Buzzkill Comedy Challenges People Who Think They’re Funny

Katie Pengra's Buzzkill Comedy at the Buzz Mill is a year old.
Katie Pengra’s Buzzkill Comedy at the Buzz Mill is a year old.

Katie Pengra has been a staple in the Austin comedy scene for some time now and for the past year, she’s been hosting Buzzkill Comedy at the Buzz Mill.

A Year Old and Going Strong

I’m always curious about how a show gets its start. Katie Pengra happily shared the story of Buzzkill’s beginning with me, “I opened for a band at Antone’s a while ago, and one of the band members was the booker for the Buzz Mill at the time. they wanted comedy, and he liked my set so he asked me if I wanted to start a show. I figured it would be short lived, outdoor shows are never very successful.”

It’s been a year and despite her initial reservations, Buzzkill Comedy is doing extremely well. Pengra told me that the show has become one of the biggest business nights of the week for the venue. On November 5th, Katie Pengra and Buzzkill Comedy celebrated their 1 year anniversary with an extended line up and a pies and cakes.

Buzzkill Comedy Show is a weekly show featuring a healthy cross-section of Austin’s stand-up scene. What makes this show unique is that Pengra has a added an element to nip hecklers in the bud. She invites them on stage. Well, not all of them, just a lucky person who wins a raffle.

Creatively Engaging the Audience

Buzzkill Comedy creatively deals with hecklers (Credit: www.addictinginfo.org).
Buzzkill Comedy creatively deals with hecklers (Credit: www.addictinginfo.org).

This is the most creative way I’ve heard to fight those pesky hecklers. Maybe it’s because I’ve been more aware of them, but it seems like hecklers in Austin are spreading like the media thinks the Ebola virus is. Katie Pengra has opined on this very topic in the Austin Chronicle after seeing this plague on comedy infect a Tig Notaro show in October.

Pengra explains the details, “I have also started adding an additional element. People would come up to me every week saying that they want to try comedy, and they think they’re funnier than the comics so I should put them on stage. I’ve started doing a raffle each week for a 3 minute spot. Each week strangers put their name in, and i draw one person to perform 3 minutes before the headliner. But the caveat is that we get to make fun of them.

Details

So what do you need to know? Once again, Buzzkill Comedy is at the Buzz Mill every Wednesday at 9pm.  This is an outdoor venue. So dress weather appropriate. Also it’s a free show, which means there really isn’t an excuse to not go and check it out.

Click the links to find out more about Buzzkill Comedy and the Buzzmill:

Buzzkill Comedy

Buzz Mill 

Follow me on Twitter @ElDavidThomas

Satan Has Jokes at the Comedy Seance

Satan Does Stand-up?

Norm Wilkerson brings Satan to life during the Comedy Seance
Norm Wilkerson brings Satan to life during the Comedy Seance

Austin comedy veteran, Norm Wilkerson, has an ill kept dark secret. Several times a year, his face contorts, turns red, and horns burst forth from his forehead. He becomes the dark lord, Satan. I first saw Satan at one of Matt Bearden’s Punch! shows called Cringetacular. He was emcee and John Tole recorded an album for Stand Up Records.

Norm Wilkerson has taken care to build the reputation of Satan in Austin’s comedy scene and much of this has come from his annual Comedy Seance. The show, now in its 5th year is a raucous, irreverent spoof of the popular ghostly ritual. Last year, the Spider House Ballroom graciously opened their arms to Wilkerson and the Comedy Seance. Things went well and he’ll be back again this Thursday, October 30th.

Wilkerson, as Satan, is a brutally funny comic who frequently makes his archenemy the butt of his jokes. Adding to that Comedy Seance staples, Matt Bearden and Mike Macrae are known to be viciously hilarious. They bring a level of logic and intelligence to the stage that even rhetorical geniuses like Bill O’Reilly would have a hard time debating them.

Dead Celebs Embody Local Comedians

Mike Macrae is a staple at the Comedy Seance (credit: Jason Baldwin via Flickr CC).
Mike Macrae is a staple at the Comedy Seance (credit: Jason Baldwin via Flickr CC).

