Vanessa Gonzalez

ASF Hot Seat: Vanessa Gonzalez


Vanessa Gonzalez is pure comedy gold – notable for her sketch, improv, AND stand-up chops. But she’s made perhaps the biggest splash with her series of one-person sketch shows “I Don’t Know Words,” “I Don’t Know Dating,” and now, “I Don’t Know Why You’re Saying That.”
In the last few years she’s taken her shows on the road including multiple stops the prestigious San Francisco Sketchfest.

This is your third year at Austin Sketch Fest. How has the comedy scene here changed since then?

Vanessa Gonzalez: The Austin comedy scene has grown so much in the past 3 years! There are so many more shows going on every week. There’s a big improv/stand-up/sketch crossover, and it seems like the community is coming together more to showcase each other. It’s so great.

Your one-person shows have been getting some great national attention – but you seem pretty committed to sticking around Austin. What’s the attraction?

Vanessa: I love Austin so much. Out of all the places I’ve traveled, Austin definitely has some of the funniest people in the country living here. The comedy scene here is so good, hard-working, and determined and it pushes me to want to be better and better. Also, my best friends and family live here or near here and that’s a huge plus! Also, breakfast tacos!

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Tell us about your new show pretty please.

Vanessa: I wanted to do something different with my latest show, “I Don’t Know Why You’re Saying That.” It’s more of a traditional autobiographical one-person show. No sketches or costumes, just me talking. When I was writing it, the thought of performing it really intimidated me because it required me to be really honest and vulnerable but I really wanted to see if I could do it. I’ve been having a lot of fun performing it so far.

It seems like you started a tiny avalanche of solo sketch acts in town (that’s my premise and I’m sticking to it). What should people doing solo shows keep in mind during the creative process?

Vanessa: I think it so awesome that more people are doing solo shows in Austin. There are so many powerhouses here. I’d say just stay true to your voice and what you think is funny. Have some truth in your show, and don’t be afraid to show your real self.

Who are your influences?

Vanessa: I love love love John Leguizamo. I’ve followed his one man shows and career since I was in 6th grade. I got to see him live at The Paramount a few years ago and that definitely blew my mind. There’s so much production and precision in his performances. It’s so inspiring to watch. Ithamar Enriquez and Girls with Brown Hair are also some of my favorites to watch live.

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

Vanessa: Last year at FunFunFunFest, Tig Notaro’s flight got canceled so she had to miss her show, so they asked me and Micheal Foulk to fill in for her. It wasn’t a bad show but it was definitely terrifying to tell a tent full of a hundred plus people, waiting to see Tig Notaro, that Micheal Foulk and I aren’t Tig Notaro.

Do you have any fun “best show” stories?

Vanessa: My sketch group Bad Example got Kevin McDonald from “Kids in the Hall” to be in one of our shows. It was so surreal to get to perform with him! The whole cast had this electric energy and we had such a killer show.

Vanessa Gonzalez on stage at Austin Sketch Fest 2K15. Photos by Steve Rogers.

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

Vanessa: Girls with Brown Hair and Your Terrific Neighbors!

Got any advice to someone starting out in live comedy?

Vanessa: Don’t wait to be asked to do shows. Take the initiative, network, and get yourself stage time wherever you can.

What else – comedy wise – are you looking forward to this year?

Vanessa: I’m looking forward to doing more stand-up, writing, and going on the road with my comedy partner in crime, Micheal Foulk! You can catch “This is HANDBOMB” every Tuesday @ 8pm at The New Movement.

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

Vanessa: This girl thought that she was getting breakfast tacos but what she got you won’t believe!

You can catch Vanessa’s show “I Don’t Know Why You’re Saying That” Friday May 27th, at 9pm along with Abby Rosenquist and ASF headlining group Newphew, at the Spiderhouse Ballroom. GET TICKETS HERE.

Austin Comedy 2015: The Next Level of Vanessa Gonzalez


by Jeff WhitakerPhotos by Steve Rogers

Vanessa Gonzalez is so good, it makes me mad. I remember seeing her first solo show “I Don’t Know Words” at The New Movement Theater and thinking, “Okay, yeah, I can’t do that.” Vanessa has that special spark. That immediate magnetism and overall stage presence that makes her a star. That rare something that can’t be copied, and that makes everyone around her better. I learned more by observing her process than I have in my years of doing comedy.

Few people in the Austin comedy community had a bigger year than Vanessa did in 2015. She’d been crushing it as part of the improv troupe, Handbomb, and as a producer/performer of our weekly sketch group, Bad Example.

Bad Example started off the year fortunate enough to do a show with Kevin McDonald from Kids in the Hall. Vanessa and I geeked out. KiTH was one of our biggest comedy influences growing up. It was so great watching her kill it in two-person scene with McDonald, someone she had seen a few months before at a sold-out Moontower show at the Paramount Theater.

