ColdTowne Announces New Rehearsal Spaces For Rent

Since the founding of ColdTowne Theater in 2006, Austin’s alternative-comedy scene has exploded into national prominence. That means a lot more shows, which means a lot more rehearsal space. (Yes, improv is made up on the spot, but improvisers still need to practice to keep sharp.)

To help meet this growing demand, ColdTowne has secured a lease on a new multi-room space targeted at improvisers, sketch performers, and comedy writers, but also the larger live-performance community. Centrally located at the intersection of North Lamar and Airport Blvd., ColdTowne Conservatory will serve as an annex to the main theater but will also be available for rental by the public. The original ColdTowne Theater will remain available for rental during off-hours.

The Conservatory is divided into three subspaces: the Front Room (16′ x 19′), the Back Room (17′ x 18′), and the Writers’ Room (10′ x 12′). The hourly rental rate is $15 during peak hours and $10 during off-hours.
ColdTowne has needed auxiliary space for some time, a happy problem caused by its success as a theater (live comedy seven nights a week) and a school (hundreds of students in improv and sketch classes). The Conservatory will allow the theater to expand the range of its classes while serving as a larger community resource.

For details about the space or questions about reservations, go to or call ColdTowne general manager Katie Moore at 512-814-TOWN.

Know Your Troupe: Patio Talk

Thursdays in June, PATIO TALK presents BettyFest featuring an all female lineup of talented performers. Each week will showcase a different opening improv troupe and will be hosted by one of Austin’s finest stand up comedians. The first three shows sold out early so be sure to pick up your tickets for the final show on Thursday, June 26. In this edition of Know Your Troupe we sit down with Kasey Borger, Juliet Prather, Chrissy Shackelford, and Amy Wright of Patio Talk. Formed in the winter of 2013, Patio Talk mixes character and relationship work with high energy fast play.

How did you get your start in improv?

Chrissy Shackelford

Chrissy Shackelford

Chrissy: I’ve been performing improv for a little over two years now. I started during my senior year of college on a whim when I decided to take an improv/sketch intensive at The Second City Chicago. I was sitting at Mozart’s coffee shop studying for finals and just wanted some sort of spontaneity in my life, I was an acting focus in the Theatre & Dance department at UT and was feeling a bit jaded with it and wanted to find the joy in why I loved performing and entertaining people again, so I reserved the last spot in an SC winter intensive starting a week later and booked a flight to Chicago. Since then I’ve never stopped.

Kasey Borger

Kasey Borger

Kasey: I’ve been performing improv for a year. I had always wanted to do something with comedy but never really felt like I had a way to do that, other than stand up. Not that stand up isn’t cool, I just don’t have the balls to do it. A friend of mine suggested I do improv and I said “What’s that?” Once I finally signed up and started, I was hooked. In a level two class showcase the instructor said “Your job in this show is to make the other people on stage look like they are the funniest person in the world.” I loved that idea so much and wanted more.

Juliet Prather

Juliet Prather

Juliet: I’ve been doing the improv for about a year and a half. My journey with it started when I saw a show at UCB in New York that made me feel like there were people in this world that thought like me, except funnier and faster. Within probably 30 seconds, I knew I wanted to be a part it. I signed up officially probably 8 months later because improv is really scary. I love it, though, and I’m grateful everyday that we’re together.

Amy Wright

Amy Wright

Amy: I’ve been doing improv for about a year. I was first introduced to it through an acting program I did in Chicago while I was in high school and I totally fell in love. But it also took me a while to sign up, a couple years actually. I was scared and shy and just being a turkey about the whole thing. Then I met Juliet and we became friends and she was so head over heels in love with improv and she basically spent an entire summer convincing me to sign up for classes – I think she might be my Fairy Godmother. I can’t imagine my life without improv and all the people I’ve met through it.

How did Patio Talk come together?

Kasey: Other than Amy and Juliet, we all met at the theater. I think we became involved in projects together, saw each other play, and realized we all had the same very specific type of humor. We just wanted to collaborate and do something fun together and the cagematch is the perfect place for that. We were originally just going to do the cagematch but we had so much fun we wanted to do more! Our name is derived from the format we all came up with together — just a coupla broads talkin’ and drinkin’ on a patio.

Chrissy: I feel like my involvement came from Kasey and I just really wanting to get brunch together.

Juliet: In all honesty I just had a big girl crush on all of them at one point or another and made the decision to pursue. Geez they are all so funny.

Amy: I feel like we all sort of collected each other, like we scouted out the people who we wanted to play with the most.

Was it deliberate to form an all-female troupe?

Kasey: No, it was not deliberate.

Chrissy: We all liked how the others played and valued each others’ talents first. I think it was a secondary coincidental thing that we all happened to be female.

What spurred you all to create BettyFest?

BettyFestKasey: After a CageMatch show where Patio Talk played Control Match, someone approached us and said that the energy in the theater was different that night with all females playing. And it’s true. Not better, just different. We got to thinking about how many nights a week tend to be dominated by all male troupes, and we realized that we wanted to bring that different energy to the theater.

It also spurred from just wanting to showcase the amazing pool of talented women in the community. We talked about our biggest influences, or shows that kind of changed how we saw improv. For a lot of us it was seeing a woman (Erika May McNichol) on stage who didn’t stick to playing traditional female characters but who also didn’t shy away from it if the scene called for that. She just played and was funny and also happened to be female. My classes have been all males except for myself since level two. I ended up playing a lot of feminine characters and kind of felt like, well, this is what I can and should add. But, watching a woman play who played with the boys but didn’t stick out just for being a woman was really inspirational to me. I guess we just wanted a whole night where we could showcase that.

How do you get pumped up for a show?

Chrissy: Our character transformations get pretty rambunctious and then without
fail we end up singing in the lobby or in the parking lot right before we go on.

Kasey: Yes! Character transformation is Patio Talk’s jam. If it weren’t weird do to improv warm ups on stage, I think that would be a highly entertaining thing to watch Patio Talk heighten characters so far and so quickly with only four people. We also just try to connect, talk about our day, and maybe share some funny anecdotes.

Juliet: Same thing as everyone else, as well as just talk with each other.

Amy: Personally, I always try to force us to sing. I don’t know, it just works for me.

Best thing that’s happened during a show? Worst?

Chrissy: Best — one of the most fun moments was probably a series of scenes from one of our earlier shows (might have been our first) that included a family having a terrible Christmas, finding out it was because their father was Santa and then deciding to go and reconcile with their estranged father by having to wait in line and sit on Santa’s lap at the mall just to talk to him. Everyone just had such a well defined character and then all the characters got on the same page to do this thing together but never dropped their character stuff. Worst — most recently, I got gum in my hair during a “Bridgeport Correctional Facility Short Form Impromptu Skit Players” show.

Kasey: Best — realizing during the first Patio Talk show that this is something special. We were a CageMatch troupe who just wanted to do a show together because, why not? After our first show, however, we all couldn’t wait to do it again. I know it’s cheesy but there is almost this magical element when we play together that can’t really be described. It’s incredibly freeing.Worst — I think that every bad moment in improv is self inflicted. Improv lends itself to such a wonderful, supportive community who has your back no matter what. When I feel the worst is when I am being too hard on myself or judging too harshly and thus not being supportive. Improv, above all, is about having fun. It’s the worst when you suck the fun out of it for yourself.

Is there an official troupe drink?

Chrissy: If you asked Juliet she would say a “Martreuse Goose with Raspberry Gin” which is not a real drink. She can’t pronounce Moscow Mule.

Kasey: Long island ice teas!

Juliet: Both of those answers are true!

Favorite band. Bonus points if you name a song.

Chrissy: Bright Eyes. I can name almost all Bright Eyes songs, particularly the I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning album. That was my introduction to Mr. Oberst. My aim screename was WeMustStare326. LAME!

Amy: I have a Neutral Milk Hotel tattoo. My aim screenname was FunkyMonkey3013, which is not a reference to a song at all but is also lame.

Kasey: I like Jenny Lewis, I like Bright Eyes, I like Miley Cyrus, I like almost all Pop Punk, I like musicals– What I’m really saying is: this is TOO HARD. Also my first screen name was akachickenlips. It was a joke my dad made. Comedy runs in my blood.

It there a Patio Talk theme song?

Chrissy: Yes! You may have seen it in our Facebook videos. It goes: Patio, Patio, Patio Talk. P-P-P-Patio Talk, Patio Talk. And it basically just repeats that.

Favorite moment in comedy. Ever?

Chrissy: I have lots of favorites for many different reasons but I’ll boil it down to characters. I love great comedians who are also great actors and just go head first into the premise and their characters. For starters, the Vitameatavegamin Girl bit in I Love Lucy, “The Audition” sketch from Mr. Show, Maya Rudolph’s SNL sketch “Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs,” Gilda Radner’s SNL Judy Miller Talk Show, Andy Daly in anything he does, Nathan Fielder, Tony Hale, the entire cast of Reno 911! Oh man, there’s so much more. I can’t keep going or else I won’t stop.

Amy: I like things that are so bad they’re good. See: The Room, Troll 2, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and Liz Lemon’s phone sex commercial on 30 Rock. For whatever reason, that really just kills me. I think maybe because its so hard to do on purpose, so you either have to be really dumb or really smart to pull it off? Also you know what, anything on 30 Rock. These are such vague answers and I’m cheating but I don’t care. I’m obsessed with 30 Rock, its all gold. Also Molly Shannon fucking falling on top of those metal fold-up chairs as Mary Catherine Gallagher, oh my god.

Kasey: I guess I love when funny things happen when someone isn’t trying to be funny. I love when anyone breaks on SNL, I love when people use funny voices in real life, and I especially love when someone is genuinely honest about something they shouldn’t be in a reality show.

Juliet: I honestly do not have an answer. I can say though that my favorite performers are those like Will Ferrel and Amy Poehler who mesh great, devoted, character work with a class clown-level of goofiness. They do whatever they can to make sure that the people they’re playing with have fun, and I love to watch that.

Patio Talk the TV show. Discuss.

Kasey: Broad City meets 30 Rock meets Parks and Rec meets SNL meets Law and Order SVU meets Friday Night Lights meets Transformers the TV show meets the “Californians” bit from SNL meets home videos from when we were kids.

Chrissy: …meets Gilmore Girls season 3 meets Ahh! Real Monsters meets Scandal meets Clueless the TV show meets the KXAN News at 9 meets that episode of Friends, “The One Where No One’s Ready” meets Project Runway meets Amazing Race meets The Jamie Kennedy X-periment.

Amy: …meets YouTube videos of people falling down meets Mad Men meets the opening credits to Game of Thrones meets MTV’s Next meets Say Yes to the Dress meets General Hospital.

Kasey: … meets Degrassi.

Juliet: Sounds like a pretty fucking good time to me.

What would you say to someone who has thought about taking classes, but hasn’t pulled the trigger yet?

Kasey: I know everyone says this, but it will change your life. It will humble you, it will teach you to be supportive, it will free you, but most of all, it will be fun.

Chrissy: If you take an improv class you will have more fun. Then you will start asking yourself in all situations, however miniscule or monotonous, how can I have more fun right now? And that is a way more invigorating way to live. And then all of a sudden you love getting your oil changed because you’ve found the fun in sitting in that waiting room with the 3 day old USA Today’s and the vending machine filled with Grape Crush.

Juliet: It’s great and you’re great so just do it already

Amy: You’re wasting time!! Just get drunk and put money down on it so you can’t back out, that worked for me. You’ll only regret that you didn’t do it sooner.

Besides Patio Talk, who should people check out at ColdTowne Theater?

