Katie Stone: Unfiltered For Your Pleasure

(Credit: Kana LiVolsi of Dos Mundos Creative)
(Credit: Kana LiVolsi of Dos Mundos Creative)

Audio by Valerie Lopez, Word by Richard Goodwin

You know those parts of past relationships that drive you insane? The parts which would help so many people if they could hear them and just understand that what they’re going through is not unique, and they have the power within them to effect change for the better? You know how you keep your experiences to yourself, because they seem too embarrassing, and no one could possibly relate? Katie Stone doesn’t do that.

Whether you follow the warped magnifying glass of her Twitter feed, read her essays on her website, or have been lucky enough to catch one of her many live shows, you know Katie Stone holds nothing back. I’m fairly certain I participated in a Twitter poll on whether she should feel bad about answering the door for a delivery after having not showered for 3 days. If you haven’t lived in that glass house, then by all means throw the first…well, you get it.

Katie Stone: The Past

In Part One of their interview, Valerie Lopez and Katie Stone dig into how experiences in school life set the stage for a career in performing for an audience. She comes to our fair city from Georgia, passing through Tulane University to nab a major in a language that has one of my favorite words of all time. (Hint: it’s ausfarht.) While comedy wasn’t at the forefront of her mind from the beginning, a chain of serendipitous events after she arrived in Austin got her back in front of people with a renewed passion.

Katie Stone: Current

Many know Katie from the Naughty Bits live show and podcast, created with local comedian Ella Gale. Naughty Bits, now in its second year, is a delightfully dirty, and sometimes touching (in the good way, pervs), look at what makes for really good and bad comedy about sex. Be sure and catch the next one on November 11th, at The New Movement Theater, which hapens to be one of the last two before Ella Gale moves on from Austin. Stone also runs the weekly Megaphone show, Saturdays at 10:30 at The New Movement Theater. In Part Two, Katie explains this unique format and where she hopes to take it.

You can also find more of Katie Stone around town at shows, open mics, on Instagram,  and in Sketch videos she’s written and directed, and those created with others. Don’t forget to to follow Naughty Bits and Trash Palace on Facebook.

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Katie Stone

Valerie Lopez

Richard Goodwin

Comedywham

Amber Bixby: Anxiety Be Damned

 

(Credit: Dustin Svehlak)
(Credit: Dustin Svehlak)

Audio By, Valerie Lopez. Word By Richard Goodwin

When catching an Amber Bixby set at Spiderhouse and she gave a peek into her experiences with anxiety and depression, I recognized a bit of everyone in her words. Or I saw a lot of me and I’m projecting, but I digress.  Like some of my favorite comedians, she isn’t afraid to cut her privacy almost down to the bone to give a look into how she deals with the world.

In Part one of her interview, we take a look at a past that we won’t quite call turbulent. Bixby shares with Valerie  Lopez how her dreams of stage stardom were born, and the circuitous route that landed her on the fair concrete shores of Austin.

Amber Bixby: The Past

The beginnings of a comedy career are rarely easy. We learn how a low point (or two or three) in Amber Bixby’s life inspired her to take on the challenge of a stand up comedy career. As a single parent, I know that time and child make for an interesting balancing act with a profession that is uniquely difficult to schedule. Amber gives us a glimpse into how she juggles priorities in passions and parenting.  We also get some great tips on getting out of the house, and how to get people to have fun in detention.

Amber Bixby: Current

When she’s not on stage (or in the gym), Amber Bixby has a prolific video career, like the web series Pretty Awful , the short film Opciono Dos (picked up by the Texas Independent Film Festival), and the instructional parenting documentary Flour Baby*.  In part two of her interview, she also covers how a past encounter led to opening for someone amazing – an opportunity that meant the world to her.

Looking for more of Amber Bixby? In addition to her special appearances, you can frequently catch her at Sure Thing, and the show she hosts Wednesdays @ 7:30 at Austin Java, Detention (See? I told you it was fun).

* Not necessarily instructional. Or legal?   

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Amber Bixby

Valerie Lopez

Richard Goodwin

Comedywham

 

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.

Details

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.

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Funniest

Norm Wilkerson

Dustin Svehlak

Valerie Lopez

ComedyWham

 

 

Off The High Dive With Arielle Norman

(Credit: Audrey Alberthal/ In Your Eyes Photography)
(Credit: Audrey Alberthal/ In Your Eyes Photography)

Audio By Valerie, Words By Dave

What does it take to be a comedian? I don’t know. I’m not a comedian. Arielle Norman is, and from what I’ve learned from her interview, it takes willpower.

