers like Mike and Sharon keep Moontower running smooth.
Volunteers like Mike and Sharon keep Moontower running smooth.

So my first add-on was Ari & Kurt Do 4-20 on opening day at Cap City Comedy Club. It was an amazing lineup of local favorites, hosted by Ari Shaffir and Kurt Metzger. The show was such a great way to kick off Moontower and, despite the date, it was a very high-energy show (pun intended). Immediately following the show, ATX Uncensored(ish) did a taping of their show, with guests, Ari and Kurt. It was a great way to close day one.

Dan Soder

I stuck to the plan and headed down to The Parish to watch This Is Not Happening and I’m so glad I did. Hosted by Ari Shaffir, stories from Dan Soder, Debra DiGiovanni, Big Jay Oakerson, Brad Williams and a surprise addition, Jesse Joyce. I have to say that I am forever a hardcore Brad Williams fan after hearing his “best day” story.

I remained at The Parish for Stashbox and had an incredible time. Because of some of the headlining shows competing with the time slot, the crowd thinned out some, but you couldn’t tell Andy Kindler that. He put on such a kinetic show, my face hurt from laughing.


I headed downtown early to catch a recording of the SiriusXM show The Bonfire, hosted by Dan Soder and Big Jay Oakerson. Donned in western wear for the occasion, they put on quite a show. Guests Joe DeRosa, Andy Kindler, and Ari Shaffir stopped by to join the campers. DeRosa and Kindler had some much fun trash-talking each other. It was the perfect way to lead me into my evening with David Cross: Making America Great Again.

Cross was incredible and his commentary on the election and our polarized nation was painfully honest and hilarious. This day truly spoiled me, as I ended it with the dynamic Ron Funches at Cap City. Funches has an infectious smile and an adorably confident persona that makes you know why he’s become such a force in the comedy/television world.

Janeane Garofalo

I got things going with the Ping Pong Slapdown with commentary by the Sklar Brothers. Badge holders enjoy this tournament exclusively every year. Anyone could sign up to compete and everyone was treated to free Amy’s Ice Cream, burgers from Phil’s Icehouse, and beer from Goose Island. Be sure to check out Comedy Wham on Instagram to see pictures from the tournament.

That evening I returned to my schedule to see Stars In Bars and it was incredible. JR Brow was wonderful, as always. Erin Foley, Phoebe Robinson, Arden Myrin, and Janeane Garofalo reminded me how much I love strong female comedians and how they inspire me. Then my world was captivated by the irreverent and fabulous Jimmy Carr. He brought the house down with his quick-witted rapid fire style…a perfect way to close this showcase.

Jesse Joyce

Finally, my Moontower ended with Piranha, hosted by Matt Bearden. This time panelists included Arden Myrin, Jesse Joyce, and Mike MacRae. It was just as I had reported before, but cranked up a notch! Audience interaction started quickly, judges roused each other fiercely, and performing comedians were far from timid with the panel. It was a great way to close the festival.

Go to This Festival

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest was one of the most well-planned festivals Austin has to offer. Almost every venue is a quick walk from the next, the volunteers are incredibly helpful and personable, and the comedians they book are as friendly and kind to fans as they are talented. I cannot wait for next year!

Valerie’s Recap of Moontower Comedy Festival

sklar-brothersWhoa. That’s pretty much how I feel about my inaugural experience with Moontower, which celebrated its 5th year. Maybe the organizers felt they had to work extra hard to make it special for the 5th anniversary, but a few little birdies told me that this 5th year is just a sign that every year, Moontower gets better and better. Confirming what I already knew after watching a couple of shows this weekend: I absolutely want to come back for 2017.


I deviated from my original recommendations and it allowed me to have one of the most memorable comedy experiences of my life. My only regret as a big fan of The Bone Zone, I wasn’t able to get to the live taping. What I saw on Thursday, when I switched up my game plan, more than made up for that regret.

I saw a show called Stars in Bars which followed a traditional stand up format with comics from across the country. I saw stand up sets by Brendon Walsh and Randy Liedtke, so I felt a little less bummed about missing their podcast taping the following day. There were great acts on this lineup: Martha Kelly, The Sklar Brothers, Dana Gould, Greg Behrendt, Arden Myrin, and Jon Rudnitsky of SNL fame. Rudnitsky wowed me with his character work and high-energy set. A couple of bonuses to that show were that Colin Jost, also of SNL fame, dropped in to do a set while Matt Bearden hosted the entire showcase of excellent comics.

And now, the piece de resistance, the Goddamn Comedy Jam, hosted by the amazing Josh Adam Meyers. Meyers had a background in music before setting his sights on comedy. The Goddamn Comedy Jam is a blend of musical performance (by legit backing band, Elemenope) and stand up. The idea is Meyers kicks off with a musical performance which is engaging and involves the audience (I felt sorry for the guy standing next to me who got pulled in to do awkward things with Meyers’ mic, but he was a team player).

Meyers then introduces comics who do their traditional sets followed by singing a song for the audience. The comics also engage the audience and if you’re not on your feet, then you may just be dead. The night’s comics were Joe DeRosa, The Sklar Brothers, Adam Ray and Big Jay Oakerson. They each performed stellar sets and selected memorable musical pieces. From Huey Lewis to David Bowie to 4 Non Blondes to Pantera, the night was rocked. Ray’s performance of 4 Non Blondes’ What’s Up was so rousing, I heard it discussed well into Saturday. Since Prince died earlier that day, Meyers lead the entire lineup in a rousing rendition of Purple Rain that nearly had me in tears.