Chrissy: I always, without fail, love watching the CageMatch at 10PM on Wednesdays. I think there is such fun and fearless improv happening every week in that slot. There is better than watching other people love and have fun with each other on stage. That energy is infectious and the Cagematch feels like a high school pep rally but a pep rally that you would actually want to go too. Same with The Graduation shows.

Kasey: Every show, every night. I know this is another question I am cheating on, but there is so much amazing improv going on and you really don’t know when you’re going to catch an amazing new troupe or be inspired by an established one. It’s so essential to watch people who have a better, or even just different, grasp on improv than you.

Amy: The Frank Mills, Saturdays at 10!!!! Also check out the stupid good sketch shows that are happening all the time — Wink Planet shouldn’t be missed, go listen to all the commercials they did for the Got Your Back podcast RIGHT NOW! And Off The Wall is doing two cool shows that I want to see. They did a sketch about Nazi hunters that I saw during The People’s Sketch Show that made me cry.

Juliet: Friday night is always fun. Movie Riot at 7pm is one of the most fun group of players you can get to see, and Bad Boys are always super solid at 8:30. Also, I just saw the Bridgeport show last Saturday and it was amazing. Everyone should see that while they have a chance to (Saturdays in June at 8:30).

Favorite thing about improv?

Chrissy: The human brain is weird. I like hearing how weird we all our when we just let ourselves have fun in the moment.

Kasey: I guess when I think about answering this question, I think about my favorite thing about learning improv. I love the idea of supporting unconditionally. Going out on stage and believing that anything that comes out of anyone’s mouth is correct is so incredibly freeing and fun. You can’t fail when you play with someone who supports unconditionally and especially when you do the same. I also love to see grown adults act like goofballs.

Amy: I like shouting and climbing on top of people and I like when other people shout and climb on top of me — I love giving and also feeling the support that something like that requires.

Juliet: You can’t be good at improv unless you support, listen, and ultimately make other people look good. I love that. It sort of forces you to be a better person.

Be sure to check out BettyFest, Thursday at 8:30pm in June. Come early to enjoy Long Island Iced Teas with headlining troupe Patio Talk, stay late to enjoy cheap beers in the parking lot with headlining troupe Patio Talk.

6/26 Hosted by: Caroline Bassett With: Casscade (Cat Drago, Sarah Marie Curry) – Get Tickets

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The Return of the Bridgeport Women’s Correctional Facility Players!

Bridgeport Correctional Facility Short Form Impromptu Skit Players return to Austin in June at ColdTowne Theater, combining competitive short-form improvisation, ladies wrestling and 70’s exploitation films into a single, vulgar comedy experience.

Inspired by Jack Hill’s Switchblade Sisters, cult television show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.o.W.) and old-school roller derby, Bridgeport is female prisoners from a north Texas incarceration unit performing short-form improvisation.

The troupe returns to Austin after an 8 year break, last playing at the Out of Bounds festival in 2006.

“The show is persona-based improvisation, with the actors developing and portraying characters from a women’s prison. The characters they develop are passionate about the art form and do their best to deliver a competitive short form show. We had a blast with this show back in 2006, when it was first staged and this run features some of the original players, along with new players and characters for this run” says director and producer, Erika May McNichol. “”We endeavor to be true to the sources of Switchblade Sisters and G.L.O.W., especially; the show is physical, raunchy and of questionable taste.””

The characters of Bridgeport are portrayed by Katie Thornton, Chrissy Shackleford, Kaci Beeler, Rachel Madorsky, Courtney Hopkin, Cortnie Jones, Lisa Jackson and Erika May McNichol.

Bridgeport Correctional Facility Short Form Impromptu Skit Players runs at 8:30pm every Saturday in June, beginning June 7th and running through June 28th at ColdTowne Theater.

Listen to an interview with Erika May.

Get Tickets:
June 7th
June 14th
June 21st
June 28th

Austin Sketch Fest is Nigh!

This is it! Our annual celebration of the Austin Sketch Comedy Scene returns over Memorial Day weekend, May 20th – 25th, and will feature two headlining shows from the amazing My Mans (featuring SNL’s Tim Robinson), perennial Austin Comedy festival favorites Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting, and the Nerdist Network’s Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction.

The 2014 Austin Sketch Fest will also feature sets from Ithmar Enriquez (whose web series was recently picked up to be produced by Key and Peele, alongside last year’s festival darlings Rabbit Rabbit (Chicago) and local favorites Stag Comedy and Master Pancake Theater. Stand ups Maggie Maye, Duncan Carson, Katie Pengra, and Brian Gaar will also be hosting and doing short sets.

The Austin Sketch Fest was founded in 2010 to showcase Austin’s exploding sketch comedy scene, and will include performances from Bad Example (TNM), Wink Planet (ColdTowne Theater), The Hustle Show (ColdTowne Theater) and more! The festival will take place at ColdTowne Theater (4803-B Airport Blvd), and at the Spider House Ballroom (2908 Fruth St.). Tickets and full line up for the festival can be found via or through!

Bot Party — Improv and Robots During Fusebox

Arthur Simone is an actor, artist and co-founder of Austin’s ColdTowne Theater. He graduated in Theatre from Oberlin College and studied improvisation at Chicago’s Improv Olympic. Notable live performances have included improv with a dog, Carla Goodman’s Failure: a Big Stupid Mess, Rubber Repertory’s Jubilee and his one-man show Dear Frailty, which earned him an award as Best Actor in Austin. As a film and television actor, he’s appeared in everything from Big Momma’s House 2 to Parkland. Arthur has been a sometime fixture on the annual East Austin Studio Tour and has been a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize.

Bot Party is an ongoing conversation between improviser Arthur Simone and social roboticist Heather Knight. Advances in robot technology have been traditionally limited to manufacturing or military applications, but new generations of interpersonal bots are being adapted for use in medicine, housekeeping and soccer. In this meeting of theatre and tech in a shared space, machines designed solely for utility can be re-purposed for a very human uselessness that approaches play.

We sat down with Arthur to discuss his latest project! Read more about it here.

One of the things you’re best known for is being the first person to improvise with a dog. What have you learned about improv doing this show? Have you been able to apply any of those lessons to your upcoming performance? Are you worried this is going to be your lasting contribution to the art form?
Most comedic improvisers know how to work a crowd, and performing Buddy Daddy (improv with beagle/dachshund Robin Goodfellow) took that to some interesting levels. I found that many people came expecting or hoping to see dog tricks or scenes about dogs, but that’s not what it was about. Anyone who’s ever met Robin knows he has no interest in any such thing, and that’s what made the show work. The dog was given every incentive to do whatever he felt like, whether it was lapping up water from his bowl, soliciting an audience member for a pet, following a strange smell or responding in the moment to an interesting sound.

Teaching Robin to roll over, play dead, beg or fetch was never in the cards, so I used it as a gift and ran with it. There are only so many jokes you can make about characters fetching things before you get bored with the same performers doing them, no matter how unfairly cute they are. What gave the audience such a baseline of empathy with Robin was his complete ability to live and react in the moment, which made my job easy. The more Robin didn’t want to play along with my scene, the better. But he had to visibly enjoy himself while denying those ‘trained’ responses, so it’s fortunate he has a tail that communicates waggin’ dog laughter. Cheese nibbles were my go-to.

What drew you to the idea of doing improv with robots? Where did the inspiration come from? Dogs are kind of useless. Some of them have real-life tasks like rescue, leading the blind, hunting or herding, but mostly they eat food and shed and need to be walked and some don’t do anything useful at all. So why do we keep those around? They’re useless! Robots too are kind of useless unless they have happen to have a use. Why would we build robots without uses?

I got inspired watching Heather Knight work stand-up comedy through her Nao robot, Data, a few years back. I sent her a link to a Buddy Daddy show and we started a conversation about what improvisation with a robot would look like. If you watch her TED talk, you’ll see that she created awesome feedback loops to help Data choose his next joke. She was teaching a bot to work a crowd! But what does it mean to pin down a guffaw or a chortle? How do you qualify something as a feelin’-good giggle or a condescending snicker? How can you tell a heckle from a shout-out or a groan of boredom from a groan of pun-ishment? There’s a raw visceral immediacy in live theatre that combines with a buzz of of danger in anything-goes improvisation, and it is in this atmosphere of biofeedback we hold our revival to reward empathy and nurture social bonds.

People like seeing uselessness in their performance, it’s something we relate to.

What has the process of putting together this show been like?
True autonomous robots are hard to come by. Programmers generally need programs with purpose. Batteries don’t hold charge. Artificial Intelligence can retain predictive patterns but don’t compensate with their own voice. Sensors have limits and lots of data is tough to categorize. “Improvisation with robots” is impossible! But the technology is coming and it’s coming fast. It will be interesting to see what happens. Robots are slaves born of the village as a gift to the village, and it behooves us to consider how to work them into our collective moral compass without losing sight of our humanity in the process.

What have you learned about robots? What have you learned about the human condition?
It’s easier to fool a robot than a human, but why would you do either?

What continues to excite you about improv?
The sheer boldness of improvisers willing to make mistakes. An audience freed from apology or expectation.

Where are you hoping to take this show in the future?
I’ll record and document Bot Party to submit to potential sponsors or as grants. I’d love to share space with engineers and explore some of the mind-boggling technology that’s out there in academia. Robotics needs intuitive and counter intuitive voices alike to truly reflect and complement our unique social development in this brave new world, so why not throw my dumb hat into the ring? Do you want robots in the idiot hands of the professional military or militantly in the hands of professional idiots?

The Church of Indeterminate Divinity

As Austin improv’s John Ratliff puts it, he came to Improv through the backdoor as one of the original musical accompanists of Girls Girls Girls. He quickly fell in love with the art form and went all in, dedicating many (if not most) of his waking hours to performing and teaching improv.

John Ratliff is a member of one of the ColdTowne Conservatory’s very first graduating classes and performs regularly with Austin improv mainstays The Glamping Trip, Ratliff and Jackson, and Dervish. He’s perhaps best known as an improv educator, having won an Austin Chronicle critic’s pick for “Best Improv Teacher” as well as several nods from the ColdTowne community for “Best Improv Teacher/Coach.”

Ratliff has coached several improv groups, but he is making his directorial debut on Sunday, April 20th at 7pm with the The Church of Indeterminate Divinity. The show weaves together improv comedy, unconventional theater, and live musical accompaniment in a full-immersion experience unlike anything else. Part tent meeting, part house concert, and part flash mob, it’s church for people who don’t go to church: real as rent and funny as hell.

So why “Church?”

It was an idea that I’d been batting around in my head for a while, but for some reason this time I submitted it. I was literally falling asleep as I wrote the pitch, so my semi-conscious state might have influenced both the description and the decision to hit Send. When the schedule came out I was like, “Oh, shit, now I have to actually do this.”

How is this show going to be different from your typical improv experience?

That’s going to change over the course of the run; it’s definitely a work in progress. The first show is kind of an exoskeleton that the show will eventually burst and shatter once it develops its own muscles.

But I think even the first show will distinguish itself from typical improv by the fact that it expresses a point of view. I was trying to convey the philosophy of the show to the cast, and Kasey Borger finally said, “So it’s basically the Church of Improv,” which sums it up perfectly. There are parts of it that are sincere, which I know will send some people out the door like kerosened cats, but it’s a great cast so at its core it’s still a very funny improv show.

