The Hustle Show

ASF Hot Seat: The Hustle Show

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For the last three years and change, The Hustle Show – a monthly comedy variety show featuring sketch, stand-up, games, and other mayhem – has been holding down the second Thursday at 10:00pm slot at ColdTowne Theater. Built from a motley crew of improvisers, stand-ups and sketch comedians, the cast of the Hustle show has always been a “Who’s Who” of Austin comedy.
This year’s Austin Sketch Fest will be their fourth appearance. We spoke to show producer David Jara about the ins and outs of keeping a lovable cast of misfits together.

You guys have been at it, every month, for the last three years and change. How do you keep a marriage like that exciting?

David Jara: It helps when there are seven other people in your marriage. (And that’s true in any walk of life WINK) Having such a large and diverse group helps take the pressure off any one person, and pressure is something we strive to avoid when putting this show together. The Hustle Show is our excuse to get together, have a few drinks, and put on a fun show. If we accomplish those things, everything else is profit.

What have been the highs? The lows?

David: I truly believe The Hustle Show is currently in its “high” period, and it came as a direct result of our “low” period. We had a stretch last year where (co-founder) Mac Blake had just left the show, and we were having a bit of an identity crisis, and attendance was starting to dip, and you could tell that all of this was starting to take its toll on the group. But then we took a step back and thought, “Why are we getting stressed out about this?” And that, in a weird way, became our identity – to do the show for ourselves. If we don’t enjoy the process of producing and performing this show, then we’re doing it wrong. I really feel like we’ve hit our stride with our recent shows as a result, and that’s a neat feeling.

The Hustle Show just went to the NYC Sketch Festival. Who was the biggest pain in the ass to travel with? 

David: Unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel with the rest of the group, so I’ll just give the predictable answer and say the most difficult person to travel with was Curtis “The Dapper Diva” Luciani.

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Who are your influences? Who are some of your favorite sketch comedy acts performing today?

David: I’ll tell you who is really influential these days – the Austin sketch comedy community. Hell, look at this festival. To look at how much it has grown, and all of the great Austin acts this town is churning out. STAG Comedy is great, Bad Example is great, Vanessa Gonzalez – Vanessa effing Gonzalez! If you can watch Vanessa Gonzalez perform and not immediately feel motivated, I don’t know what to tell you.

What does David Jara do to kick back and chillax?

David: Sleep.

Can we join you?

David: Fuck no, you creep.

What makes you laugh the most?

David: Those times in Married With Children when Al would fall off the roof and it was clearly a dummy. I feel like that’s pretty much my comedy philosophy in a nutshell.

What’s the best thing about the Austin comedy scene?

David: You don’t have to lie about it. It’s genuinely good! I could pick any night of the week and I know there are going to be several shows happening that I’d consider dependably funny. There aren’t many other cities with a batting average as high as ours.

Do you have any fun “worst show” or “worst audience member” stories?

David: We’ve had people bring a baby to our show, and recently someone brought a tiny little dog that was terrified of everything. You might think having a baby or frightened dog in the audience would cause us to decrease the level of yelling or smashing we do in our shows, but you would be wrong, my man.

Do you have any fun “best show” stories?

David: This is kind of a cop-out answer, but every sketch that works is a “best show” story. We write sketches because they made us laugh in the writers’ room, but we’ve also been doing this long enough to know there are no guarantees when it comes to audiences. So, when you have zero expectations for a sketch and the audience eats it up, it’s the best feeling. You know that part in The Incredibles where Dash realizes he can run on water? Yeah, it’s like that.

What are you looking forward to at this year’s Sketch Fest?

David: I’m excited to see all of the local groups put their best foot forward and put on their best shows. It’s a really fun weekend to be a fan of Austin sketch comedy, and I’m looking forward to enjoying it.

Share with us your tips for a job interview.

David: After every question, pretend you’re not happy with your answer and angrily mutter, “Man, I really wanted this job!”

We need to increase the visibility of this article. Any suggestions for a click-bait headline?

David: What The Cast Of The Hustle Show Has To Say About The Heaven’s Gate Cult Will Make You Sick. (Please don’t delete your question about the Heaven’s Gate cult or else this won’t make any sense.)

The Hustle Show performs at Austin Sketch Fest on Tuesday, May 19th at 8:30pm at ColdTowne Theater. TICKETS HERE.

