It may seem that Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival is all about the big name comedians commanding the spotlight, but if you look past the SNL cast members and Comedy Central darlings, you’ll find the comedians keeping Austin funny.
The Austin Show is a nightly showcase with a very simple premise: See some Austin-based comics that have already made a name for themselves in local clubs and are on their way to wider recognition.
Each night of the next two Austin Shows features a reshuffled roster of Austin comics, but Thursday’s lineup was solid. That’s not just because they were all funny, but because of the diversity of comedic styles represented as each took the tiny stage in the Parish Underground.
First, out-of-towner James Adomian should receive props for his fine job hosting the showcase and segueing from one performer to the next. Adomian used his time on stage to show off his own material, and despite having made a name for his celebrity impersonations, he proved that he doesn’t rely on them for a stand-up set.
Adomian won’t host the next two Austin Shows, but take a chance to catch him in his other Moontower shows. Maybe some of you lucky wrestling fans can catch him performing his closeted Jesse Ventura as he growls out, “Hold me, Gorilla Monsoon.”
The first Austin comedian to step up was writer and filmmaker Kerri Lendo. You may remember her from such Moontower shows as Inside Joke, the official online recap show featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with some of the talent visiting Austin this week. (Which you can catch on CultureMap.)
The undertones of nerdy, awkward charm projected in Inside Joke are fully unleashed in Lendo’s stand-up, leaping right off the pages of Etsy and discussing cat videos, performing in San Angelo and dating when you’re 30. She doesn’t shy away from more colorful humor when recounting a trip to a porta-potty on a first date that went slightly awry.
Local comedy heavy-hitter Chris Cubas then took the stage with plenty of excitement from the audience. Cubas not only established himself as one of the most well known Austin-based comics in clubs around town, he's been a staple at other festivals including SXSW, Fun Fun Fun Fest and the Altercation Punk Comedy Tour. Cubas mixes self-deprecation, observations on current events and even his love of Austin into sets.
He explained his political apathy due to all of the effort it takes to change your Facebook profile picture in support of a cause. Moving to Austin from New York has helped jumpstart his career; here’s hoping he soon gains more recognition outside of the state.
Running through the rest of the lineup, which included performances by Ralph Hardesty, Bryan Guttman, Matt Willis, Jake Flores and Michael Priest, it becomes apparent that many of these local comedians share a similar background with other Austin artists, especially musicians. Namely, a lot of these folks are transplants, who relocated to the ATX in the past several years.
Comedian Kerri Lendo offered her own thoughts about comedians migrating to Austin and building themselves up in the local comedy scene. Lendo made her way from Pennsylvania to Austin and has witnessed how the comedy scene has grown into a destination for many comics, thanks to local comedy clubs fostering Austin’s comedy scene.
“I feel that having Cap City, which has been around forever, and Velveeta Room, which has a totally different vibe, has just kind of helped [the comedy scene] slowly grow, and as it grew, the industry knows this... SXSW, and now Moontower. There’re comics at Fun Fun Fun Fest. It just keeps on giving more and more opportunities here.”
Show our local comics some love during Moontower at the Austin Show, playing Friday and Saturday nights at the Hideout. They’ll keep doing what they love, and Austin gets stays funny. It’s a win-win for everybody.