Interview with Title Fine: We Got Game’s Laura de la Fuente

Title Fine: We Got Game is ColdTowne’s newest MainStage production. Featuring an all-female cast of eight players and one coach who play game-based improv in the off season, the cast is entirely composed of women who played sports in high school or college. We interviewed some of the cast to talk about their athletic experience and how they developed their characters for the show. We interviewed Laura de la Fuente of Express Yourself and all-lady super group SheSheSheShe to find out how she sported as a kid, and how she approaches her character, Madi “HAM” Bacon.

Laura de le Fuente, who plays Madi "HAM" Bacón,

Laura de le Fuente, who plays Madi “HAM” Bacón,

What sort of sports did you play as a kid? 
I played rec soccer in Plano, TX for eight years on a team that was really really dominant in our league for all eight years. We were called “The Phantoms”. And, before every game we would all put our hands in and say “ONE! TWO! THREE! (then whisper) *phantomssss*” Now that I think about it, that was a really creepy chant.  No wonder we won all the time.  That’s a good lesson – “Fear intimidates.”

I also played basketball and volleyball in middle school and softball as a freshman in high school. I did marching band in high school which is a hell of a workout in the Texas heat, so I’m adding this as a sport. I marched with the trombone, and I marched hard.

What is a favorite story from traveling with your squad? 
-While riding in the back of the bus trying to be a cool kid, the actual cool kids taught me how to make little baby feet in the foggy windows with your fists. I still make them whenever I’m in a car with foggy windows which I’m sure EVERYONE loves bc then when the fog subsides you have the cutest trail of little baby foot prints on your windows forever.

What drew you to this show? 
It’s a cast of bad-a** ladies led by a bad-a** lady coach. What more could you want?

How did you go about creating your character for the show? 

Laura de la Fuente as "HAM"

Laura de la Fuente as “HAM”

My character, Marisol (Madi) Bacón (but you can call me Ham), is loosely based on my softball coach in high-school who would say things  in a deliciously deep Texas accent like “Unhook the plow!” and “Five  minutes early is ten minutes too late!” Plus, I love how heartfelt she was about saying sports clichés like she was the first to ever say them, and her sincerity to loving softball as a way of life is something that’s in Ham for sure.

Do you think you’d be friends with your character in real life? 
Ham would make me laugh real deep, and I’d appreciate her sincerity with a fond heart, so yes.

Who do you think will like this show? 
Everyone.  Jesus, this cast is so funny and this show is so funny I seriously can’t think of a better way to spend every Saturday night at 8:30P in August and September than at ColdTowne Theater.

Movie Riot brings you Spin-Off Summer this August

Every Friday at ColdTowne Theater, the improv team Movie Riot creates a never before seen movie, live on stage. However, for the month of August, Movie Riot is giving their format a little spin. An audience member suggests a movie and Movie Riot will create a spin-off. It’s called Spin-Off Summer and they’re performing it all this month. “What’s a spin-off?” the less educated among you might ask. A spin-off is a movie (or any piece of entertainment really, but we’ll stick with movies) that takes a character from another movie, and gives him/her their own film. Minions is a spin-off of Despicable Me. The spooky doll movie Annabelle was a spin-off of The Conjuring and who can forget The Rock’s first starring movie The Scorpion King? Hopefully a lot of people but it was a spin-off of The Mummy Returns.

mori_ernest13thSSmmr

So far in this series, Move Riot was challenged to create a spin-off to Dances with Wolves. Did you know the doctor that operated on Kevin Costner’s character was actually a time-traveller who broke down racial barriers in the South during Reconstruction? You would know that if you saw the Movie Riot original improvised movie Dances with Time Travel. Not their best title, but still a very funny show.

Movie Riot will also be performing with an impressive group of guest comedians all this month.

For the August 12th show the guests will be Lauren Knutti, Sam Eidson, and Sam Malcolm

August 19th: Sam Eidson, Sam Malcolm, and Megan Mowry

August 26th: Megan Mowry

And opening for Movie Riot all month long is the group, The Bitter Tears of Yesterday’s Tomorrow.

Save money by getting your tickets in advance and come early for FREE margaritas, popcorn, and movie candy in the lobby.

ColdTowne featured on KLRU with Stand Up Empire (June 26th)

The comedy scene in Austin is exploding. With eight comedy theaters (and counting), and hundreds of improvisors, stand ups and sketch comedy performers, Austin is quickly producing talent that competes easily with comedians from larger markets, such as Chicago, LA and NYC. To chronicle the exploding comedy scene in ATX, creators Mike Wilson and Brently Heilbron developed Stand Up Empire, which is produced by local PBS affiliate KLRU.

Directed and produced by Chris Shea, Stand Up Empire chronicles the comedy scene in Austin, with a distinct focus on the top-notch stand up scene.  We were recently featured on the fourth episode, with interviews with Executive Producer Dave Buckman, Managing Director Erika May McNichol and Loverboy’s Stephanie Thoreson.

We were delighted to have Stand Up Empire recognize ColdTowne as a hotbed of comedic talent across all the comedy types, and to be featured alongside Live at ColdTowne regular Martin Urbano and Avery Moore.

Check the whole thing out, and watch for the segment on ColdTowne around 21:40.

You like? Check out Live at ColdTowne Fridays at 10pm and Loverboy on Wednesday nights at 8:30pm.

 

 

Visiting Lecturer Series: Rich Talarico

famiLIES, ColdTowne’s latest mainstage production was Originally improvised by LA based improv troupe Dasariski whichtakes it’s name from the three memebrs:  Bob DASsie, Rich TalARIco and Craig CackowSKI. ColdTowne presents this new comedic staged play about three brothers and the lives they try to keep hidden from each other and the lies we tell ourselves when we do. It runs Saturdays in June at 830 pm

Rich Talarico will be coming to ColdTowne the last week of it’s run to check out the performance and teach a workshop. Rich will lead a 3 hour workshop/seminar that discusses writing and creating techniques from improv-based Second City and comedic play famiLIES, to late night shows like Key & Peele, MADtv, SNL and The Tonight Show to high concept shows like Review and The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show . 

He was kind of enough to answer a few of our questions about his career and his writing process and his heroes

What are you memories of originally putting together’Dead Uncle Ted” and ‘Loose Fish’?

Dead Uncle Ted and Loose fish were two scripted shows that actually combined stories from many different improvised shows that Dasariski had done in the last 10-15 years. 

Dasariski started transcribing our shows and eventually we found stories that worked together and Loose Fish combines a few shows and DUT combines some shows. We asked our friend/ director Alex Fendrich to direct us in these new scripted shows which we did at iO West. 

The original improv shows (think there were 5 or 6 that were used to come up with scripts for Loose Fish and a few others that made up DUT. 

In the shows in question, we obviously picked material that resonated with us in some way. We seemed to get a lot of mileage out of characters who were deeply opinionated, passionate and generally screwed.  Most of the characters we play in our improv are fools who dare to dream. 

After playing with Bob and Craig for 20+ years, what are you favorite parts of what they bring to your shows?

When we’re “on” there’s nothing like it. At its best working with Craig and Bob becomes like an exercise in telepathy or mind reading. There have been moments when Craig or Bob were going to move a chair on stage (and I KNEW “oh, he’s making the principal’s office we just heard about) and it immediately tells me where we are going. I have enjoyed playing with lots of great players over the years, but something with Craig and Bob and me really brings us to a place I haven’t found with many other players except Jean Villepique, Stephnie Weir, McBrayer, Jagodowski, Dorff, Sagher… etc.  Craig was my first improv coach and asked me to join his team MR BLONDE which later added an unknown Tina Fey. Bob was with Steph on a rival house team but we always enjoyed playing together. We always laughed at the same kinds of things. 

Bob put together a show called TRIO (the first late night SUnday show at io Chicago) and it was me, Steph Weir and Bob and the show (in 1998) was meant to mirror and explore the way a jazz trio would; holding it down and letting the other guy solo, etc. 

When we still had some slots avail and Steph and Bob had briefly broken up(!) we asked Craig to join us in her place. And, Craig agreed saying only if we called the show DASARISKI would he do it. We thought it was a terrible name and didn’t think it would be our name for 17+ years. 

When you create scripted work through improvisation like this or in Second City revue processes do you think that you improvise differently, knowing you’re looking for content as opposed to shows where you are not?

SC is totally different animal. You KNOW you are trying to get scripted stuff. With the shows LOOSE FISH and DUT we never improvised any of these shows thinking we were creating material. However that’s all we did at Second City. Craig and I were in the Mainstage cast at SC for a couple shows together. 

But, with this stuff we weren’t worried about scripting. We recorded our shows because we wanted to learn. We transcribed the shows to see what was working and what wasn’t. It wasn’t until later when we had a wealth of stuff that we thought, could this stuff be used in another way. 

Our first effort was a short film we made called Jakarta Boom Boom (it is a 12 min film taken from a 45 min improv) we just squeezed it down. Premise is Craig and I are two american businessmen who are secretly gay who are trying to get bob (another higher up businessman from America) in a 3 way. We are all trapped in a hotel room in Jakarta. It’s on you tube and worth checking out. Directed by the great Chicago director Leroy Koetz. 

What’s your favorite sketch ever?

Jordan Peele wrote so many at Key & Peele that I loved. Steph Weir is an amazing writer and most of her SC stuff still astounds me.   

Gah! What a question— okay if I had to pick I’d say the best most reliable sketch I have ever seen (and performed in SC tourco) is Pictionary originally written and performed by Steve Carrel, Paul Dinello, Ruth Rudnick and Fran Adams from SC. It’s always a killer and involves two couples playing men vs. women at Pictionary. The ladies kill and the men devolve into arguing. That’s a desert island sketch and it always works. 

Who are your writing idols?

Technically things opened up for me a lot after reading STORY by Robert McKee— But, Joseph Campbell changed my life, so did Christopher Hitchens. 

Who are your improv idols?

So lucky to play with my idols, eh? Bob, Craig, Steph Weir, Rachel Dratch, Kevin Dorff, TJ Jagodowski, Tami Sagher, Jack McBrayer– are the people I came up with who I seem to have the best scenes with. They also always do things in scenes that build on what we are doing and also delight or surprise. 

Rich Talarico is an Emmy nominated and Peabody Award winning writer and producer best known for his work on Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele.“ Additionally, Rich has written/produced “Review” on Comedy Central, FOX’s “Mad TV,” NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” “The Tonight Show w. Jay Leno”,  and the 2-hour TV Special “Must See TV: A Tribute to James Burrows.” Rich also produced and wrote “Frank TV“ for TBS, “The Sketch Pad” for HBO and co-produced The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show for Comedy Central. Back in the 1900s  Rich took his first improv class from Stephen Colbert at Chicago’s Second City Theater in 1992; went on to tour with Second City’s National Touring Company and later co-created five original sketch comedy revues with SC’s etc., and Main Stage Companies. While in Chicago, Rich was also involved at Improv Olympic (Now iO) under the direction of Charna Halpern and the late, Del Close. Rich played on the Improv Olympic house teams “Mr. Blonde” and “Faulty Wiring” – co-created the long-form improv shows “Strap Heads”, “Trio”, “Close Quarters” and “Dasariski“ and played with the early casts of the long running “Armando Diaz Experience, Theatrical Movement and Hootenanny.” Rich has appeared in a few TV commercials, most notably A&W Rootbeer’s “Mr. Dumass”. Rich also appeared in small roles on “Review”, “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”, “Early Edition”, “What About Joan?” and the feature film “High Fidelity”. More at richtalarico.com

Late Night TV Writing Lecture with Rich Talarico (LA)

The ColdTowne Visiting Lecturer Series continues with veteran TV writer Rich Talarico.

