stag comedy

ASF Hot Seat: STAG Comedy

This year, Austin comedy stalwarts STAG Comedy join the Austin Sketch Fest 6-timers club with a new, full length play called “Sex Week,“ in which they blend some of their favorite characters and sketches into a complete story with an actual beginning, middle, and end.
STAG Comedy is made up of an elite group of stand ups and improvisers and are widely regarded as one of Austin’s best sketch comedy acts. (For a short time, years ago, they were known as one of Austin’s only sketch comedy acts.) Their yearly sold out shows at the Alamo are known for a high density of jokes, strong premises, and scenes that end in murder.

Traditionally, they pull out all the stops for ASF. We sat STAG down on the Hot Seat and grilled their buns about ASF, narrative structure, what exactly “Sex Week” means.

There’s a rumor that STAG is putting together a full length play for this year’s Austin Sketch Fest. Confirm or Deny or No Comment?

Dave Youmans: I deny it.

Sam Malcolm: I’ll confirm Dave’s denial.

Mac Blake: I deny Sam’s existence

Don’t deny it. What kinds of challenges have you had to face writing a full length play, as opposed to a 3-minute long sketch?

Sam: I really like trying to add a narrative through-line to individual set pieces. I’m excited to add some heart and try to create characters that people are rooting for. I also have no idea how to successfully do any of that so I’m filling out this questionnaire instead of writing my scene.

Lance Gilstrap: Sam! Get back to writing! Mac! Sam stopped writing again!

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Be honest: who has the best dramatic chops in STAG?

Mac: Andrew [Rosas], Dave, and Ximena [Estrada] all have theater experience. It’s definitely not Sam. He’s only got goof chops.

Sam: My money’s on Andrew since he’s a musician, too. That sincerity has to be able to transfer to the stage.

Lance: My name is the one one not to have been mentioned because evidently I’m fucking chopped liver over here.

Mac: Lance, your sexual proclivities don’t factor in.

On a scale of MacBeth to The Iceman Cometh, where does your play fall?

Sam: I don’t know anything about plays, but I fully expect to be invited to perform at the Tony’s so…Rent?

Mac: Our show is called “Sex Week.” So obviously more like the Iceman Cometh.

What’s Sex Week about?

Mac: Sex Week is a classic tale of two guys who can’t get laid going on a journey to get laid. There are pretty much zero obstacles in front of them, every character they meet is actually very helpful they just can’t put the goddamn pieces together. It’s also very, very funny and probably only half as dirty as you’d expect from us. Sorry people expecting fake jizz, no fake jizz this show.

What makes you laugh the most?

Dave: My girlfriend, my dogs, and that video of Axl Rose asking for reggae.

Mac: Undeserved hubris, raw emotion, and Dave’s dogs.

Lance: Oh man, I just watched that Axl Rose video Dave was talking about!

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

Sam: The best thing is that I’m the freaking KING of this god damned city.

Mac: Serving under King Sam is pretty cool. Also, the available stage time. The diversity. If you have a crazy idea for a show, all it takes in this town is some elbow grease and you can do it. There are very few gatekeeprs between you and stage if you hustle.

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

Dave: That’s easy: Toronto. We were performing at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival. We did two shows there. The first show was ok, certainly not our best. The audience’s reaction was tepid to say the least. So for the second show we really went for it. Kurt Braunohler was the host that night, and he was getting big laughs. We thought, “Hey, this sounds like a great crowd!” So you can imagine our surprise when our performance was met with what I can only describe as aggressive silence. Just nothing. For thirty minutes.

Mac: They very politely wanted us to die.

Lance: It was like an audience full of Tom Cruises from that scene in Magnolia where he’s like “I’m quietly judging you”.

Do you have any fun “best show” stories?

Mac: On my list of “Top 5 Best STAG Comedy Shows Ever”, 2 of the 5 are Austin Sketch Fest shows. We really, really love this festival and always want to do something special for it. Hence, us trying something with Sex Week we’ve never tried before. Hopefully it works out. Taylor Stewart and Ed Reed are going to be part of the cast for this one and it was too much for the six of us.

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

Mac: Girls with Brown Hair were great last year, so I’m definitely looking forward to that. The Midnight Society Presents reunion show and the Bryan Gutmann album recording are also high on my list.

Lance: I’m a huge fan of Brent Weinbach. Ditto on Girls with Brown hair, but the real answer is “I’m the Artistic Director of the festival so I pretty much just got to make all my favorite groups do comedy for me.”

Sam: I think the Saturday lineup has a lot of different styles in each slot, so I’m excited to see the variety throughout the night.