And of course it has music, which will become a much bigger part of it the longer we do it. If we were to get picked up for a longer run, my ultimate goal would be to assemble a group of killer musicians who can improvise along with the players, something like Todd Stashwick’s Mayfly shows, or if Array had worked with a live band, and then let that organic stuff flow in and out of the scenes and set pieces. I only had about a month to throw the first show together, so the music is still pretty basic and more separated from the rest of the show. So far it’s mostly just Justin Soileau and Ian Townsend and me ploinking around under the singing. But at least we’ve got that piece in place.

The whole thing will continue to evolve, and probably not at all like I think it will.

Where did the seeds of this idea come from?

Oh, man, so many places. Growing up, I was always completely opposed to organized religion. Then I started going to AA, and I was like, “Oh, so this is why people go to church.” The value of it wasn’t really in whether your beliefs match up with the other people’s, because in AA they emphatically do not. But there are important, practical things that happen in these communal spaces that have nothing to do with dogma or belief. And fun things. I once interviewed a duelling-piano-bar pianist who pointed out that piano bars and church are the only places where complete strangers sing together.

So to me the parallels to improv are glaringly obvious. It’s a situation where you have to let go of your ego to become part of something much bigger than yourself — but the reward is that you’re completely supported by everyone around you, so you know you can be more open and vulnerable than you could be out in the world, because no matter what happens, you’ll be taken care of. And if enough people do that together, you can create something that couldn’t possibly have existed outside of this space.

(But remember, everybody, this show is REALLY FUNNY.)

What continues to excite you about improv?

Seeing all these incredibly talented people who keep showing up at our theater. I can sometimes go to pretty dark places agonizing about my own improv and how I’m never gonna be as good as I want to be, but one great thing about getting older is that I can finally take unrestrained pleasure in other people being awesome without comparing myself to them. It’s not a zero-sum game. I went to see the CageMatch last night (Patio Talk vs. Control Match) and I was pretty much giddy with delight for the entire show, whereas when I was younger my one thought would have been “Shit, I’m never gonna be that good.”

But as I mentioned to Jericho after the last student auditions, I’m really glad I’m already grandfathered in.

I also think we’re just now starting to scratch the surface of what improv can do. I feel like someone in 1962 who loves rock music and who can’t possibly know about The Velvet Underground or My Bloody Valentine or PJ Harvey but who senses that amazing things are possible that nobody’s gotten to yet.

As a director, what do you look for when you’re casting someone in a show like this?

Because I didn’t have time for auditions, I wanted people that I knew could play together, so I basically approached Collective Alibi and asked if any of them wanted to do it, because I knew that any possible combination of that group would be great together. Some of them couldn’t do it, but some of them (at press time: Kasey Borger, Jake Millward, Steve Moore, Ian Townsend, Javier Ungo, and Amy Wright) are going to be with the show at various points during this four-month run, and our assistant director Chrissy Shackelford will also be playing.

But we’re going to be adding to the cast, so in answer to your question: I’m looking for improvisers who are willing to put the same amount of work into an improv show that you’d put into professional scripted theater, who can play emotionally believable scenes, and who are open to exploring less conventional stuff like organic work and abstract physicality. And who love improv so much that they love working hard to get better at it. I’ve pretty much had it with improvisers who don’t want to do anything they’re not already good at.

There, that should eliminate just about everybody. Whoever’s left, get in touch with me.

The impression I get is that you’re very passionate about teaching? What drew you to being an improv teacher?

I come from a long line of teachers and preachers, so it’s not surprising that I’d wind up doing one or the other (or now both, I guess). Before I discovered improv I went through yoga teacher training, so apparently some part of me desperately wanted to tell other people how to do things I couldn’t really do myself.

Not to be fucking pious about it, but I feel like teaching is currently the best way I can serve the art of improv. I’m always trying to be a better player, and if the Devil offered me infinite performance ability in exchange for all my teaching ability, I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted, but teaching is something I can contribute that seems to be useful to people, and that’s a privilege, really.

I know I get too wrapped up in it sometimes. When I feel like I did a bad job teaching or coaching it pretty much destroys me for the rest of the night.

But to tie all this together (and give you one more answer to an earlier question): I was teaching a class at another theater once and we were doing a bunch of organic stuff and this one student absolutely refused to participate. Worse, she wanted to argue about it. So after class we were talking and I was telling her that she had to commit even though it was uncomfortable, and she kept arguing, and I kept insisting, and finally she asked, “What do you care what I do in class?” and I just reared back and bellowed, “BECAUSE THIS IS MY CHURCH, AND YOU’RE SHITTING IN IT!”

7pm the third Sunday of every month, everybody! Pay what you want! And it’ll be funny, I promise!

Slam Team Six – FINAL SHOW!

Imagine: a Saturday morning cartoon gone wrong, where a fantastic foursome of America’s most beloved professional wrestling superstars use their athletic prowess and “powers” outside of the ring to fight crime, help children, and protect the environment. At least they mean to.

Each Saturday in April at 8:30pm, Slam Team Six (professional wrestling heroes Pyschobilly, Prince Craig, Lady Liberty, and Tesla “the Dad Scientist” Maxwell) will take an audience suggestion of a problem threatening the youth and set out to help a child overcome that issue under the watchful eye of their caretaker, Bosworth. Along the way, they will face nefarious plots from villainous evil wrestlers and do their best to resist the temptations that all professional wrestlers face. Will they save the day? Or will the twisted depths of their souls ruin a young boy or girl’s life?

“It’s like the attitude era of the WWF combined with that Saturday morning cartoon show from the 90’s, PRO-STARS, where Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky are superstar athletes for their day job, but crime fighting secret government agents in their spare time,” says the show’s producer Cody Dearing.


CAST: Jericho Thorp, Joseph Dailey, Mia Iseman, Alex Baia, Sanjay Rao, Michael James Williams, Meredith Mae Roberts, Heidi Noelle, Will Casto, Benjamin G Bazan, and Andrew M. Basile as Referee Sammy Slade.

Directed by Lance Gilstrap
Produced by Cody Dearing


Sketch Comedy, Thursdays in April!

Nice Astronaut Presents: “Back in Townsville: The Community Center.”

Here we are at Townsville’s local Community Center. Every stripe of citizen has some reason to be here, from the lowly boyscout to the towering politician. Take classes with experienced professionals, or watch lively performances. Visit the spacious library, the state-of-the-art exercise room, or the Olympic-size swimming pool. Just, whatever you do, if you see a pregnant lady pull out a knife, run away.

One of ColdTowne’s longest running improv troupes, Nice Astronaut, has built a closed-quarters sketch show detailing one afternoon at this Community Center. In the fictional small Texas town known as Townsville, folks carry a wide range of beliefs. Mr. Mayor himself has forsworn the normal municipal budget, insisting on his own odd bartering system. Local theater guru Sensei Doug believes that all the world’s a stage, even when you’re being mugged. Some citizens want to openly carry their large firearms in all public spaces. Others not so much. Developed in part from improv work, this show’s rapid pace will keep you watching as characters move through the space of the community center. From one scene to the next, their conflicts and agendas will intertwine, building to a surprise announcement.

Directed by Chris McKeever, a performer/director from the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater in New York City.

Nice Astronaut has performed at NYC’s Del Close Marathon, the Chicago Improv Festival, and Austin’s Out of Bounds Comedy Festival. They’ve taught and performed in Austin, Houston, and Pheonix. When they have the time, they sip homebrewed beer and play rare games of chance. Their late-night karaoke improv show, Improvaoke, runs once a month at ColdTowne Theater. Nice Astronauts currently include: Tim Honker, Nicole McCracken, Drew Wesley, Nathan Sowell, Joseph Dailey, Calan Lambert, and Chaz Formichella.

Oh, and you’ll be happy to see the amazing additional cast members for this show: Katie Thornton (of Braised in Texas), Arian Brumby (of What’s the Story Steve), and Brett Tribe (of Bad Boys).

Thursdays in April and Saturdays in May, 8:30pm at ColdTowne Theater!

Bear Derby Presents: Spring Break-Prov

Close your pre-med textbooks and lock up your dorm rooms! It’s time for spring break. Join Bear Derby as they improvise a hilarious spring break trip across the globe or across town — the destination is up to you.

Will one of the derbs end up in a Mexican jail? Is a Parisian love affair in the cards? Will Juliet’s fake ID pass at that sweet bar in Port A? Who knows, dude?

Come for the adventure, come for the memories, or come for the door prizes! That’s right, co-eds, Bear Derby will be operating at a loss all month long, giving away awesome travel swag for the ultimate spring break experience – shades, koozies, and even a $100 airfare credit to help you get outta town.

Bear Derby debuted in the fall of 2013 as ColdTowne Theater’s One-Millionth Student improv show (we stopped keeping track of how many students we’ve had) and has continued to perform to sold out shows and general acclaim at stages all over Austin. Specifically, at ColdTowne.

Every Thursday night in March at 8:30pm!


The Barmando! Saturdays in March!

It’s back! After last year’s incredibly successful run, Dads in Bars, Precious Dads returns to theSaturday at 8:30 slot with The Barmando. Each week, Austin’s favorite bartenders tell true stories from their days behind the bar which are then used as inspiration for an improvised comedy show.

Come early to try out the complimentary featured cocktail curated by each week’s bartender.

Trust us. These guys and gals have seen it all, and its their job to talk about it with us in a way that makes us feel at home. Last year included stories involving first hand encounters with Sting and Courtney Love as well as adventures with possums.

Precious Dads is an improv power house featuring the best and brightest performers this side of the river — Addison J. Billingsley (Midnight Society), Will Elliott (Intramural), Kirk Johnson (Movie Riot), Carlos LaRotta (Movie Riot), Tre Fuentes (The Hustle Show), Ximena Estrada (Stag! Comedy), Joshua Krilov (Movie Riot, the Team), and Jeff Whitaker (Bad Example).


ColdTowne ShowDowne: Meet Your Austin Competitors

On Friday February 28th and March 1st, improv teams from Austin, Dallas, and Phoenix will compete for a cash prize and the title of Best in the Southwest in the first annual ColdTowne ShowDowne. Click here for the full details.

The Academy AUSThe Academy
Competing Fri Feb 28th at 11:00 pm vs. CTRL+ALT+DLT (BUY TICKETS)

The Academy is one of Austin TX’s premiere improv performance teams and is best known for their unique execution of The Movie improv format. This band of brothers performs every week in their acclaimed improv showcase, Movie Riot, every Friday at ColdTowne Theater.

The Academy features Lance Gilstrap, Kirk Johnson, Joshua Krilov, Carlos LaRotta, and Kyle Sweeney.

Competing Fri Feb 28th at 11:00 pm vs. The Academy (BUY TICKETS)

Ctrl-Alt-Delete is a 3 person improv troupe from Austin, TX. Their innovative and audience acclaimed format puts the opening lines of dialogue into the hands of the audience. Once each performer has an opening line of dialogue suggestion, that becomes their opening line for every scene of the show. The performers then use organic, movement, and relationship work to give new life to familiar lines throughout the night. When finished, they Ctrl-Alt-Delete their scenes into oblivion!

CTRL+ALT+DLT features Naomi Perryman, Chrissy Shackelford, and Jessica Marpe.

Competing Friday Feb. 28th at 8:00 pm vs. Joey Fatone (BUY TICKETS)

Nice Astronaut are graduates of Austin’s ColdTowne Conservatory, trained in long form improv with an emphasis on the signature improv format The Harold. They have performed in the Chicago Improv Festival, the UCBT’s Del Close Marathon in NYC, and in Austin’s Out of Bounds Improv Festival. They created the Small Universe format which starts in grounded relationship scenes and transitions into fast paced game play.