Rich will lead a 3 hour workshop/seminar that discusses writing and creating techniques from improv-based Second City and comedic play famiLIES, to late night shows like Key & Peele, MADtv, SNL and The Tonight Show to high concept shows like Review and The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show . This will be a seminar where some participants will be asked to help demonstrate ideas and concepts and Rich will spend a lot of time answering your writing and showbiz related questions.

This event will include a few audience volunteers to illustrate theories discussed, but will follow a lecture format (not a workshop). Limited to 25 people.

SUNDAY, JUNE 26th
11am-2pm
ColdTowne Conservatory
6929 Airport Blvd.

Cost: $40

To register, go here.

Chrissy Shackelford Workshops

by John Ratliff

Last night I saw I Didn’t See You There, the Austin Sketch Fest solo showcase. It was great, and it reminded me that I tend to underestimate the importance of characters in improv.

Like a lot of improvisers, I often play characters who are pretty close to myself. Which is fine: it makes it easier to play real, and I don’t have to wonder what the character would do in a situation, which I sometimes do when I wander farther afield.

But just as players who always play wacky characters need to learn to play a believable version of themselves, those of us who are more comfortable playing ourselves owe it to our improv (and our scene partners) to learn how to play a wider range of characters.

I think one reason I shy away from characters is that over the years I’ve seen so many that work against good improv. Characters who are too broad, or who make no sense (even to themselves), or who are just rehashes of exhausted cliches — sorry, tropes — tend to destroy the kind of improv I like, the kind where believable characters are interacting with and affecting each other.

But if you’re doing non-narrative improv, then good characters become that much more important. Not having to follow a story is freeing, sure, but then what makes things happen? The characters being themselves, that’s what. There’s a reason why it’s convenient (if a little misleading) to divide improv scenes into game scenes and character scenes (even though most good scenes are both). They’re both things that move a scene forward without resorting to plot.

So even if — especially if — you think of yourself as a grounded, realistic player, you should look into expanding your universe and venturing beyond the frontiers of yourself occasionally.

You’re like: Ratliff, how do I do that? Well, Bunky, I’ll tell you.

Our good friend Chrissy Shackelford is in town for Sketch Fest, visiting from New York, where she teaches at UCB and is apparently becoming some kind of goddamned Queen of Comedy. (And rightly so. Just don’t forget where you came from, Missy.)

Chrissy is teaching not one but two workshops on characters this weekend, and all I can tell you is that if you’re like me, you have a lot to learn from her. Not only is she one of the best actors ever to come through ColdTowne, she’s very friggin’ smart about what makes comedy work, and here she is, spilling all her secrets like honey on the forest floor.

I think you know what to do.

Register for Creating Characters

Register for Strengthening Characters

Austin Sketch Fest Is Here!

Lovers of comedy, one of the best weeks in Austin is here. The 2016 Austin Sketch Comedy Festival––7 days of the best scripted comedy from Austin and beyond. All this week we have multiple shows each night featuring sketch, stand-up, and more starting at ColdTowne Theater, stopping by the Hideout Theater, and then concluding with three nights at the Spiderhouse Ballroom.

Our headlining shows this year includes an all-new, original Seinfeld episode performed by Bellevue, from NYC’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. From UCB’s LA Theater, we have the amazing group Nephew who’ll be performing Friday. Austin Sketch Fest was also lucky enough to get one of our favorite comedy duos NYC’s Girls With Brown Hair, back for a third straight year.

We also have a murderer’s row of hilarious Austin-based performers, including Vanessa Gonzalez, Your Terrific Neighbors, Master Pancake Theater, and more.

This year’s ASF will also play host to a live stand-up album recording from Eric Krug, who’ll be recording his comedy debut for Sure Thing Records. We’ll also have Sketch Fest editions of popular shows like Naughty Bits, the hit comedy & sex advice show. And somehow, somebody also managed to sneak in some improv.

For tickets, show information, and a complete schedule visit atxsketchfest.com

Recipes from the Garden

As seasoned hostesses, all the ladies of Gardenalia have a signature recipe that they delight in making and sharing with their fellow adherents. From cocktails to substantials, their recipes pair well with repressed feelings and overshares alike.

12916380_10156774399910204_8382063846891112251_oVivian’s Spring Fling Punch
Perfect for Weddings, Garden Parties, and non-Religious Wakes
– 2 liters sparkling water (if you haven’t tried carbonation yet, you’re in for a treat!)
– The juice of 10 lemons
– 2lbs sugar
– 1 oz pure cocaine powder 

Stir ingredients together in a crystal punch bowl.

Helpful hint: Do not give to children after 9pm as they will be impossible to put to sleep.

12439406_10156681644465548_1390907509237071307_nDorthy Bell’s Swiss Steak
Take 1 round of young steak, recently sacrificed, 1 ½ inches thick, pound well on both sides with the fervor of 100 women and knead into the meat as much flour and passion as it will hold, season with
salt and pepper.

Put into a hot frying pan, in which a large tablespoonful of butter has been melted, let brown a few moments on both sides, then place in roaster and pour enough hot water over it to halfcover. Simmer in oven until tender and serene, about two and one-half hours. Excellent gravy can be made with this.

Millie’s Farm Fresh Hard-Boiled Eggs12809698_10154656301533056_180461888952509044_n
Step 1) Buy chickens.
Step 2) Place chickens in coop.
Step 3) Wait six months.
4) Remove egg from coop.
4.5) Nuzzle chickens (optional)
5) Place in boiling water, wait 10 minutes.
6) Eat eggs.
7) Go pet chickens. They need it.

12400999_10154162932554623_7076393806822219034_nGeorgia Jefferson’s Friday Night
– 1oz Gin
– 1oz Gin
– 1oz Gin
– Pure silk scarf, white or jewel-toned

Don scarf. Pour liquid ingredients into Hernando County 1st place (Talent) trophy chalice. Add additional 1/2 cup of Gin, swirl in cup and listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber anthology on repeat.

Gardenalia plays every Saturday at 8:30pm through May 7th.  For tickets, click here.

Me vs. Game: A Love Story

by John Ratliff

During the first few years I was doing improv, I developed a reputation as someone who hated game. (As in “the game of the scene.”) I didn’t hate it, really; I just thought it ran counter to the two things I really wanted to do, which were (a) grounded, realistic scenework and (b) mind-blowing trippy organic stuff. (Which aren’t as different as they might seem, but that’s a different blog post.)

To my way of thinking, game was at best a crutch and at worst a severe limitation. I wanted to be free to do anything, to be completely in the moment. How could I do that if I was busy trying to follow the rules of some stupid game?

I still feel this way about some forms of game play. I’ve never liked any kind of improv in which there can be a “wrong” move, and in the narrowest version of game, it’s possible to screw it up by doing it wrong. (I say I don’t like that style of play because improv is about unconditional support, but to be honest, it terrifies me, because one of my biggest fears is that everybody else except me knows what’s going on.)

So I kept hacking away at learning how to do grounded, emotionally realistic scenework, which I do not regret. And … I started noticing some things along the way.

First, although I was getting better at playing realistic scenes, they often felt a little slack and wander-y. Huh, I thought, maybe there’s some way to give these scenes more of a sense of purpose and momentum.

Second, I noticed that a lot of my friends who had been working on game were getting really good at improv in general.

Third, I kept taking workshops and classes about game, and my understanding of it gradually expanded. In particular, I remember taking a workshop with Brandon Gardner (from UCB NYC) in which he discussed the stem-and-petals analogy: the game isn’t the flower, it’s the stem of the flower, and the scene is whatever grows off that main stem. Once you know what the game of the scene is, you can go in any direction; if you really know what the game is, you’ll eventually get back to it.

Suddenly, game seemed much more open and promising. I had been thinking of it as a grinding reduction of the scene down to one idea. But this was different; this was a platform you could launch off of in any direction. And it was also something that you could incorporate into a larger scene, regardless of whether the larger scene was about the game (no matter what Matt Besser says). Even if you’re just using it as one of many tools, it’s one of the most useful and universal of those tools. At the very least, you need to be familiar with it.

Improvisers who are initially drawn to fast and gamey play often start wanting to play more grounded, realistic scenes after a few years. I went in the opposite direction: for a while now, I’ve been trying to find opportunities to get better at game. As in, for instance, workshops like the ones Brandon will be teaching May 8th. I also auditioned for Stool Pigeon, which is all about premise-based game play, so I could rehearse it on a weekly basis. And now I’m playing in a group that does The Deconstruction, so I have to think about game-based scenes for at least part of the show.

In short: I’ve learned to love game. And if I can learn to love it, anyone can.


John Ratliff is the Conservatory Director at ColdTowne Theater, where he was voted Best Teacher or Coach in 2015. He has studied improv at ColdTowne and at iO and The Annoyance in Chicago.

Brandon Gardner Workshops

Brandon Gardner of UCB New York will be teaching workshops on May 8th. Workshops are $35 each or $60 for both (see below for details on how to save).

The Game of the Scene
12pm-2pm, Sun. 5/8
ColdTowne Conservatory (6929 Airport Blvd., Suite #131, Austin, TX 78752)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

UCB Theater found Ian Roberts says that the best compliment you can get after an improv show is an audience member not believing it wasn’t written and rehearsed.  This workshop will focus on helping you get better at finding and playing a strong, clear, comedic idea with your partner the way it would exist in a great sketch or a sitcom character.


The First Three Lines
3pm-5pm. Sun. 5/8
ColdTowne Conservatory (6929 Airport Blvd., Suite #131, Austin, TX 78752)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

The first three lines are the most important moment in any scene.  They are the difference between scenes that feel fun and easy and ones that feel like you’re stuck in comedy hell. This workshop we’ll use exercises and scene work to focus on slowing down that first moment to avoid common roadblocks and find the Game of the Scene quickly and easily.


Discount Information

To claim your $10 discount, register for the Game of the Scene first. You’ll receive a promotion code on your confirmation page.  Use that when registering for The First Three Lines, and you’ll knock $10 off, bringing the total to $60.


ABOUT BRANDON GARDNER

Brandon has been a performer and writer at the UCB Theater in New York since 2007 and has been an instructor there since 2009. He has been a member of the UCB house teams Bastian, Let’s Have a Ball, Reuben Williams, Improv Nerds and The Curfew and is a regular at UCB’s flagship show ASSSSCAT 3000. In addition to performing in NYC, Brandon is a member of the UCB TourCo All-Stars with whom he performs and teaches workshops around the world.

As a senior teacher Brandon has helped develop the UCB Training Center curriculum and has taught over one-hundred 8 week courses at every level. He has taught Advanced Level classes in Harolds, Scene Work, Improvised Plays and Improv to Sketch. Outside of UCB, Brandon is an active actor, writer and director.

Express Yourself is a Wrap!

The ‘Powerz That Be’ at ColdTowne Theater have asked the cast and directors of ‘Express Yourself’ to write some sad-sack sappy shit about the show. What follows is said sad-sack sappy shit.

 

Linzy-optLinzy Beltran:

‘Express Yourself’ is THE most meaningful show I’ve ever done. Not only was I able to improvise with some of the most talented and supportive comedians in Austin, but we collaborated to speak honestly about issues that truly mattered to each of us conveying true moments and emotions that often made us feel our most vulnerable.

 

I joined because there was going to be another Salvadorian in the cast and I wanted to brag about it to my mom. The result was creating a show that made all others seem like they were missing something.

 

Kenah-optKenah Benefield:

‘Express yourself’ was a show where I could make fun of all of my peers in high school while also talking about real issues that affect us all.

