Duncan Carson

Austin Comedy 2015: Sure Thing Records Makes Some Noise


by Mac Blake
Sure Thing Records release it’s first album in 2014. Sure Thing Live! was a compilation of material from 15 different comedians including the label’s founders (and co-hosts of the weekly show) Brendan K. O’Grady and Duncan Carson. That was it for that year. But Brendan and Duncan must have spent the rest of 2014 fiendishly rubbing their hands together and cackling, because in 2015 Sure Thing Records got bonafide.

2015 saw full length albums from Bryan Gutmann, Seth Cockfield (who now lives in New York City), and one from me. I swear this isn’t just thinly-veiled promotion for my album – Bird Drugs out now.

I had just started thinking about an album when I got an email from Brendan about Sure Thing Records. Brian Gaar and Ramin Nazer has just (more or less) self-released their albums and I figured I would do the same. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that I love losing money on comedy ideas. But here were two dudes wanting to spend their own hard earned money, releasing records from Austin comedians. That’s a big deal.

Brendan K. O’Grady: We live here, we perform here, we know how many fantastic comedians call Austin home. It’s hands-down one of the best comedy cities in the country right now. But we still don’t get a ton of industry attention, so anybody who wanted to make a record had to either self-produce (which can be difficult and expensive), or else work with a label that’s not based here and hope that they weren’t getting ripped off.

Duncan Carson: Brendan and I agreed that, as we both didn’t see ourselves making the NY/LA jump any time soon, to use the success of the show to create something that would hopefully help boost the scene here. Stand up for me, and I get this sense from many of my friends that I admire, is an endless struggle of self-doubt while forcing yourself to self-promote, so anything you can create that’s bigger than you are is much more fun to be a part of.

Brendan: People here know us, and I think they trust us and understand our intentions. We saw an opportunity to build up the scene and create a platform to help comics reach a wider audience, and we don’t mind drowning in spreadsheets, so we went for it.

Duncan: A show started by a now-defunct comedy radio station in the venue I happened to run an open mic in June 2012 has lead to nearly two hundred shows now every Saturday with great crowds, four comedy albums I’m immensely proud to be a part of, shows at the Alamo Drafthouse and on two comedy festivals, local and national press, and so many other things in my life. It all makes me feel immeasurably lucky and grateful, to be in this comedy scene at this point in time, in this city that seems full of possibility.

And Sure Things Records doesn’t look to be slowing down. In 2015 they announced plans to release an album from Austin’s Eric Krug, LA’s Ron Babcock––hey wait a minute––and NYC’s Brooke Van Poppelen––hold on… did the Sure Thing boys just level up?

Duncan: I am sure we will release many more Austin-based comic’s albums beyond Eric Krug’s. But we’re open to anyone that’s the right fit for the label and fits into our timetable.

As for Sure Thing Records’s long term plans?

Brendan: Continuing to make records we like without going broke sounds pretty good.

For a city with a ever-growing comedy scene, that sounds pretty great.

Oh and, thanks for putting out my album, guys. Bird Drugs available now.

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