ASF Hot Seat: The Hustle Show

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Featuring members of STAG Comedy, Bad Example, and Your Terrific Neighbors, The Hustle Show is like its own one-troupe Sketch Fest. Their monthly show at ColdTowne Theater is a mix of stand-up, games, and other assorted mayhem. We asked The Hustle crew some questions.
You guys have a monthly show at ColdTowne Theater. What’s your process for getting a show from soup to nuts?

Jeff Whitaker: Our process involves a whole lot of beers, a whole lot of joking around, and then a tight turn around to get the show made. We have been on the same schedule since the show’s start at the end of 2011, so we feel like we have a pretty solid understanding of what needs to be done. We trust each other and the show always delivers because of it.

Curtis Luciani: If I could reduce it to its essence: first we think of an idea for a sketch, then we write the sketch, and then we perform the sketch. Idea, write, perform. A classic IWP sketch methodology.

Courtney Sevener: We are called the Hustle Show for a reason. Producing a brand new sketch show every month is no easy task. It involves a lot of rushing around and busting ass. Also a lot of emails.

David Jara: We also sit around a table in in a dark room like the Illuminati. That explains why our sketches have so many references to triangles.

Tre Fuentes: “It’s like songs come to him from the future, because as he writes one, he feels like he already knows it. He could be writing for 10 hours, but it will feel like two minutes.” will.i.am said that, and I agree with him.

If there’s someone who is interested in sketch but has never done it before – any advice to them?

Jeff: In Austin, it’s easier than one might expect. There’s always room for more quality sketch troupes in town. Acts like Bad Example and Wink Planet found a way to create a show and enter this festival. My advice would be to start writing, put it up wherever you can, find other people you like and just put on a show. Sounds over-simplified, but it’s not!

Curtis: Seriously, do it! There are so many people doing stand-up and improv in Austin. We’d love to see a proportional amount of people doing sketch comedy. All you need is a space in your closet for dumb props.

Courtney: Absolutely start writing. Finding your own writing style and voice is so important. Sketch troupes here in Austin are really cool and supportive, so my advice would be to put feelers out to groups in town that you like once you’ve got some sketches under your belt.

David: It helps to do it with people who you genuinely like and whose opinions you respect. One of the great thrills of a Hustle Show meeting is making everyone at the table laugh with one of your pitches or scripts. If you can make a collection of really talented people laugh, that’s when you know you’ve got something.

Tre: If you think of a funny idea or a premise, write it out as quickly as you can get it out, and don’t get discouraged if someone points out that some other thing has a similar sketch or idea. It’ll hopefully have your own style and sense of humor, so you shouldn’t worry. And, if it turn out the sketch is very similar? Well, then, you’re probably a thief or a Dead Zone, but with sketches instead of the future.

Your show last year, with Rabbit Rabbit was one of the strongest of the festival. What can we expect from your show this year?

Jeff: I think this year is going to be even better. Another year means another several dozen brand new sketches to choose from. We have a very fortunate show slot opening up for Ithamar Enriquez and we intend to capitalize on that. Expect some badassery.

Courtney: We are like a rag-tag group of kids that were left a house because mom went on vacation. Anything can happen, and anything goes. Expect to get punched in the dick with comedy.

David: Last year’s Sketch Fest was a watershed moment for The Hustle Show; we were thrilled to open for Rabbit Rabbit and were flattered by all of the nice things people had to say about our set. This year, we’re just gonna coast on that and completely burn through our good will. Expect a lot of people sitting on cakes.

Tre: You know, it’s a lot like will.i.am said, “Who was the girl who sung the Barbie and the Rockers commercial? It was Fergie. How crazy is that? Come on, dude, that’s not coincidence … So that only means that the future me now made me record that and do that then, if you believe in interconnectivity and the absence of time.”

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What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fest?

Jeff: I am really looking forward to Ithamar’s one-person show. That guy has always brought it in years past with Delicious Moments. I’m excited to see what he does with a slot to himself. Also, I have been very impressed with Austin’s own Vanessa Gonzalez doing her one-woman show “I Don’t Know Words.” It kicked ass on her tour.

Courtney: I am suuuuper pumped to see Brandon Gulya in anything and everything – specifically his one man show ‘Who Are You People and Why Are You Watching Me?’. His energy can’t be beat and makes him so fun to watch. He’s going to crush it.

Tre: Once again, I am going to defer to the man himself, will.i.am, “I’m really looking forward to the Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction. Nothing get’s me going harder or faster than people making people who wouldn’t fuck fuck. The row in front of me better have a back-tarp, if you know what I’m saying.”

The Hustle Show performs tonight, Saturday May 24th, 7pm at Spider House Ballroom, opening for Ithamar Enriquez. Tickets here.