Share with us your tips for a job interview.

Sam: Get there at least 24 hours early.

Dave: Is that enough though? Better make it 48 hours.

Mac: Get there 72 hours early so you can scare off any other applicants.

Lance: I say show up an hour late to the first interview and tell them you assumed it would go well and you’re just early for the second one.

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

Dave: You’ll Never Believe What STAG Comedy Said about Austin Sketch Fest!

Mac: Is This Christian Sketch Comedy Group Pro-Taliban?

Lance: Pornographer Dave Youmans Finally Reveals His Shaving Secrets.

Dave: Thanks, Lance.

Sam: Bas Rutten Street Defense – The Best Version

STAG Comedy is performing Thursday, May 21st, 10:15pm at the Spider House Ballroom along with OSFUG and Zac Brooks. TICKETS HERE

ASF Hot Seat: STAG Comedy


STAG Comedy is Austin’s most well-traveled group. Plying fests in Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, and more. They also did a set at this year’s Moontower Comedy Festival, right here in Austin. For Austin Sketch Fest, they’ve upped the stakes. STAG will be debuting their brand new police-themed show “Below the Law” on the Thursday night of ASF. We put some Stags under the hot lamps.
Why a police-themed show?

Lance Gilstrap: I’ll give the real answer since I’m first… Stag already had a LOT of cop-themed sketches and it sounded like a fun idea to write a couple more and add them to the already large pile of police sketches (huh, I just now realized that might be confusing), but it turns out that everyone LOVES writing cop-themes so much that the majority of the show is brand new stuff.

David Jara: The pitch for this show was “guns, sunglasses, toothpicks, and cocaine” and I was sold immediately. All I had to do after that was run out and buy some toothpicks.

Ximena Estrada: We have a hard time not writing sketches about cops. Most of the time, our sketches involve cop storylines and we just change the setting and tweak the characters so that we appear to be more versatile and imaginative. But this time we were like, “Fuck it, let’s show the people who we really are. These colors don’t run!” Or something like that.

Any favorite fictional police?

Dave Youmans: Danny Glover in Predator 2, the Hot Cops from Arrested Development, and Sting.


Mac Blake: Cobra, Police Chief Wiggum, and the Robot-Cop. God, what a fucking amazing team-up that would be.

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You guys brought Sam Malcolm aboard for this show. Sam, any hazing so far?

Dave: Who?

Lance: Sam, remember what we said about snitches…

Sam Malcolm: ha – no way, man. i would Probably never Let anyone hazE me. they do have some weird rituAls, though, but everyone haS to go through thosE. like that time we all had to crawl on our hands and knees to mcdonalds but i left later than everyone else so i crawled alone and by the time i got tHere thEy were aLl back home and Politely asked me to crawl back with 100 chicken nuggets but when i got back home they said they weren’t hungry anymore and said i should eat the 100 nuggets in one sitting so they didn’t go to waste. but nah, no hazing really.

Ximena: Sam’s a piece of shit. Ha, just kidding. I say that because we like to tear him down so we can build him up.

“Below the Law” police-themed show. Last October you did a halloween show, STAB. If given time and opportunity, are there any other themed shows you’d like to tackle?

Lance: I’m a big fan of Arbor Day.

Ximena: I’d like to stick to cop shows, honestly. I’d like to do nothing but cop themed things from now on. Maybe one where we all play vigilante woodland creatures.

Mac: If I had the time, I feel like a Ninja Turtles-themed one would still be a bad idea.

What other shows are you looking forward to at ASF?

Mac: Pretty much every show. Every single show. My Mans is going to kill. Last time I saw Skinny Bitch Jesus meeting – that show was amazing. Stone Cold Fox from New York is sooooo funny. Rabbit Rabbit was so great last year, I’m super excited they’re coming back.

Sam: I love the concept of “Why We Broke Up” and am excited to see how they pull it off. And the line-up for Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction is crazy good. I’m pumped to see how different performers – stand-ups, actors, writers – attack their pieces.

Ximena: The flip-cup tournament show.

STAG Comedy will be premiering their new show Below the Law, on Thursday May 22nd, 10pm at the Spider House Ballroom along with stand-up from Bryan Cook and sketch from Girls with Brown Hair. TICKETS available here.

Call for entries: Bottle Challenge!


