Vanessa Gonzalez is pure comedy gold – notable for her sketch, improv, AND stand-up chops. But she’s made perhaps the biggest splash with her series of one-person sketch shows “I Don’t Know Words,” “I Don’t Know Dating,” and now, “I Don’t Know Why You’re Saying That.”
In the last few years she’s taken her shows on the road including multiple stops the prestigious San Francisco Sketchfest.
This is your third year at Austin Sketch Fest. How has the comedy scene here changed since then?
Vanessa Gonzalez: The Austin comedy scene has grown so much in the past 3 years! There are so many more shows going on every week. There’s a big improv/stand-up/sketch crossover, and it seems like the community is coming together more to showcase each other. It’s so great.
Your one-person shows have been getting some great national attention – but you seem pretty committed to sticking around Austin. What’s the attraction?
Vanessa: I love Austin so much. Out of all the places I’ve traveled, Austin definitely has some of the funniest people in the country living here. The comedy scene here is so good, hard-working, and determined and it pushes me to want to be better and better. Also, my best friends and family live here or near here and that’s a huge plus! Also, breakfast tacos!
Tell us about your new show pretty please.
Vanessa: I wanted to do something different with my latest show, “I Don’t Know Why You’re Saying That.” It’s more of a traditional autobiographical one-person show. No sketches or costumes, just me talking. When I was writing it, the thought of performing it really intimidated me because it required me to be really honest and vulnerable but I really wanted to see if I could do it. I’ve been having a lot of fun performing it so far.
It seems like you started a tiny avalanche of solo sketch acts in town (that’s my premise and I’m sticking to it). What should people doing solo shows keep in mind during the creative process?
Vanessa: I think it so awesome that more people are doing solo shows in Austin. There are so many powerhouses here. I’d say just stay true to your voice and what you think is funny. Have some truth in your show, and don’t be afraid to show your real self.
Who are your influences?
Vanessa: I love love love John Leguizamo. I’ve followed his one man shows and career since I was in 6th grade. I got to see him live at The Paramount a few years ago and that definitely blew my mind. There’s so much production and precision in his performances. It’s so inspiring to watch. Ithamar Enriquez and Girls with Brown Hair are also some of my favorites to watch live.
Do you have any fun “worst show” or “worst audience member” stories?
Vanessa: Last year at FunFunFunFest, Tig Notaro’s flight got canceled so she had to miss her show, so they asked me and Micheal Foulk to fill in for her. It wasn’t a bad show but it was definitely terrifying to tell a tent full of a hundred plus people, waiting to see Tig Notaro, that Micheal Foulk and I aren’t Tig Notaro.
Do you have any fun “best show” stories?
Vanessa: My sketch group Bad Example got Kevin McDonald from “Kids in the Hall” to be in one of our shows. It was so surreal to get to perform with him! The whole cast had this electric energy and we had such a killer show.
What shows are you looking forward to at this year’s fest?
Vanessa: Girls with Brown Hair and Your Terrific Neighbors!
Got any advice to someone starting out in live comedy?
Vanessa: Don’t wait to be asked to do shows. Take the initiative, network, and get yourself stage time wherever you can.
What else – comedy wise – are you looking forward to this year?
Vanessa: I’m looking forward to doing more stand-up, writing, and going on the road with my comedy partner in crime, Micheal Foulk! You can catch “This is HANDBOMB” every Tuesday @ 8pm at The New Movement.
We need to increase the visibility of this article. Any suggestions for a click-bait headline?
Vanessa: This girl thought that she was getting breakfast tacos but what she got you won’t believe!
You can catch Vanessa’s show “I Don’t Know Why You’re Saying That” Friday May 27th, at 9pm along with Abby Rosenquist and ASF headlining group Newphew, at the Spiderhouse Ballroom. GET TICKETS HERE.