What will be entertaining is seeing how the cast of comedians encapsulate themselves in their respective dead celebrity character. Considering the talent Wilkerson has lined up for this year’s show, it should be remarkable. This year he’s got Bearden, Macrae, Lashonda Lester (who has her own special show on Halloween), Avery Moore, Ralph Hardesty, Cody Hustak (2014 Funniest Person in Austin), Maggie Maye, and Aaron Brooks.

This line up is ridiculous. I mean that in a good way. I’ve seen all perform and they kill. Seeing any one of them perform is worth the price of admission.

By the way, I should warn you that if you are of a delicate religious disposition, you may be offended.

Spider House Ballroom

This show is shaping up to be a humdinger. Regular readers will know Spider House Ballroom from some of my other articles.  and the Spider

Avery Moore can sing, tell jokes and impersonate dead celebrities (credit: Terry Ross via Flickr CC).
Avery Moore can sing, tell jokes and impersonate dead celebrities (credit: Terry Ross via Flickr CC).

House Ballroom is quickly becoming one of my favorite comedy venues in town. It’s located at 2906 Fruth St. To make things easier, it’s one block east of the intersection of 29th St. and Guadeloupe. I really like this venue. The room is large and wraps around the stage. The bar has a very good selection of beer and liquor, the staff is incredibly friendly, and there are plenty of dining options in the immediate area, especially the attached Spider House Cafe.

Once again, the show is Thursday October 30th at the Spider House Ballroom. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm.  tickets can be purchased two ways: online at the Spider House website for $7, or at the door for $10.  Like I inferred earlier in the article, the ticket price is a steal for the level of comedy you’ll get.

Follow me on Twitter, @ElDavidThomas

iScream Sandwich Will Make You Love Improv

iScream Sandwich at the Institution Theater
iScream Sandwich performs regularly at the Institution Theater.

Improv comedy can be a polarizing genre of entertainment. My door to good improv was opened by a friend of mine, Carissa McAtee, who invited me to see her improv group, iScream Sandwich.

They Won Me Over

That was almost a year ago and as leery as I was about improv comedy, iScream Sandwich and their show at the Institution Theater, Triple Scoop, won me over. In fact, iScream Sandwich made such an impression on me, that I put them on my must see list for Out of Bounds Comedy Fest this year.

Heidi Caldwell performs a scene during a backyard show.
Heidi Caldwell formed iScream Sandwich in 2011 (credit: Claudio Fox).

iScream Sandwich was founded in the fall of 2011 by Heidi Caldwell.  My knowledge of improv was limited to the two forms, long and short. According to founding member, Erica Lies, “there are about a bazillion types of long form improv.” She was cool and helped me focus in on what makes iScream Sandwich tick in the improv world. “If you’re describing iScream Sandwich,” she told me, “I’d say call us a Harold group. We do Harold format.”

Deep Roots in Improv

iScream Sandwich on stage.
iScream Sandwich performs the Harold format of improv.

Harold format is a variant of long form improv that originated from the Chicago style of improv. Chicago style simply refers to what the theaters in Chicago developed. Second City legend, Del Close is credited with helping found the Harold format. This format is practiced by the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and improv group across the world.

What does this mean?  Well, if you go to any of iScream Sandwich’s shows this month, you’ll see the seven member team perform three scenes, then a game, three more scenes, another game, and three final scenes. Del Close called this the 3 x 3 structure. It was to help performers gain a sense of organization. These are loose guidelines. iScream Sandwich tends to use the last three scenes to tie the previous scenes together.

No Two Shows Are The Same

iScream Sandwich does a backyard show.
Sometimes, iScream Sandwich improvises their own stage (credit: Claudio Fox).

iScream Sandwich follows the Harold format with dedicated fervor. Erica Lies compares it to the way a sitcom is formatted, “30 Rock starts as three different plots, but as the episode ends, they’re brought together.”