 

Ryan-optRyan Darbonne:

A wise, and totally stacked, man named Ryan Darbonne M.D. once said, “The revolution will not be televised but rather hidden under the guise of a dick joke” Ok, fine. It’s some dumb shit I made up but it’s a sentiment that I firmly believe in. Comedy, as an art form, has always been an important tool to address sociopolitical issues in an all-inclusive way. If you’re laughing with someone a ‘message’ or unique point of view is much easier to digest than the bullshit didacticism found in drama (‘Do the Right Thing’ vs. ‘Crash’ anyone?). When Frank asked me to help co-direct ‘Express Yourself’ I was elated. An opportunity to work closely with an improviser/director I have an immense amount of respect for? Fuck yeah! A chance to subvert racial stereotypes and make a live, predominately white, studio audience uncomfortable with some comedic real talk? Frank, you had me at ‘Hello Kunta’ (btw please stop calling me that. It was funny the first time…).

 

From the get-go the show felt like something special. Once the groundwork was laid out, the tone set and the cast assembled I knew we had something great. Every week our cast of insanely talented players pushed themselves and managed to tackle serious topics (some more heartbreaking than others) with a comedic professionalism that never belittled the subject matter. They forced themselves to be vulnerable, played deplorable characters and fucking killed every single (sold out) performance. ‘Express Yourself’ would NOT have been what it was without them. I’m insanely proud to have been a part of it.

 

Will-optWill Cleveland:

I’m going to remember this show for a long time. This cast was so open, warm, and funny. There should be more comedy shows that take these kinds of risks.

 

 

Abby-optAbby Lincoln:

The show was a dream come true for me; I mean who doesn’t want to work a demanding fulltime job then spend the weekend pretending to do that same exact thing in front of a room full of strangers? In all seriousness though, ‘Express Yourself’ was a dream come true for me as an educator. It was very refreshing to use my first love, acting/performing, to explore and improve my second love, educating low-income students. I’m very proud of the work that our cast was able to accomplish and excited at the prospect that the show broadened some minds and opened some hearts.

 

Laura-optLaura de La Fuente:

Deb and I are two twin bastion baked beans in a bean pod, which is to say that Deb is what my heart looks like. I think it’s like that for most of the players in the show. Each of the characters we played were personal extensions of ourselves. Deb is basically my heart with legs, a Boston accent, and a Red Sox baseball cap. I think ultimately what I learned from the show is that the feelings of adolescence – the angst, the pain, the confusion, the heartache, the yearning – never really go away. Check the internet sometime y’all. It’s filled with inspirational quotes aimed at adults on self-doubt and soul-searching… those “adolescent feelings” are really just human feelings. I still wish I could go back in time and tell my adolescent self “it’s ok – you are not your emotions. You’re bigger than them, and you’ll learn what that means some day. Please be kind to yourself.”

 

‘Express Yourself’ taught me how important it is to bring awareness to what matters to you. You don’t need to be perfectly articulate. Just be brave and talk about it from your heart. Just talk.

 

Oh my gawuhd I miss this show so hard already.

 

Love,

Laura/Deb

 

Lilli-optLilli Lopez:

As an improviser, this show pushed me to create goals beyond getting laughs. Being funny almost became irrelevant. Performing in a show that ignites conversation around topics I deeply care about felt like a responsibility. As a person of color it was empowering. We were able to evoke emotion through scenes touching on topics that, too often, hit home personally but may never cross the minds of many of our audience members. That was truly cathartic for me.

 

Maggie-optMaggie Maye:

‘Express Yourself’ was an interesting and fulfilling experience for me. Every show we dealt with subject matters that weren’t inherently funny (sometimes they were downright tragic) while still being able to put on a hilarious show. I enjoyed working with and learning from the cast members and directors, as well as opening my mind as a performer and as a human who lives in a world riddled with the issues we addressed.

 

Nat-optNat Miller:

‘Express Yourself’ was one of the most challenging and rewarding improv shows I’ve done and featured an incredibly smart and talented cast of players. We didn’t go too deep into the issues on every show but when we did you could feel its impact on the audience. I’m grateful to Frank and Ryan for having the courage to do this show and I hope it inspires more work like it in the Austin improv community.

 

Ronnie-optRonnie Miller:

My whole reason for getting into improv was to have an outlet for self-expression. So when the opportunity to be in a show called ‘Express Yourself’ came up it seemed like a no-brainer. After all, performing for an audience of people who are at least somewhat interested in what you have to say is a lot healthier than getting into arguments with random strangers in the comments sections of Austin American Statesman articles. In everything I do I try to approach it from a place of truth and love…this show was no different. In particular, ‘Express Yourself’ forced me to get out of my comfort zone of quick wit and banter and required me to really dig deep and be more vulnerable on stage. I also had to quiet my inner contrarian. Instead of just vocalizing an opposing viewpoint I really had to strive to show or understand how that viewpoint came to be. I think that is where the impact comes from and why the show has been so popular. It has allowed people to experience points of views they don’t regularly get to see.

 

Frank-optFrank Netscher:

‘Express Yourself’ has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Going into it, I was terrified. Coming out of it, I don’t know how I’m ever going to improvise again. First of all, I’ve never had a co-director like Ryan Darbonne. In any improv project, I’m the one who’s always way too committed to putting effort into the show. Ryan was right there with me, excited and exhausted. He’s smart and playful and just a comedy genius. But, so was everyone on the cast (Suck it, Ryan!). I have never directed a cast that was so willing to meet the high standards that I set for them. For the show to work, they had to be completely vulnerable about their identities for seven weeks straight. The bar was really high, and they went way over it. Nobody involved was just looking for stage time; they all wanted the show to be really good. When you have so many people committed to making a good show, it’s hard for me to accept any credit. It just felt so much bigger than me.

 

Sanjay-optSanjay Rao:

‘Express Yourself’ was such a fun and exciting show. I loved the polish the directors push so hard for. I loved the characters we got to create. I loved the subject matter we tackled. I loved how the show wasn’t afraid to “go there”. I loved the moments of vulnerability that people had. I loved the wild, crazy, and silly moments that were earned. I just loved this show and will always remember it as something unique.

 

Kim-optKim Tran

Racism, police brutality, gentrification, etc – these are topics that we should all learn and talk about more but don’t because it can be uncomfortable. The show gave audiences, and myself, a way to explore a hard topic while making it personal, palatable and funny at the same time. And people liked it. There are probably elements of this show that could be used in real-life conversations to discuss these issues. ‘Express Yourself’ was special to me because it was the first time I wasn’t one of the few brown people on stage. In a way, and maybe just for me, it was relieving to not have to feel the burden of representation and be among players who, in some form or fashion, take part in the shared experience of being a minority. We just came to have fun, be real and express ourselves.

 

Javi-optJavi Ungo:

This has absolutely been one the most gratifying experiences I have had in improv. To play with a cast that was primarily people of color and to tackle difficult topics was enormously rewarding. The fact that I was able to get on stage and make jokes about pupusas (Google it and then go get you some) was so rewarding in the sense that I was able to bring so much of my own identity to the stage in a way I had never been able to.

Letters from the Garden – Gardenalia Opens Tomorrow!

Arian Brumby Dear Matilda,

gwendolynI’m so glad to hear that your husband was hospitalized for exhaustion! He’s been a thorn in your side for too long. Perhaps now you’ll have more time to play the rain stick. The Garden Party is this Saturday and I’m hoping to make a special connection with Ruby. She and I were very friendly in school. Very friendly… But I digress. The business is doing splendidly. I’ve cured three cats of schizophrenia and a fourth of sad thoughts. Hoping you can bring Muffins by soon. I miss you both terribly. Toodaloo, Gwendolyn

Kim Lowery Dear Diary,

DorthyI’m counting down the days until the Garden Party. Vivian is hosting this year, and I simply can’t wait to see what the girls will be wearing. Oh Diary, I cannot admit to anyone else how aroused I am by the thought of all the possibilities. I feel the electricity in the air as the day nears when our spirits will coalesce. Oh, I promise I’ve been good all year long. I’ve followed the rules and done what was asked of me, but now it’s almost that time when I can finally find my freedom again. Yours truly, Dorthy

Kristen Samuelsen Dear Journal,

MillieHarry Houdini died today. I’m extraordinarily shaken up about it. Growing up, he was the one person I could count on to defy the constrains of life as we know it — to make the impossible possible, if you will. When I was a little girl, Isaw his act when he escaped from a milk can filled with water. It mesmerized and excited me. If he could escape death, perhaps I could, too! Now that he’s passed, the impossible seems impossible again. I am filled with woe. I don’t know how I’ll be able to go on. Oh, there’s that Garden Party this weekend. Perhaps that will lift my spirits. Here’s hoping. Until next time, Millie

Emma Holder Dear Lenoire,

VivianI hope sea bathing in Greece is the cure all we hoped it would be for you. That Psoriasis will clear up in no time, I’m sure! The Garden party is this Saturday and it won’t be the same without you, but we must carry on. It will be nice to see all of the ladies. I see Millie and Frankie quite regularly but I haven’t seen Georgia since her New Year’s Eve party. Hopefully no one will bring up the champagne fountain incident. I do wish you would be there to help me stay grounded but I am afraid in your absence I may just have to get wild! Your Sister of Dionysus, Vivian

Lindsey Moringy Dear Diary,

GeorgiaWhy why why wasn’t I chosen for the lead role in our community theater’s rendition of “Showboat.” It doesn’t make any sense. I am the gem of this town. Everyone knows my name. Why. In response to the foolish director’s protesting of my destiny, I will be counter-protesting at each showing of “Showboat.” I will march with signs, sing songs of my own, and I expect the entire community to join in my noble cause. I’ve already thought of several chants: “SHOWBOAT, NO BOAT – WE WANT GEORGIA!”


Find TicketsGardenalia_Poster-opt

Directed by Kristin Henn/Produced by Kristin Henn & Erika May McNichol

Gardenalia is a Bachanalian garden party. A yearly ritual clandestinely celebrated by women for over 3000 years. Secrets revealed, powers unleashed, patterns observed. A garden party in the 1920’s where the “rituals” heighten to absurdity and release. An experiential comedic and weird experience about the small, strange things people do to navigate the world and the hidden practices of the people you think you know.

Find Tickets

ColdTowne Theater Summer Improv Intensives, July 25th-July 31st

They’re baaaaack!

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

What should students expect?

 

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

Who are the instructors?

The intensives will be taught by a cross-section of our seasoned, award-winning faculty, including:

Dave Buckman (Second City, Boom Chicago!, ColdTowne Executive Director)
Erika May-McNichol (iO Chicago, ComedySportz – Chicago)
Will Cleveland (UCB, ColdTowne Artistic Director)
Cody Dearing (ColdTowne, Dallas Comedy Theater)
Michael Jastroch (ColdTowne founder, touring teacher and lecturer)
John Ratliff (Best Improv Instructor, 2011, ColdTowne Conservatory Director) and more!

Class enrollment will be limited to maximize individual instruction and stage time.  Each intensive will conclude with a final class performance.

Ssocial CTocial stuff? Yes’m!

In addition to the rigorously fun classes, we’ve got a full docket of social outings planned, as well as a specially curated show lineup to give you the full ColdTowne experience.

All students will receive a free pass to all shows during their intensive enrollment.

Is it for me?

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

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

How much does it cost?

Week-long intensive (July 25th through July 29th) – $425
Weekend intensive (July 29th through July 31st)- $199

Ready to sign up? Register here!

Questions?

Contact Michael Jastroch at jastroch@coldtownetheater.com.

