Excused Absence Youth Comedy Festival!

Nate-Sowell-optNathan Sowell is a faculty member of ColdTowne Theater and has been performing comedy for the last 10 years all over the US. He is a recipient of a B. Iden Payne award for Best Improv Ensemble and winner of Best Coach of ColdTowne 2016. He has worked with Austin youth over the last 5 years and is a proud instructor for Excused Absence Youth Comedy.

What is the Excused Absence Youth Comedy Festival about?

ExAb Fest is a three day comedy festival meant to provide a platform for young comedians in central Texas. We have pulled together some of the best performers and teachers of comedy that Austin has to offer and put then in one place. We also filled our schedule with some extremely talented youth comedians and our hope is to foster a sense of community for aspiring comedians. This Festival is all about finding other young comedians that share your same comic sensibilities and learning together from the best of the best.

What are you most excited about during the festival?

This is a very hard question. We have so many great group with completely different types of acts that will be playing. I am definitely looking forward to seeing Bilbo Swaggins, a group of 10-12 year olds who have been performing together since the beginning of the year. They perform one of my favorite improv formats, a Screw Puppy, which was created in Chicago at The Annoyance Theater. I am also looking forward to The Back Pack’s silent sketch show, and the Alamo Drew House that will be serving food from In N Out during their performance!

For more information about the Excused Absence Youth Festival go to https://excusedabsencecomedyfest.com/

Live at ColdTowne 7th Anniversary

Your favorite standup comedy show, Live at ColdTowne, is celebrating its 7th anniversary with a Lucky 7 show on 7-7-17. ColdTowne has been the shows home since birth, so we’re pretty proud to help throw this party. We talked to the show’s amazingly talented host, Carina Magyar, who is also celebrating 7 years as an Austin standup. The whole event is perfect timing.

19114057_10213351853339476_5871513082504877850_n.jpg-oh=0335581c561ce9acc04873a5bcb08c34&oe=59C9A9BDMagyar has seen the Austin comedy scene grow almost as rapidly as the city’s population. She says Live at ColdTowne is a great show for oddballs and drop-ins. “Just last week we had Matt Ingebretson (Comedy Central) and Nick Rutherford (SNL). Every week, there’s a small but real chance that a big-time comedian will show up and do a set in an intimate venue,” Magyar says.

The anniversary is particularly special, as many Austin-based comics who’ve performed at “Live” over the years have since taken their acts to bigger stages across the U.S.

“It’s a great place for a performer to feel their material is alive, to encounter new responses to it,” Magyar said of the ColdTowne stage, which lives underneath the second floor of I Luv Video. “The audiences are always engaged because of the nature of the room and the beauty of our time slot.”

18835605_1364182306991816_8625556161600311567_n.jpg-oh=8067f98c91df98136f322c1af577f14b&oe=5A11F13918447376_10158638995305075_6411762103374165823_n.jpg-oh=df5bedf93c7ff68393336b35c469ddd9&oe=59D7C8FBOn July 7, the show will feature comics who are all 27 years of age including Austin comic, Allen Butt and singer/songwriter, Arielle LaGuette.

Celebrate the birth of our baby, Live at ColdTowne. Friday, July 7. ColdTowne Theater. 10 p.m.

ColdTowne Theater Summer Improv Intensives, July 7, July 28 and August 19

Are you ready?

Get ready for immersion in the principles and training methods that make ColdTowne the home of the next big thing.  After eleven+ years helping performers hone their craft and realize their potential, we’ve built a national r12045718_962224210466930_968500777405351776_o copy (1)eputation for training the best and brightest long-form, improv comedy talent. Soak it all up in our weekend intensives this Summer!

What should students expect?

In the mornings, we’ll focus on the acting skills we believe reliably create quality scene work: deep listening, honesty, character-driven relationships. In the afternoons, we’ll hone our comedy skills, working on games and heightening, as well as explore organic forms that encourage fast thinking and unconditional support of our ensemble.

Who are the instructors?

The intensives will be taught by a cross-section of our seasoned, award-winning faculty. Class enrollment will be limited to maximize individual instruction and stage time.  Each intensive will conclude with a final class performance.

Social stuff? Yes’m!

All students will receive a free pass to all shows during their intensive enrollment and are encouraged to hang with the other students and performers at the theater.

Smaller CTIs it for me?

Whether you’re relatively new to the game, or looking to brush up on years of experience, you’ll walk away with new tools for your tool belt, a sharpened comedic sense and fun memories to spare.

We’ve built a national reputation for training the best and brightest improvisers in the South and our Summer intensives provide a great opportunity to hang in Austin, swim in Barton Springs and uplevel your improv skills by learning the ColdTowne approach.  A minimum of one year of performance or training experience is required, and graduates of other programs are welcome.

How much does it cost?


Ready to sign up? Pick your session!

July 7

July 28


Contact John Ratliff.