Norman was a Mormon who grew up in Houston to devout parents. This means her exposure to comedy growing up was extremely limited. In fact, her early influences were her Dad’s puns, a bootleg copy of a Bill Cosby album and Garfield and Friends (Man, that Nermal was something).  It wasn’t until she turned seventeen that Norman found the good stuff thanks to Yahoo and as you can guess, Pandora’s Box was opened.

Arielle Norman’s life has been much more complex than her conservative religious upbringing. She’s struggled with OCD, which peaked during her teens and early 20’s. Religion, OCD and other elements have forged an amazing backstory that is best told in her own words. Fortunately, our intrepid interviewer, Valerie Lopez,  got it all on audio:

Arielle Norman: The Past

After crisscrossing the country in a way that looks like Michael J. Fox drawing on an Etch-A-Sketch, Norman and the love of her life, Katie, settled down in Austin. Katie farms, Arielle does comedy and they love it. In the year and a half they’ve been in Austin, Arielle Norman has locked down a show every Saturday night at the Hideout Theater. Located in the upstairs theater, Off Script starts off at 10:30 PM.

Arielle Norman: Current

The Umbrella Show is unique since it’s comprised of four smaller shows. Depending on which week it is, Norman is either hosting Riff Raff, A Heckling Show, Crowd Workaholic, or Director’s Cut. The mini-shows all have a single common theme: teaching comedians to think on their feet. Arielle Norman uses this quote for both the comedians and the audience, “Out of the head, and on their toes.” Yes, it’s a late show, but it’s worth it.

Arielle Norman can be found in a plethora of places on the binary sea that is the World Wide Web. The center of the web is her site, Off Script Comedy, which is where you can find out about her upcoming shows and appearances, and see if her brand of comedy tickles your fancy.

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Arielle Norman

Valerie Lopez

ComedyWham

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

 

Chris Castles Raises Standards

Headshot of a windblown Chris Castles
Chris Castles hosts In The Treehouse (Source: twitter)

Audio by Valerie, Words by Dave

Chris Castles was born to perform. At a very young age, the west coast native loved to draw. At 12 years old, he discovered the guitar and bands – and as he grew older, chicks man. He discovered chicks. Castles also discovered the pitfalls of being in a band. Relying on unreliable band mates made doing gigs difficult.

Eventually he found himself at music open mics solo with a guitar and a mic. The problem was that he quickly learned he wasn’t a very good singer and his guitar skills… well, he was no Esteban. Anyway, he found himself talking to the crowd and cracking wise more and more and the next thing he knew, he was really digging the art of stand up comedy.

All of this is only a paraphrase of the conversation he had with Valerie Lopez about getting started in comedy and his early influences. It’s wildly entertaining, especially the part about how at 8 years old, he ended up in a town named Boring, Oregon (and I thought Texas had some oddly named towns).

Chris Castles: The Past

Though part two of the interview is uncommonly short, you should listen to find out about Chris Castles’ current projects. One of which is an ongoing weekly showcase at Austin Java called In the Treehouse. He also has a podcast in the works. Knowing what I know about him, it’ll be a doozy.

Chris Castles: Current

The line-ups for In the Treehouse are always top notch. If you want to stay up to date with the show and anything else Castles is up to, follow him on Twitter. If you’re a cretin and aren’t into Twitter, he’s also on Facebook. Don’t forget to follow Comedy Wham as well as the demur Valerie Lopez.

 

 

 

Story Time with Bob Khosravi

(Source: Twitter)
(Source: Twitter)

Audio by Lara, Words by Dave

I appreciate a good story teller – a comedian who can take the imaginations of the audience members on a journey of neon colored shenanigans, along roads littered with unicorn poop and magical insanity dust. Bob Khosravi (long “o”) is a soft spoken comedian who enraptures his audiences with his stories – proving you don’t always have to be loud to be heard.

As he chats with Comedy Wham’s Lara Smith, Khosravi shows love to his dad, who he calls a natural story teller, along with family friendly Bill Cosby, George Carlin, and of course Eddie Murphy. The latter two had to be heard on the sly since his dad was trying to be careful with what his son was listening too. But kids will be kids and the rest, and Khosravi usually figured out a work away to hear the adult stuff. I’m sure he didn’t hide it in his underwear drawer under that one pair of socks. My mom kept finding my Public Enemy cassettes there.

Comedy Wham Presents: Bob Khosravi

This is a fun interview. Khosravi goes into the details of being a first year comic and dealing with tough rooms. One story in particular is pretty amazing. Sorry kids, no hints this time. You’ll have to hear it in his own words. Bob Khosravi is active in the Austin comedy scene and can be seen a the variety of shows going on around town, so keep an eye out for him. It’ll be worth it.

