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moontower recap

Moontower Day Three: Mulaney's new material, riffing with Rory Scovel, a terrifying Freudian slip and more

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John Mulaney Photo by Jon Shapley
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Chelsea Peretti Photo by Jon Shapley
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Baron Vaughn Photo by Jon Shapley
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Photo by Jon Shapley
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Rachel Feinstein Photo by Jon Shapley
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With so much going on in Austin this week for the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival, it’s impossible to catch every single thing happening on stages across the city. CultureMap’s comedy correspondents will be recapping the fest daily, highlighting their favorite acts, unforgettable moments and more.

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Duncan Carson:

The biggest drawback to Moontower so far might be the scheduling. Unless you want to re-park or sprint to things, it's only practical to see two shows a night: One around 8, one around 10. The best spot to see the most comedy you can might be the Beale Street Tavern on Sixth Street, because The Parish is right above it. Last night, for example, a discerning comedy nerd could go upstairs and hang out at the Parish bar while hometown heroes Lucas Molandes and JR Brow opened for SNL's John Mulaney, and then stroll down the stairs to Beale Street to catch the end of the Austin Show, with Tom Rhodes hosting for some of the hottest acts in town.
 
Then, if you're the sort of comedy nerd that wanted to see Maria Bamford at the Scottish Rite Theatre but didn't realize that it was too far to walk (and you've had a drink or three), you could just decide to hang out for the rest of the night. Duncan Trussell's Show House brought Brendon Walsh, Moshe Kasher, Nikki Glaser, Marc Maron(!) and more for a racous Parish show, while Paul Varghese and Rory Scovel powered through long sets in the Double Header downstairs among the Beale's Elvis memorabilia. The only thing wrong with this awesome comedy duplex is whatever state alcohol law prevents you from taking your drink back and forth with you (the employees and volunteers seemed weary of explaining this).
 
John Mulaney, by the way, elicited several inarticulately envious comments from other comics by opening his headlining set with fifteen minutes of killer material about what he had DONE THAT DAY. From being terrorized by the local wildlife at Torchy's Tacos ("What are they called again? A grackle? That's no sort of bird name! That sounds like something from Game of Thrones.") to making a tour of Friday Night Lights shooting locations, Mulaney elicited applause breaks and won the crowd immediately before even coming close to material that was included in his recent Comedy Central special, New in Town. What an asshole.

Brendan K. O’Grady:

An exceptionally difficult to pin down performer, the stage persona of Rory Scovel is as inexplicable as it is hilarious. His is the type of front that obfuscates a comic’s normal personality just enough to allow the uninitiated begin to mistake him for an honest-to-goodness crank, while still showing regular flashes of a sweet, genial disposition that normally defines the South Carolina native. Luckily for the modest crowd that filled up the tiny Beale Street Tavern, for the late Double Header with Paul Varghese, by the end of his forty-plus minute set there was no one in the audience left outside of Scovel’s fold.

Leaning heavily on the improvisational elements that fleshed out the best bits from his 2011 album, Dilation, Scovel spent most of his time last night on fresh subjects, riffing endlessly through imagined the offenses to his “delicate” sensibilities presented by such fiends as festival-sponsored product-placement (IE, the bottle of water that he just wanted to pause to sip from) or a particularly strange type of sex toy, which could only necessitate some sort of “basement beneath a basement, acrypt”, to house.

It’s a testament to Scovel’s incredible skill that he could mine such subjects for minutes on end without seemingly saying much of anything and have the crowd laughing in rapturous bewilderment the entire time. If his forthcoming Comedy Central half-hour continues to build the buzz around Scovel as one of the best comedians working today, he might never play to such a small festival room again…

Ralphie Hardesty:

Whenever the ND has a show that needs the audience sitting in chairs, they set up 100 or so very comfortable lawn chairs with arm rests and drink holders. It looks horrible, but you could sit there for hours and hours and be happy. The Moontower shows at the ND make the place look absolutely fantastic, but at the cost of that shabby, Austiny backyard comfort. All of this is to say, the chairs at last night's She Bang show made my ass hurt. But! What a wonderful show! You could tell the festival was excited for this one because the organizers were there watching and talking to the comics after the show. 

Chelsea Peretti is a genius. You already know how I feel about Jackie Kashian and Maria Bamford. Erin Foley is my new favorite. Award for scariest Freudian slip goes to last night's excellent host and lone boy Sean Patton who, when setting up a joke trying to say "raise your kids," accidentally (so he says) said "rape your kids." Then he made apologizing for a joke funny. Guys, we're so lucky.
 
 
Writer / stand-up / generally excellent person John Mulaney kicked off the first of two nights headlining The Parish (with the help of Lucas Molandes and JR Brow), and to say the show was transcendent doesn't quite do it justice. As Duncan mentions above,  the crowd was treated to at least 15 minutes of FNL-related and Austin-centric material at the top of his set that was clearly brand new, and possibly even partially riffed, and of course seriously solid. Even though it's a long shot, I'm keeping my fingers crossed I'll get a chance to hear one of my favorite jokes of all time ("The best meal I ever had," click that link right now please), at tonight's 7:45 p.m. show.
 

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