Vanessa Gonzalez as Pancake Demon during the 2015 Austin Sketch Fest. Photo by Steve Rogers.

Fresh off the success of her first solo show, “I Don’t Know Words”, Vanessa debuted her second hour-long solo show, “I Don’t Know Dating.” Surely this one couldn’t destroy as much as that perfect first show, right? “I Don’t Know Dating” was somehow even more personal, hilarious, and brilliant than the first one. People outside have Austin have started noticing as well. Last year, Vanessa toured the country with her show, including headlining Seattle SketchFest and being named a “Performer to Watch” at SF Sketchfest. Vanessa also starred in her first feature, Elizabeth Spear’s After a Long Day. In 2015, Vanessa Gonzalez rose from The New Movement’s secret weapon to probably Austin’s premiere sketch comedian.

She’s now debuting her third full-length show, “I Don’t Know Why You’re Saying That”. I had the opportunity to see it in New Orleans, and of course it’s stupidly amazing. It makes you laugh, cry, and possibly rethink all of your comedic choices. That’s the brilliance of Vanessa. She does things her way and her way cannot be replicated. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Poised for an even bigger year in 2016, Vanessa is still performing regularly at The New Movement with Bad Example. No matter how much I want to be jealous, I can’t be. She has earned everything she has and does it with such a humble attitude. I’m guessing that by this time next year Vanessa Gonzalez will have taken her comedy to an even higher level, and I know that the Austin comedy scene is fully behind her. Pancake Demon forever!

Jeff Whitaker is a writer/comedian in Austin, Texas. He is a producer of the sketch troupe, Bad Example and four time performer at Austin Sketch Fest. Jeff can be seen every Wednesday with the improv group Good Fight and the upcoming show Fuck This Week, both at The New Movement.

ASF Hot Seat: Vanessa Gonzalez

Vanessa Gonzalez is a triple threat, an unstoppable powerhouse in the world of Austin Improv and Sketch Comedy. Audiences watched her bring down the house during last year’s Sketch Fest with her one woman show, “I Don’t Know Words”. This year, she returns with her new show, “I Don’t Know Dating”.
You’ve always been great, but it seems like recently your profile has gone to the next level. Is it just doing consistent work, or did something change for you artistically?

Vanessa Gonzalez: Yeah, the response to “I Don’t Know Dating” has been amazing. I definitely think it’s a lot stronger than my first show. I think this show attracted a lot of new audiences for me because I had different opening acts and hosts every week. Each show felt like an event.

What made you want to start doing a one person show?

Vanessa: It was about 2 years ago when I wrote my first solo show “I Don’t Know Words.” At the time, I really just wanted to do a show run and go on tour but it was difficult to get a group to commit to that. So I decided to just do it on my own.

In case they missed your run back in February, what can people look forward to in your new show?

Vanessa: In this show, I make fun of my insecurities with dating through various characters and songs. There is a Pitbull song, pancake eating and a Valentines’ vendor, just to name a few. Sounds random but makes sense when you see the show!

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

Vanessa: I love John Leguizamo. I’ve been watching his one man shows since I was in 6th grade. I also LOVE Ithamar Enriquez. I saw his one man show last year at Austin Sketch Fest, and I was so blown away and inspired.

What makes you laugh the most?

Vanessa: I laugh at the most random stuff sometimes. Mostly babies and the elderly. When the giggles get me, I can’t stop.

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

Vanessa: The comedy scene is so strong in Austin. I really believe our city has some of the best comedians in the country and I feel so honored/inspired/motivated to work along side them.

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

Vanessa: One time on tour, there was a very drunk woman in the front row during my show and she talked back to me in every sketch. At one point she even pulled out a bubble gun and there were bubbles flying everywhere. It was no longer a “solo show.” We we’re the sketch team called “Vanessa and Drunk Lady with a Bubble Gun.”

Do you have any fun “best show” stories?

Vanessa: The last show of my February run at Spider House was a blast. The audience was just so electric and Roxy Castillo had a killer opening set.

Any acts you’re looking forward to at this year’s festival?

Vanessa: Your Terrific Neighbors have always been a favorite of mine.

Share with us your tips for a job interview.

Vanessa: 1) Be Yourself 2) Have a resume 3) Don’t kiss the boss

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

Vanessa: “Cats Reenact the movie Show Girls”

What else – comedy wise – are you looking forward to this year?

Vanessa: I’ll be debuting a new show this fall. And of course, you can catch me every weekend with the group Bad Example at The New Movement.

Vanessa Gonzales performs “I Don’t Know Dating” at Austin Sketch Fest on Friday, May 22nd, 8:30pm at Spider House Ballroom. TICKETS. You can also catch her performing in Bad Example on Saturday, May 23rd at 7pm at Spider House Ballroom. TICKETS.