Nice Astronaut features Joseph Dailey, Chaz Formichella, Tim Honker, Calan Lambert, Nicole McCracken, Nathan Sowell, and Drew Wesely

Skutch AUSSkutch
Competing Friday Feb. 28th at 9:00 pm vs. You, Me, & Michael (BUY TICKETS)

Skutch is a fiercely funny group from Austin, TX comprised of veteran performers. They perform Chicago style long form improv with a self-proclaimed “garage comedy” appeal.

Skutch features Cody Dearing, Carlos LaRotta, and Nathan Sowell.

Announcing the ColdTowne ShowDowne: A Tri-State Improv Tournament

ColdTowne ShowDowneOver one historic weekend, eight improv teams from three different states will descend on Austin, Texas to battle for a cash prize and the rights to call themselves Best in the Southwest. It’s like Mortal Kombat, but more intentionally funny.

We’re excited to present the ColdTowne ShowDowne: A Tri-State Improv Tournament taking place Friday February 28th and Saturday March 1st.

The First Annual ColdTowne ShowDowne will pit improv teams from Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Austin against each other in a cagematch tournament to earn the title of Best in the Southwest.

Each city will send two representative teams to ColdTowne. Over the course of two nights and eight shows, a winner will be determined based on audience and judges’ voting. The winning troupe will receive bragging rights, a one-of-a-kind framed champion poster, and a cash prize provided by ColdTowne Theater.

“I have always wanted to put together a cagematch tournament that was larger than a single improv scene,” said Cody Dearing, ColdTowne Theater’s Artistic Director. “I have been working with directors from other theaters for several months now to organize tournaments in their home cities to quality two entrants to travel to Austin for the finals. We have some of the best improv teams from surrounding states coming to compete for the title of Best in the Southwest.”


Tickets are $7 online or $10 at the door. Seating is very limited.

Friday – February 28th
8pm   (BUY TICKETS) – Nice Astronaut (AUS) vs Joey Fatone (DAL)
9pm   (BUY TICKETS) – You, Me, & Michael (PHX) vs Skutch (AUS)
10pm (BUY TICKETS) – Adult Bakery (PHX) vs Petty Zoo (DAL)
11pm (BUY TICKETS) – Ctrl+Alt+Dlt (AUS) vs The Academy (AUS)

Saturday – March 1st
8pm   (BUY TICKETS) – Winner Fri 8pm vs Winner Fri 9pm
9pm   (BUY TICKETS) – Winner Fri 10pm vs Winner Fri 11pm
10pm (BUY TICKETS) – Back From The Dead Round (6 groups that have been eliminated)
11pm (BUY TICKETS) – Finalist 1 vs Finalist 2 vs Back From The Dead Winner

Presenting the ‘Got Your Back’ Podcast

GYB We’re proud to announce the debut of Got Your Back, a new podcast hosted by ColdTowne Artistic Director Cody Dearing and performer K.C. Harvey Taylor!

From Cody, “We talk to improvisers, writers, stand-up comedians…anyone with the DIY spirit that is doing their own thing in comedy. We hope that by listening to our interviews that our audience gains insight to a variety of aspects about the comedic process, and feels empowered to make their own content.”

Episode #1 with Michael Jastroch (co-owner of ColdTowne, member of The Frank Mills)

Episode #2 with Courtney Sevener (director of Boy Band, member of The Ladies and The Hustle Show)

Follow the podcast on iTunesLibSyn, or Facebook.


More from Cody, “We also hope to highlight some of the talent in Austin that is consistently putting out high quality content not only at ColdTowne but across the city. Austin has a healthy and diverse comedy scene, and I think it gets stronger the more the different sects communicate and work together. We’re excited to focus on all the different types of comedy Austin has to offer, and to get in depth with comedians to find out where they come from and what their process is like.”

In addition to these interviews, each episode will end by sharing some music by a local artist to build on the theme of local support and DYI artist empowerment.

Collective Alibi Presents: The Evente (A ColdTowne Conservatory Production)

Collective_Allibi_FINALColdTowne Theater is proud to announce that the latest ColdTowne Conservatory Production will be taking the stage every Thursday in February as the newly christened Collective Alibi presents the classic NYC Improv Format: The Evente.

The Evente is a show that takes a peek at the goings on of a particular event that finds a group of disparate people thrown together. They will go back in time to see what molded these people into what they are today before finally going back to the original event to see how everything comes to a head. Think ABC’s LOST, but a comedy. Also, it will likely make more sense.

Plucked from the ColdTowne Conservatory’s exceedingly deep talent pool, Collective Alibi features nine of our most promising students and recent graduates:
Kasey Borger, Emily McDonald, Jake Millward, Steve Moore, Jared Robertson, Julia Salas, Ian Townsend, Javier Ungo, and Amy Wright.

Their initial run of shows are directed by Adam Trabka of the ColdTowne Theater house troupe, Bad Boys.

Thursdays at 8:30 pm in February – $5 & BYOB

BUY TICKETS: Feb. 6th | Feb. 13th | Feb. 20th | Feb. 27th 

Boy Band Takes the Stage Saturdays in February

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In “Behind the Music” documentary style, this completely improvised show chronicles the rise to fame and tribulations of M*Pulse, a fictionalized boy band from the early 2000’s.

The cast features five boy band archetypes – the bad boy, the cute one, the talent, the older one and the weird one (why was he in the band, anyway?). Each show concludes with a live, choreographed performance of a pop song with lyrics improvised by the cast.

Original pop tracks were scored by local musicians Ammon Taylor (ZACH, Salvage Vanguard, Paramount Theaters), Meredith Mae Roberts (ColdTowne Theater) and Andrew Basile (of the band Hill and Range).

“Putting together the cast for this show felt so much like assembling an actual boy band, so it’s pretty much a dream come true for my ten year old self. And my secretive 13 year old self…and then my 17 year old self. Look: BOY BANDS FOREVER.” – Courtney Sevener, director

“I suspect that the show’s concept began to formulate after Courtney and I made shameless assholes of ourselves in the front row of a Backstreet Boys concert. (Note: we went to a Hanson concert later that month.) I used to record TRL on my parents’ VCR to learn dances from the videos, so when Courtney approached me about choreographing the show, I jumped at the chance. The guys are incredibly committed to the project and are dead serious about getting the moves right. They will charm you. You will fall for them.” – Katie Moore, choreographer

Boy Band plays every Saturday in February at 8:30 pm. $7 and BYOB.

BUY TICKETS: Feb. 1st / Feb. 8th / Feb. 15th / Feb. 22nd

Beware of Female Spies each Saturday in January

Inspired by the shows Archer, Alias, Veronica Mars, Torchy Blane, and Get Smart, Beware of Female Spies is an improvised comedy take on the classic spy genre with a romantic screwball comedy twist.

At America’s top spy agency, Special Patriotic Operations Over Foreign Secrets, a whip smart female spy is the top agent. Unfortunately her fellow agents of S.P.O.O.F.S. aren’t always seeing the mission in the same way. Each week she must fight calculating villains and patriarchal double standards as well as the sexual tension between herself and her male counterpart.

Starring: Seth Johnson, Nicole McCracken, Alejandro Garcia, Liz Dykes, Aaron Walther, Taylor Overstreet, Brett Tribe, Chrissy Shackleford, Sanjay Rao, and Ashley Nugent. Directed by Emma Holder. Produced by Seth Johnson and Katie Thornton.

Beware of Female Spies plays at 8:30 every Saturday in January at Coldtowne Theater. $7 and BYOB.

Discounted Improv Class Holiday Gift Packages Now Available!

This holiday season we want to make improv classes as affordable as possible.

We genuinely believe that improv classes can change a person’s life. It certainly has for all of our students, performers, staff, and faculty, and it seems like each day we see a new piece of writing espousing its benefits

Boy Band Takes the Stage Saturdays in February

In “Behind the Music” documentary style, this completely improvised show chronicles the rise to fame and tribulations ofM*Pulse, a fictionalized boy band from the early 2000’s.

The cast features five boy band archetypes – the bad boy, the cute one, the talent, the older one and the weird one (why was he in the band, anyway?). Each show concludes with a live, choreographed performance of a pop song with lyrics improvised by the cast.

Beware of Female Spies each Saturday in January

Inspired by the shows Archer, Alias, Veronica Mars, Torchy Blane, and Get Smart, Beware of Female Spies is an improvised comedy take on the classic spy genre with a romantic screwball comedy twist.

At America’s top spy agency, Special Patriotic Operations Over Foreign Secrets, a whip smart female spy is the top agent. Unfortunately her fellow agents of S.P.O.O.F.S. aren’t always seeing the mission in the same way. Each week she must fight calculating villains and patriarchal double standards as well as the sexual tension between herself and her male counterpart.

Starring: Seth Johnson, Nicole McCracken, Alejandro Garcia, Liz Dykes, Aaron Walther, Taylor Overstreet, Brett Tribe, Chrissy Shackleford, Sanjay Rao, and Ashley Nugent. Directed by Emma Holder. Produced by Seth Johnson and Katie Thornton.

Beware of Female Spies plays at 8:30 every Saturday in January at Coldtowne Theater. $7 and BYOB.

Buy Tickets -  Jan. 4th  |  Jan. 11th  |  Jan. 18th  |  Jan. 25th

Carlos and Chrissy are Twins: Thursdays in January

Picture 00720 some odd years ago, two humans were born at the same time, in the same place, from the same woman…for they were twins.

Growing up Carlos and Chrissy did everything together – snack time, bath time, painting by numbers. Little did they know their greatest achievement would happen on Thursdays in January at 8:30PM at ColdTowne Theater when the twins tried their hand at improvisational comedy.

“Carlos and Chrissy Are Twins” is the epitome of improv comedy. Two human beings who can actually read each other’s minds making things up on the spot!

Come enjoy a twin themed night with Doublemint Gum, Twix, Twinkies, and your favorite Twins, Carlos and Chrissy, every Thursday night in January at 8:30PM. TWINS GET IN FREE!

Buy Tickets: Jan. 2nd  |  Jan. 9th  |  Jan. 16th  |  Jan. 23rd  |  Jan. 30th

Video Sketch Production Class Beginning in January

Arts_LaborIn a collaboration between Austin’s own Arts+Labor (a Creative Content Community) and ColdTowne Theater, this Video Sketch Production class will take the comedy student from pitch to final edit on their own 3-5 minute video short.

Students will work with industry professionals to hone their idea into a script, and then tackle the ins-and-outs of casting, location scouting, directing, post-production and other challenges of producing their own video sketch.

The class will culminate in a screening of the sketches open to friends and family, and each student will receive a copy of their digital short to share or use for their reel.



  • $124.99 with a $25 refund available after completion of post-course feedback
  • Saturdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm beginning January 11, 2014 (8 weeks)
  • Class limited to 10 students
  • Some writing experience is preferred.


Eric Rutherford is a seasoned veteran of the sketch comedy and improv world. He has written, performed and directed in Chicago, Los Angeles and Austin. He’s an alumni of the Second City, iO and the Annoyance theaters. He was the director of the acclaimed sketch troupe “Germans”, veterans of which are currently performing on Saturday Night Live. He currently teaches sketch and performs at ColdTowne Theater.

Discounted Improv Class Holiday Gift Packages Now Available!

HOLIDAY_DISCOUNT (3)This holiday season we want to make improv classes as affordable as possible.

We genuinely believe that improv classes can change a person’s life. It certainly has for all of our students, performers, staff, and faculty, and it seems like each day we see a new piece of writing espousing its benefits (see here and here).

To best share that magic, for a limited time we are offering Level 1 Improv Class gift packages for just $99.

Black Friday madness deals can go right to hell! This offer is available through December 2nd. We’re keeping this baby open for 12 days!

