The Out of Bounds Comedy Festival is back for a 12th year of laughs, with its largest collection of headlining talents to date. Running August 27- September 2, this festival is a community-driven event committed to shining a spotlight on local and national talent.
Although the festival has grown considerably over a decade, it hasn’t become too big for its britches. You can catch a show at the big theaters like Long Center or Stateside at the Paramount, or you can sit with a few dozen people in the more intimate settings of the Institution Theater or Austin Java.
Out of Bounds embraces a diverse selection of comedy — including sketch, improv and stand-up — with a bit of music thrown in. With that much variety, you're bound to find something to tickle your funny bone.
You could throw some darts at a copy of the schedule to make your decisions, or buy a festival pass to keep your options open. If you need some help, here are our top picks:
The Professor: Improv Inspired by Doctor Who
Wednesday, August 28, 8 pm / The Hideout Downstairs
A good way to start off is with a comedic celebration of the biggest cult TV series in history. The Professor: Improv Inspired by Doctor Who draws inspiration from 50 years of the popular BBC sci-fi series. It might be best described as a funny love letter to Doctor Who, complete with robots built from household junk.
Roast of Alamo Drafthouse's Tim League
Thursday, August 29, 10 pm / Stateside at the Paramount
Out of Bounds offers up a night of celebrity roasting. Austin entertainment mogul Tim League bears the brunt of comedians taking issue with his anti-texting stance and constantly changing Alamo Drafthouse menu.
Friday, August 30, 8:30 pm / The Long Center
If sketch comedy is more your thing, Out of Bounds features some of Austin’s best and brightest, including STAG Comedy and Your Terrific Neighbors. Also, make sure to learn some (made-up) facts at the TEDtalk-inspired ZEDtalks.
Friday, August 30, 9:30 pm / Stateside at the Paramount
Want something a little more musical? Our choice is the Austin-based original dirty rapper and X-rated parodist Blowfly, the alter ego of Clarence Reid. His dirty spoofs of classic tunes could embarrass the surliest of sailors, but his funky grooves and outlandish dress always draws you back in.
Sure Thing Comedy
Saturday, August 31, 8 pm / Austin Java (12th Street and Lamar)
If you want to catch as many stand-up acts as possible in one place, you can’t do any better than at a special festival episode of Sure Thing Comedy during which hosts Duncan Carson and Brendan K. O’Grady hand over the stage to a slew of local talents. Want more stand-up? The Hideout Theatre hosts several evenings of Improvised Stand-up, starring some brave comedians attempting to find the funny in random topics given to them onstage.
Baby Wants Candy
Monday, September 2, 8 pm / Stateside at the Paramount
If musicals are more your style, the cast of Baby Wants Candy happily obliges with some show tunes — except they have no idea of what they will perform. That’s because every song is made up right there in the moment onstage. They take suggestions from the audience for the title of a show and then perform improvised rhyming verses, well-timed comedy and choreographed dance numbers.
In addition to their one-time-only performance, Baby Wants Candy takes part in the Out of Bounds tradition of “The Lottery,” where a few lucky members of the audience get thrust onstage to star in the last show of the week. Whether they have experience in musical theater or none at all, the results should be hilarious.
Funniest Person in Austin
Out of Bounds features the last two comics to hold the title of Funniest Person in Austin. On several nights across town, last year’s winner, Ramin Nazer, shows off his comedic chops. Current champ Mac Blake proves he still is the worthy holder of the crown.