Make It About The Relationship

TJ & Dave

TJ & Dave

By Sanjay Rao

“Make it about the relationship”. You probably get this note in class and rehearsal all the time. It’s one of those golden rules of improv. When in doubt focus on the relationship. Say you’re in a tag out run and you’ve tagged in with your hilarious quip. It gets that big laugh but no one tags you out or edits the scene. Or you’re in a scene and so much craziness is going on you don’t know what to do. Now what? Focus on the relationship!

The relationship between scene partners tends to be the most compelling aspect in any scene regardless of style or format. It’s also something that you can always go back to. That weird, quirky way you mispronounced a funny word has only so much fuel behind it but a good, believable relationship can power an hour long show (just ask TJ and Dave). But how do you make it about the relationship especially if you’re already confused or in your head?

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.23.48 PM

Digging a ditch

So how do you focus on the relationship? One very simple and useful way is to call out your scene partner’s behavior. This doesn’t necessarily mean what they are physically doing. Let’s take an example. My scene partner has grabbed their mimed shovel and starts digging an improvised ditch. The scene is not about digging a ditch. HOW are they digging the ditch? Are they happy about it? Are they sad about it? Are they being lazy about it? Are they perfectly content? These are all behaviors that you can call out. It’s the “how” that fuels all of it. Once you know how your scene partner is behaving then we can explore how that makes you feel. Going back to the last example, your scene partner is digging a ditch and he’s angry about it. Better yet something more specific like it makes you feel proud of them. Anything is valid here, just let yourself feel something!

After we have that established we can fill in the gaps of where we are, who we are, why we’re here, what do we want, etc. Now you know how you feel about one another in relation to this activity that is happening RIGHT NOW. We’ve developed a relationship! An added bonus is that since we started with an activity (in this case digging a ditch) the scene is more active and engaging. Once an audience is truly engaged the jokes will come out more naturally and land harder. All the little games you find along the way, like mispronouncing a word, will mean more because they will be built on top of a relationship that serves as a foundation for the scene. But getting an audience to be engaged isn’t as simple as that. You have to do all this stuff well. How do you do it well? Practice!

A very basic exercise to build these muscles is to have one scene partner come in and start an activity and add an emotional element. After a beat a second person enters the scene and calls out what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Going back to the previous example, if the first person starts digging a ditch happily the second person will call out “You’re digging a ditch happily!” and then he or she will make a choice about how they feel about that. After letting that sink in, the first person can then call out their behavior, “You’re happy too!” From here we begin the scene by responding to the last thing and we can fill in the blanks like who, what, and where. This exercise will help you read behavior as well as starting scenes more physically and emotionally active.

Sanford Meisner

Sanford Meisner

If you want to go deeper you can study the Meisner exercise that actors have been using for ages to learn to read and explore behavior. It’s a fantastically simple yet endlessly complicated exercise that a single paragraph of a blogpost would not do it justice. There are, however, several acting teachers both in the improv community and in the Austin acting community that can help. I’ve provided some helpful links and videos below. I can personally attest that doing this type of work has helped my performances tremendously and I sincerely hope it helps you too!

Information about the Meisner Technique:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meisner_technique

http://esperstudio.com/about-2/library/an-interview-with-william-esper/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP1Nkr1kc5o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBszDobYD8w

Acting Teachers in Austin:

http://www.inthemomentacting.com

http://www.ckmcfarland.com/classes.htm

Helpful Improv Workshops Coming Soon:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1111192518931315/

Learn Some History You Bums:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konstantin_Stanislavsky


Sanjay Rao is a writer, actor, and comedian based out of Austin, TX. You can catch him around Austin, TX performing improv, sketch, and stand-up and has played on stages around the state of Texas in addition to New Orleans, Phoenix, and New York City. You can also see him in various films, series and short videos on the web.

Groundhog Indicates: It’s a Good Year for Improv!

By Megan Mowry

SHESHESHESHE is opening for The Frank Mills all of March! Come see us Thursdays at 8pm at ColdTowne Theater!

Groundhogs Day 2015: Me, my birthday, and a free improv class at ColdTowne Theater. It didn’t feel significant at the time, but in retrospect, it was honestly the best gift I have ever given myself. I sat down next to Laura de la Fuente  (now a fellow SHESHESHESHE troupe member and BFF) and I remember us being like two chihuahuas in a handbag, both extremely excited and kind of neurotic nervous, but happy to be in the same purse. Flash forward one year later, and we’ve done countless shows together, both performed in mainstages at ColdTowne,  and most importantly, we’ve met so many amazing people in the improv community!

ShePoster-Frank-Mills-optAfter graduating from college over a year ago, I felt like everyone I knew had left Austin, and I was determined to find new friends. I tried intramural kickball, but I don’t really enjoy group sports. I tried a doodle meet up, but it turns out all we had in common was the fact that we all loved our dogs. And then there was improv! Improv class is this magical place filled with humans that come from many different background, yet are somehow all kind, open, honest, and creative individuals playing make believe together. Seriously, what is more fun that that? 

ColdTowne should rename Improv Level 1 to Therapy Level 1. Nat Miller was an amazing teacher. He cultivated a safe and trusting environment for my class to express ourselves in ways that most of us had never done before. I’m not sure about most of you, but I sit at a desk all day in my head, in a car for an hour in my head, even at a workout or yoga still in my head. Improv class feels like the first big stretch after being in a confined space all day. It’s the off leash dog park for humans, it’s standing on a chair in front of room full of people and throwing a full on temper tantrum because it’s  “your character”. Happy freaking birthday to me, it’s been a damn good year!


Megan Mowry performs with her all female Cagematch champion troupe  SHESHESHESHE.  She is in the cast of Fuck This Week, exploring your shit ass week every Monday night at The New Movement. She recently the  joined resident cast of Tarantula, an organic, odd, vibrant web of collective consciousness type of improv, happening the second Saturday of every month at The Institution Theater. Outside of the comedy world, Megan enjoys Karaoke, tiny coffees, and watching improv.

Troupe Spotlight: Kingz

kingzHow did Kingz come to be?
A group of lady improvisers were talking about times that they had dressed as men in their lives (Halloween, for shows, etc). We talked about who enjoyed doing it, who didn’t enjoy it and also if at any point you were perceived differently if someone did actually think you were a man. It was interesting to hear the different accounts of various women in the community. For those who were perceived as men while in drag they had noticed people speaking to them differently, having different body language around them, and relating to them differently when they were thought to be male. Some of us loved dressing up in drag, some of us had never done it, and some of us were uncomfortable doing it but wanted to explore it more. We decided it would be a fun cagematch idea and we submitted. Not only did it end up being fun, but we found that the particular group of people that had come together had amazing comedic chemistry. Performing together felt easy and fun and we decided we didn’t want to stop after our reign as cagematch champions ended.

What format do you use, and how did you decide on it?
We do a monoscene with pop outs. It’s basically where the characters stay in one location, exploring a moment in time. The exception being if someone mentions a time in their life, a memory, etc we might do a “pop out” and explore that memory or moment briefly and then go back into the monoscene. We all really enjoy relationship based performances. The format allows for us to explore our male alter egos more fully. At this point they are very familiar to all of us. Down the line I don’t know if we will always have the same guy character every time, but for now it’s great getting to know our dude selves better and better with each show.

What makes you different than other troupes out there?
I guess the obvious would be that we dress in drag. I doubt we are the only improv troupe that does this but at least in Austin we are the only drag king improv group that I am aware of. It’s fun to explore gender roles and stereotypes with these characters. We don’t try to make all our characters walking male stereotypes. They’re all over the spectrum. Sensitive dudes, dudes filled with anxiety, cocky dudes, mellow dudes, etc. There’s also usually a lot of dick jokes.

kingz at oob 2Is it difficult to play women playing men, and then if the scene requires it, women playing men playing women? What are some difficulties that come from your unique form?
Not really. Occasionally someone might slip up and call someone she when they are their dude character but that seems to happen less and less the more shows we do. When we do the pop outs and become female characters it’s just like becoming a female character in a regular show. I don’t know that we go as deep as to do it as how our male character would play a woman.We are a troupe with a large number of people. Monoscene’s tend to work a bit better with smaller troupes. The main challenge is trying to give some focus to all our different characters and to not talk over one another. Sometimes one persons character gets highlighted more in a show, but that’s ok. It’s sort of like with each show we get to learn a little bit more about the lives of our characters.

What is your favorite show you’ve ever done?
It’s so hard to pick just one! We’ve had a lot of really fun and wonderful shows. We had one the other night where everyone just kept breaking because we were all cracking each other up so much. I know breaking in scenes can be frowned upon but I think all of us get quite a bit of joy out of making one another laugh.

What advice do you have for new troupes and new performers?
Have fun. Play with people you like. Play with people you’ve always wanted to play with. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to do a troupe with you if you want to perform with them, more often than not they will be flattered and say yes. Hang out with your troupe mates outside of improv shows. Some of the best warm ups can just be talking to each other about what happened that day.

Who is a teacher/coach (at any theater!) who inspired you?
We have so many! Erika McNichol, Jill Bernard, Kristin Henn, Mick Napier, John Ratliff, Rich Talarico, Rachel Madorsky, Michael Jastroch, Clifton Highfield, Stephen Kearin, Roy Janik, Shannon O’ Neil, and so many more. We could go on and on. But if you haven’t you should check these folks out cause they’re all rad.

What is your favorite Austin landmark?
I feel like the dudes in Kingz (especially Tyler) would really enjoy Hippie Hollow.

kingzTell us a bit about your current run!
We are coming to the end of our crazy fun Februrary run, OKingzCupid! Each week we try and “date” different all female improv troupes. They perform a set, then us and then we do a big mash up speed dating round at the end where one person from each troupe gets crowned the King and Queen of the night. Kitty Nasty hosts the whole thing and there’s a photo booth and free Kingz Boozy Love Punch at each show. Our last one is on Februrary 25th at 8:30PM and Toxic Chakra will be opening up for us. It’s a great time and features some of the funniest ladies in Austin.

Kingz is:
Arian Brumby aka Dan
Lisa Jackson aka Freddie B
Molly Moore aka Jason
Meredith Roberts aka Tyler
Xaria Coleman aka Denzel
Emma Holder aka Tony
Cene Hale aka Carlos

BIO:
Kingz is an Austin, TX based improv comedy troupe of women who dress like dudes. Through the art of drag and audience suggestions these gentleladies bring the perfect combination of laughs, beard stubble and manliness to their relationship based performances. It’s good to be the Kingz.

A Brief History of Magic

Returning to the ColdTowne mainstage on the heels of their sold-out 2015 run, sketch team Comedy Bazaar is back in February with A Brief History of Magic.

Exploring everything from wizards and enchanters to the supernatural and the occult, the new show is sure to delight those who like magical themes as much as those who simply enjoy tightly-written sketch comedy.

ABHOMagic_poster_400x600We asked Comedy Bazaar to answer some questions about the new show.

What inspired the magical theme?

CB: “We like a theme that’s narrow enough to focus our writing but broad enough to go in a lot of directions and carry a lot of possible interpretations. Magic seemed like such a fun and natural choice.

With magic, you have the usual tropes of sorcery and knights and dragons—and those are great, of course. But then you have hypnotism, the occult, paganism and wiccanism, trickery, deception, conspiracies, and how people control and deceive each other. It’s quite interesting, when you dig into it.”

What makes this show different than previous ones?

CB: “We found ourselves writing shorter, punchier material this time. So, we embraced that and ended up with 15 sketches in the span of a 45 minute show. Expect a faster show, with many sketches clocking in at 1 or 2 minutes. Plus a few longer ones.”

What makes Comedy Bazaar itself different?

CB: “We definitely have a style. It’s a mix of zany and silly alongside cerebral and intelligent. You could say we embrace high-minded cultural satire as much as we embrace giant animal costumes and throwing food on stage. We’ve always thrived on a mix.

