Joe Hafkey Starts it Up

Audio By Valerie, Words By Richard


Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Joe Hafkey originally found his hometown lacking when trying to satisfy his comedic desires.

Hafkey grew up with sketch shows like Mad TV & SNL, and was a fan of heavy hitters like George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld. At first he wasn’t sure that comedy was going to be a focal point in his life.  But when a job at the local (and really only) venue in Richmond eventually led to a guest spot on its established show, the hook was set. Not satisfied with the opportunities in the local scene, Hafkey did what many comics have done – created his own. Running 2 years, the show he created provided a more open and inclusive space for comedy in Richmond.

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Kelsey Caine Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

(Source: Moontower)
(Source: Moontower)

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.

Kelsey Caine Pt. 1: The Past

In part two of her interview, Caine moves to  NYC, charms the comedy scene there and ends up running a couple of open mics and developing a pro wrestling themed comedy show.

Kelsey Caine Pt. 2: Current

Kelsey Caine is in town this week for Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival and is featured on the Austin Towers showcase at 8:30pm from the Velv on the 21st. This show happens to be one of my picks for the festival.


Kelsey Caine

Valerie Lopez

Comedy Wham

Zac Brooks is Headlining the Velv

Zac Brooks holds a cat in his promotion poster.
Zac Brooks loves cats (Credit: Facebook)

I have a few lady friends who are huge fans of Zac Brooks. When he’s performing at shows like Sure Thing, they tend to get a bit warm. This weekend, Mario DiGiorgio may want to adjust the air conditioning at the Velv Comedy Lounge when Brooks headlines the venue.

Austin and Success

2 1/2 years after he started doing stand up, Brooks left his hometown of Houston and set up shop in Austin. While you won’t find him at gas stations asking for gas money to in order to get back to Clutch City, you will find him around town, working open mics, performing in showcases and fine tuning his jokes. Shows like Punch! and Sure Thing have benefited from his act. Brooks has been featured on the Sure Thing Records debut album along with a plethora of local comedians.

Since his move to Austin, Zac Brooks career has escalated quickly. In his words, ” Since then I’ve performed at Fun Fun Fun Fest, Austin Sketch Fest, and Moontower Comedy Festival. I also host a monthly show at TNM called “Peep Show” which is half stand up and half comedic commentary on vintage pornography.”

This is what I like about many of Austin’s comedians. They don’t limit themselves to only stand up. They have podcasts, short films, and other projects that expand their comfort zones and expand their skill sets. The New Movement Theater and its avant-garde approach to comedy is the perfect petri dish for such projects.

Headlining the Velv

The Velv is an old school comedy club located next door to Esther’s Follies on 6th and Red River in downtown Austin. Over the years its been a proving ground for local comedians. Since taking over as manager and booker, Mario DiGiorgio has maintained a delicate balance of keeping the traditions founded at the Velv and modernizing it. He’s done and exemplary job of it.

Inside picture of the Velv Comedy Lounge
DiGiorgio has worked hard renovating the Velv (credit: facebook).

Zac Brooks twill have three shows between Friday, 9/25 and Saturday, 9/26. He won’t do it alone.  Mario DiGiorgio has lined up an a rock solid host who just happens to be named Rob Gagnon and feature acts that will jive with Brooks like peanut butter to jelly on bread with no crust and a cold glass of milk.  Rob Gagnon has been featured on this site several times. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him perform sketch and stand up and he been consistently entertaining.

The shows are at 9pm on Friday; and 9pm and 11pm on Saturday. Ticket prices are $10. If you’re a fan of Zac Brooks, this is a good time to see him. If you’ve never seen him perform before, read my previous sentence.


The Velv Comedy Lounge

Zac Brooks

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Aaron Brooks Does Austin

Head shot of Aaron Brooks
Brooks is an established member of the Austin Comedy scene (Credit: Skippy Leland Photography).

Aaron Brooks has jokes and he’s telling around town.

St. Louis to Austin

Early on Aaron Brooks was a fan of stand-up comedy. He drew his influences from the likes of George Carlin, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor whose story telling style of comedy hit him in the right spot. In December, 2009, he got on stage for the first time at Comedy Etc., a comedy club in a hotel known for having a T.G.I Friday’s in it.

After getting his feet wet in the St. Louis Comedy scene,  Brooks had a moment of clarity. He knew that in order to grow his burgeoning comedy career, he had to  beat feet to greener pastures and better opportunities. He moved to Austin.which has been a stopping point for wayward jokesters for some time now.  Venues like Cap City Comedy Club, The Velv Comedy Lounge, a creative and welcoming environment has fostered a healthy comedy scene where performers can find a show almost every night of the week.

Hard Work Pays Off

Aaron Brooks and Danny Palumbo have unicorn horns on their heads.
Brooks & Palumbo co-host Jazz Cigarette (Credit: Erin Holsonbach).

Since the move, Brooks has been featured on key showcases like Punch!, and Sure Thing. He’s performed at The Velv Comedy Lounge and Cap City Comedy Club. He’s been a part of comedy festivals and has participated in the Funniest Person in Austin contest. Currently, Aaron Brooks can be found co-hosting the standing room only Jazz Cigarette Show with Danny Palumbo at The Spider House Ballroom. He also does a pretty good dead Elvis impersonation.

Brooks’ hard work has paid off. Over the next couple weeks, he’ll be rocking a series of shows around town. Brooks is one of those comedians who is able to grab your attention, hold it, and take you for a ride. You can hop on that church van of comedy by catching one of these show:

The Velveeta Room shows will be a good time. The venue is on 6th and Red River, rocks a full bar and has a  cool vibe to it.

There’s Plenty of Aaron to Go Around

Poster promoting Aaron Brooks' upcoming schedule.
Aaron Brooks’ upcoming schedule

Aaron Brooks will be performing the shows at The New Movement Theater and Velveeta Room with Sara June. I had the opportunity to see her host for Matt Bearden a couple of weeks ago and she was solid. The pairing of June and Brooks is like Aaron Franklin and bbq or peanut butter and jelly. Well, you get it.

Ticket information can be found on each venue’s website. For more information about Aaron Brooks and his podcast, Stay Wonderful, visit his website.

You can follow Comedy Wham on Twitter: @ComedyWham