At the legendary ColdTowne Christmas party STAG Comedy came into possession of 2 breakaway bottles – fake glass bottles you can safely break over someone’s head. STAG already used one (it worked great) and they’d like the other one to be used by… YOU!
The ASF Bottle Challenge

Write a short piece – one page or under – that involves someone having a bottle smashed over their head. Send it to The entry STAG thinks is the most fun and/or funniest will be chosen to be performed by its writer, complete with bottle smash, to kick off the My Mans / Brandon Gulya show on Saturday May 24th, 8:30pm at the Spider House Ballroom. ASF will also throw some swag your way. Contest is open to everybody! Whether you want to smash the bottle or have the bottle smashed on you – your call. Not open to residents of Alaska.

Deadline for entry is May 17th.

ASF Acts at Moontower


First and foremost we are fans of comedy, so if you’re in Austin this week you should absolutely tray to catch a show during the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival. Kids in the Hall are one of the headliners! How awesome is that? [Quick brag: Fest Producer Michael Jastroch will be KITH’s script supervisor while they are in town] A couple of ASF sketch acts are even on the bill.
AC Lerok is performing at The New Movement, Wednesday, April 23rd at 8pm.

STAG Comedy will be joining Ashley Barnhill and Brad Williams on the Double Barrel show, Friday, April 25th at 10pm at the Parish Underground.

Also, sharing Moontower and ASF on their resumé this year are Mac Blake, Duncan Carson, Brian Gaar, Joe Hafkey, Maggie Maye, Brendan K. O’Grady, Katie Pengra, Chris Tellez, Michael Foulk & Vanessa Gonzalez

Check out Moontower’s schedule and go see some live comedy, ya goons!

ASF Hot Seat: STAG Comedy


STAG Comedy has been busy in the past year, with a microtour of Portland and Seattle, a trip to the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, and a brand new show, Sensible Pantsuit. They also added a new member, Lance Gilstrap. They’re also performing Thursday night along with There’s Waldo and Danny Palumbo. Stags David Jara, Dave Youmans, Lance Gilstrap, and Joe Parsons told us secrets in the forest.
You guys sure like to travel. What do you enjoy about taking your show on the road?

Lance Gilstrap: Snacks

Dave Youmans: I got some trail mix in Toronto called “Cranny & Banany”. Probably the highlight of the trip.

David Jara: It’s interesting to hit the road and see which sketches work with which audiences. It’s also incredibly satisfying to go to a city that has never even heard of you and win them over. This is the first I’m hearing of “Cranny and Banany”, though. I may have to change my answer.

Do you guys have a favorite show you’ve done?

David: Gosh, I like all of our shows for different reasons. I’d probably have to say I enjoyed our most recent shows of new material the most. They were the least stressful show I’ve ever been a part of, the crowds were great, and I feel like the material was some of the strongest we’ve ever done.

Joe Parsons: I feel like the shows keep getting more ambitious, more complex, and better overall. I feel like with these last two shows, we’ve really found our voice and the work is the best its ever been.

What’s your writing process like?

Dave: It’s like making love to a beautiful woman with five of your closest friends and Joe.

Joe: It’s like making love to- Hey!

David: It’s not as drunk as it used to be. I miss that.

Joe: We typically write individual scripts based on concepts then read them as a group for feedback. That said, we also work collaboratively, base sketches off of improvised scenarios and characters, and have what we call “Challenge Rounds” where one person in a group challenges another person to write a sketch based on a premise.

Lance joined your group last year. How do you decide to add a new member?

David: It’s funny, because there was absolutely no decision process for adding Lance whatsoever. We’ve all known Lance for years and have worked with him in some capacity. So, when the time came to start on our most recent show, the rest of us were sitting around and one of us basically said, “Hey, do you guys wanna add Lance?” And we all agreed. Because when someone that talented is available, you’d be a dummy not to snatch him up.

What can we expect from your ASF show?

Lance: Expect to be educated. An unintentional theme in this show is education because we are all teachers at heart. Also the Klan because we are all great friends too.

What are you looking forward to at Austin Sketch Fest?

Dave: The waterslide!

Joe: Sketch is a bit of a small world. Doing sketch in Austin, we have all become familiar with what the other troupes do and what their humor is like, but ASF gives me the opportunity to see what’s going in other places. I have seen some really great comedy at ASF in the past that I would not have seen otherwise.

David: I’m looking forward to all of the shows I’m in (STAG!, The Hustle Show, Mascot Wedding), because it means I made it to the shows, and that’s important to me.

Lance: I’m looking forward to all the shows David isn’t in. Mostly because he is so nice to me that it makes me uncomfortable and I always assume he wants something from me… something unspeakable.

STAG performs Thursday May 23rd, 8pm at the Spider House Ballroom with There’s Waldo and Danny Palumbo. Tickets here.