The Ron Funches late show on Friday night was my escape from downtown and I got to see Daniel Webb and Rob Khosravi sklar-brotherssupport Funches that night. Funches is as adorable as he is wickedly funny. He pulls in the audience with his sweet demeanor. Don’t let that fool you, he made some wicked social commentary and let us know that he is no pushover. He was extremely gracious after the show and took pictures and chatted with those interested in seeing that bright smile up close.


Saturday brought a last-minute addition of the daytime Ping Pong Slapdown moderated by The Sklar Brothers. If you’re keeping count, that’s the 3rd time I got to see them over the course of the festival and each time I was more and more enamored of their style of comedy. The crew of Comedy Wham were present as was my 9 year old son. Not only was it a blast listening to The Sklar Brothers give a play-by-play commentary on the ping pong table action (which pitted a comic with an audience member), but they interviewed the losers of each round, and most amusingly, when they noticed my 9 year old in the front row, they incorporated him into their commentary, referring to “the 9 year old in the audience” to remind everyone any time the comedy turned blue (don’t worry, it stayed blue in all the right places). My son was beaming at the attention.

Leslie Jones

Saturday night, I stuck to my selections and enjoyed Leslie Loves Colin, featuring SNL cast members, Leslie Jones, Colin Jost and opener Jon Rudnitsky. Rudnitsky did a different set than the one he performed on Thursday, so I got to see his Dirty Dancing Live performance which you can catch on the February 6 episode of Saturday Night Live. Colin’s performance was a treat, but the firecracker Leslie Jones came out with a bang and never let up the heat.

Her energy reminded me of Kevin Hart, but Leslie is unique and even when she’s yelling at you for wearing a denim shirt on a date with a hot girl (yes, she did that), you can’t help but love her. The final portion of the performance was Leslie and Colin together answering “audience” questions (some were plants by each other) where you got to witness in action the exuberance of Leslie’s staged attraction to the awkwardly timid Colin. I loved seeing an all-SNL showcase since SNL is so near and dear to my heart.

Matt Bearden

The final show for Moontower  brought together the Comedy Wham crew for Matt Bearden’s Piranha, which you can read about in Lara’s article from last month. The comedic “Shark Tank rip-off” was staged in a small room in the back of the Townsend club that gave an intimate feel to the experience.

Jesse Joyce, Arden Myrin and Mike Macrae assisted Bearden with the judging while comics Martin Urbano, Raul Sanchez, Avery Moore, Abby Rosenquist and Devon Walker performed sets in hopes of getting their jokes bought by the judges. While the other comics successfully sold individual jokes, Walker achieved a rare feat in getting paid to NOT sell his jokes and focus on making minor tweaks for added comedic effect. Walker was described by Bearden as a shining new star on the Austin comedy scene. His adoration of the comics on the show was evident throughout the evening. Bearden takes his role as ambassador of the Austin comedy scene seriously and it was clear to me why so many of the young comics in Austin look up to him.

Watching a home-grown show was a perfect nightcap to the Moontower experience which allowed me the opportunity to see great comics from across the country. It’s always nice knowing that the Austin comedy scene rewards you handsomely with its talent even in the midst of a national showcase event.


Heckle Her Presents: Hoot!

By Dave

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.

Adrienne Dawes (Source:
Adrienne Dawes (Source:

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)
Southpaw Jones
Ammon Taylor
Maggie Maye
Megan Sherrod & Quinn Buckner
Kerri Atwood
Bryan ‘Lubu’ Roberts (Ghetto Sketch Warlock)
MC Harold
Ryan Darbonne (Dem Beach Boys)
Ryan Fechter
Nitra Gutierrez, Katie Goan & Mandi LeBlanc
Khattie Q (Catalina la O)
Michael Joplin (Manateeman)
Christine Hoang & Annie Kim Hedrick
Erik Secrest
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.


Dave’s Guide to Moontower Comedy Fest

By David Thomas

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

Brian Gaar (Source: Moontower)
Brian Gaar (Source: Moontower)

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

Jessica Williams (Source: Moontower)
Jessica Williams (Source: Moontower)

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

Kurt Metzger (Source: Moontower)
Kurt Metzger (Source: Moontower)

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.

Other Suggestions

  • 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.
  • Have fun.


Lara’s Guide to Moontower Comedy Fest

By Lara Smith

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

Ari Shaffir (Source: Moontower Comedy)
Ari Shaffir (Source: Moontower Comedy)

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

David Cross (Source: Moontower Comedy)
David Cross (Source: Moontower Comedy)

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

Mike MacRae (Source: Moontower Comedy)
Mike MacRae (Source: Moontower Comedy)

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.

Valerie’s Guide to Moontower Comedy Fest

By Valerie Lopez

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

Ron Funches (Credit: Moontower Comedy)
Ron Funches (Source: Moontower Comedy)

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.

Runner Up

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

Raul Sanchez (Source: Moontower Comedy)
Raul Sanchez (Source: Moontower Comedy)

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

Leslie Jones (Source: Moontower Comedy)
Leslie Jones (Source: Moontower Comedy)

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.


Badge and ticket purchases, schedules, and all other information can be found on the Moontower Comedy Festival website.