We’re also huge fans of the editing process. We take every sketch draft and mold it, until it reaches a higher potential. Working with a group writer’s mind—where everyone makes a sketch incrementally better with a cut here or a new phrase there—is one of our strong points.”

Thanks, Comedy Bazaar! It sounds spellbinding. Be sure to join Comedy Bazaar at 7pm on Saturdays in February.

BONUS: Want to win tickets to see the show? Plus some great magical swag from Half Price Books, including a $10 gift certificate and a 15% off coupon?

Enter the ticket giveaway by Friday Feb. 13 to win. Thanks to Half Price Books for sponsoring!

Comedy Bazaar is Alejandro Garcia, Alex Baia, Ella Gale, Matt Needles, and Nicole Beckley. Directed by Eric Rutherford.

Hill Jones Worshops and Show!

Hill-Jones-Improv-Los-Angeles-Left-Matt-Jones-of-Breaking-Bad-1Hill Jones are heading to ColdTowne for workshops and and a live show! Catch them along with Brain Trust, on Wednesday, October 28 at 11pm. Tickets are available now!

ColdTowne Theater is proud two offer two workshops with the amazing Hill Jones. Both workshops feature the Driver’s Seat with  Matt Jones and Dave Hill. Then you’ll continue on with either Matt or Dave for a solo workshop.

WORKSHOPS ARE SOLD OUT
Please e-mail buckprov@yahoo.com t0 get on the waiting list.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1 – 2pm – 5pm @ ColdTowne Conservatory, 6929 Airport Blvd. #131, ATX

Driver’s Seat 2:00-3:30 w/Hill Jones

Too often, the improv “rules” get in the way of enjoying ourselves on stage.  “Don’t” becomes “can’t” and it kills the fun!  In this workshop, Dave Hill and Matt Jones (“Hill Jones”) will tag-team teach the principles that guide them in their work together to get you past the rules and back into the driver’s seat of improv!

And then you have the choice of either:

Milking the Relationship 3:30-5:00 w/Matt Jones
The basis of every scene is the relationship between it’s characters. Learn how to recognize that relationship and all it can do for the scene. Then, milk that relationship for all it’s worth!

or

Just The Facts 3:30-5:00 w/Dave Hill
Do you find yourself lost in improv scenes? Not sure which pieces of information are important and which aren’t? Tired of ending your scenes grasping for anything and leaving scenes feeling like they were about nothing? “Just the Facts” will help you develop the ability to zero in on what is most important in your scenes so that you can enjoy the fun that is possible in every scene.

NOTE: Do not sign up for both workshop unless you own a time turner as they both happen at the same time.

WORKSHOPS ARE SOLD OUT
Please e-mail buckprov@yahoo.com t0 get on the waiting list.


HILL JONES
Since they first performed together (and won) the 2007 iO West Duo Competition, Hill Jones has performed regularly around LA at the UCB, Second City and their usual home, the iO West.  In the time since, they have traveled the country performing in multiple cities and festivals including San Francisco SketchFest and the Out Of Bounds Fest.  Playing with a high-energy and character-driven style, Dave Hill and Matt Jones have created shows about everything from a zombie apocalypse to a ninja quest to the recording of a blues legend’s last album.  Sometimes inhabiting multiple characters in the same scene they employ genres and old-fashioned storytelling in an attempt to create weird, wonderful worlds full of unique people in every show they perform.

davehill-200x278DAVE HILL
Dave Hill is an actor, improviser and writer from Chicago where he trained at the iO and Second City.  Now in LA he improvises with Hill Jones, King Ten and The Armando Show. His work can be seen in the Hulu original series QUICK DRAW and the Comedy Central classic RENO 911.  His voice has been heard on such animated series as SQUIDBILLIES, AMERICAN DAD and BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD as well as numerous video games.  He co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in the up-coming feature film THE NIGHT IS YOUNG.

mattjones-200x278MATT JONES
Matt Jones has performed improv and sketch comedy since the age of 17 all over LA as well as with the famous BOOM! Chicago theatre in Amsterdam.  Since his return to LA he has been seen in the recurring role of ‘Badger’ on AMC’s BREAKING BAD and is now a series regular on the CBS sitcom MOM.  He can be seen in the films COOTIES, RED STATE and HIGH ROAD as well as the upcoming THE NIGHT IS YOUNG; which he co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred.  Jones has voiced the characters for animated series like KICK BUTTOWSKI, ADVENTURE TIME, THE CLEVELAND SHOW, SANJAY AND CRAIG, BEWARE OF THE BATMAN, and many more.

Tweet Dreams

 

Everybody’s looking for something.

Using dreams submitted via Twitter, ten actors and comedians delve into the human psyche using short-form games, song and Chicago-style scene work.

“The show starts with a single dream, submitted to us via social media.  Using the objects, people and context in the suggestion, the actors perform a series of scenes to unwind the suggestion” says director and producer, Erika May McNichol. “We want to put up something that lives at the intersection of comedy and performance art.”  

Tweet Dreams features Cortnie Jones, Lisa Jackson, Sanjay Rao, Ian Townsend, Ed Reed, Molly Moore, Megan Mowry, Katie Moore, Juliet Prather and Cene Hale.  Directed by Erika May McNichol.

 Tweet Dreams runs at Saturdays at 8:30pm, beginning September 12th through October 31st at ColdTowne Theater.

9/12 Tickets (Preview) 9/19 Tickets 9/26 Tickets

This August – The U.S.A. presents: The F*ckin Media, Man!

11215814_10152987406226778_2487739769522702967_nThis is the greatest country in the entire world. Everybody knows that. But there is one thing that would have you believe otherwise… The F*cking Media, Man.

The USA (a team of improv-comedians as great as the country for which it’s named) is back at ColdTowne Theater and will once again teach the media a thing or too. How so? Well, the audience (that’s you!) selects a few newspaper headlines and articles before the show and The USA will improvise comedy gold from those stories. Come take this country back from the LAME STREAM with the most patriotic comedy team in the world. USA! USA! USA!

Will Cleveland, Kirk Johnson, Carlos LaRotta and Chris Mckeever are some of Austin’s funniest, fastest, and (when they want to be) smartest comedians. Come witness them use their honesty and common sense to take on The F*ckin Media, Man.

Every Saturday in August @ 8:30 pm. $5 online/$8 at the door. BYOB.

8/1 Tickets 8/8 Tickets 8/15 Tickets 8/22 Tickets 8/29 Tickets

Saturdays in June, The Beach Boys Solve a Mystery!

ColdTowne Theater, Austin’s home for live comedy 7 nights a week, proudly announces its
June 2015 Mainstage show –
beach boys revision 5.14.15

The Beach Boys borrow a page from the Hardy Boys as they fight crime in the secret underbelly of the seediest beach town you know (think Galveston, but prettier and with more crack cocaine).

This improvised comedy features a live surf rock band, improvised performances by the Beach Boys and giveaways from Half-Price Books!

Can “America’s Band” defend their beloved hometown from the degenerates of Surf City while resisting the urge to experiment in 1960’s counterculture?

Every Saturday in June @ 8:30 pm. $5 online/$8 at the door. BYOB.

6/6 Tickets 6/13 Tickets 6/20 Tickets 6/27 Tickets

The 6th Annual Austin Sketch Fest is Here!

ColdTowne Theater presents the 2015 Austin Sketch Comedy Festival. Headlining this year’s Fest are brilliant comedians Brent Weinbach on Friday (Comedians of Comedy, Adult Swim, Conan) and Joe Wengert on Saturday (Comedy Bang! Bang!, Kroll Show) Trust me, you’ll definitely say you saw these guys when questioned by the comedy angel at the moment of your death!

Plus, hilarious acts from New York, LA, Chicago, Austin, and more. (Girls With Brown Hair, OSFUG, and Vanessa Gonzalez just to name a few!) With very special shows like; Stand-Up Bryan Guttman’s album recording, Master Pancake Theater, The Show of One-Person Shows, and So Juiced (Comedy + Party). That’s a shit-load of comedy gold!

ASF is happening May 18th-24th at ColdTowne Theater and (starting Thursday the 21st) Spider House Ballroom.

For a full schedule, tickets and more visit at atxsketchfest.com. Or just click on the ColdTowne calendar right here. Thanks!

Austin Sketch Smash!

Austin Sketch Fest and Pop Press International are teaming up to bring you AUSTIN SKETCH SMASH – a FREE show featuring the best in Austin sketch comedy and tons of bottle-smashing debauchery.

Join Bad Example, STAG Comedy, Your Terrific Neighbors, and many more on Thursday, April 16th at Spider House Ballroom for a night of comedy where people get bottles broken over their heads (really) (we’re serious).

Doors at 7 pm. Show at 7:30 pm. Hosted by Kath Barbadoro (Moontower Comedy Festival, Master Pancake Theater).

Also performing: Wink Planet, Unrepresented, Tastemakers, Jonestroch, The Hustle Show, and 2girls1pup

This show is one night only, but you can catch a full week of awesomeness during Austin Sketch Fest, happening May 19-24th at Spider House Ballroom and ColdTowne Theater, with two headlining performances from Good Neighbor (featuring Saturday Night Live cast members).

This show is at SPIDERHOUSE BALLROOM

Thank God It’s Saturday Returns!

Thank God It’s Saturday returns! A night of improvised television presented to you, our live audience. Once again, the entertainment professionals at ColdTowne Studios are presenting lost episodes of our favorite forgotten sitcoms. This time, we have a particularly bewitching set of shows lined up:

In “Fantastic Buddies,” three hip roomates share an apartment complex with elves, mermaids, and centaurs, all while trying to pay rent on time.

Stay tuned after that for “My Stepdad’s a Genie,” the show where everyone’s favorite all-powerful superbeing finds himself married into a mortal family, and even he ends up learning something.

Whether it’s “Thank God It’s Saturday” or “Two Great Improvised Sitcoms,” every Saturday in March at 8:30, you’ll say, “T.G.I.S.!”

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

A Brief History of Murder

Beware and behold!

ColdTowne’s own Comedy Bazaar proudly presents A Brief History of Murder, every Saturday in February at 8:30 PM.

Enjoy a deep red soak in our newest mainstage sketch show, an expertly-carved, acid-laced comedy production that explores the dark side of human nature.

Comedy Bazaar will shock and amaze as they present a killer new sitcom from NBC, put the orange back into Clockwork Orange, debate the nitty gritty details of Satanism, and put a new twist on the classic train mystery.

Comedy Bazaar writers and performers recently sat down with the master of spoken word eclecticism, Slappy Pinchbottom of Austin’s KOOP radio to discuss the show. Here’s an excerpt…

Slappy: So, what are some of your favorite murders from the distant land known as history?

Matt: I always enjoyed the death of the emperor Valerian who was flayed and his skin was stuffed and hung on the wall of the Persian king’s court.

Slappy: Flayed and stuffed?

Matt: Totally flayed, yeah.

Slappy: That’s a fantastic murder.

Alex: Yeah, the murders of royalty and high emperors. It’s sort of like, well, maybe they need to be taken down a peg.

Slappy: That’s a big peg.

Comedy Bazaar

Comedy Bazaar

Alex: The Archduke Franz Ferdinand holds an interesting philosophical place because people say that his assassination was the cause of a world war.

Slappy: With Ferdinand, somehow murder was a force multiplier on the persons around him… Please don’t take that too seriously, listeners. I’m so afraid that I just said that to the wrong person out there in radio land.