If you’re wondering what you get when you go to an iScream Sandwich show, it depends. It depends on the audience and their suggestions. That’s the fun part about improv. Every show is different and it’s a testament to the groups skill and talent when they take something as mundane as Sanka decaffeinated coffee and make a show of it. iScream Sandwich does this expertly.

Erica Lies poses for the camera.
Erica Lies is a founding member of iScream Sandwich (credit: Claudio Fox).

I had a blast watching members crisscross the stage, tagging each other in and out whenever one thinks of something cool to add to the scene.  Their rapid fire wit and timing had the audience clapping and laughing throughout the set. I was exhausted after watching them, and can only imagine the amount of Red Bull it takes for them to finish the night with any semblance of consciousness.

Catch Crash Every Party Now

iScream Sandwich is running their current show, Crash Every Party at the Institution Theater every Friday through the end of the month. Tickets are $12 general admission. The shows start at 8pm.  I recommend getting there early. The Institution Theater frequently fills to capacity.

 

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @ElDavidThomas

Stag Comedy Brings a New Theme to Austin

Ximena Estrada on stage
Ximena Estrada is a longtime member of STAG Comedy.

STAG Comedy is quite possibly Austin’s premier sketch comedy group and their annual Halloween show called STAB opens this week at The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz this Thursday, October 16th at 7:30pm.

Strong Comedy Roots

STAG was founded by Joe Parsons. The Austin native founded the sketch group sometime around 2007 with two other performers. In 2009, Mac Blake (Funniest Person in Austin Winner, 2013),  David Jara, and Ximena Estrada joined the sketch group. Eventually the three founding member moved on to other projects, but Dave Youmans, Andrew Rosas, Lance Gilstrap, and Sam Malcolm joined bringing the total of performers to seven.

The current line up for STAG has worked hard to create a high quality and entertaining show for audiences. Their efforts have helped built a loyal fan base and strong reputation for good sketch comedy.  It’s paid off in spades as STAG has performed at SXSW, Moontower Comedy Fest, Out of Bounds Comedy Fest, Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, Seattle Sketchfest.

STAB Takes Halloween to Task

Promo poster for STAB.
STAG Comedy kicks of their show, STAB, October, 16th at the Ritz (photo credit: Lauren Logan).

STAG has put their show, Below the Law on the shelf for a while and is starting up with STAB which opens this Thursday in Austin. STAB is a spooky Halloween themed show which features according to the press release, “.. It’s a mix of live and video sketch comedy. It has werewolves, murder buttons, disembowelment, filthy language, outer space judgement, and so much more.”  They had me at murder buttons.

STAG is pulling out all the stops for the opening show. Mac Blake loves the Drafthouse, “The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is a giant room, but so much fun. Our Drafthouse shows are ones we try to go all out for and we’ll do some stuff that’s specific to the Ritz show.” If you’re wondering what specials plans STAG has for their Ritz show, remember the Ritz is a movie theater. STAG has some special video sketches planned for the audience.

Mac Blake also told me they’re taking STAB on the road with shows in San Antonio and Houston.  This isn’t the first time the troupe has left the comforting confines of their Austin home,

Go Watch STAG Comedy

STAG actor addresses the audience.
STAG actors will not hesitate to break the 4th wall.

While they’ve performed at Moontower Comedy Fest and SXSW, I first saw them at Out of Bounds Comedy Fest this year. I had them on my list of must see acts, so I was stoked as a I sat down in the Hideout Theater. At the time they were doing the Below the Law show. It was something to behold.  They brought a ton of energy to the stage and by the time they were done, I thought I had an aneurysm . Of course, I mean that in a good way.  Mac Blake is a very talented while doing stand-up.  Jara, Estrada, Youmans, Rosas, Gilstrap and Malcolm are equally talented and active outside the realm of STAG comedy. David Jara, for example, has been on the ever rotating cast of Master Pancake Theater.

So ask yourself this, “Am I really busy on Thursday nights?” If you do some soul searching, and the answer is “No, I am not busy on Thursday nights,” then get online and buy a ticket or two for STAG Comedy’s STAB show at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on the 16th. It’ll be worth it.  Tickets are available at the Alamo Drafthouse website.

