Get to Know: The Encyclopedia Show

The Encyclopedia Show is a live variety extravaganza that commissions local and touring artists and experts from all the performance disciplines to activate their individual talents to present a different verbal encyclopedia entry each month. A breakout hit at Austin’s ND@501 Studios, The Encyclopedia Show is making a special appearance at ColdTowne Theater on Wednesday, the opening night of Austin Sketch Fest. We asked E Show co-host Michael Graupman, what’s the haps, yo.

How did get you involved with the Encyclopedia Show?

Michael Graupman: The E Show was started in Chicago a year prior to [show co-host] Ralph [Hardesty] and I moving down to Austin by two of our best friends who are also writers/poets/comedians. They were curious if the show was replicable in other markets, and it turns out that it was. We were the second of the (so far) 15 cities to start up E Shows that follow the same basic format and season topic list. Our show just happens to benefit from the amazing talents of Austin’s comedy, literary and music scenes all together.

What’s your writing process like?

MG: Ralph and I have been writing together for five years now, on and off, and we spend too much time together, usually in the car going to events or parties or shows. Most of our ideas come from riffing on an idea that one of us thinks is funny and the other one building on that. We also have a great team of regular performers that help us with brainstorming and joke development. We’ve luckily built a lot of trust and respect for the collaborative process.

What are you looking forward to at Austin Sketch Fest?

MG: We don’t always get to see all the the sketch shows in town, either from being busy or finding out about them after the fact. So having them concentrated in one festival is so great. Also: Paul F. Tompkins.

What can we expect from your ASF show?

MG: We’re doing a Best Of version of The E Show with greatest hits from the third season. We invited back contributors that absolutely killed at each of their given nights, so you’ll get to see how they handle a variety of academic themes including: Punctuation, Spices, Pflugerville, Brains, Exercise and The Civil War.

List 5 things about The Encyclopedia Show, of which only 3 are true.

In 2010, we won an Austin Chronicle “Critics’ Pick” Award as “Best Advocates of Drinking and Fact Checking.”
Our two biggest inspirations for the show are Pee Wee’s Playhouse and The Muppet Show.
Ralph and Mike have never dated; and in fact neither of them are gay. Geez.
The Encyclopedia Show is overseen by the omnipresent Institute of Human Knowledge and Hygiene.
We will fight you.

The Encyclopedia Show performs at ColdTowne Theater on Wednesday, May 23th at 10 PM, with Hot Property. Tickets HERE.

Get to Know: The Hustle Show

The Hustle Show is ColdTowne Theater’s hit monthly comedy variety show. Quickly gaining a reputation as one of Austin’s can’t miss events, The Hustle Show features a mix of sketch comedy, games, and assorted mayhem. We asked some questions to cast members Michael Pedicano, Courtney Sevener, Jeff Whitaker, and DJ Skwurtz.

How did you get involved with doing sketch comedy?

Michael Pedicano: Sketch was a natural transition from improv and a good way for me to healthily channel a distorted sense of reality.

Jeff Whitaker: Growing up as a kid, my family and I used to watch Saturday Night Live together. It was definitely our family time. Since I was five, I started writing things down and making home movies with my friends. Fast-forward twenty years and I am now involved with a very supportive group of people that I met through improv. I was approached with the opportunity and I have loved every minute of it. I’m now getting to see all my stupid ideas put onto a stage.

DJ Skwurtz: I dropped da fattest beats at da Barbra Walters Middle School Talent Show and this dude was there and was like, “yo I got this show tha Hustle Show” and I was like, “Shhh shhh shhhhhhh shh Say no more dawg.”

What’s your writing process like?

Courtney Sevener: My pattern thus far has consisted of writing a page of dialogue that is based off of a conversation that I have with friends, and then getting feedback from members of the Hustle Show. It’s incredibly awesome to take a once funny bullshit conversation and turn it into a sketch.

Whitaker: Personally, I don’t think about it too much until something odd or funny happens in the day and I immediately write it down. I tend to visualize certain scenarios unfolding in my head. When I get a moment, I open up the old notebook and write down a skeleton of the sketch and create characters. The only obstacle is trying to unscramble some of my 2am or drunk notes or at least be more specific in my notes. One of the worst from two years ago was, “Pacific Whalers Harlem Tacos.” I’m still working on this one.

Sevener: I love to hear people’s different takes on things and mash up all of the different senses of humor into a hopefully hilarious sketch. Truth is a pretty straightforward tool to utilize in writing.

What are you looking forward to at Austin Sketch Fest?

Pedicano: Seeing what brilliant, weird pieces the other troupes have poured their time and effort into putting together. Also, F. Scott Fitzgerald is headlining.

Sevener: I’m completely thrilled to be a part of Sketch Fest. I saw posters and T-shirts last year and thought to myself, “Personal goal – be in that shit next year,” and here I am. It’s also going to be great to see what other sketch troupes have to offer, a definite opportunity to expand and grow as a performer.