Join us for Austin Sketch Fest, May 22-28 at ColdTowne and Spiderhouse Ballroom

So, you’ve got your Austin Sketch Fest All-Fest Access Badge and you’re trying to figure out which all-star comedy shows to see. You’re thinking, I have an all-fest pass so I can see them all! Not true, dumb dumb! Austin Sketch Fest is pulling out all the stops this year by doing something they’ve never done before — holding the festival in TWO venues at the same time. I’m pretty sure that makes ASF the BIGGEST Sketch Comedy Festival in the entire world, much less Austin, Texas . . . right?

Festival headliners this year are James Adomian (Comedy Bang! Bang!, Trump vs. Bernie) and Reductress LIVE! featuring Taryn Englehart and Jasmine Pierce, so those are a given. Both shows have an amazing lineup of opening sketch and standup acts.

Here are eight more shows that you don’t want to miss. Eight because it’s the 8th Annual Austin Sketch Fest, see?

  1. Monday, 5/22 — I Didn’t See You There: The Show of One-Person Shows. Oh hello, I didn’t see you there! This solo sketch show is curated by local king of comedy, Mac Blake, and features monologues from comedy vets and rising stars. The ASF classic is always weird and hilarious.
  1.  Tuesday, 5/23 — Shelby Quinn and Reilly Willson are Jim & Melissa,and that’s already hilarious. Watching this Chicago-based sketch comedy duo is like watching a throwback to Vaudeville with edgy commentary and over-the-top performances. They’re kicking off the night with Maria Pond (Loverboy) in Someone Has To and Sketch Fest favorites Your Terrific Neighbors.
  1. Wednesday, 5/24 — The Back Pack. A couple of years ago, Katie Kohler, Pete Betcher, Justin Morley, and Jeremiah Rosenberger graced Austin with their presence all the way from Montana. With their unique style of hushed comedy, dance, and clowning, they’ve gone on to create their own performance space in East Austin and have been recognized by the B. Iden Payne Awards Council for their excellence. This speechless sketch show will make you LOL. The slot is headlined by Haymaker from LA’s Pack Theater.
  1. Thursday, 5/25 — UCB Characters Welcome. This solo sketch showcase from Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre NY features writers from Above Average, TruTV, Comedy Central, Adult Swim, and more. You’ll be quoting its quips for years to come.
  1. Friday, 5/26 — Los Angeles sketch powerhouse Tantrum is paired up with ColdTowne Theater’s senior sketch troupe Pendulum. Two UMs for the price of one! Tantrum is a house team at the Pack Theater in LA, and its members have trained at UCB, iO, Second City, and the Groundlings. Sounds like a Voltron of comic genius to me.
  1. Saturday, 5/27 — This Is (NOT) the Gayest Show You’ll Ever See is fresh off of a sold-out run at ColdTowne Theater. You don’t have to be gay to see the dead-on satire in this biting revue, but it may (or may not) help.
  1.  Saturday, 5/27 — Definition of Knowledge. You’re already planning to see James Adomian headline, but this show is so stacked it’s worth mentioning again. Definition of Knowledge is probably the most unique act in the festival because they’re a slam poetry duo that doesn’t do comedy. Just kidding, it’s straight up comedy. Plus stand-up from Austin favorite Vanessa Gonzalez and the winner of VidTowne’s May Video Challenge. Hey, this isn’t a film festival! How’d that get in there? It’s funny, that’s how!
  1. Sunday, 5/28 — Master Pancake Theater. This audience favorite always closes out the festival with night of butt-gusting laughs. And a little birdie told me that James Adomian will be guesting with John Erler and the panel of Austin’s Funniest. (The birdie was James Adomian. [Cool bird!])

For more info and tickets, visit www.atxsketchfest.com.

Will Cleveland, Artistic Director, ColdTowne Theater


La Frontera Finál: Latinx in Space

Latinauts: La Frontera Finál is ColdTowne’s newest MainStage show. Set aboard the L.S.S. Edward James Olmos, the crew explores new worlds, seeks out new resources for their home planet Earth, and passionately goes where no Latinx has gone before. Carlos LaRotta and Lilli Lopez (co-producers) and Ben Bazan (co-director, alongside Mical Trejo) got together to discuss the show amongst themselves, their background and the genesis of the show in this chat. 

Where are we all from? And where is your family originally from?

Carlos LaRotta, Co-Producer. Photo by Steve Rogers

Carlos LaRotta, Co-Producer

CARLOS: I’m from Houston, Texas. I’m a first gen dude. My family is originally from Colombia, South America.

LILLI: I’m from Edinburg, Texas. A lot of my family is from Mexico, specifically Monterrey. My mom’s parents were first generation Texans.

BEN: I’m a sixth generation Texan from Garciasville, Texas. My grandparents and great-grandparents were from Mexico.

What do telenovelas mean to you?