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Bob Khosravi

Lara Smith

ComedyWham

Chip Pope: Then, Now, Forever

(Credit: Chip Pope)
(Credit: Chip Pope)

Audio By Valerie, Words By Dave

I didn’t know Chip Pope and I had so much in common: We’ve both lived near Corpus Christi. He was raised in Amarillo, and I can point out Amarillo on a map. He was on Austin Stories, and I have seen Austin Stories on YouTube.

Pope is of the the mid school of Austin comedians. This isn’t official since I haven’t broken out the Bunsen Burners, and created an algorithm using chaos math to actually determine the beginnings and ends of Austin comedy eras, but he was in his 20’s when Mtv was still something and he was the youngest winner of the Funniest Person in Austin Contest in 1996. Oh, and the Velv Comedy Lounge was the Velveeta Room in it’s old location. So… whatever era that was, that’s where Chip Pope comes from.

Chip Pope talks to Valerie Lopez about his passion for comedy writing (something he’s been into since at least the 3rd grade).  The writing, including the work he did with his comedy partner Howard Kremer has lead Pope to some amazing opportunities throughout his career. He loves writing, and it oozes from every nook and cranny of the interview.

Comedy Wham Presents: Chip Pope

In case you didn’t know, Pope was, along with Howard Kremer and Laura House, part of a show that was produced by and aired on Mtv in 1997 called Austin Stories. It only ran a season, but it was a glorious season. If you’re new to town, this is a cool way to see old (?) Austin. Anyway at Out of Bounds Comedy Festival this year, there will be a reunion.

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Chip Pope

Valerie Lopez

Comedy Wham

 

Everything Will Be Okay With Amelia Frank

(Credit: Aaron Brooks)
(Credit: Aaron Brooks)

Audio By Valerie, Words By Dave

Amelia Frank has only been at the comedy game for about a year and a half. Her connection to the local comedy scene isn’t Chris Trew. I know, that may sound odd coming from this site, but it’s true (that may be a pun). In fact, the person who got this mid-western lady going is Sure Thing’s Duncan Carson. He asked her to try it once.

Once was all it took and the rest they say, “is history.” Frank talks with Valerie Lopez about her early comedy influences, her professional life and meeting Duncan Carson, Katie Stone and Ella Gale. One of whom, was the only person left at Frank’s first open mic. They were smitten by a joke she made referencing 20th Century German Existentialist, Franz Kafka. Just listen:

Amelia Frank: The Past

Like our famous Pat Dean interview, Amelia Frank pulls back the curtain on how she creates her jokes and her comedy technique. She also talks about being a professional counselor and comedian. Juggling the two may be tricky in a big city with small town vibes like Austin, but she gladly makes it happen.  In fact, she tells Valerie why she appreciates doing comedy. It’s interesting:

Amelia Frank: Current

Amelia Frank is the current host of Bomb Shelter, a monthly open mic ont the first Saturday at Nasty’s Bar in Austin she inherited from Ella Gale.  If Nasty’s Bar sounds familiar, it should since it’s also the location for Martin Urbano’s Damned Dirty Filthy Show.

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Amelia Frank

Valerie Lopez

Comedy Wham

 

 

It’s Chris Tellez’s Fault

(Photo Credit: Wendel Wilhelm)
(Photo Credit: Wendel Wilhelm)

Words by Dave, Audio by Valerie

Let me peel back the curtain for you, our loyal readers/listeners, the creation of Comedy Wham is actually Chris Tellez’s fault. A couple of years ago, I was  regular contributor to another site in town called The Austinot.

Tellez heard through the grapevine that I was unofficially the Austinot’s comedy correspondent. Unfortunately due to the publishing schedule and the style of articles we were posting on the Austinot, It was difficult fitting his shows and events into the Austinot’s busy posting schedule, so I stepped out on a limb and started Comedy Wham.

I’ve told Tellez he was the inspiration behind Comedy Wham on several occasions and he characteristically sidestepped the honorific with a  grin and an “awe shucks” look. Regardless, it’s true, Comedy Wham is definitely Chris Tellez’s fault. So thanks, Chris.

Anyway, I’m stoked to tell you that Valerie Lopez caught up to Chris Tellez and was able to chat with him about his comedy career. Part 1 has Tellez doing non-comedy open mics in his native Dallas and feeling like a rock star, what else shaped his early comedy career? Listen:

Chris Tellez Part 1: The Past

As always, we provide you a Part 2 to every comedian’s story and Tellez is no different, so click to the link and find out how Chris Tellez sees is place in the world, and current projects:

Chris Tellez Part 2: Current

If you want to see Chris Tellez in the near future,  he can be seen hosting his ongoing showcase, Shit’s Golden, at the Spider House Ballroom this Monday at 9pm. Oh yeah, his co-host is the Alex Jones of Austin Comedy.

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Chris Tellez

Valerie Lopez

Comedy Wham