Whitaker: Last year, I was unaware of the Austin sketch scene and just tried it out with low expectations. I was blown away and like Courtney, made a goal to be in it the following year. It was one of the most fun things I did last year and being in it this year will be amazing.

Skwurtz: I been hittin up Steve Harvee on twitter (@YOLOSkwurtz) to try to do some of his comedy so that would be pretty dope. If he cant come Ill probably just watch tha Steve Harvee show on my roommates iPad and eat some noodles. YOLO.

What can we expect from your ASF show?

Pedicano: The Hustle Show is so full of nerd swagger you can’t help but think to yourself, “These guys are way too cool to have to have waited until college to lose their virginities.”

Sevener: Variety. The Hustle Show doesn’t cater to one kind of audience. We have a unique way of taking reality and finding the funny in it, but also thinking up the craziest scenarios and seeing them through on stage. That’s definitely the take-away from our show.

Whitaker: A group of talented people having a lot of fun and putting on a hell of a show. I definitely think that The Hustle Show is a collection of people who enjoy working together and are having a blast doing so. I guarantee this will be a great show to watch with a lot of variety. In the words Gandhi himself, “getcha popcorn ready.”

Skwurtz: Oh mah god fat beats. The fattest beats. Beats so fat they have to waddle outta da speakers.

List 5 things about The Hustle Show of which only 3 are true.

1. The Hustle Show got its name because we all are obsessed with the movie “Hustle & Flow”
2. The Hustle Show is a monthly variety show that features stand-up, music, sketch and more!
3. A Hustle Show original cast member included Denzel Washington.
4. We all have matching tattoos of the entire cast of Taxi.
5. A staple sketch of The Hustle Show is the cast reading actual Yahoo News comments from the worst articles you’ll find on the website.

DJ Skwurtz, you have your own?

1. George Lopez is da co-host
2. Fat beats get dropped
3. I DONT hustle every day (LOL)
4. Steve Harvee is tha #1 comedy dude
5. Steve Harvee is NOT tha #1 comedy dude and he DOESNT have a mustache (LOL)

The Hustle Show performs at ColdTowne Theater on Wednesday, May 23rd at 8 PM, with There’s Waldo. Tickets HERE..

2012 Austin Sketch Fest

Paul F. TompkinsThe third annual Austin Sketch Comedy Festival is happening May 23rd – 27th over Memorial Day weekend and will feature two headlining shows from comedian Paul F. Tompkins as well as other incredible local and national acts.

2011 Austin Sketch Fest favorites Delicious Moments (The Tonight Show) return this year debuting their brand new Sitcom-inspired show, alongside national acts Fantasy Sex Picnic (Second City LA)  and Astronaut Theatre (New York and Chicago). The festival will also feature a performance of One Across, Mystery Science Theater 3,000 alumna Mary Jo Pehl’s one woman show.

The Austin Sketch Fest was founded in 2010 to showcase Austin’s exploding sketch comedy scene. Featured Austin acts include Your Terrific Neighbors, Stag Comedy (recently appearing at SxSw), Spirit Desire (The New Movement Theater), Hot Property (with members of Midnight Society and Mascot Wedding), Ghetto Sketch Warlock, The P! Company, There’s Waldo (The Institution Theater), and The Hustle Show! There will also be a special edition of the monthly Encyclopedia Show.

The festival will take place at ColdTowne Theater (4803-B Airport Blvd), the Hyde Park Theatre (511 West 43rd Street) and at the 29th Street Ballroom (2908 Fruth St.). Tickets for all shows are available here.

Below are some photographs of the 2011 festival taken by Daniel Abrego. Visit the 2011 Photo Gallery for even more pictures.



Chicago’s Saddle Dads



Austin’s Your Terrific Neighbors



The lovely crowd at Austin Sketch Fest 2011


About Ghetto Sketch Warlock

Ghetto Sketch Warlock conjures a variety show for your punk ass. Containing raps, sketches, musical sketches, and solo scenes, LuBu will cram laughs into your mouth, at which point you will expel them back out of your mouth and onto your lap. You sicken me.LuBu tha Ghetto Sketch Warlock is the alter-ego of Bryan Roberts: An Austin-based sketch comedian, improviser, actor, and writer. People in the Austin Chronicle and Austinist have said stuff about him, but he doesn’t like to blow himself up too much.
Ghetto Sketch Warlock performs Friday, May 25 at 10PM at Hyde Park Theater with Fantasy Sex Picnic

About Paul F. Tompkins

Paul F. TompkinsPaul F. Tompkins makes his triumphant return to Austin for the third annual ATX Sketch Fest, performing two shows Memorial Day Weekend at the 29th St. Ballroom.
Paul F. Tompkins is regarded as one of the best stand ups working today. His credits include Mr. Show with Bob and David, Community, Comedy Bang Bang and his own podcast, the Pod F. Tompcast. Paul is appearing as part of his Crying & Driving Tour.

Paul F. Tompkins performs Saturday, May 26th and Sunday, May 27th at The 29th Street Ballroom (2908 Fruth St.). Both shows begin at 8PM.

Tickets for Saturday, May 26

Tickets for Sunday, May 27