Alejandro: I’ve always been fascinated by the Zodiac killer. It’s such a weird tale. It seems like fantasy. This guy had the entire city of San Francisco on Lockdown and people fearing to go out at night… There’s something intriguing about these people that have such power and break all the rules. That’s sort of the impetus for the show… murder is a part of humanity, unfortunately.

Nicole: There are weird grey areas where sometimes we’re okay with exploring certain things and sometimes we’re completely against them… it’s fascinating and frightening.

Catch Slappy’s Odd Preoccupation, on KOOP 91.7 FM, Sunday February 1st at 4:30pm.

And then catch A Brief History of Murder every Saturday in February.

Laugh long into the abyss… and let the abyss laugh long into you!

Claim your tickets here before it’s too late.

The ColdTowne 2015 Mainstage Season

2015 ColdTowne Mainstage Season

ColdTowne Theater is Austin’s only entertainment option with improv, sketch and stand up shows seven nights a week.

We’re excited to announce our 2015 Mainstage Season – a collection of shows featuring unique concepts and high production value.

JANUARY
Church of Indeterminate Divinity
Directed by John Ratliff

Each service, some of the best improvisers in Austin perform with live musical accompaniment to create an event that’s part tent meeting, part house concert, part campfire singalong, and part barn burning. Real as rent and funny as hell, it’s unlike any improv show you’ve ever seen.

FEBRUARY
A Brief History of Murder
Sketch Comedy by Comedy Bazaar

Enjoy a deep red soak in these expertly-carved, acid-laced comedy sketches that explore the darker side of human nature. Laugh long into the abyss, and let the abyss laugh long into you…

MARCH
TGIS
Produced by Nathan Sowell

Sometimes a sitcom is so ahead of its time, it barely lasts four episodes. Jeannie and Sabrina have nothing on the type of high concept sitcoms created by ColdTowne Studios. Tune in for a month of Fantastic Buddies, Step Dad Djinns, and enough pop to wet at least three separate beds.

APRIL
Smash Hits
Directed by Curtis Luciani & Courtney Sevener

Join us at the top of the charts for this improvised comedy game show about and inspired by the biggest blockbusters in the history of recorded music.

MAY
The Ultimate Sketchprov Project
Directed by Dave Buckman

Dave Buckman draws on his two decades of comedy training (The Second City, Boom Chicago) to direct a cast of the city’s best multi-hyphenated writer/improviser/actors to develop a sexy and professional sketch revue created entirely through improvisation.

JUNE
The Beach Boys Solve a Mystery
Directed by Frank Netscher

The sleepy town of Surf City, California has been struck by another gruesome murder, and the Beach Boys are on the case! Along the way, they’ll get help from some of their pals, Dick Dale, Charles Manson, Janis Joplin, and others. They’ll solve the mystery in no time, even if they have to surf, cruise, and croon their way across California!

JULY
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.

AUGUST
The Presidents of Comedy Tour
with The USA

A group of America’s hottttest and brighttttest comedians make a stop in Austin as part of their national tour. Together they’ll interview historians about America’s vibrant past to inspire their own brand of red, white, & blue collar comedy.

SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER
Sgt. Preppers – An Improvised Preppers Musical
Directed by Erika McNichol

What if Infowars and Ty Segall had a baby? No really. Think about it.
ColdTowne explores prepper culture through a garage rock musical in this new work.

NOVEMBER
Your Redneck Neighbors
Directed by Will Cleveland

Everyone’s got one or maybe you are one. Either way, this show is for you. Come laugh with some of Austin’s best improvisers in this show inspired by true tales of yard cars, gun racks, and turkey fires.

DECEMBER
The 8 Plays of Addison
Written & Directed by Addison Billingsly

Know Your Troupe: After Midnight

After Midnight started on a whim when some Level 1 students decided to enter the ColdTowne CageMatch.  They went on to win that series and have kept performing together regularly at ColdTowne while still taking classes.  Now in Level 5, Chelsea Bunn, Vickie Dinges Grier, Kim Lowery, Brian May, Lance Nealy, Frances Nguyen and Bobby Stover tell us what it’s like to play shows while still learning the basics.After Midnight

Before we get into the nitty gritty, can you all explain what exactly the ColdTowne CageMatch is?

Lance: The CageMatch is like a bracket-style tourney.  Each Wednesday night at 10, two or three troupes will each play twenty minute sets with the audience voting on who they liked best.  The team that wins that night advances.  There are usually a few weeks of preliminaries, then the semifinals and then you’re ultimately left with two teams.  The troupe that wins that final round are made CageMatch champions and get to sign their name on the chump chucker, this barbed wire-wrapped 2×4.  It’s bad-ass.  They’ve also recently added a four-show run to the deal.  Since Raw Power won the last series, they get to host the current one and close out every CageMatch show.  But the best part is that anyone can form a troupe and enter.  The commissioner can only take so many troupes, but pretty much everyone has an equal shot.  That’s how we got in, dumb luck.  Part of winning is putting on a good show, but an equal part is marketing it, so you get all your friends to show up and vote.

Bobby: For me Cagematch epitomizes what I love about Coldtowne: that everyone, regardless of experience level, is eligible to perform and participate. It just makes the improv community seem so open and inviting.

How long have you all been performing improv comedy?  What made you start?

Brian May

Brian May

Brian: I started in January along with most of these people.  I had recently gone to NYC and seen some amazing stand-up that got me really into the whole comedy world, and I had always watched “Whose Line” growing up.  Then I had a friend from forever ago that tried improv to get stage experience for Blue Man Group, and he loved it.  I took his suggestion and ran with it, couldn’t be happier he told me to go for it.

Kim: My husband sent me a text one day with a picture of a ColdTowne poster someone had hung up in the break room in his office. (Thanks Sarah Coker!) His message said, “You could do an improv class =)” So I went to the free Monday night class with Cody. It was so exciting, and I was happy for the challenge.

Bobby: I saw a rap battle show at another improv studio in town and thought it looked like a lot of fun. Then Frances and I wound up in the same free class with Kim and, BAM! Next thing I knew I was standing on stage, blinded by bright stage lights. Nicely done Cody!

Vickie: A friend did an interview with Sam for the my husband’s podcast and I fell in love with the idea. The hubs got me Level 1 classes as a Christmas gift.

Lance: My neighbors took me to see The Frank Mills and Midnight Society at ColdTowne and I had a blast.  I kept that ticket stub with the free class info on my desk. I was working from home at the time, and was new to Austin so I really needed to get out and meet people.

How did you all meet?  How did After Midnight happen?

Brian: We all just met through classes at improv.  Bobby just asked who wanted to try to enter the CageMatch, and then a Facebook chat was born, and eventually we got to the CageMatch.

Bobby Stover

Bobby Stover

Bobby: I became aware that Level 1’s can participate in Cagematch on the eve of the deadline so as Brian said, I just asked everyone in my class and signed us up that night. Luckily you can change rosters before the first show because we lost about half of the people who originally said they were interested. So between those few brave remaining souls and a couple free agents we picked up as late as the evening of our first show – Kady and Vickie I believe? After Midnight became a thing!

Vickie: I believe Bobby is right. I asked if they had enough people and Bobby said “come on.” When we advanced the first night, I didn’t even realize they said our name.

Lance: Yeah, Vickie was totally “What just happened?”  That first show was so much fun and just crazy.  At this point I feel like we need to pour one out for our dead homie Kady Ferris.  She’s not dead, but she moved to Portland after we won the CageMatch series, which basically makes her dead to us.  But in a nice way.  Hi, Kady!

Where did your name come from?

Frances: Bobby signed our group up for the CageMatch, but he did so after the deadline which is at midnight. Hence, After Midnight.

Lance: I used to really hate the name, but it’s totally grown on me.  It definitely fits the material we did in that first run of shows.  Very perverted.  Very blue.

Brian:  I’m with Lance, I really didn’t like it, but it is growing on me, plus some one found a theme song with our troupe name, so that’s not a bad thing.

Bobby: I stand by my late-night, half-thought out decision on a name. Glad ya’ll finally came around!

Are you nervous before you go on?  What’s the mood like in the hallway?

Frances Nguyen

Frances Nguyen

Frances: Excited mostly. A little nervous. And just trying to keep the momentum from warming up going as we’re waiting. My favorite part is right before going on when we all pat each other on the back and say, “I got your back.” It’s slightly cheesy and totally sincere.

Brian: I’m always really excited before and not nervous at all before we get into the hallway, then it’s like game time and the mood gets more serious, and we do the got your back thing, Frances hit the nail on the head, if you read this I applaud your dedication to the interview.

Kim: I’m not always nervous until I get in the hallway, then I’m pretty much immediately giddy and sweaty and unsure. It’s like being strapped into the seat of a Roller Coaster ride. There’s no turning back, and I almost always regret my decision to put myself in these situations. But afterward, I’m so excited and proud that I did it.

Vickie: Love Fest!

How do you get pumped up for a show?

Brian: I love warming up, it’s just a great way to shake everything out and get psyched for whatever is about to happen.

Kim: Warming up in the parking lot is so fun. We play games and run through our opening. It’s pretty incredible being able to play with friends like I did when I was a kid and know that they won’t make fun of these stupid and sometimes vulgar things popping out of my mouth.

Vickie Dinges Grier

Vickie Dinges Grier

Vickie: Usually, Kim says something about poop or Lance gives a character the attribute of having one leg shorter than the other. I also love the addition of Chelsea, who brought Bunny and Froggy into our lives.

Lance: There was some Yelp review online that complained about shows not being improvised because people were rehearsing in the parking lot.  To the uninitiated, we’re not rehearsing lines or anything, we’re mentally stretching.  Getting loose.

Is it weird taking classes, but also performing?  Has one helped the other?

Brian: I don’t think it’s weird, it’s so helpful to have both sides of it going.  Currently we’re doing some coaching as well, which is extremely fun and helpful.  We have class which we really break stuff down and play less, but learn SO much.  It’s nice to be able to play in coaching, and then get down to the nitty gritty the day after, let our minds go over it and then we play again.

Kim: It was weird at first. I sort of had the thought, “Who do we think we are, we don’t know anything yet!” But I think that’s what made us decent. We were learning and we were excited. It still feels that way most of the time.

Vickie: I think they go hand in hand. Classes are the hard work and preparation that make performing fun. And, yes, some of the Level 3 sessions were difficult for me, but I learned a lot. Thanks Dave!

Lance Nealy

Lance Nealy

Lance: It’s actually funny how quickly we all moved from being terrified of being on stage to being absolutely addicted.  Most of us are in multiple troupes now because we just love playing.  There’s Loverboy, Side Hugs, Sorry For Your Loss, GameTowne, Grounded in Harmony, Save By the Bell, Replacement Mark and probably a few more by the time you read this.

What’s it like coming off stage?

Brian: It’s always a little strange, it never feels like it was 20-30 minutes, it goes by in what feels like 5 minutes every time.  Sometimes I get so caught up in watching the troupe that I almost forget that I am supposed to get up and play too.

Bobby: Oh man, I always feel in a daze and can barely focus on anything people are saying right after a show. It’s an adrenaline rush being under the lights in front of a room full of people. I love it!

Kim Lowery

Kim Lowery

Kim: After a good show where we each got a few laughs, coming off stage is exhilarating. But we recently experienced coming off stage and sort of staring at each other in disbelief. We all knew we hadn’t had fun out there.

Vickie: It’s a feeling of exhilaration and relief all at the same time, but then we start talking about what was good and what could’ve been better. I love it when our coach, Emma, is there because we can get notes right away. I am glad she didn’t see the show Kim described though. It was craptastical.

