We are excited to announce our headliners for this year's festival! Reductress Live and James Adomian will be performing on Friday and Saturday, May 26th and 27th respectively at Spiderhouse Ballroom.
By Mac Blake
GROUP DYNAMICS OR HOW TO NOT KILL EACH OTHER
5. BE A FAN OF FEEDBACK
If you don’t want to hear other people’s opinions of your work, then you probably shouldn’t be in a group. Feedback, critique, notes are all necessary steps of creative process. You don’t always have to incorporate the notes, but you’d be dumb not to listen to them.
By Mac Blake
During the summer of 2009, I joined a pre-existing sketch comedy group called STAG Comedy in Austin, Texas. In 2015, that group (featuring none of its original members) performed its last live show. In those six years, I was part of two other sketch projects and also a member of the Austin Sketch Fest producer team, where I reviewed submissions from hundreds of sketch groups.
It feels a lot like there’s not much to look forward to in 2017 with our incoming administration buddying up to the murderer Vladimir Putin and creating a rogue’s gallery of cabinet members that would make the Legion of Doom queasy, an international refugee crisis that threatens to destabilize Europe, and the constant uncertainty of whether or not the McRib will be back. Not to harp on the adage of “Trump will be good for comedy”, but the truth is that I know that he will be.
The Executives hail from the Magnet Theatre in New York City. Formed as a house team at the venerable NYC comedy institution, their collective writing credits include: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Broad City, Master of None, Funny Or Die, and more.
The Executives’ physical, thoughtful, follow-the-fun comedic energy celebrates genre bending, the zeitgeist, body-slamming and sometimes bodily functions. The Executive’s omni-brain answered our questions.
Victrola! is an improvised sketch comedy podcast lovingly piloted by ColdTowne Theater’s Michael Jastroch. In the past 12 months, Victrola ha racked up some glowing reviews and made a live appearance at the Dallas Comedy Festival, and now this homegrown podcast will record an episode live at Austin Sketch Fest. We asked Michael Jastroch some questions ANDGETTHIS, he answered them.
With the retirement of STAG Comedy, Your Terrific Neighbors “officially” became the oldest “serving” non-Esther’s sketch comedy group in Austin. YTN is also now the only group to have performed at every Austin Sketch Fest. Curtis Luciani and Courtney Hopkins are two of the busiest comedic actors and writers in Austin, appearing in dozens of scripted and improvised productions each year.
One Idiot was formed at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York as part of Maude Night, their in-house sketch program. Their latest show, “What the Horse Saw”, earned them a permanent run at the UCB and was presented at the New York Comedy Festival as The Best Of UCB Sketch.
Making its third straight appearance at Austin Sketch Fest, I Didn’t See You There: The Show of One-Person Shows goes up tonight, 10pm at ColdTowne Theater. SOOPS (as Festival Producer Will Cleveland calls it) feature 8 short, complete on-person shows from an eclectic mix of comedians from Austin’s sketch, stand-up, and improv scenes (and some people that do it all).
ColdTowne Theater alumn Katie Sicking left town (and our hearts) a few years back for the greener concrete pastures of New York City. Since she’s appearied in projects all over the city (at the UCB, at the PIT Theatre). In fact, she references so many sketch projects in this interview, we thought she was lying at first. She’s not. She actually does that much. It makes us feel lazy.
Last year we did a show where every sketch had someone getting domed with a breakaway bottle – one of those fake glass bottles made out of sugar that get smashed over people’s heads in movies (the classic film Road House used 9 million of them). I don’t know how it happened, but one bottle survived the event and we want YOU to do the smashing.
For the first time in Austin Sketch Fest history, an out of town act is appearing for the third time! Girls With Brown Hair melted our faces off at the 2014 Festival with their hit show, WOMANTOWN and we’re pumped to have them back for another show.
Bellevue first hit the national spotlight when their original, full-length episode of Seinfeld went viral last year. “Seinfeld: The Leaning Susan” features uncanny portrayals of the four main characters, 90s commercial parodies, and original Seinfeld stand-up.
Nephew is an all-star sketch team with a monthly show at LA UCB Theater. Their collective credits include Community, Key & Peele, Arrested Development, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and other stuff that comedians would give their mother’s bones to be on.