More Information

 

You can follow me on Twitter @ElDavidThomas

Doug Mellard Is On a Fart Safari

Entrance to The New Movement Theater.
The New Movement Theater is located at the corner of 7th and Lavaca.

It takes all types to make the world go round. It’s the same for the comedy world as well. Doug Mellard, born in Victoria, TX, raised in Plano, Austin comedy vet, and now resident of La La Land, is returning to his comedy home to record a live album at The New Movement Theater on October 10th and 12th.

 A Decade of Experience

According to his website, Mellard originally wanted to be a superhero.  At the same time, he discovered a love of comedy. Mellard reminisces, “I remember watching [David] Chapelle before he was Chapelle. I also remember watching Austin Stories. I think the first show I went to was at the Velveeta Room where Howard Kremer, Matt Bearden, Laura House and Brad “Chip” Pope were doing stand up.”

Doug Mellard records his live album this weekend (photo credit: www.capcitycomedy.com).
Doug Mellard records his live album this weekend (photo credit: www.jenbertrandphotographie.com).

After several failed attempts at becoming a superhero via spider bites, and probably several trips to the doctor, he gave up and grabbed a mic. That was in 2003.  In 2006, he found himself winning the Funniest Person in Austin title. In 2010, with stars in his eyes, and moral support from his family, he made the big move to Los Angeles.

Recording With Stand Up! Records

Now it’s 2014 and the comedian has returned to Austin for a series of appearances. The live recording is this weekend at the New Movement Theater which is located on 7th and Lavaca downtown. The theater has limited seating so if you want to see Doug Mellard do his thing, get your tickets now. He will be there on the 10th and 12th. The live recording is for his album, Fart Safari, produced by Stand Up! Records.  If you’re unfamiliar with Stand Up! Records, they’ve produced albums for a plethora of comedians.

Upcoming Events

Mellard is hanging around Austin for a while. If you can’t see him this weekend, you’ll get a second chance to see him as he headlines Cap City Comedy Club from October 15th – 18th. After that he’ll be rocking the yellow stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest from November 7th – 9th.

 

Mellard crowd surfs at Fun Fun Fun Fest (photo credit: www.dougmellard.com).
Mellard crowd surfs at Fun Fun Fun Fest (photo credit: www.dougmellard.com).

I’ve seen Doug Mellard perform several times over the last few years and I enjoy his style of comedy.  His influences of Stephen Wright, Mitch Hedberg, and Steve Martin definitely comes to surface as Mellard launches into a rapid fire mix of one liners and stand alone jokes.  Segues? He doesn’t have time for that. But you should make time to see him not have time for segues.

If you want to see Doug Mellard during his visit to Austin, check the following websites for ticket sales:

Feel free to leave a comment or find me up on twitter: @eldavidthomas

 

Stoned Vs, Drunk Vs. Sober Is a Nice Show

Rob Gagnon smiles for the camera
Rob Gagnon hosts Stoned vs. Drunk vs. Sober (photo credit: The New Movement Theater).

Rob Gagnon is a nice guy.  He probably will deny this statement but there’s really no avoiding it.  After all, how else can a grown man teach preschool if he isn’t patient and nice?

A Moment of Clarity Leads to Austin

Why is he teaching preschool?  Well, it’s because he’s playing the long-game with his comedy career and has been carefully honing his craft since college.  He’s always been a fan of comedy.  As a very young child, his dad would watch comedy movies like Ferris Beuller’s Day Off with him during lunch breaks.  This moments had a profound effect on young Rob Gagnon.   As you would expect, he became something of the class clown in high school.  Afterwards he went on to college. Shortly after he graduated with a degree in history, Rob Gagnon, won a comedy contest.

He soon realized that if he wanted to grow as a comedian, he needed to get to greener pastures.  Gagnon sat across from me at Mr. Tramps and reflected on his decision making process, “I knew that if I wanted to hone my skills, I’d have to leave Connecticut.  The scene just wasn’t strong there.  I wasn’t ready for New York or L.A., and needed time to improve my writing and timing. I heard that Austin had a lot of mic time and I decided to make the move.”