Lance: Yeah, that one show.  We had a run of shows we had really enjoyed.  I think part of them was “Wow!  We did it.  We got up.” And we were inexperienced enough that we didn’t see things we should have done better.  I think the longer you’re doing it, the more likely you are to find fault with something you did on stage.  Well, we finally hit that show that was just craptastical, as Vickie said.  It just wasn’t fun.  We had weird energy going in, lots of people had crappy days, etc.  But, two days later we had a great show.  So much fun.  For me it was very much like, “Well, nothing could be worse than that crap fest that just happened.”

Do you all hang out when not in classes or practice?

Frances: No. We all actually hate each other. Sometimes I pass Kim in the hallway, and we try really hard not to make eye contact with each other.

Brian: There’s some animosity in the group, so it’s best to act like we get along on stage.

Bobby: Occasionally we’ll show up to the same bar by accident and it’s super awkward. Lance usually gets buzzed on fruity drinks and then things just get weird!

Kim: Lance sometimes sends us nude photos. Of course, they’re unwanted but it’s nice that he’s reaching out, trying to keep us all connected.

Vickie: The troupe has kind of made me the mom figure, which means we are horribly dysfunctional.

Lance: Can you feel the love?  Seriously though, we do hang.  After Midnight is very fond of happy hours and day-drinking.  Except Chelsea.  She doesn’t like to drink.  So never offer her a free beer.

After Midnight

After Midnight

Is there something you feel you still struggle with?

Brian: I feel like I struggle with keeping it slow and not jumping to something for a crazy statement.  Characters are also not my strong suit I feel, but now you guys all know what to look for and to point out how terrible I am at them, GREAT.

Vickie: Impulse control and remembering to develop relationships with the other characters. I like playing with Frances because she is really good at both.

Bobby: So many times in a show you wind up just jumping up on stage at a moment’s notice which makes it very difficult to truly internalize a character and be able think and act like they honestly would in the various weird obscure scenarios we create. Thank goodness for practice time!

Frances: Aww, thanks Vickie! Something I struggle with is just going with my gut and having confidence in what I have to say, which is something I think a lot of members in our group, especially Vickie, are great at.

Lance: Holding onto a character.  Although I recently took a character workshop with Dave Buckman and I’m definitely working on that  And I agree with Brian, slowing things down and working on developing characters, versus just doing bits.  Also spacework.  Good lord do I suck at pantomiming.

Now that you’re way past the halfway point in classes, is there a tip you’ve learned that you’d pass on to other students/performers?

Chelsea Bunn

Chelsea Bunn

Chelsea: Sit in on classes with different teachers to see what kind of coaching best suits your learning style.

Lance: Try not to be hard yourself.  The thing you hated that you did, someone else thought was hilarious.  I’m still pretty bad at this one though.  It’s good advice but hard to follow.

Brian: Listen, listen, listen.

Vickie: I second all of that. Learning to be open and just letting go can be harder than you think. Turn into the skid!

Bobby: Go to jams early and often! Doing this helped my understanding of what we were learning in classes immensely.

Frances: See shows! There are times when I get in my head about how I’m doing in classes or performances. And then I force myself to go see a show and am reminded why I started taking classes in the first place: when you see a great show, it’s brilliant and funny and inspiring.

Lance: Also if you have the time, try to intern.  You get a discount on classes, but more importantly, when you’re doing tech you get to watch shows.  You learn so much from just watching shows.

Favorite drink.

After Midnight

After Midnight

Chelsea: There is a fierce “beer v. liquor” debate within AM. I think we all know which is better… it’s beer.

Lance: Meh.

Brian: I got Lance to say he liked a beer, and of course he denied it afterwards.  But I’m a huge imperial stout fan, I used to mainly drink liquor, but this whole craft beer goodness is too good to me.

Vickie: Vodka and ginger ale—not ginger beer, not coke and sprite mixed together, not soda with bitters in it—ginger-freakin’ ale! Lance and I are the liquor hounds!

Lance: I’m a big American whiskey fan, almost anything brown.  But I’ve also been digging on the Mezcal lately.

Favorite movie.

Brian: Wet Hot American Summer, I have watched the first half of that movie drunkenly and passed out at 3:30 am than any other movie.  It’s my I-have-people-over-and-we’re-all-drinking-we-have-to-watch-this-movie-right-now-and-then-I-pass-out-halfway-through movie.  And there are so many small gems in that movie that you have to watch multiple times through, or at least I did.

Kim: I like all the movies. Especially from the 80s and 90s.

Vickie: The Big Chill, Best in Show, Caddyshack, Dogma, Toys, and A Fish Called Wanda.  I also have to watch Snakes on a Plane and Deep Blue Sea any time they are on. Hilarious!

Favorite moment in comedy.  Ever?

After Midnight

After Midnight

Brian: That’s a tough one, I honestly can’t say.  Maybe watching “Whose Line” growing up with my dad.  That’s such a hard question though, there’s so many new moments, definitely doing improv now, every time you play there’s something that is so funny that it blows you away.

Kim:

Clark: Whew, it’s warm in here.

Mary: Well you have your coat on.

Clark: Ah yes I do, why is that?

Mary: Because it’s cold out.

Clark: Yes it is, it’s a bit nipply out. I mean nippy out, what did I say, nipple? Huh, there is a nip in the air.

Vickie: I love watching classic stand-up, especially George Carlin, Steve Martin, and Richard Pryor. The Original Kings of Comedy has me in tears every freakin’ time and John Leguizamo and Eddie Izzard are pretty genius. Yes, I know I didn’t answer the question.

Lance: I can’t pick a favorite moment in comedy, but the hardest I’ve ever laughed was during the Happy Fun Ball SNL commercial.  Something about it just tickled me to the point where I started hyperventilating and I passed out.  I woke up and my friend Chris was standing over me laughing at me.  I then started laughing again and almost passed out.

Favorite thing about improv?

After Midnight

After Midnight

Brian: The ability to do whatever you want and it’s always right.  No matter how ridiculous it comes out of your mouth, it always just works.

Kim: With very few exceptions, I go home feeling inspired and encouraged. The audience is ready to laugh and support us. The best improvisers, the ones I look up to, have been so great to give a pat on the back or an encouraging word. My troupe and classmates have become some seriously awesome friends.

Vickie: I think it’s the unpredictability that comes with playing with other people. I’ve done some stand-up and this is a totally different vibe. You have no idea what’s about to happen, but you feel fearless because you know the others are there for you.

Lance: Totally sappy, but I really love making up stuff with my friends.  It’s not always gonna be funny, but it’ll always be fun.  Also, I love being in the wings cracking up, watching my friends on stage and I look across at the other wing and I see people there laughing too.  That’s the best.

What would you say to someone who has thought about taking classes, but hasn’t signed up yet?

Brian: Either try a free class on the first Monday of the month, or maybe wait until there’s a deal if you’re looking to save some money.  I can tell you it’s been worth every penny and I can’t think of anything better to spend it on then learning more and playing with these fine people.

Bobby: Stop hesitating! It’s worth it. And who knows, you may just find out a thing or two about yourself; like that your go-to dance move is a pelvic thrust.  Lance!

Kim: DO IT! Seriously, you won’t regret it. I’m always surprised that I am doing this. I love that I’m attempting to learn how to do something that I admire in other performers.

Vickie: It’s a gift to yourself. For two hours a week, you can play and be totally in the moment. Work, traffic, bills, and anything else that’s stressing you out gets pushed completely from your mind.

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

After Midnight

After Midnight

Brian: There are so many good things that have happened, I can’t remember the best thing, they all blur together after a while.  Each CageMatch show we have had had a main point to it that we kept hitting on, and we were going through learning what we were doing, that may be the best part, but that’s just the experience on the whole… Worst thing, I can’t even think of anything bad, anything that feels rough you just forget about and move on, go through the rest of it and it all works out.

Kim: I’m not sure how this qualifies, but in one of our first shows, Bobby’s character made me get on a donkey. Everything in the show had been leading up to seeing a Donkey Show. I was thinking, “If he makes me fuck a donkey, then it’s on like Donkey Kong.” Thanks Bobby for having my back and taking our donkeys on a sunset ride on the beach.

Vickie: I have had some really funny scenes with Brian where I have gotten all up in his personal space. I also liked when I was Lance’s mom and gave him electro-shock therapy. Bobby and Frances invariably make me play the mom in scenes, which can be best or worst. (Remember our trip to the brothel, Bobby?)

Bobby: I had my improv mom, Vickie, meet my real mom once…it wasn’t awkward until Vickie said “so I took your son to a brothel last week…”. Not a bit.

Lance: There was moment on stage where Bobby and I were father and son and we were working at an Arby’s.  I said something about beating the meat and I could see Bobby almost start to break, at that point I knew it was gonna be a good night.

When people come to an After Midnight show, what are they going to see?

After Midnight

After Midnight

Brian: Honestly, who knows.  Our shows tend to have some dirty subject matter, I feel like Vickie, Kim, and I help to really drive that, maybe unintentionally, but it always happens.  We’re testing out formats, and as of me writing this we haven’t even decided what we’re doing yet, we might just make it up all on the spot.

Frances: A group of people having fun! We like performing with one another and are still learning. I feel like I’m getting up there and laughing along with my troupe and the audience.

Kim: They will see a bunch of grown ups playing on stage. We usually have so much fun, and I’m always proud of my troupe mates when they’re up there.

Vickie: Hopefully a high-energy, totally random, completely inappropriate event that’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Bobby: What Vickie really means is: donkey stuff.

If your troupe entered the Hunger Games, who would win?  Who would die first?

Frances: I think we talked about this over drinks once, but I can’t remember who we decided would win. I’m pretty sure Bobby and Lance decided to form an alliance to kill everyone else. Typical.

Lance: I don’t know, I’d probably try to form an alliance with Vickie.  She always seems to have the skinny on what’s going on in Austin. She’d probably know where all the good knives are buried and which bush is the most flammable.

Brian: I would probably talk a lot of trash and then die about halfway through, but I also haven’t seen the Hunger Games or read the books, so I don’t even know what I’m talking about.

Chelsea: Kady would definitely die first.

Kim: I would win. Because Kim gets Hangry.

Bobby: Guys, I think Chelsea killed Kady!!!

Vickie: Lance is right! I’d put your money on me. I mean, I am the person who sent out pictures of corn dogs and vodka to the entire group. I wouldn’t count Frances out either. She makes a mean cupcake and she will cut a bitch.

After Midnight

After Midnight

Besides After Midnight, who should people check out at ColdTowne Theater?

Brian: I enjoy those Miller and Purselley boys.  I’m also partial since I did graduate from high school with Pierce, and we had a very touching moment in my first improv class that we both forgot we were in class, and it stopped cause he “had to keep keeping class” or whatever.

Kim: Miller and Purselley. Anything with Juliet Prather or Sarah Coker. There are so many people to stalk… I mean watch… on stage from a safe and respectable  distance.

Bobby: The Frank Mills are awesome, Patio Talk is always hilarious, and pretty much anything involving John Ratliff leaves you wanting to become a better improviser; especially Ratliff’s Church of Indeterminate Divinity show every 3rd Sunday of the month at 5:30pm! (shameless plug, anyone??)

Vickie: There is such a variety: Frank Mills, Wink Planet, Glamazon. The jams are always a chaotic mish-mash of awesome. I also like the Triple Threat shows that combine improv, sketch, and standup.

Lance: Oh, Science! on Sundays is great and if you get a chance, catch Dervish!


All photos by Kim Lowery.

You can see After Midnight perform Wednesday, November 5 @ 8:30pm – tickets available now.

Check out the next FREE Improv 101 Class,  the first Monday of every month at 7pm.

