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Navigating Out of Bounds

Our picks for the best local and out-of-town talent at Out of Bounds Comedy Festival

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Jon Gnarr comedian Iceland
Jon Gnarr, a comedian and former politician, is hands down one of the best highlights of this year's Out of Bounds Comedy Festival. Courtesy photo
Jimmy Carrane of Improv Nerd podcast
Jimmy Carrane, an improv teacher hailing from Chicago, interviews and performs with comedians for his podcast series, Improv Nerd. Photo courtesy of jimmycarrane.com
improv troupe comedy Fuck It's Hot from institution theater
Fuck It's Hot! is a local improv comedy troupe that celebrates the best and worst of living in Austin, Texas. Photo courtesy of Out of Bounds Comedy Festival
Jon Gnarr comedian Iceland
Jimmy Carrane of Improv Nerd podcast
improv troupe comedy Fuck It's Hot from institution theater

Out of Bounds Comedy Festival is our first reminder that festival season is upon us. It’s also one of the city’s most expansive comedy events, with more than 500 performers appearing in 130 shows across Austin from August 26 – September 1.

That’s a lot of funny people to navigate, but we’re here to help you sift through the can’t-miss acts that feature local talent, non-Austin comedians and international performers. Even if you don't have a badge, you can still take part since most shows offer individual tickets for as low as $10.

ATX Comedians
Comics that call Austin city home make up the bulk of the Out of Bounds lineup, and you’re guaranteed to see some fantastic talent during the fest.

If you’re looking for improv, Austin boasts a wide array of troupes that take weird to the next level. Live Nude Improv, composed of members from the Hideout Theatre, push the boundaries of comedy while showing some extra skin.

And they're not the only troupe with tricks up their sleeve. The members of Boy Band improvise a contentious behind-the-scenes story of a fictional early-2000s boy band, capping off each show with a live, choreographed dance routine and improvised song lyrics.

Austin sketch comedy groups will also be represented by the always funny STAG Comedy and Your Terrific Neighbors. But keep an eye out for Fuck, It’s Hot! As their name suggests, this group from the Institution Theater celebrates and skewers everything we love to hate about living in Austin, whether it’s food, record temperatures or urban sprawl.

Triple Threat is an energetic competition that pushes two-person teams to perform improv, sketch and stand-up and the team left standing has to perform a secret comedy challenge. Hosted by local comics Chris Sebilia, Tre Fuentes and David Jara, Triple Threat will feature several of the festival’s visiting performers, too.

Non-Austin Performers
At the top of the list is, without a doubt, the writing team behind Comedy Central’s hit sketch series Key & Peele. Not only will this Peabody Award-winning team take part in an engaging Q&A, they will show off their backgrounds in improv with an off-the-cuff showcase of their talents.

What kind of comedy festival would it be if there wasn’t a live podcast recording? Improv Nerd features Jimmy Carrane, an improv teacher from Chicago who interviews and performs with icons of improv on each of his episodes. At Out of Bounds, Carrane will be hosting four separate show with Lauren Lapkus, Paul Brittain, Todd Stashwick and Tom Booker.

And for some extra star power, catch a special stand-up performance by Mo Collins. If the name isn’t familiar, the face certainly will be, as Collins has appeared in numerous hit television comedies since her start on MADtv. Having appeared on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, Californication and Parks and Recreation, it will be a special treat to see her perform her own material live.

International Comedy Superstars
Finally, Out of Bounds does an amazing job of curating talented comedians from abroad.

The most fascinating performer you will see this week is Jon Gnarr. An actor and comedian hailing from Iceland, Gnarr surprised many when he was elected mayor of Reykjavík in 2010 after creating his own political party called, simply, Best Party. During his campaign, he vowed to never form a coalition government with anyone who hasn't watched HBO’s The Wire.

You’ll have two opportunities to catch Gnarr this week; first, as a guest monologist for All-Star Stool Pigeon on Saturday, August 30 and then at his headlining stand-up performance at Stateside on Sunday, August 31.

You can also get a taste of international improv with the Australian troupe Bear Attack, the Parisian Gentlemen of Paris (a group who uses physicality to overcome language barriers), and the International Improv Experience, a show with improvisers from South Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.

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