ASF Hot Seat: The Hustle Show

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The Hustle Show hustles. Every month the same group of people write and perform a brand new sketch show. Then, they next month they start all over. The Hustle Show also features games, stand-up, music, and “assorted mayhem.” In April the group did a show of just one-person shows. Hosted by the Mascot Wedding dudes, The Hustle Show opens up for Rabbit Rabbit and will be performing some of their favorite sketches. Hustlers Sam Malcolm and Jeff Whitaker gives us the straight dope.
What’s a typical Hustle Show like?

Sam Malcolm: A typical Hustle Show features sketches written with distinct voices but that all share a similar flavor of absurdity. So one might be 7 minutes with a page long monologue while another might be 3 minutes of us mashing fruit into our faces, but it all seems to fit.

Jeff Whitaker: The Hustle Show is a super unique show because it features so many different voices. The cast consists of people with years of sketch experience with people who may not have the most extensive sketch background. What makes it work is the trust that we are all going to take care of each other on stage. Each show is approached with one goal in mind, to make eachother laugh. Everything else just falls into place month after month. In short, the show looks like a bunch of people having as much fun as possible on stage.

You guys have not been afraid to get the stage a little messy, right?

Jeff: The Hustle Show wants to formally thank the interns at ColdTowne Theater for staying late nights and sacrificing their social lives to help clean up our chaos.

Sam: Listen, fear is not something we acknowledge at the Hustle Show. I had to clean Mac’s scorpion tank blindfolded before he would even consider performing a sketch I wrote. Joe Rogan is our spirit animal.

Is he your spirit animal for comedy? I only ask because he’s not funny.

Sam: Oh no no no. Never. That would be Kathy Griffin.

What’s the writing process for Hustle Show?

Sam: Basically, it starts with everyone bringing a rough outline of an idea to everyone else. Except then Curtis has a fully written, high concept sketch that makes the rest of us feel bad about what we brought. That discourages us for a couple weeks, but then the deadline of the show itself motivates us to produce. At least that’s how it works for me.

Jeff: The writing process is unlike any other that I’ve been a part of. It’s very fun and collaborative, but also allows for each writer to have their own unique voice. We usually show up to meetings with some idea of a sketch and then riff on it until we have something we can use. I’m the WORST at pitches so it’s nice to get everyone’s input on that weird thing I thought of. It’s always very clear after meeting what direction I want to go with a sketch.

What’s your favorite show that you’ve done?

Sam: We did a night of one-person shows, and I loved being able to see everyone featured individually. You really got a sense of what each performer brought to the table and got to see the show broken down into its parts. It made me appreciate the shows we’ve done as a group that much more.

Jeff: I loved the one-person shows show, but there’s another one that really sticks out. There was one show we did in May of last year where it was POURING rain outside. I think it was the first time that a show hadn’t sold out, so I know I was a bit bummed about that. Well, we decided that we wanted to just let it all go and do the highest energy show that we could. The audience had an amazing energy and felt like a hundred people. We delivered one of the most fun and loose shows to date. After that, it changed how I wrote because I knew what we were capable of.

What are you looking forward to at Austin Sketch Fest?

Sam: Truthfully, all of it. The local groups that I don’t often get to see. The out of town troupes I never get to see. The masters like Superego, Paul F. Tompkins, and Ennis & Kaye.

Jeff: In all honesty, Sketch Fest is one of my favorite things to do in Austin. It’s such an awesome atmosphere and I’m incredibly fortunate to be a part of it again this year. I’ve made it a goal to see every single show this year and I fully intend to do just that. I personally feel like sketch is such an underrepresented form of comedy around Austin so it will be great to have a few days dedicated to seeing great stuff.

Sam: I was fortunate to be on the selection committee and see the submission videos, though, and the show slot I’m most intrigued by is LanceLife and Beige. They are two extremely funny, well crafted shows that are very, very different.

What can we expect from your ASF show?

Jeff: Well, since we usually do at least an hour long show and we have a shorter time slot for Sketch Fest, i’s pretty safe to say that everyone will see a jam-packed, high energy show. We have a lot to get out of our system!

Sam: Sketch comedy, right?

Jeff: I’m looking forward to opening up for Rabbit Rabbit and I know that The Hustle Show will deliver. Smug? Maybe. True? Yes. Maybe? True.

The Hustle Show performs Saturday May 24th at 7pm along with Rabbit Rabbit at the SpiderHouse Ballroom. Get 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..