Naughty Bits is a wildly popular comedy and sex advice show created by Austin stand-ups Katie Stone and Ella Gale, wherein comedians tell their best sex and romance jokes then, based on their sets, get sex advice from Stone and Gale.
2016 is shaping up to be another banner year for Austin-based comedy label, Sure Thing Records. They had their first #1 record on iTunes’s comedy charts with Jay Whitecotton’s Hi Lonesome! an they’re set to release an album later this year from Brooke Van Poppelen (truTV’s Hack My Life). For the second year in a row, Sure Thing Records is hosting an album recording during Austin Sketch Fest, this time from the amazing Eric Krug. Eric is a veteran and a past winner of the Funniest Person in Austin contest (so he’s seen some shit). He’s appeared on Comedy Central and Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. He’s also a straight-up rascal.
What’s been your process, putting together your set for the album recording?
Eric Krug: I typically try to sift through all my “hits” and find what I think is my best material, then fine tune it and compile that into a cohesive structure so it flows naturally in a one-hour set. Then I work those sets out at shows and open mics until it no longer seems funny to me anymore, at which point I throw out all my jokes and go to sleep for a few weeks. Then when showtime rolls around I just sort of wing it. I’m usually drunk.
You won FPIA back in 2008 – what effect did that have on your career?
Eric: 2008 was the same year that Barack Obama was elected our first black president. How my winning FPIA contributed to that is just something the historians will have to continue to debate amongst themselves. I think the Affordable Care Act has its flaws, but for better or worse, I think it is still a landmark legislative achievement. The answer is none.
The comedy scene in 2008 – while vibrant – wasn’t nearly the behemoth that it is today. As someone else who was there in the early days, why do you think it exploded the way it has?
Eric: I think it was a behemoth even in 2008. The industry has been coming here for years, and always taken a particular interest in Austin comics. And the fellas that were here when I started (Matt Bearden, David Huntsberger, Brendon Walsh, Martha Kelly, Jimmie Roulette, John Ramsey, Lucas Molandes, Doug Mellard, Bryan Gutmann – just to name a few) are still some of the best comedians I’ve ever seen anywhere. I think it’s exploded because more and more comics have come to the same conclusion I did. I drove up to open mics in Austin while I was still stationed in San Antonio in the Air Force, just to check the scene out, and I really had no intention of staying in Texas. But I recognized something in the Austin scene I couldn’t find anywhere else, so I knew this is where I wanted to be. The first open mic I saw was at Cap City and it was one of the best comedy shows I’ve seen to this day, and it was an open mic!
What’s your writing process like?
Eric: I love the writing process. It’s like stand-up, but without the audience. It’s the best. I’ve just never really cared for people.
Who are your influences? Who are some of your favorite comedy acts performing today?
Eric: The first time I saw Maria Bamford will forever go down as the best stand-up show I’ve ever been too. I adore her. Growing up, I remember me and my brother couldn’t get enough of Norm MacDonald. This is a tough question to answer. I don’t want to just name well-known people, but there’s so many good comics in so many scenes around the country now I wouldn’t know where to start. Though I will say Nick Mullen is the best thing on the internet. That guy just makes me laugh stupid hard.
Do you have any fun “worst show” stories?
Eric: Actually, I told a story at Bryan Gutmann’s album recording (which won’t be on the album, since I was just the warm-up) about the time I got boo’d off the stage in Wales in the United Kingdom. I think it was because I started my set by saying, “I didn’t even realize you guys were a country. I just thought you were some stuff England owned.” Anyway, they called me “wanker” a whole lot.
Do you have any fun “best show” stories?
Eric: There was this one time when I had unprotected sex with every member of the audience after the show. I almost ran out of jizz (almost).
What else – comedy wise – are you looking forward to this year? What do you have cooking?
Eric: I plan to spend most of my time writing while I’m out in L.A. for the summer. I’m also a giant history nerd who listens to C-Span for fun, and I have tentative plans to start doing a podcast on all the presidents (in sequential order from G-Wash to Barry-O), and if it comes together I want to start recording on presidents 1 through 5 this year and release that as the first “season.”
Eric Krug records his debut album, Sunday May 29th, 7pm at Spiderhouse Ballroom. Danny Palumbo, the winner of the 2015 Funniest Person in Austin contest, opens. TICKETS HERE.