Tastemakers

Austin Comedy 2015: Lubu's New Lungs

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by Michael JastrochPhoto by Steve Rogers

When people write about Bryan “Lubu” Roberts, the intro paragraph usually includes that “[his] voice sounds like a 1920s Radio Announcer Cartoon! LOL!” And while that’s true, it completely misses the point. Bryan Roberts is one of the most effortlessly funny people in Austin, and it has nothing to do with his voice.

I don’t think anyone in Austin has better comedic timing or knows how to sell a joke better than Bryan Roberts. No one. Years ago, Bryan was in a sketch show I was directing. More than once, when a cast member wasn’t getting “it”, out of frustration I would say, “just deliver the line like Bryan would.” You could give Bryan a knock knock joke and he could kill with it. His performances in the ColdTowne Mainstage sketch shows – whether playing a beleaguered boyfriend or the Homeless Mayor of Austin – made me to laugh harder than I ever have. They’re Austin Comedy Legend at this point.

You know what else is funny about Bryan? His writing. He writes better in his dreams than most comedians. He once showed up to a sketch rehearsal after having dreamed the name “Fuckchugliss,” which became the basis for one of the best sketches to ever grace an Austin stage. Whether he’s performing as the Ghetto Sketch Warlock or in his sketch group Tastemakers or as part of the podcast Victrola, you can always tell what he’s had his hand in writing. (hint: because it’s usually the stand out material).

So yeah, his cartoonish voice is one of the least funny things about him. The other least funny thing about him is that he has Cystic Fibrosis, a degenerative genetic disease that effects the lungs. Although, you’d never know it, because he never talks about it. Bryan’s been in and out of the hospital over the years with pneumonia and various infections. And sometime last year, his conditioned worsened and he was put on the organ transplant list.

In October, we were recording some material for Victrola and Bryan had to be on an oxygen tank. He was more concerned that the noise from his tank was going to mess up the recording. Just in case he reads this I want to officially say: “Bryan, you dummy, I care way more about your health than the dumb podcast.” and “You could be playing a tuba in the microphone for all I care. If I’m doing something funny, I want Bryan Roberts involved.”

A few weeks ago, Bryan’s name came up on the donor list and he was suddenly whisked to Houston where he received a double lung transplant. A double lung transplant and the dude was walking around within two weeks! As I’m writing this, he’s had a few set backs, requiring a second surgury. But he looks to be recovering. We’re hoping that he’ll be able to leave the hospital in the next couple of weeks. All things considered, things are looking good.

It should also be noted that Bryan’s incredible wife––herself an immensely talented comedic actress, writer and improviser––Meredith Mae Roberts has been by his side, taking care of him. While the rest of us share stories, she’s been in the trenches the last few years making sure Bryan gets the care he needs.

Brian’s got a long recovery road ahead of him––6 months or so. But this is an exciting time, because it means we’ll have a fully powered up Bryan “Lubu” Roberts back on the job, ready to make the rest of us look less funny.
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Michael Jastroch is one of the founders of Austin Texas’s ColdTowne Theater. He performs improv every Saturday night with The Frank Mills, does sketch with Jonestroch and produces the “hit” sketch comedy podcast Victrola.

ASF Hot Seat: The Tastemakers

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Bryan “Lubu” Roberts is an Austin sketch institution, performing solo as Ghetto Sketch Warlock and now with Kyle Traughber, Ben Masten, and Quinn Buckner as The Tastemakers. This is the second year Tastemakers will be performing at ASF. We asked mastermind, Bryan Roberts for some insider info.
What’s the difference between a Ghetto Sketch Warlock show and Tastemakers?

Bryan Roberts: I write all Ghetto Sketch Warlock shows myself, and I direct them and do pretty much every other administrative thing I can think of. With the Tastemakers, there are other writers and everyone gets to look at the sketches and spice em’ up. It’s just really great to be working with people who can bring different insights to the comedy.

What can we expect from your ASF show this year?

Bryan: It will have a beginning and end. No middle.

Does anybody on team Tastemaker have any pre-show rituals?

Bryan: I get really nervous. Quinn gets really angry. Ben pukes. Kyle holds Ben’s hair while he pukes.

What was your favorite on stage moment?

Bryan: We had a really fun time opening for Wink Planet earlier this month. We didn’t have any predetermined transitions so we just talked through each transition, telling the audience that we had respect enough for their tastes that they didn’t need to see a black stage while transition music lulls them into a sense that the show is super professional. We’re just guys fuckin’ around in the hopes that you think it’s hilarious. I’m starting to dig just being straight-up with the audience and doing away with ceremony.

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What advice do you have for people who want to get into sketch?

Bryan: Write sketches and put them up ANYWHERE YOU CAN. Classes are great, reading about sketch is great, watching sketch is great. But you must, as quickly as possible, begin a relationship with that fickle, loving vixen known as “Audience.” The better you know Audience, the better you will become at writing and performing.

The Tastemakers will be performing Wednesday night, May 21st at 8:30pm at ColdTowne Theater along with Vanilla Presley and Vanessa Gonzalez’s “I Don’t Know Words.” Tickets available here.

ASF Hot Seat: Tastemakers

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Bryan “Lubu” Roberts has been performing as his scripted alter ego Ghetto Sketch Warlock for years. After collaborating (and killing) with a bunch of awesome peeps at a Sketch Cover Night, Tastemakers was born. Tastemakers will be headlining the very first show of Austin Sketch Fest, Wednesday May 22nd 8pm at ColdTowne Theater, performing with Every Girl’s Annual (tickets here). Tastmakers Bryan, Quinn, and maybe Kyle answered our email.
How did your group come together?

Quinn Buckner: Bryan called us together for sketch cover night and we decided to keep doing stuff.

Bryan Roberts: Yeah, that was good. I think there’s a tape of one of those sketches floating around YouTube. Ah, here is is.

What’s your writing process like?

Quinn: One of us usually comes up with an idea and more often than not we have a cast picked out. Then we run through the sketch fleshing out lines and ideas iteratively.

Bryan: Yeah, this is kind of a version of the way I learned how to develop sketches from Dave Buckman when working on the ColdTowne Mainstage show. It generally works like a dream, especially when you do it with people who know what their strengths are. It gets funny pretty quick, and then you get to experiment with it, which makes it EXTRA fun.

What can we expect from your ASF show?

Bryan: Just friends hanging out, doing things that bother each other in a lighthearted way. And also we’ll share things with you that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise wanted to know. It’ll be great!

What are some of your biggest comedy influences?

Bryan: Mel Blanc. That guy just knew how to say a thing the right way. Um, early-to-middle aged Simpsons…I also get a kick out of-

Kyle Traughber: MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!*

Why sketch comedy?

Bryan: I just like the idea of it. It’s not a MOVIE, it’s not a SHOW, it’s just a little morsel of comedy. It also allows you to make your comedy super-crazy because it will only exist for around 5 minutes at a time. So even if you don’t like a certain thing, there’s another thing coming around the corner.

What are you looking forward to at Austin Sketch Fest?

Bryan: The out of town groups, of course. I don’t get out that much so it’ll be nice to see and meet people from other parts of the country. And the workshops!

Kyle: MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!*

*- Kyle’s responses fabricated by Bryan.