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Deal is available through Monday December 9th

Register below to give the gift of fun, creativity, and the opportunity to be a part of an amazing community!

Click here to purchase the Level 1 Improv Gift Package


ColdTowne Improv Class Gift Package – $225 $99 

- Eight weeks of Level 1 improv classes starting in early January
– A gift voucher you can give to the recipient
– A free ColdTowne t-shirt

Click here to purchase the Level 1 Improv Gift Package (offer ends December 2nd December 9th)

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Celebrate December with Festival Festival: A Month of Original Festivals!

FestivalFestivalV2-GreenIn true Austin “The Festival Capital of The World” Texas fashion, each Saturday in December ColdTowne will host a different completely original festival! No badges required!

All shows are $7 and BYOB. See what we’re offering up below!


Dec. 7 – The Ultimate MC 2013: Hip Hop Festival (BUY TICKETS)

Festival Festival kicks off with a multi-event hip hop contest to determine who is 2013’s Ultimate MC. Contestants will perform in a series of challenges including freestyling as a character in costume, incorporating famous rap lyrics into a normal scene during the game 99 blind lines, and even a dance diamond dance-off.

Hosted by DJ Qualls! BYOGin&Juice

Dec. 14 – Slay Bells Festival (BUY TICKETS)

The evening opens with a lighthearted holiday sketch, but quickly turns to MURDER! When one jolly old soul (no spoilers) shows up dead the accusations of who-done-it begin to fly. Like a holiday themed game of Clue, the audience will decide who killed the victim in which room with which weapon.

Presented by the cast of local comedy geniuses, Lasagna.

Dec. 21 – Dysfunctional Holiday Issues Festival (BUY TICKETS)

We all have family issues, and the holidays can bring out the worst of them, but the slick images of the holiday advertisements would have us believe otherwise. Come out and enjoy an evening of digging below the surface of those heavily posed images and videos to expose the hilarious dysfunctional truth beneath. Before the show, guests may enjoy homemade cookies straight from the pages of those same advertisements.

Featuring comedy from The Keteers and Precious Dads.

Dec. 28 – ColdTowne Music Festival (BUY TICKETS)

Step aside ACL, ColdTowne Theater is hosting its own music festival. The all-star line up will include several local musical heroes: the ColdTowne Rap Tigers, Hot and Dangerous (Ke$ha Cover band), Misfolks (a folk/Misfits band), and more!

You’ll get the whole music festival experience. This includes wearing a wristband and receiving fake money which you can use to buy $9 beers (that are actually free).

Precious Dads Presents: Home For the Holidays – Moms, Dads, Comedians

Home for the HolidaysA very special, possibly heart-warming show, that you won’t wanna miss!” -Norman Rockwell, creator of Freedom from Want

Each Thursday night at 8:30pm, a real-life mommy or real-life daddy of a local Austin comedian will take the ColdTowne Theater stage and tell real-life stories about raising their child. Those stories will then inspire improvised comedy scenes, performed by their now all grown up children, the members of improv troupe Precious Dads.

Come early (8pm) for complimentary Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog and baked goods from that night’s parent.

Thursdays at 8:30 pm in November | $5 and BYOB | Run time: appx. 60 mins

BUY TICKETS: Nov. 7th – Addison J. Billingsley’s momma
                               Nov. 14th – Tre Fuentes’ poppa
                               Nov. 21st - Carlos LaRotta’s momma

Your Terrific Neighbors: Trying Too Hard


Your Terrific Neighbors, one of Austin’s most officially beloved and long-running sketch comedy troupes returns to the Coldtowne mainstage in November with a month-long run of new material–and this time, they’re TRYING TOO HARD.

Join them in a free-associated comical romp through puppetry, up-to-date historical research, and a terrifying vision of humanity’s future.

Select audience members will be given FREE GUM. (Sort of. I mean, they still have to pay for the ticket.) All audience members will be given FREE LAUGHS. (Same deal.)

Saturdays at 8:30 pm in November | $7 and BYOB | Run time: appx. 75 mins

BUY TICKETS: Nov. 2nd | Nov. 9th | Nov. 16th | Nov. 23rd | Nov. 30th

The 2014 ColdTowne Mainstage Season

We’re excited to announce our 2014 Mainstage Seasona collection of shows featuring unique concepts and high production value.  Dig up all those acorns you buried, scarf them down with your breakfast tacos, and immediately go into hibernation so that 2014 can get here faster.

To guarantee that you get to see all of these shows (as well as any other 2014 ColdTowne show) you can purchase a 2014 GOLDEN TICKET - an all-access pass which gains you entry into any show all year long with the ultimate VIP treatment (a bag of delicious popcorn). There are a limited number available for purchase.

ColdTowne Theater is Austin’s only entertainment option, with improv, sketch and stand up shows seven nights a week, featuring local Emmy award winning talent and the hardest working moms in show business.

2014 Season Preview -

Beware of Female Spies
Directed by Seth Johnson, Katie Thornton & Emma Holder

Inspired by spy capers like Archer, Get Smart, and Veronica MarsBeware of Female Spies will follow a whip-smart female agent as she battles both evil geniuses trying to destroy the world and lackluster coworkers trying to undermine her every step of the way.

Boy Band
Directed by Courtney Sevener
Choreography by Katie Moore

Move over, Backstreet Boys. Bye, Bye, Bye, ‘N Sync. There’s a new boy band on the block. Armed with a potential recipe for success, watch as a group of aspiring young heartthrobs (and the weird one) strive to gyrate their way to the next level, write the smash hit, and discover what it means to be number one.

The Barmando
with Precious Dads

Improv troupe Precious Dads recruits Austin’s favorite bartenders to tell true stories from their days behind the bar. Precious Dads then uses those stories as inspiration for an improvised comedy show. Come early to try out the complimentary featured cocktail curated by each week’s bartender.


The PSA Wrestling Federation
Directed by Lance Gilstrap
Produced by Cody Dearing

Six of America’s most beloved professional wrestlers lead double lives outside of the ring as the Slam Team Six; an elite group of secret government agents who use their wrestling prowess to fight crime, help children, and protect the environment. Pro-Wrestling. Anti-Terror.

Back in Townesville
Sketch comedy by Nice Astronaut

Upon second glance, the township of Townesville is full of overworked grifters, gluttons for punishment, and the less-than-stable cat lady. Nice Astronaut presents a close quarters sketch comedy show centered around the community center in fair old Townesville, interweaving citizens young and old, moral and immoral, psychic and psycho.

Bridgeport Correctional Facility Short Form impromptu Skit Players
Directed by Erika McNichol

Returning to Austin after a 7 year hiatus, the ladies of Bridgeport Correctional Facilty bring their unique take on short form improvisation to the ColdTowne stage for a limited engagement in June.

From the original Bridgeport Correctional Facilities appearance in 2007

From the original Bridgeport Correctional Facilities appearance in 2007

Late Night Down
Directed by Lance Gilstrap

Daniel Ravenwood isn’t just America’s favorite late night talkshow host, he is also a seven time recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He’s helped defend our country against everything from Aliens to Dinosaurs to Alien Dinosaurs, but when he’s called to duty, the show must go on without him.

Improv Fantasy League

Our signature Summer event returns. Veteran comedic talent will be drafted alongside our improv students to compete against each other in a month long improv tournament that features live commentary, free agents and pre-show tailgating.

Live From ColdTowne It’s Saturday Night!
Directed by Frank Netscher

Weekly sketches and improvised behind-the-scenes cast meetings are showcased in this tribute to the classic show Saturday Night Live.

live from coldtowne

The Organ Trail
Directed by Cody Dearing

As if snake bites and dysentery weren’t enough to worry about, in this highly interactive (and highly bloody) live simulation of the game “The Organ Trail”, a zombie version of the game “The Oregon Trail”, audience members will attempt to survive a cross country trip in their trusty station wagon to a safe zone in Seattle. Along the way the audience will help by making crucial decisions, participating in hunting and scavenging challenges, and – if worst comes to worst – making a tombstone for the friend they brought to the show.

Pilgrims Are From Mars
Sketch by Wink Planet

An examination of the psyche of pilgrims in the way past, near past, and near future who left everything in pursuit of Fame? Fortune? Religion? Anything to avoid the tedium of a 9-5. Now they just want to make you laugh and avoid killing their friends during this long long winter.


Festival Festival

Every Saturday in December is host to different festivities. We’ll let our wonderfully talented community of performers run wild with ideas for experimental shows, special themed events, and other holiday dysfunction to assure that everyone gets their holiday wishes. Unless you’re bad…if you’re bad you still get a lump of Kohls.

ColdTowne 7th Anniversary Comedy Marathon!

homcoming.webIn terms of cognitive development, seven year olds typically show an increased variety of fine motor skills, a stronger grasp mathematical concepts and an increased ability to engage cooperatively in play. As ColdTowne Theater, Austin’s home for alternative comedy, turns seven, we’re taking stock. Our math skills are still questionable. We still suck at sports. But we’ve nailed the whole play well with others thing. One out of three ain’t bad.

For four days in October, the ColdTowne Theater community is coming together from far and wide to celebrate what we’re best at with over 60 sketch, stand up and improv shows from Austin’s funniest performers.

The weekend kicks off Thursday, October 17th at 7:30 and continues through Sunday, October 20th. During that time, there’s going to be some special reunion shows featuring out of town returning guests, including sets from ColdTowne and Sarah 7, an All-Star Live at ColdTowne stand up show, as well as a Saturday Night Sketch show from Stag Comedy. Additionally, Friday and Saturday nights, we’ll be hosting a special late night Lock-In featuring all the silly chaotic bits too insane for prime time. The whole weekend will be capped off with two special Sunday night Stool Pigeons followed by the annual ColdTowne award show and after party. (Keep reading for full schedule.)

All shows will be marathon style, meaning one low price will get you in for the full weekend of shows OR another, even lower price will get you into an single night of shows. Sunday night’s shows will be completely FREE.  Passes will be available to purchase at the box office the night of the shows, but if you would like to guarantee entry we have made a very limited number of pre-sale passes available.


Full Weekend ($20)
Thursday ($10)
Friday ($10)
Saturday ($10)


Thursday, October 17th
8:15-9:15 Duran and Johnson Political Satire
As entertainers and celebrities, Duran & Johnson have an obligation to tell the world their opinions on the most important issues of the day. This week’s topic: sexual politics.

9:15 – 10:00 House Troupe Reunions w/ Look Cookie and Murphy
Look Cookie and Murphy were the first two house troupes cast from ColdTowne’s Improv Conservatory way back in 2006. Members of both troupes can be seen all over austin performing and teaching improv!

10:00 – 11:00 The Mission Storytelling Show, ColdTowne Edition
The Mission is our monthly story telling show. This month, it’s all ColdTowne people spining yarns and doing bits.

11:00 – 12:15 Graduation Show Reunions w/ Powerball, Mustache Moleface and JC’s BM
Three of our old Graduation classes reunite to present their original improv formats, including our very first class, JC’s BM — Bryan Roberts (Ghetto Sketch Warlock), Cody Dearing (ColdTowne Artistic Director), Joel Keith (Hungry Todd Rungy, Midnight Society) and Michael Williams (Midnight Society).

Friday, October 18th
7:00pm Movie Vs. Movie Vs. Movie w/ Men in Chrissy’s Life, Rush and the Academy
Movie Vs. Movie is a weekly show, wherein two troupes compete against each other doing an improvised movie format. This week, it’s a tripple bill featuring RUSH (current level 5 students), the Men in Chrissy’s Life (a powerhouse of ColdTowne Improv talent) and the Academy (featuring members of the Team, Midnight Society, and more!)