Entrance to The New Movement Theater.
The New Movement Theater is located at the corner of 7th and Lavaca.

As with several of my previous articles, when Gagnon came to Austin, he linked up with the folks at The New Movement Theater.  There he learned The New Movement’s unique brand of long form improv comedy.  The ad hoc style of comedy has helped Gagnon out tremendously on stage while performing stand-up.  It’s allowed him to develop a certain level of situational awareness which allows him to adjust to the mood of the room on the fly.

 

So what about all that vaunted Austin comedy mic time?  Rob Gagnon has taken full advantage of it.  He’s known to do multiple open mics in one night, is frequently on stage at showcases around town and has never forgotten his roots at The New Movement Theater.  In fact, one of Gagnon’s signature shows, Stoned vs. Drunk vs. Sober (SVDVS), is a bi-monthly event that’s usually at the theater when he’s not taking it on tour.

Stoned Vs. Drunk Vs. Sober

Gagnon enjoys putting on SVDVS. “It’s pretty easy for people going because it’s all in the title,” He tells me, “People know the archetype of the stoned, drunk or sober comic.”  What they don’t know is that while Gagnon does include the archetypical comic to each team, he adds a teammate that may break the mold.  Using two people on each team like this keeps the audience on their toes.

A full crowd in The New Movement Theater
The New Movement Theater can fill up fast. Order tickets early (photo credit: Austin Culture Map).

New audience members may also be surprised to know that Gagnon also likes to incorporate social media in Stoned vs. Drunk vs. Sober.  He reads a tweet, and the comedians take turns building on the tweet in a stream of consciousness exercise that can get pretty twisted.   In a nutshell, it’s a variation of a short-form improve game called I Can’t Beat That, in which the cast takes a gesture from the crowd and try to top each other in their explanation of what they’re doing without repeating it.

Remember how I stated that Rob Gagnon is a nice guy?  He’s also a caring and safety conscious guy.  He always makes sure comedians who are in a state of mind that prevents them from driving home on their own have rides.  In the past he’s personally made sure a performer or two have made it safely home.

Fortunately for you folks reading this, Rob Gagnon is hosting a Stoned vs. Drunk vs. Sober on July 26th, which is this Saturday.  The show starts at The New Movement Theater at 11pm.

Additional Information

If you would like more information regarding Rob Gagnon, his shows and appearance; or if you want to find out more about The New Movement Theater, their shows or classes click the links below.

 

Feel free to follow me on twitter at @The_DT_Show

Chris Trew Redefines Improv at The New Movement Theater

Sign outside the New Movement Theater
Chris Trew holds the Air Sex Championship Belt
Chris Trew co-founded The New Movement Theater with Tami Nelson. He’ holds the Air Sex Championship Belt.

Despite its devastation, Hurricane Katrina has had positive effects on America.  In the greater Austin area, we’ve been given Let’s Big Chipper (a subject of one of my articles on The Austinot) and more pertinent to this website, Chris Trew.

From New Orleans to Austin and Back

The New Orleans native has always had an interest in comedy and dabbled in stand-up.  Eventually he joined a sketch comedy group while enrolled at LSU and was featured on the university’s television channel back in 2000.  This was when he got serious about comedy.

After the hurricane, he came to Austin and helped found Coldtowne Theater with Tami Nelson and other partners.  In 2009, due to creative differences, Trew and Nelson founded The New Movement Theater and

Entrance to The New Movement Theater.
The New Movement Theater is located at the corner of 7th and Lavaca.

they haven’t looked back.  Trew’s frequent trips to and from New Orleans has lead him to help found Dallas Comedy House with New Movement alumni Clay Barton and his partner Amanda Austin.  He also founded the Dallas Comedy Festival in 2010 (this is where he met Chris Tellez).  Barton and Austin have since taken the reigns of the annual festival.  Still not satisfied, Trew founded The New Movement Theater in New Orleans in 2012.