C: Telenovelas make me think of my abuelita in Colombia. She, and later with her nurses, would always watch telenovelas in her little house in Bogota. They were Mexican telenovelas. If you know your geography, Mexico and Colombia are pretty far apart. But still, Colombians consume and enjoy a lot of Mexican culture – from food and music to television. However Colombians will always claim to speak better, more eloquent Spanish. Colombians, whaddya gonna do?

Kate del Castillo from la Reina del Sur.

Kate del Castillo from la Reina del Sur.

L: Telenovelas make me think of when I was really small and our babysitters would have novelas on. I remember watching the telenovela Luz Clarita, and thinking the little girl was so cute and wanting to know what she was saying. A few years ago I got really into watching La Reina del Sur with my mom on Netflix, and again, I remember thinking “I wish I could watch this without subtitles.” Soy pocha.

B: Telenovelas remind me of the times when I got stuck having to watch them with my mom, sister, and aunt. Mari Mar was one of their favorites. It also reminds me how passionate and dramatic we can be.

Ben Bazan, Co-Director

Ben Bazan, Co-Director

What are your thoughts on the two genres becoming one for your show?

C: I know from when we first started talking about this idea of mashing a sci-fi show with a telenovela, some of the cast didn’t feel too strong about their sci-fi knowledge, which worked for me because I didn’t know much about telenovelas. If I’m honest, I’m not a huge sci-fi buff either. I don’t know what I’m doing here!

Edward James Olmos, from Battlestar Galactica.

Edward James Olmos, from Battlestar Galactica.

L: I was a little worried leading up to our run that not knowing much about sci-fi was gonna be difficult for me, and some of the others on the team who weren’t into sci-fi specifically, perhaps creating some roadblocks. But that hasn’t been the case, because we work great as a team to create the space around us and understand it for the show. And we made it a goal for the show to focus on relationships and that very much informs how the show is laid out. And it reminds me of just being around a bunch of people who understand me. I feel very confident that everyone is gonna support me, and that scenes we do together are informed from the common cultural background that we all share.

Why is it so weird to see a crew of Latinos in space? What does that say about the people of Latin American and the way they’re treated in history or technological fields, or how they have been portrayed in film and tv?

CARLOS: When Dave Buckman asked us to think of a concept that doesn’t put latino/as in a stereotypical setting, the first thing I thought of was “Latinos in Space!” – which, you know, made me laugh a lil bit. Adding “in space!” to anything is already kinda fun in a cheesy way. But for some reason it was weirder because astronauts and other space-faring sorts are typically caucasian folks in real life (big ups to the Chinese Space Program) and in fiction. And while it’s humorous to me, the fact that it’s a stretch kinda bothered me. Will I or my children ever see a mostly POC space crew in real life? Probably not, right? And that’s when the idea started getting really exciting: Fuck it, we’ll see it on the ColdTowne Stage.

How did we start planning and how did the cast get chosen?

Lilli Lopez, Co-Producer

Lilli Lopez, Co-Producer

Lilli: Okay so that takes us a little back in history. There was an all female Latina troupe called Prima Donas and at some point they asked the latinos in the scene to join together and we had our first show at Say It Loud! Produced by Ryan D.

We were invited to play where all the performers of the night were POC. I submitted us for the upcoming ColdTowne schedule, then Dave asked me if we were interested in a run. NO DOI!

That’s when Carlos messaged me with the “Latinos in Space” idea and I loved it! I really wanted it to be like a telenovela as a nod to our roots. Also, I really wanted the opportunity to get *~dramatic~*.

The cast was chosen from the original Prima Donas lineup and then we added another couple of ladies and now we are here living our best lives.

What do you hope the show will accomplish?

C: Me personally, I hope that more young latino funny people will see the show and see us up there and think, “Yeah, there’s room for me too.”

L: I agree with that, I grew up watching and listening to white actors and artists. I never 100% related to any of my available “role models.” I think that makes confidence and self-love hard. I want to see more America Ferreras and Gina Rodriguez’s on TV. If someone sees themselves in a character at a local improv show, that could be the beginning.

B: I hope it inspires and encourages other Latinx artists to continue to push the boundaries and tell stories that usually don’t get told on stage.

The cast of La Frontera  Finál

The cast of La Frontera Finál


C: I sincerely believe this cast is full of the funniest improv/sketch folks performing in Austin who at the same time are Latinx –  and that was important to me from the get-go. Sure, we all had to be brown, but we also all had to be funny and talented improvisers. Growing up, I always saw Latinxs being portrayed so cartoonishly – slurring, farty, horny, sleepy characters – or they were violent drug dealers. Or one dimensional Latin lovers. That’s about it. But dammit, we’re capable of everything under the sun – from being hilarious comedic actors to working for NASA to just being regular old people with hopes and dreams and Old Navy giftcards we don’t care about.

And I want you to see all of that. But I gotta admit, I’m most concerned with you seeing how funny we are. (It’s a lot.)

Experience new frontiers in comedy with Latinauts: la Frontera Final every Saturday at 8:30pm through May 6th. Advanced tickets highly recommended due to show popularity.