8:30 – 10:00pm ColdTowne Reunion, Sarah 7 Reunion, Bad Boys
ColdTowne Theater founders reunite for a special, rare show along side Sarah 7 (our all female powerhouse) and regular Friday night headliners Bad Boys. This show will be a fast paced evening of improvised hilarity.

10:00 – 11:15 All-Star Live at ColdTowne
Live at ColdTowne debuted as the first alternative stand up shows outside of the normal club circuit in town. This week’s show features some heavy hitters from the Austin comedy scene.

11:30 – 12:15 Patton and Seth: The Unfinished Project, Escape Hatch
Patton and Seth met during the earliest days of Coldtowne’s Live at ColdTowne show, quickly wed, sought couples counseling even quicker, and then wrote brief scenes documenting the rise and collapse of their marriage as a way to understand what went wrong. Unfortunately, they have painfully conflicting accounts of just who’s to blame. Escape hatch is a classic lineup of ColdTowne Improv royalty returning for one last heist.

12:15 – Till Late Night Lock-In
The Late Night Lock-In is an annual tradition, wherein members of the ColdTowne improv community come together to perform all the stupid bits we don’t let them get away with the rest of the year. This will be an unpredictable ride that goes late into the evening and guarentees more than one WTF experience.
w/ Improv Royale, The ArtMando, Lisa Jackson Lip Sincs to Prince Songs, Xaria and Friends: In the Hole, A Prospector, William Powell, Old-Timey Radio, Announcer, and Katherine Hepburn walk into a Crime Scene, First United Methodist Church of Plano Youth Group Improv, COACHception, Chicken Magician, Damned Avalanche, Chrissy and Carlos Stay Up Late

Saturday, October 19th
6:00 – 7:00pm The Ladies, Boy Toy, Cheap Date
Improv from three ColdTowne house troupes, including a set from all-female super troupe The Ladies, a reunion of our erstwhile Harold group Boy Toy and one of our best up and coming improv house troupes Cheap Date.

7:00pm – 8:30pm Bless This Mess, BBW, Miller and Purselley, Oh, Science
Bless This Mess was one of our favorite cage match troupes, reunited for one night only. They are opening up for Big Beautiful Warlock, who do character driven improv that focuses on absurd relationships. Miller and Purselly and Oh, Science are our Wednesday Night and Sunday night headliners, respectively.

8:30pm – 10:00pm STAB Comedy (Sketch)
Austin sketch comedy titan STAG Comedy returns to ColdTowne Theater this October for STAB Comedy, a bone-chilling collection of macabre mayhem. STAB is guaranteed to deliver a haunted orphanage’s worth of chuckles to your face skulls. What does that mean? Don’t ask me, I’ve been dead this whole time! TWIST! STAG Comedy has performed at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, SXSW, Austin Sketch Fest, Seattle SketchFest, Geek Week Boston, and more.

10:00 – 11:15 Bear Derby, Frank Mills, Midnight Society
If you want to know what this improv thing is all about, you couldn’t do better than the Frank Mills and Midnight Society, two multiple-time B. Iden Payne nominated improv troupes who have been holding down our prime time slot for years. For this special weekend, we’re resurrecting an old tradition of having our newest student troupe– Bear Derby– open up for their teachers.

11:15 – 12:30 Northshore Local, Glamping Trip, Nice Astronaut, The Team
Four of our best improv troupes, rounding out the night. Northshore Local is reuniting for one night only. The Glamping trip and Nice Astronaut are inviting a legion of ex-troupe mates back to perform with them. The Team, well they’re just amazing.

12:30 – Til?? LATE NIGHT LOCK-IN w/ Founding Fathers, Coveted Office Time, Magician Vs. Clown , Bad Boys Present Breaking Bad Men, ColdTowne Squares (20 Min), Stuck in the Middle With You, Glamazon Slumber Party, Creep No More, Coach Bon Bon/ Love Advice Hour, Gordon Ramsey’s Improv Nightmares

Sunday, October 20th
6:30 Celebrity Stool Pigeon
Stool Pigeon is our monologue driven, all-star improv show. Scenes are inspired by true stories from some of our favorite local celebrities. The cast is made up of a who’s who of Austin improv talent. Who’s it going to be?
7:30 Celebrity Stool Pigeon
8:30 ColdTowne Awards Show and Afterparty

Duran & Johnson Present Original Political Comedy Thursdays in October


As entertainers and celebrities Duran & Johnson have an obligation to tell the world their opinions on the most important issues of the day. The world, however, is very confusing, and they’re too busy to learn what’s going on in the conventional ways. Books? Too long! The internet? Too many distracting links. T.V.? Mostly screaming and name calling.

Instead, Duran & Johnson have decided to hold a series of “special sessions” each Thursday at 8:30 pm in October to get to the bottom of some contentious issues. But rather than listen to a bunch of boring speakers present “facts” and “statistics,” they’ve invited some of the smartest and funniest people in Austin to explain what all of this yelling and protesting is about through sketches, videos, stand-up, and improv comedy.

Once Duran & Johnson have soaked in all of their “entertestimony,”™ they’ll try to summarize the issues through an improv set of their own. Finally, rather than Duran and Johnson having the last word, they’ll have their guest performers evaluate them to let them know if they actually get it.

Thursdays at 8:30 in October. $5 and BYOB.

Duran & Johnson’s Special Sessions will cover:

Week 1: Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
Week 2: Race, Ethnicity, and the Changing Face of Texas
Week 3*: Sexual Politics
Week 4: Threats to Privacy
Week 5: The Economic Great Divide

*Duran and Johnson’s Oct. 17 show will be part of ColdTowne’s 7th Anniversary Comedy Marathon Celebration. To buy a pass for that evening’s shows, click here.

STAG Comedy to Debut All-New Sketch Comedy Show in October



Austin sketch comedy titan STAG Comedy returns to ColdTowne Theater this October for STAB Comedy, a bone-chilling collection of macabre mayhem. STAB is guaranteed to deliver a haunted orphanage’s worth of chuckles to your face skulls. What does that mean? Don’t ask me, I’ve been dead this whole time! TWIST!

Join STAG Comedy at 8:30pm every Saturday in October as they perform this all-new show, exclusively at ColdTowne Theater. $7 and BYOB

STAG Comedy has performed at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, SXSW, Austin Sketch Fest, Seattle SketchFest, Geek Week Boston, and more.

Cast: Andrew Rosas, Dave Youmans, David Jara, Lance Gilstrap, Mac Blake, and Ximena Estrada.

Pre-Order Tickets Oct. 5  /  Oct. 12  /  Oct. 19*  /  Oct. 26

*The Oct. 19th show will be part of ColdTowne’s 7th Anniversary Comedy Marathon celebration. To buy a pass for that evening’s shows, click here


iO West’s Nick Armstrong to Teach and Perform at ColdTowne

Nick Armstrong_Small

Nick Armstrong, acclaimed improviser and instructor from iO West, is coming into Austin October 11th – 13th to teach workshops, coach teams, and perform!

About Nick Armstrong:

Nick is an Actor, Writer, Improviser and Director living in Los Angeles, CA. On TV, Nick has been on the Emmy-Award winning shows The Office, Parks and Recreation and Grey’s Anatomy. He has also made regular appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and is currently on AMC’s Story Notes. Recently Nick received a development deal with A&E.

Onstage you can catch Nick performing and teaching regularly at the world-famous iO West in Hollywood, CA with LA’s longest and critically acclaimed house team King Ten and the touring Genre-Improvised Show Kind Strangers. Nick has also trained at the famed Groundlings Theater. He is the Founder and Camp Director of Improv Utopia an annual camp for improvisers and he is also co-founder of the National Improv Network.


Stronger Choices, Stronger Scenes: Scene Work Analysis Workshop
Saturday Oct. 12th – 3:00 to 5:00 pm , $30

In this workshop Nick will work straight up scene work with you focusing on two person scenes and helping you find your strengths  and challenging you to push yourself. The class is designed to help  you make stronger choices, stronger characters and help you get more consistent as a performer.


HAROLD Workshop – The King Ten Way
Saturday Oct. 12th – 1:00 to 3:00 pm , $30

Harold, invented by the late Del Close, is a form that follows character  and theme in a long form improvised setting. In this workshop, improvisers will get a firm grasp on how to develop group mind in the opening, pull  information and infuse it into the form. You will learn the basic structure of  the form but learn how to break through structure and follow themes and  ideas. You will also learn the game slots of a Harold and how to use them to build even more information and solidify theme.


About King Ten:

King Ten is iO West’s longest running and critically acclaimed house team and one of the premier improv ensembles in Los Angeles, now celebrating their 10th year. Audiences pack the house every Wednesday night at 10:30 p.m. to watch King Ten perform iO West’s signature piece, The Harold, and to enjoy the original, ambitious and hilarious style of play this ensemble is known for.

Movie vs Movie Returns!

MOVIE VS MOVIE returns after a two month hiatus! Movie vs Movie picks up on a brand new night, in a new/cool slot — Fridays 7pm in September only at the illustrious ColdTowne Theater.

It’s live improvised comedy that brings to life brand new movies- all made up 100% on the spot. The evening is host to a Double Feature of comedy with not one but two motion picture-styled performances.

You’ll see two wildly different, thought provoking and hilarious “live improvised films”  in “3D” from home team favorites- The ACADEMY (Lance Gilstrap, Kirk Johnson, Joshua Krilov, Carlos LaRotta, and Kyle Sweeney with a few special guests along the way) and a different CHALLENGER GROUP performing each week.

“Allow me to shout the following, FREE MARGARITAS, FREE POPCORN, and FREE MOVIE CANDIES!!!” raved Austin cinefile and longtime fan, Ralph Moviemen.

“September has never been this crazy since… well let’s not draw any parallels- let’s just say it’s going to be a great show.” mumbled event spokesperson, Kyle Sweeney.

$4 gets you in. Make this thing happen.

Back to School Improv with Bad Boys and the Ladies

Lace up your Reebok Pumps, stuff your Lisa Frank notebook into your Trapper Keeper, and hold onto your butts because ColdTowne is taking you back to school.

Each Friday in September, Bad Boys will be welcoming special guests The Ladies to celebrate the beginning of another school year. Why? Because the childrens is our future.

Each show will begin with improv sets from both Bad Boys and The Ladies. They will then combine forces to perform comedic scenes based off their true childhood stories.

Hear tales of youthful indiscretion (like when one young Lady nearly found herself ejected from Disney World) and embarrassment (like when one young Bad Boy asked “What is the hymen?” on national television), and watch a cast of some of Austin’s finest improvisers bring those tales to life.

Shows are each Friday at 8:30 pm in September. BYOB but Mom’s bringing complimentary Gushers (for real). Tickets are $7 or $5 with any student ID.

Like Bad Boys and The Ladies on Facebook for exclusive discount codes.

Pre-order tickets:
Sept. 6
Sept. 13
Sept. 20
Sept. 27


Bad Boys have garnered acclaim as one of the best improv ensembles working in Austin. They perform with a style that is both fierce and highly intelligent, like velociraptors. Playing to sold out houses across the city, they’ve inspired audiences to rave “everyone in the ‘Bad Boys’ troupe wears glasses. They were also hilarious,” and “I mean, they’re weird, sure, but it’s funny.” They recently received a nomination for a B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Work in Improvisational Theater as well as the judges’ prize from NYCs Iron Mule Short Comedy Screening Series for their video sketch, The Prostitute.