A New Movement in Austin Comedy

The New Movement Theater sits nonchalantly on the corner of 7th and Lavaca in scenic downtown Austin.  The BYOB club showcases stand-up, improv and sketch comedy through a variety of shows.  Their longest running showcase, and Austin’s longest running long-form improv show,  is the Megaphone Show.  This event has a local celebrity telling a real life story while The New Movement Theater’s main cast act it out through improv.   Like I stated earlier, it’s not all about improv though.  Chris Tellez’s showcase, Shit’s Golden, got its start at The New Movement Theater.  Rob Gagnon and Lane Krarup both host stand-up showcases there as well.

Aside from their regular shows and events, The New Movement Theater puts on special events like the annual Megaphone Marathon.  Starting today, 7/14 and running all the way to the 20th is the Austin leg of the Megaphone Marathon.  This marquee event features a variety of interpretations of The New Movement Theater’s long-form improv performed by every group between the Austin and New Orleans theaters.   Once they’re done in Austin, the groups join up again in New Orleans to entertain the denizens of one of the America’s oldest cities.

New Movement Theater Mural
The New Movement hosts a variety of sketch, stand-up and improv comedy shows.

But wait, there’s more!  While Trew and the New Movement crew are entertainers, they are also teachers.  Improv and comedy classes are available to aspiring yucksters wanting to learn long form improv.  As always, events, classes and all other details are available on The New Movement Theater’s website.  You can follow Chris Trew’s comedy, Air Sex shenanigans, and work as professional wrestling manager on his website ChrisTrew.com.

Shit’s Golden Goes All in With Johnny Pemberton and Josh Fadem

Shit's Golden Flyer for June 30th, 2014
Shit's Golden Flyer for June 30th, 2014
Shit’s Golden has a big show on June 30th (photo credit: www.facebook.com/shitsgolden

Chris Tellez is back and hosting another Shit’s Golden showcase at the Spider House Ballroom, and while he still loves mommies, this time the focus has shifted a bit.

Tellez has booked nationally featured comics/actors Johnny Pemberton and Josh Fadem to headline the June 30th showcase.  Pemberton and Fadem’s performance on Shit’s Golden is actually a stop on their Summer Boys Do It tour.  The tour kicked off on June, 13th in Fadem’s hometown of Tulsa, OK and culminates on August 31st in Durham, NC.  If you can’t catch them at Shit’s Golden, you have one more chance to catch them before they flee the great state of Texas.  Their final Texas stop is in Houston on July 2nd at Rudyard’s British Pub.

If you’re reading this then more than likely you’re a comedy fan.

A picture of Johnny Pemberton in a hat
Johnny Pemberton brings his tour, Summer Boys Do It to the Spider House Ballroom (photo credit: www.johnnypemberton.squarespace.com).

You also probably have seen Pemberton on shows like the Kroll Show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the Jumpstreet movies. These are just a few of his 42 acting credits according to IMDB.  On top of that, the midwestern born, Florida State attendee, has performed in the Just for Laughs Festvial, SXSW, and the Sled Island Festival.

His touring partner, L.A. based Josh Fadem, has also been on screen with credits from 30 Rock, Conan, Comedy BANG! BANG!, American Dad and Key and Peele.  Fadem is a frequent contributor to Funny or Die and has writing credits on Adult Swim. His mix of physical comedy and stand up make his shows wildly entertaining.

A promotional picture of Josh Fadem
Josh Fadem brings his physical comedy style on tour with Johnny Pemberton (photo credit: www.superseriousshow.tumblr.com).

The Austin scene will be strongly represented by Mac Blake, Brian Gaar and Kerri Lendo.  The three Funniest Person in Austin and Moontower Comedy Festival veterans bring their own brand of stand-up comedy to the show.  From what I’ve seen from Pemberton and Fadem, Blake, Gaar and Lendo are a great addition to the show.  This show will be quirky and well worth the cost of admission.

