by Jeff WhitakerPhotos by Steve Rogers
Vanessa Gonzalez is so good, it makes me mad. I remember seeing her first solo show “I Don’t Know Words” at The New Movement Theater and thinking, “Okay, yeah, I can’t do that.” Vanessa has that special spark. That immediate magnetism and overall stage presence that makes her a star. That rare something that can’t be copied, and that makes everyone around her better. I learned more by observing her process than I have in my years of doing comedy.
Few people in the Austin comedy community had a bigger year than Vanessa did in 2015. She’d been crushing it as part of the improv troupe, Handbomb, and as a producer/performer of our weekly sketch group, Bad Example.
Bad Example started off the year fortunate enough to do a show with Kevin McDonald from Kids in the Hall. Vanessa and I geeked out. KiTH was one of our biggest comedy influences growing up. It was so great watching her kill it in two-person scene with McDonald, someone she had seen a few months before at a sold-out Moontower show at the Paramount Theater.
Fresh off the success of her first solo show, “I Don’t Know Words”, Vanessa debuted her second hour-long solo show, “I Don’t Know Dating.” Surely this one couldn’t destroy as much as that perfect first show, right? “I Don’t Know Dating” was somehow even more personal, hilarious, and brilliant than the first one. People outside have Austin have started noticing as well. Last year, Vanessa toured the country with her show, including headlining Seattle SketchFest and being named a “Performer to Watch” at SF Sketchfest. Vanessa also starred in her first feature, Elizabeth Spear’s After a Long Day. In 2015, Vanessa Gonzalez rose from The New Movement’s secret weapon to probably Austin’s premiere sketch comedian.
She’s now debuting her third full-length show, “I Don’t Know Why You’re Saying That”. I had the opportunity to see it in New Orleans, and of course it’s stupidly amazing. It makes you laugh, cry, and possibly rethink all of your comedic choices. That’s the brilliance of Vanessa. She does things her way and her way cannot be replicated. Trust me, I’ve tried.
Poised for an even bigger year in 2016, Vanessa is still performing regularly at The New Movement with Bad Example. No matter how much I want to be jealous, I can’t be. She has earned everything she has and does it with such a humble attitude. I’m guessing that by this time next year Vanessa Gonzalez will have taken her comedy to an even higher level, and I know that the Austin comedy scene is fully behind her. Pancake Demon forever!
Jeff Whitaker is a writer/comedian in Austin, Texas. He is a producer of the sketch troupe, Bad Example and four time performer at Austin Sketch Fest. Jeff can be seen every Wednesday with the improv group Good Fight and the upcoming show Fuck This Week, both at The New Movement.