Formed in late 2011 as an avenue for all-female physical comedy, The Ladies were voted Best New Troupe at ColdTowne in 2012. They have competed in numerous Austin-area cagematches and showdowns, as they refuse to back down from a challenge. The Ladies are known for wearing pearls at every performance, creating memorable absurd characters, and showing off their stage combat training.

Pee-Wee’s Whalehouse – A Playhouse of Improv and Sketch Comedy, and Improv Comedy, Also

Get outta bed, there’ll be no more nappin’, cus you’ve landed in a place where anything can happen. -Cyndi Mothafuckin Lauper

Anyway, AHOY! Remember when you were a kid and you’d wake up really early on Saturday morning to watch TV?  Sure, there were the cartoons, but the real magic happened when the weirdo adults started talking to the puppets. You remember, c’mon. It was Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. It was a simpler time filled with wonderment, the infinite possibilities of youth, bizarre innuendo, and targeted advertising.  Well, we sure remember, anyway. Or at least we kinda remember. It’s a little fuzzy. Alcohol has happened since then.

Every Thursday in September at 8:30pm, Austin’s only* all-male comedy troupe, Whalehouse, blatantly strip-mines your nostalgia and transforms Coldtowne Theater into PEEWEE’S WHALEHOUSE: A Playhouse of Improv and Sketch Comedy, and Improv Comedy, Also.

Come see the antics they get up to with their pals in Toyboat, some puppets (like “Trashy” the trashcan), and if you get lucky, maybe Ramin Nazer will drop by for Cartoon Break.

What will the word of the day be? You decide. Complimentary milk and cereal to be served in the ColdTowne lobby prior to the show. BYOB. Tickets available here.

*this descriptor is unnecessarily false

Out of Bounds Comedy Fest at ColdTowne!

Austin’s 12th annual Out of Bounds Comedy Festival is approaching in just under six days. If you’re keeping track, that’s seven days, seven venues, 500 performers, and 120 shows all around Labor Day. And ColdTowne Theater is right in the thick of it, with marathon-style programming at the theater and our improv and sketch comedy troupes performing all over Austin all weekend long.

ColdTowne is an official venue for OOB Friday and Saturday (August 30th and 31st). The programming at ColdTowne will be marathon style (one ticket price gets you all the BYOB comedy you can stomach) with groupd from Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Kansas City, Houston, Dallas and right here in Austin! (See Friday and Saturday night schedules).

You can also see your favorite ColdTowne performers all around Austin, including Midnight Society, The Frank Mills, Mike and Irene, Miller and Purselley, Bad Boys,  Oh Science!, Braised in Texas, Ratliff and Jackson, Scout, Array, Cheap Date, Big Beautiful Warlock, Boss, Ghetto Sketch Warlock, Nice Astronaut, Galactic, What’s the Story Steve, Magician Versus Clown, Boss, STAG Comedy, The Team, Jorak and Jorak, ColdTowne Rap Tigers, and Stool Pigeon featuring special guest monologist Richard Garriott!


ColdTowne’s Newest Student Improv Troupe Debuts in August.

Look Cookie. Midnight Society. Murphy. Unfurled. Oh, Science. The names of ColdTowne Theater’s student troupes echo off the walls of our hallowed, seven year old Austin institution. Some have survived the test of time, others shined so bright that they went super nova.

Our latest student group — Bear Derby — is in its final trimester, ready to be unleashed upon a cold an unsuspecting world. Thursdays at 8:30pm in August, Bear Derby will be performing the classic improv format, Close Quarters.

In Close Quarters, the performers treat the stage as if it’s a real space and honor the physical reality of the world they create. The scenes take place semi-simultaneously, centered around a specific point in space and time. As the show progresses, characters and situations collide into one another, creating a self referential comedic universe, not unlike an episode of Arrested Development. Also, improv comedy.

We’ve assembled some of the brightest shining stars from our improv conservatory to put on this show. The cast includes Sarah Coker, XJ Coleman, Sanjay Rao, Juliet Prathe,Ashley Seibels, Dustin Finkelstein, Austin Davidson, Benjamin Bazan, Timothy Traini, and Matthew Stoner! The show is directed by ColdTowne Theater founder Michael Jastroch.


Stunts! Explosions! Blood! Comedy!

Fedora wearing archaeologists exploring ancient ruins! Bloody battles against our nation’s enemies! Romantic rescues that involve swinging in on a whip!

Indy Movies is a part scripted / part improvised full length play that combines the thrill of your favorite action movie with the gore of your favorite slasher flick.

Crazed 1940’s director Wade Wood’s adventure movies have it all. Unfortunately the director’s insatiable desire for cutting edge special effects, along with his willingness to risk the lives of his cast while filming dangerous explosive stunt sequences has studio executives threatening to cut off his funding. See what lengths Wade Wood might go to in order to make his cinematic vision a reality.

The hilarious cast of talented improvisers includes Kyle Sweeney, Lance Gilstrap, Chrissy Shackelford, Tim Honker, Maitland Lederer, Jake Millward, Seth Johnson, Nathan Sowell, Daniel Erving, Katie Moore, Steve Moore, Eli Eidson, Drew Wesely, Will Casto, Naomi Perryman, and Calan Lambert

INDY MOVIES: The Filmmaking Misadventures Of Wade Wood shows at 8:30pm every Saturday in August and September, beginning August 3rd and running through September 28th at ColdTowne Theater, except the weekend of Out Of Bounds (8/31).

Tickets for the show may be purchased ahead of time here.

IFL 2013: There’s No Crying In Improv

The thunder is coming, Austin. Saturday nights in July, ColdTowne Theater’s signature Summer shrimp comedy improv event, the Improv Fantasy League, returns for it’s fourth season! Nine teams will enter. Eight will burn.

Since nothing’s more hilarious than people striving to achieve, only to have their hopes and dreams abandoned on a huge pile of skulls (see poster),  we’re combining our love of arbitrary competition into a month of no holds bared, improv comedy death matches.

Our most recent level 6 class has drafted teams made up of students and performers from across Austin. Each week, teams will duke it out for audience approval. At the top of each show, the audience will have the opportunity to bid actual money on free agents for their favorite teams. At the end of each show, the audience will vote for their favorite team who will then move on to the next round.

Tickets for each show are $10 and can be purchased here. Keep reading for full lineups and brackets! Continue Reading

Legendary Improv Format Debuts in Austin

15 of the bravest, most fearless comedy improvisers in Austin, Texas have been assembled to work with Dave Buckman, Cody Dearing and Improv Legend Craig Cackowski in mounting a new run of the legendary long form improv format JTS BROWN at ColdTowne Theater. Collectively, they are known as Arkay.

Developed in Chicago in the summer of 1999 by a legendary cast of improvisors in Chicago with direction from Improv Gurus Mick Napier (Annoyance) and Craig Cackowski (Community, Dasariski), the assembled troupe came together for a nine month rehearsal process to develop JTS BROWN: one of the most challenging, and most freeing, longform improv structures you can learn. Or perhaps “structure” is not the right way to put it: a dreamlike montage of free-flowing scenes that bleed into each other, new edits, new scenes structures and a new paradigm in what is possible in long form. JTS Brown is the ultimate in large ensemble trust and support.

For the last 6 weeks a murderer’s row of Austin Improvisational Talent have been learning and rehearsing with Dave Buckman (The Frank Mills, The Second City) and Cody Dearing (ColdTowne Artistic Director) as well as a special workshop from original JTS Brown Director Craig Cackowski to bring this very special performance piece to Austin audiences at ColdTowne Theater for a Month of Thursdays at 8:30pm in May. Continue Reading

Live BBQ. Delicious Comedy.

A Texas debutante desperate for redemption. Ruthless army wives. The wizened cajun. The hard-partying brothers. Who has what it takes in the categories of chicken, ribs, pork and brisket to take home the coveted Grand Champion title?

Inspired by works such as Christopher Guest’s Best in Show, cult documentary Hands on a Hard Body and Coen brothers whimsy, Braised in Texas is an improvised comedy show that follows a day in the life of competitors, judges and bystanders at a barbecue competition in Central Texas.

The cast includes Arthur Simone, Jericho Thorp, Cortnie Jones, Calan Lambert, Taylor Overstreet, Valerie Ward, Carlos LaRotta, Andrew Buck, Emma Holder, Nicole McCracken, Katie Thornton and John Ratliff as The Narrator.

Braised in Texas shows at 8:30pm every Saturday in May and June, beginning May 4th and running through June 29th at ColdTowne Theater, except the weekend of Sketch Fest.


Austin Sketch Fest Tickets Are LIVE!

Achtung! Austin comedy nerds! Tickets are now live for the 2013 Austin Sketch Fest, Austin’s ONLY festival! We’re hard at work getting our act together, but we can say that without a doubt, this is going to be awesome.

Our early bird passes sold out very quickly. We’re releasing a limited number of ALL-FESTIVAL passes, good for every single one of these amazing shows.

The Hustle Show, Every Girl’s Annual, Tastemakers
WEDNESDAY, MAY 22nd — 8:00pm
ColdTowne Theater, $7

Austin Comedy Hour, P! Company
WEDNESDAY, MAY 22nd — 10:00pm
ColdTowne Theater, $7

Stag Comedy! There’s Waldo
THURSDAY, MAY 23rd — 8:00pm
Spider House Ballroom, $10

Master Pancake
THURSDAY, MAY 23rd — 10:00pm
Spider House Ballroom, $10

Superego w/ Paul F. Tompkins
2 SHOWS! FRIDAY, MAY 24th — 8:00pm, 10:00pm
Spider House Ballroom — $25

Rabbit Rabbit, Your Terrific Neighbors
SATURDAY, MAY 25th — 7:00pm
Spider House Ballroom — $15

Ennis and Kaye, Supereasy
SATURDAY, MAY 25th — 8:30pm
Spider House Ballroom — $15

Beige, LanceLife
SATURDAY, MAY 25th — 10:00pm
Spider House Ballroom — $15

An Historic Evening w/ Brendan K. O’Grady
SUNDAY, MAY 26th — 7:00pm
Spider House Ballroom — $10

Unsuspectingly Sponsored By, Old Fashioned
SUNDAY, MAY 26th — 8:00pm
Spider House Ballroom — $10

Laugh, Dammit!
SUNDAY, MAY 26th — 10:00pm
Spider House Ballroom — $10

April Fools’ Day Stand Up Comedy Show and Sketch Workshop!

The origins of April Fools day are lost to the fog of history. Cultural precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25, and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28,  which is still a day that pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries.

Nevertheless, ColdTowne is soldering on and invading the Spiderhouse Ballroom Monday, April 1st for an evening of sketch comedy workshops and stand up comedy shows.

Monday, April 1st, 9:00pm – Til — $2
We’re bringing some of our favorite stand up comedians together for an evening of comedy, conveniently located near the UT campus. Join (FPIA Winner) Ramin Nazer, Lucas Molandez, Kat Ramzinski, Ryan Cownie, and Cody Hustak. Also, there will be amazing sex raps from MC Sex.

Monday, April 1st 6:30-8:30pm
We will look at the whole spectrum of sketch making, from generating ideas and pitching scenes, to creating viable characters. We will discuss the use of improvisation to generate material, and the importance of a solid running order. We will also examine different styles: what makes them different and what makes them all fundamentally the same.

This will be an ongoing bimonthly drop-in workshop that will meet on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 6:30-8:30pm. It is open to anyone, from the sketch comedy beginner to the sketch pro, to the fan who just wants to learn a little more about the process.

ERIC RUTHERFORD is a seasoned veteran of the sketch comedy and improv world. He has written, performed and directed in Chicago, Los Angeles and Austin. He’s an alumni of the Second City, iO and the Annoyance theaters. He was the director of the acclaimed sketch troupe “Germans”. He currently teaches sketch and performs at ColdTowne Theater.