As always Spider House Ballroom has a busy schedule between comedy and music shows.  Details about Shit’s Golden and other shows can be found on their website.  Shit’s Golden tickets can be purchased in advance for $5.00.  This is beneficial since they’re $10.00 at the door.  With a lineup like this, they may sell out so get them while you can.

 

 

Why You Should Go to Austin Sketch Fest

Austin Sketch Fest Flyer
Sam Malcolm has been booking Austin Sketch Fest for the last three years (photo credit:  austin.improvcoaches.com).
Sam Malcolm has been booking Austin Sketch Fest for the last three years (photo credit: austin.improvcoaches.com).

Sam Malcolm is an improv and sketch comedy veteran, and he is excited.  He should be since this week marks the 5th Annual Austin Sketch Fest.   I know what you’re thinking, “great, another festival.”  I get it, but remember we live in Austin and this fest is a little different than all the others and worth your attention.

National Recognition

Five years ago, Michael Jastroch (owner of Coldtowne Theater), Lance Gilstrap, and Nick Ramirez, decided that sketch comedy representation was lackluster in our fair city (it’s true that stand-up and improv get a lot of attention).  They wanted to showcase the talents of people performing their beloved comedic genre, and Austin Sketch Fest was born.

Austin Sketch Fest Flyer
Austin Sketch Fest runs from May 20th -25th (photo credit: www.atxsketchfest.com).

For the last three years, Sam Malcolm has taken over the duties of organizing and booking the small festival and things are going well.  Since its inception, Sketch Fest has received an increasing number of submissions from acts across the country.  Sketch groups from places like New York, and Chicago have noticed the hard work Austin Sketch Fest organizers have put into the event and they want to be a part of it. The recognition has caused and upswing in performer submissions.

Sam and his partners strive to keep the scope of the festival relatively the same as it was in the beginning – roughly one week long, and one venue per night.  This, in combination with increased submissions from performers to join the festival, has allowed them to be able to put the highest quality of live written comedy performances in front of the audience.

Promotional picture of Your Terrific Neighbors
New York based Your Terrific Neighbors will be performing at Austin Sketch Fest (photo credit: www.atxsketchfest.com).

Two Venues, Five Nights

When I asked him about the venues, this is what he told me, “We don’t want to spread ourselves too thin or make our audiences choose between shows. Instead, we want to craft a schedule so the fans will know they will see something amazing.”  The venues sharing the host duties this year are ColdTowne Theater and Spider House Ballroom. With as many mentions Spider House Ballroom has gotten since the start of this site, I believe it’s due a feature – but I digress. Each night, the chosen venue puts on two shows that mix sketch and stand up comedy.  This allows event goers to not have to worry about driving across town to one venue or the other on the same day.

Promotional picture of STAG comedy.
Austin based sketch group STAG comedy will be making an appearance at Sketch Fest (photo credit: www.atxsketchfest.com).

The schedule is chock full of sketch and stand up talent.  Groups like My Mans, STAG Comedy, and Your Terrific Neighbors, share the stage with the likes of Maggie Maye, Chris Tellez, and Bryan Gaar (of Twitter fame).  As an added bonus there will be an erotic fan fiction competition.  Here’s how it works:  Ten performer will be reading pieces of erotic fan fiction.  Five of the them are written while the other five have write them on the fly based on audience suggestions.  Sam was excited about the competition stating that “It’s raunchy, crazy and some performers take things to a different level by actually expanding the universe they’re writing in.”

Let’s sum it up:  Erotic Fan Fiction written and performed by comedians, nationally recognized sketch comedy groups, and two venues that aren’t downtown.  Why shouldn’t you go?

Promotional picture of Brian Gaar
Brian Gaar and a plethora of local comedians will be on stage during Austin Sketch Fest (photo credit: www.atxsketchfest.com)

Details

Austin Sketch Fest runs all week until Sunday night. All schedule information, Festival passes and individual tickets are available at the Austin Sketch Fest website.

Visit ColdTowne Theater’s and Spider House Ballroom’s websites for other calendar events and information.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter as well.