Aaron Brooks

Austin Comedy 2015: The Comedy Seance Comes Alive


by Aaron BrooksPhoto by Erin Holsonback

Once a year, all hell breaks loose in Austin.
The Comedy Seance started its second run in 2013. The original idea, which ran from 2007-2009, came from comedy friends Norm Wilkerson and Avi Hartman. “Halloween was coming up and we decided to do something special. I had this idea for a new Satan character I wanted to try out.” Wilkerson’s Borscht Belt Satan emceed a stand-up showcase featuring the ghosts of dead celebrities, many of which are known for something other than comedy. The show has grown into a not-to-be-missed event every fall.

The ghosts of Judy Garland, Edgar Alan Poe, Kurt Cobain, and many others have all graced the stage on the must-see show. There have been some outside of the box entries as well; Jay Leno (he’s dead inside), the Ghost of Good Cops, and Bruce Jenner (although not dead, he took the stage “in conceptual limbo”). No one is off limits and Wilkerson encourages the comics to dive head first into the act.

The Comedy Seance is one of the most fun shows to perform on all year long. Mike MacRae, one of the perennial standouts of the show, enjoys the freedom to explore the character. “I do a lot of voices and characters in my normal stand-up act, but I use the Seance as an excuse to create an impression (Christopher Hitchens, Philip Seymour Hofmann) or a characterization (Andrew Jackson) specifically for that particular show.“

Audiences love it as well. 2015 marks the third consecutive year that The Comedy Seance has packed out Spiderhouse Ballroom, cementing itself as one of Austin’s premiere comedy events.

If you want to see the 2014 seance, you can do that here.

Aaron Brooks co-hosts the showcase Bounce House. Look at the top of this post to see what he looks like as the Ultimate Warrior.

Austin Comedy 2015: the Fiend-ship of Aaron Brooks and Danny Palumbo


by Mac Blakephoto by Erin Holsonback

At the beginning of the year, Joe Hafkey and I left our increasingly popular Monday night stand-up showcase Jazz Cigarette to start a new show at Cap City Comedy Club. Taking over the reigns of Jazz Cigarette was Aaron Brooks and Danny Palumbo.

Jazz Cigarette was a show we had built from the ground up. The Spiderhouse Ballroom had hosted Austin Sketch Fest since its first year, but the Ballroom was not a venue with a regular comedy presence. Now, thanks in a large part to its strong Monday night line-up, it’s one of Austin’s preferred comedy destinations.

In our minds, Joe and I were leaving big shoes to fill. Well, we got straight up Kilborned.

Remember when Craig Kilborn left The Daily Show for CBS, and Comedy Central replaced him with failed talk show host Jon Stewart? Yeah. How’d that work out for everyone?

The show Joe and I started at Cap is long gone, and Jazz Cigarette, now renamed Bounce House, is going strong with Danny and Aaron at the helm.

2015 was a good year for Danny and Aaron individually. Danny won Cap City’s annual Funniest Person in Austin competition, and Brooks solidified his place as one of Austin’s most fearless comedians. But, the Palumbo & Brooks team is one of my favorite things of 2015.

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Like all good duos, they have chemistry.

Danny: “Brooks is so much fun to host with…Aaron and I are both pretty personal comics We talk about ourselves a lot and what’s going on in our lives. I think we mix well in that regard, too.”

Aaron: “I love working with Danny. He’s focused and driven and wants to see the show succeed. That’s the kind of person he is.”

What makes them stand out from other hosting duos is their onstage animosity. You can tell they like each other, but they especially like disliking each other.

Aaron: “Sure, he calls me terrible names (bag of taco meat, white Mo Vaughn, etc.) and makes fun of me to my face, but he’s really great.”

Danny will insult Aaron. Aaron will chastise Danny for some slight. Aaron will then start on a tangent. Listening to the story is torture for Danny, who lets Aaron know it. Then at some point they start the show. It’s two very funny people being even funnier together. They didn’t invent the dynamic, they just excel at it.

Danny: “We’re finding some really fun moments on stage just bickering and going back and forth. He does most of the heavy lifting, like I can completely step away and just play straight man and add some lines here and there and it’s great. Sometimes I have to remind myself, oh shit, I also host this show.”

Watching them at the top of the show makes it easy to forget it’s just the host segment, not the main event. It also makes it easy to forget the show once had different hosts. Thanks a lot, jerks.

Mac Blake is an accomplished stand-up, a frequent performer a ColdTowne Theater, and one of the producers of Austin Sketch Fest.