ATX Sketch Fest Early Bird Passes and Lineup!

Memorial Day Weekend is fast approaching, and that means that the 4th annual Austin Sketch Fest is only three months away. We’ve got some more lineup announcements to make, and we’re not going to lie: we’re pretty pumped about these shows.

We’ve already announced our headliners, Superego (w/ special guest Paul F. Tompkins). We’re also excited to be bringing down Ennis & Kaye, Matt Kaye and John Ennis’s (Mr. Show writer/performer) sketch project.

Joining us from NYC is Beige, a UCB Maude Team. (see Video). From Portland, comes self-help guru Lance Life, who’s one man Ted Talk-inspired lectures will change your life.

The Austin Sketch Festival raison d’etre is to bring together the very best of the Austin comedy community. Master PancakeYour Terrific NeighborsStag ComedyTastemakersEvery Girl’s AnnualUnsuspectingly Sponsored ByLaugh DammitAustin Comedy Hour, An Historic Evening w/ Brendan K. ‘Grady and the Hustle Show will all be featured.

As confirmations roll in, we’ll have even more out of town guests and locals to announce. In the meantime, we’re releasing a second round of discounted Early Bird Passes good for all shows (PURCHASE THEM HERE). The first round sold out in minutes, so jump on this!

The Festival will take place at the Spider House Ballroom and at ColdTowne Theater. The full schedule and tickets for individual shows will be released soon.

The Austin Sketch Fest is produced by ColdTowne Theater, Austin’s home for live comedy, featuring more sketch, improv and stand up per square foot than any other venue in Texas.

Thursday Night Camp-In — Improv Comedy!

In March, start your weekend off right by packing up your favorite pillow (in your mind), leaving the big city (of your mind), and checking into ColdTowne’s Thursday Night Camp-Inn – and then ease yourself into a night full of sugary foods (in your body) and high energy improv.

Every Thursday in March at 8:30pm, improv troupes Precious Dads and Journey to the Big Water will greet you in the lobby with snacks and soda before the show. Between their individual sets, PD and JTTBW will join together on stage to get nostalgic with some vintage campfire improv games.

Journey to the Big Water will take you on an improvised camping trip, performing scenes based on intimate stories from around the campfire.

Precious Dads will fire up the ol’ projector and perform improvised scenes based off of YouTube video suggestions provided by the audience.

So come get s’more laughs in March, at 8:30pm on Thursdays. Tickets are $5 for general admission, and will be available to purchase in advance here.

TGIS — 90s Sitcoms Saturdays in March!

Are you experiencing Full House withdrawal? Did the loss of Mr.Cooper leave you feeling helpless and alone? Well, it’s time to dust off those over-sized overalls (with one strap hanging down of course) and hang those WHAM! posters back up because this spring, ColdTowne’s TGIS Lineup is taking over Saturday nights with a double feature of Improvised 90’s Sitcomedy!

Come be a part of a live studio audience at COLDTOWNE STUDIOS for these two back-to-back improvised sitcoms straight out of the 1990’s! Complete with applause sign, canned laughter, and even some special guest cameos, ColdTowne’s TGIS Lineup seeks to honor the spirit of your favorite prime time TV shows from the past.

Each week begins with an entirely new and entirely improvised episode of Boy Greets World, complete with all of the awkward high school growing pains, and the kind of timid teenage love that a Disney-owned network would feel good about piping into suburban living rooms.



Then stay tuned for an episode of Buddies Austin! Based off of an audience suggestion of “the one where,” the cast and weekly special guests will improvise an all new episode of farcical occurrences and awww-shucksical misunderstandings.


This is the fourth season of a show that previously helped launch a scene in Dallas in May of 2010. The newly opened (and still righteous) Dallas Comedy House was the first home of Buddies where instructors of the theater put together a show based on their mutual love of the now-classic sitcoms on the 80’s and 90’s. Cody Dearing spearheaded the efforts, drawing heavily from a late night show called “Guy Friends” he had seen while training at IO in Chicago. “Buddies!” became a long running hit in Dallas that itself inspired spin-offs of the buddy cop and college years variety.

Now living in Austin, Dearing is at it again, this time enlisting the help of Eric Rutherford who previously worked with the cast of Guy Friends Chicago to help shape their show. Dearing is also pairing with director Courtney Sevener to bring her loving homage of a show entitled Boy Greets World to life. BGW tips, nay, gives its hat to the timeless elements of a certain show following a certain curly haired boy and his friends through their adolescence. Ever a lover of all things 90’s, Sevener & Dearing are teaming up to bring audiences a Saturday Night Line-up that will have even those who aren’t at times overwhelmed with nostalgia for the 90’s (or perhaps even appropriately religious) thanking God for Saturday nights.

Join the fun in March & April at ColdTowne Theater, 8:30pm on Saturdays. Tickets are $7 for general admission, and will be available to purchase in advance HERE.


ATX Sketch Fest Presents: 24 Hour Austin Sketch Comedy Challenge!

So many things come in groups of 24: two cartons of eggs, twelve pairs of socks, three packs of hotdogs. But hours? Who would string together 24 hours of anything, let alone the hardest part of comedy: writing it.

In a bold move, the brains at Austin’s ColdTowne Theater and the Austin Sketch Festival have devised a way to string together 24 consecutive hours of sketch comedy mayhem. When have this many hours ever been utilized for such a single-minded purpose? If anybody’s done it, we haven’t heard from them. That’s how dangerous it is.

Competitors in the 24-hour Sketch Challenge will meet at the theater on Saturday, February 9th before Sci-Fi Saturdays. At precisely 7:00pm, 5 teams will get a string of suggestions and guidelines to ensure that their show has not been previously written or worked on.

The following evening, February 10th, starting at 6pm, teams will perform their shows. The winner will be determined by a combination of audience votes and judge feedback.

When our enormous 24-hour hourglasses run dry at precisely 6pm on Sunday, February 10th, the Brawl will begin and the victor(s) will be spoiled with naps. The losers will… probably have naps too. Having overcome both space and time, the victors will then commence bragging.

We’ll be celebrating the Austin Sketch Festival — happening this Memorial Day weekend!

THIS SHOW IS PAY WHAT YOU WANT! Keep reading for the full list of competitors and the schedule. You can come for part of or the entire two and a half hour show! Continue Reading

Live Comedy and Bad Romance

Austin comedy stalwarts, ColdTowne Theater wants to make love happen the way God* meant it to – with a game show!

Each Thursday in February ColdTowne will be hosting its own live version of the Dating Game show. We’re taking the classic structure of three suitors vying for the love of a bachelorette and pumping it full of love gunk.

In addition to the bachelorette asking naughty, naughty, “no sir” questions to the suitors, she’ll be forcing them to get gnarly with their nasties and deal with a buncha boner-blockers.

But we also want you to find love**. While watching the show, you might get a lucky chance to pull your piece out and win some other schmuck’s heart. Everyone deserves a warm body and soul to form a mutually monogamous relationship agreement with, right? I’m a robot.

Are you a lonely guy looking for his soul mate? A girl on the rebound who wants to get some strange? A couple looking to get freaky deeky by mixing it up with a third (fourth, fifth, dog)? We’ll try to make it happen. By the power in our nuts and bras, we’ll try to make it happen.

If this show doesn’t result in at least one unplanned pregnancy, we will have failed. If it does, the baby must be named Kanye West.


*Tyler Perry
**Get your butt touched

Sci Fi Comedy This February!

To celebrate entering into the future year of 2013, ColdTowne Theater is launching the comedy event of the new year with Sci-Fi Saturdays – a double header of improvised comedy with a science fiction twist.

Every Saturday in February the cast of Sci-Fi Saturdays will perform not one but two amazing back to back improv sets based on the infinity of your imagination – Robots, Time Travel, Alien Invasion, Parallel Universes, Artificial Intelligence, Atomic Created Monsters, Black Holes, and much much more!!!

Bring your antennae, there will be moody lighting and a classic Sci-fi video pre-show until showtime. Then Sci-Fi Saturdays launches into orbit when amiable host — the undeniably hilarious J.K. Sweeney — sets the evening’s tone with a short set of hijinks and introductions for our interstellar comedy acts.

Then the “outstanding” begins with two deep-dish sets of conceptually-hearty and physically-demanding improvised long-form comedy from a who’s who of Austin, TX’s best improv comedians.

First up is Super Apocalypse an intense, fun, improvised look at the end of days. Watch as humanity finds its footing amiss a crumbling society, epic monsters, and a technology which they don’t yet understand.

Then prepare for Star Force – an improvised space adventure show pulled straight from your television box. Join the captain and his crew of intergalactic riff-raff as they travel through time and space exploring the cosmos, discovering new uncharted worlds and meeting new and bizarre civilizations. Set phasers to Comedy Gold!!!

In an improvised world, where anything can happen – Science fiction reigns supreme.

SUPEREGO w/ Paul F. Tompkins Headlines Austin Sketch Fest!

Achtung! Austin comedy nerds! We are excited to announce that our favorite podcast, SUPEREGO, will be headlining the Austin Sketch Fest this Memorial Day weekend w/ special guest Paul F. Tompkins.

We’re still working booking acts and completing the schedule for the Festival, which will take place Memorial Day Weekend. In the meantime, there are a limited number of early-bird all access FESTIVAL PASSES available that include tickets to the SUPEREGO show. Get them here.

If you’re interested coming to Austin to perform for the 2013 Austin Sketch Fest over Memorial Day Weekend – May 22nd through May 27th – follow this link. Deadline is February 1st ($15 payable via Paypal). If you have any questions, you can email us at

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The 2013 ColdTowne Mainstage Season!

According to the Mayan Calendar, the Austin comedy world is going to end in a few short days. We decided to use this opportunity to announce ambitious plans for 2013, because we won’t end up actually having to follow through on any of this. It’s the perfect crime! We look good. The world ends. And then we don’t actually have to put in any work to entertain you.

You can buy tickets for these shows in advance, or if you’re feeling lucky you can purchase a 2013 GOLDEN TICKET, which puts you on a special list to get into any show all year long. GOLDEN TICKET holders can show up to any regular show all year long and get VIP treatment (a bag of delicious popcorn).* GOLDEN TICKETS stop going on sale January 15th, and there’s a limited number.

ColdTowne Theater is Austin’s only entertainment option, with improv, sketch and stand up shows seven nights a week, featuring local Emmy award wining talent, the hardest working moms in show business.

More below the cut… Continue Reading

Comedy Classes — The Best Laziest Gift That Keeps On Giving

Are you in Austin? Are you looking for a fun and unique gift to give your loved one this year? Too lazy to go to the mall? Might we suggest giving the gift of improv comedy?

Improv and sketch classes change lives. It’s also ridiculously easy. All you have to do is REGISTER FOR CLASSES. Include a note or contact the conservatory. Let us know who the gift is for. If you sign up before DECEMBER 18th, we’ll print up a nice little certificate suitable for  unwrapping.

Some of our most talented performers were pimped into this by a family member for a birthday/holiday! And nothing says “holiday” like forcing a loved one out of their comfort zone.

The ColdTowne Conservatory is Austin’s premier long form improv and sketch comedy training center. In fact, we’re so confident in ourselves that we’re offering you a money back guarantee. If you don’t have fun in our level 1 classes, we’ll refund your money with no questions asked.
Whether you’re an aspiring comedian or just looking for something new and wildly entertaining to do, our classes will help. You will boost your confidence, improve your public speaking, increase your spontaneity, and foster your creativity.