Beyond the usual mix of open mics and festivals, Austin's comedy scene continues to grow with the debut of our very own record label, Sure Thing Records.
Created by local comedians Brendan K. O’Grady and Duncan Carson, the new recording and production label stems from the success the duo has found with their weekly free comedy show at Austin Java: Sure Thing. (When the show debuted in 2012, it was known as The Laugh Lounge, before being renamed in 2013.)
“[The record label] is something that came up only well after the show become pretty well-established,” co-founder O’Grady tells CultureMap. “Back in the fall of 2012, there were some weeks where we really didn't know if anybody was going to show up at all, and if that had happened, we'd probably have just shut it down. We definitely didn't have any eyes looking too far into the distant future.”
Through word of mouth, the crowds kept growing. When fans started asking about Sure Thing merchandise, the two hosts figured that they should find a way for their willing audience to support local comedy. “The label is definitely a result of the show growing organically. I think we only started really kicking around the idea in January or so,” says O’Grady.
“That said, I've secretly wanted to run a DIY punk rock record label since I was 15 years old,” adds O’Grady, “so this is definitely kind of a dream come true for me — a dream that will surely bankrupt us and destroy our reputations in a matter of months!”
And that DIY punk spirit goes hand in hand with a similar ethos found in stand-up comedy. “I think that so much of stand-up is about being a self-starter, and unlike sketch and improv, it's the one type of comedy where you can really choose to go all ‘lone wolf’ and sort of do everything on your own if you really want to," O'Grady muses.
“Some great local Austin comics like Ramin Nazer and Brian Gaar have self-produced and released records in recent years, and they've done really, really well for themselves, which is awesome. But there's definitely a financial reality that makes doing that kind of project on your own pretty intimidating, so working together with multiple people helps spread the burden of that investment out,” he explains.
So far, O’Grady and Carson have announced three upcoming albums. The first will be a compilation album recorded live at the Sure Thing showcase on June 14 and will be available to purchase in August. Following that will be the debut album of the 2013 “Funniest Person in Austin” Mac Blake later this year, along with another debut album for Austin comedian Bryan Gutmann slated for spring 2015.
Blake’s album will be available on CD or digitally through iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, while Gutmann’s will likely be a digital-only release. And O’Grady adds that non-Austin comedians will be part of the fun, with Josh Johnson of Dallas and Joe Cardosi of New Orleans appearing on the compilation album.
For now, the independent comedy label is preparing for the production of three albums during their inaugural year. As for what's in store afterwards, O'Grady says, “If things go well after that, who knows?”