For the last three years and change, The Hustle Show – a monthly comedy variety show featuring sketch, stand-up, games, and other mayhem – has been holding down the second Thursday at 10:00pm slot at ColdTowne Theater. Built from a motley crew of improvisers, stand-ups and sketch comedians, the cast of the Hustle show has always been a “Who’s Who” of Austin comedy.
This year’s Austin Sketch Fest will be their fourth appearance. We spoke to show producer David Jara about the ins and outs of keeping a lovable cast of misfits together.
You guys have been at it, every month, for the last three years and change. How do you keep a marriage like that exciting?
David Jara: It helps when there are seven other people in your marriage. (And that’s true in any walk of life WINK) Having such a large and diverse group helps take the pressure off any one person, and pressure is something we strive to avoid when putting this show together. The Hustle Show is our excuse to get together, have a few drinks, and put on a fun show. If we accomplish those things, everything else is profit.
What have been the highs? The lows?
David: I truly believe The Hustle Show is currently in its “high” period, and it came as a direct result of our “low” period. We had a stretch last year where (co-founder) Mac Blake had just left the show, and we were having a bit of an identity crisis, and attendance was starting to dip, and you could tell that all of this was starting to take its toll on the group. But then we took a step back and thought, “Why are we getting stressed out about this?” And that, in a weird way, became our identity – to do the show for ourselves. If we don’t enjoy the process of producing and performing this show, then we’re doing it wrong. I really feel like we’ve hit our stride with our recent shows as a result, and that’s a neat feeling.
The Hustle Show just went to the NYC Sketch Festival. Who was the biggest pain in the ass to travel with?
David: Unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel with the rest of the group, so I’ll just give the predictable answer and say the most difficult person to travel with was Curtis “The Dapper Diva” Luciani.
Who are your influences? Who are some of your favorite sketch comedy acts performing today?
David: I’ll tell you who is really influential these days – the Austin sketch comedy community. Hell, look at this festival. To look at how much it has grown, and all of the great Austin acts this town is churning out. STAG Comedy is great, Bad Example is great, Vanessa Gonzalez – Vanessa effing Gonzalez! If you can watch Vanessa Gonzalez perform and not immediately feel motivated, I don’t know what to tell you.
What does David Jara do to kick back and chillax?
Can we join you?
David: Fuck no, you creep.
What makes you laugh the most?
David: Those times in Married With Children when Al would fall off the roof and it was clearly a dummy. I feel like that’s pretty much my comedy philosophy in a nutshell.
What’s the best thing about the Austin comedy scene?
David: You don’t have to lie about it. It’s genuinely good! I could pick any night of the week and I know there are going to be several shows happening that I’d consider dependably funny. There aren’t many other cities with a batting average as high as ours.
Do you have any fun “worst show” or “worst audience member” stories?
David: We’ve had people bring a baby to our show, and recently someone brought a tiny little dog that was terrified of everything. You might think having a baby or frightened dog in the audience would cause us to decrease the level of yelling or smashing we do in our shows, but you would be wrong, my man.
Do you have any fun “best show” stories?
David: This is kind of a cop-out answer, but every sketch that works is a “best show” story. We write sketches because they made us laugh in the writers’ room, but we’ve also been doing this long enough to know there are no guarantees when it comes to audiences. So, when you have zero expectations for a sketch and the audience eats it up, it’s the best feeling. You know that part in The Incredibles where Dash realizes he can run on water? Yeah, it’s like that.
What are you looking forward to at this year’s Sketch Fest?
David: I’m excited to see all of the local groups put their best foot forward and put on their best shows. It’s a really fun weekend to be a fan of Austin sketch comedy, and I’m looking forward to enjoying it.
Share with us your tips for a job interview.
David: After every question, pretend you’re not happy with your answer and angrily mutter, “Man, I really wanted this job!”
We need to increase the visibility of this article. Any suggestions for a click-bait headline?
David: What The Cast Of The Hustle Show Has To Say About The Heaven’s Gate Cult Will Make You Sick. (Please don’t delete your question about the Heaven’s Gate cult or else this won’t make any sense.)
The Hustle Show performs at Austin Sketch Fest on Tuesday, May 19th at 8:30pm at ColdTowne Theater. TICKETS HERE.