ColdTowne 8th Anniversary Lock-In Weekend

ColdTowne Theater celebrates its 8th anniversary with a lock-in weekend, featuring a marathon run of shows this Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.  Each evening following our amazing regularly-scheduled shows, come back and enjoy as much comedy as you can handle — a $5 ticket will get you access to a night full of reunion shows, odds bits and mystery shenanigans.  Tickets are only available at the door.  

Thursday 10/23

  • 10:00pm – Array
  • 10:30pm – RUSH
  • 11:00pm – I Gotta Be Honest
  • 11:15pm – The Poster
  • 11:30pm – Improv Royale Finally Graduates

Array: Arthur Simone, Naomi Perryman, John Brewster, Matt Needles and guests.

RUSH: Luke Wallens, Steve Moore, Juliet Prather, Tevis Paxton, Matt Vaught, Jon Bolden, Kim Dilling, Matt Stoner, Emily McDonald and Ricky Oliphant.

I Gotta Be Honest: Justin Soileau and Ian Townsend.

The Poster: Matt Needles, Sanjay Rao, Ian Townsend, Eli Eidson, KC Harvey-Taylor, Matt Stoner and Alejandro Garcia.

Improv Royale Finally Graduates: John Ratliff, Jericho Thorp, Cody Dearing, Lubu Roberts, Brett Tribe and Lance Gilstrap.

Friday 10/24

  • 11:30pm – Big Marinara
  • 11:45pm – Because I Said So
  • 12:00am – This Really Happened To Lance & Jericho
  • 12:15am – Sorry For Your Loss
  • 12:30am – SpareFoot Presents The SpareFoot All-Star Players *Presented by SpareFoot
  • 12:45am – Matt and Sarah Present a Compliment PowerPoint
  • 1:00am – Mirage Machine
  • 1:15am – Ctrl-Skutch-Delete
  • 1:30am – Improvised Warp Speed Sarah Coker Show
  • 1:45am – Brothers (Recreate the Movie Speed)

Big Marinara: Tre Fuentes, Frank Netscher, Katie Thornton, Carlos LaRotta, David Jara, Ed Reed, Emma Holder and Curtis Luciani.

Because I Said So: Joseph Dailey, Margot Evelyn and Charlotte Evelyn.

This Really Happened To Lance & Jericho: Lance Nealy and Jericho Thorp.

Sorry For Your Loss: Stewart Chow, Kim Lowery, Lance Nealy, Brian O’Neill and Benjamin Babcock.

SpareFoot Presents The SpareFoot All-Star Players Presented by SpareFoot: Nathan Sowell, Jake Millward, Chris McKeever, Quinn Gaunt, Tevis Paxton and Brett Tribe.

Matt and Sarah Present a Compliment Power Point: Matt Stoner and Sarah Coker.

Mirage Machine: Theo Daley, David Fruchter, Chance Garcia, Kenny Madison.

Ctrl-Skutch-Delete: Jessica Marpe, Nathan Sowell, Cody Dearing, Carlos LaRotta, Naomi Perryman.

Improvised Warp Speed Sarah Coker Show:  Frank Netscher, Sarah Coker, Matt Stoner and Julet Prather.

Brothers: Byron Brown, Kirk Johnson, Sam Eidson, Eli Eidson and Carlos LaRotta.

Saturday 10/25

  • 11:00pm – ColdTowne
  • 11:15pm – You Okay?
  • 11:30pm – Bring It Jones
  • 11:45pm – Channel 69 Nightly News with Peverly Brothers
  • 12:00am – The Founding Fathers
  • 12:15am – Improv vs. Sitcom Laugh Track
  • 12:30am – Old Stever
  • 12:45am – Tequila
  • 1:00am – Mustache Reunion Show
  • 1:15am – Ratliff and Eric Smoke Cigarettes Out at the Picnic Tables
  • 1:30am – Two Man Adam Sandler Movie
  • 1:45am – Where Are They Now? (Improvised Scenes as People Who Have Moved Away)

ColdTowne: Justin York, Michael Jastroch and Arthur Simone.

You Okay? Courtney Sevener, Nathan Sowell, David Hess, Ben Bazen, Carlos LaRotta and Juliet Prather.

Bring It Jones: Lots and lots of ladies from the AIC.

Channel 69 Nightly News with the Peverly Brothers: Drew Wesely, Eli Eidson and Sarah Coker.

The Founding Fathers: Jericho Thorp, Michael Jastroch, Lance Gilstrap, Bob Nichols, Arthur Simone and John Ratliff.

Improv vs. Sitcom Laugh Track: Sanjay Rao, Steve Moore, Eric Rutherford and KC Harvey-Taylor.

Old Stever: Drew Wesley, Caitlin Baumgartner, Kristin Henn, Amy Carpenter, Arian Brumby, Kenah Benefield, Steve Scott, Luke Wallens and Adam Oestrich.

Tequila: Ian Townsend, Jared Robertson, Steve Wright, Amy Wright, Javier Ungo.

Mustache Reunion Show: Ed Melendez, Josh Gill, Frank Netscher, Kristin Henn and Shea Scott.

Ratliff and Eric Smoke Cigarettes Out at the Picnic Tables: John Ratliff and Eric Rutherford.

Two Man Adam Sandler Movie: Ian Townsend and Alejandro Garcia.

Where Are They Now: Cody Dearing and Guests.

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 www.coldtownetheater.com/about/venue-rental 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

Add us to your Do512!

 

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 atxsketchfest.com or through coldtownetheater.com!

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.

WARNING: THIS SHOW LIKELY WILL NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

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!

ADVANCED TICKETS:
3/6/2014
3/13/2014
3/20/2014
3/27/2014

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).

TICKETS:
3/8/14
3/15/14
3/22/14
3/29/14

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.

CTRL Alt Delt AUSCTRL+ALT+DLT
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.

NICE ASTRONAUT AUSNice Astronaut
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.”

BYOB

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

SCHEDULE
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

MPULSE_VformWEBv2 (1)

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.

 

REGISTER FOR VIDEO SKETCH PRODUCTION SOLD OUT

  • $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.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

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

ytn2013poster

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

JANUARY:
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.

FEBRUARY:
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.

MARCH:
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.

PD_barmando1

APRIL:
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.

MAY:
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.

JUNE:
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

JULY:  
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.

AUGUST:
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.

SEPTEMBER: 
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

OCTOBER: 
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.

NOVEMBER: 
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.

Pilgrims_Are_From_Mars

DECEMBER:
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.

 

BUY PASSES:
Full Weekend ($20)
Thursday ($10)
Friday ($10)
Saturday ($10)

 

SCHEDULE
Thursday, October 17th
7:30pm PIZZA PARTY KICK OFF!
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

DURAN AND JOHNSON WEB SMALL

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

 

stab_web2

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.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER (12 Student Limit)

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.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER (12 Student Limit)

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.

TICKETS HERE.

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.

GET TICKETS HERE.

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.

TICKET LINKS:
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.

APRIL FOOLS STAND UP
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.

DROP IN SKETCH WORKSHOP
Monday, April 1st 6:30-8:30pm
 SIGN UP OR PAY IN ADVANCE HERE.
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.

TICKETS HERE!

*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 info@atxsketchfest.com.

Continue Reading

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.

ColdTowne Declares Self “Official Comedy Venue of F1 Racing”

Austin, TX — Austin’s home for alternative comedy, ColdTowne Theater, has declared itself The Official Comedy Theater of Formula One Racing. With the proliferation of events in Austin that feature comedy, it’s only natural that as the Circuit of the Americas makes its debut in Texas, it partners with local comedians for their event.

“We couldn’t have done this at a better time,” says theater General Manager Sam Malcolm. “Especially since the F1 race is coming to Austin next weekend.”

ColdTowne hoping to construct a comedy stage next to the pit crews, the ideal place for racing enthusiasts to be entertained by local comedians during the race. ColdTowne plans on performing their signature “Armando” show, Stool Pigeon, in front of the 70,000 racing fans.

“Improv is kind of awkward with microphones, so we’re really going to have to shout to be heard over the race cars,” says Stool Pigeon director Cody Dearing. “If the audience isn’t into it, we might just play party quirks.”

ColdTowne will also be looking to capitalize on the presence of billionaires in Austin around race weekend by setting aside the couches for people who can prove their net worth, mandating a “black tie” dress code for all shows and providing free cans of Lonestar.

“We can safely say that next weekend, we will have the most billionaire-friendly comedy establishment in Austin,” says owner Michael Jastroch. “I mean, despite the fact that we’re not located anywhere near the actual race track or race-related events.” ColdTowne performers and administrators are very excited to be involved with Formula One Racing.

“We think this will be a good fit,” says theater owner Michael Jastroch. “Whether they like it or not.”

ColdTowne Theater is Austin’s only performance venue with improv, sketch and stand up shows seven nights a week. Their performers have appeared at festivals all over the country and have a national reputation as being some of the funniest and brightest comedians in the United States.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an interview, please email Michael Jastroch (coldtowne@coldtownetheater.com) or call 512-814-TOWN.

November Workshops! Winter Classes!

Austin! The holidays are just around the corner, and that means that it’s time for winter improv comedy classes! You’re about to be hit by a deluge of ads trying to separate you from your hard earned money. Consider this the first such ad.

We’ve just set the schedule for our winter session of classes. Might we suggest that improv and sketch classes make a fantastic gift? Not to sound creepy, but improv changes lives. If you want to read more about it, you can go here. Or, if you just want to skip ahead and register, click here.

In the meantime, we’re excited to be bringing our good friend and stalwart of the national improv scene, Bill Binder, to do some workshops in November!

Higher Forms of Agreement
Saturday, November 17th (3:15-5:15)
REGISTER HERE
Saying “Yes and” is more than agreement to the facts of the scene. True support relies on saying yes to every level of the scene. Making the leap to great shows requires going beyond simple listening skills and learning to be aware of all the spoken and unspoken gifts all around you. This workshop teaches ways to listen beyond the spoken word, to truly support your partner and the scene even if it means uttering the forbidden word “no”.

The Math of Improv
Saturday, November 17th (5:30-7:30)
REGISTER HERE
Left-brained thinking is great for analytical, logical, critical thinking. But it can also be a bit judgmental, which is why beginning performers turn it off for a while so they can learn to embrace the imaginative, creative parts of their brains without self-doubt. Once that creative part of the brain learns to thrive, however, most of us never allow the left brain to come out to play. That’s only playing with half the tools available to you. Improv – like any art – is filled with beautiful patterns and symmetries; volume, stage position, and status – they’re all variables which can be toyed with in a beautiful equation. This workshop teaches players not to be ashamed of their analytical gifts, but to learn how to apply them in all of their work to build stronger more cohesive shows.

Bill Binder began performing in Michigan in 1994 where he performed for six years before moving to Phoenix, AZ. Bill helped organize the first Phoenix Improv Festival in 2002, spent two years training at iO West in Los Angeles and was one of the founding members of The Torch Theatre.

Oscar Bait! Saturdays in November!

In 1928, Hollywood movie studios created the Academy Awards to bestow trophies on themselves in order to “establish the industry in the public’s mind as a respectable institution.” In other words, The Oscars.

Now, over 80 years later, films tackling social, political, environmental, or cultural issues are dumped by Hollywood studios into the last two months of the year to pander to an organization that they invented for awards that they created in a self-satisfying loop of pleasure seeking in the form of status and reputation.

A king with a stutter. An obese teenager carrying her father’s child. Sandra Bullock teaching a different obese teenager how to play football. These are the over-dramatic, over-acted movies that Hollywood releases in the winter months leading up to award season. In other words, Oscar Bait.

Every Saturday at 8:30 in November, an all star cast of improvisers will take the stage at ColdTowne for an improvised Oscar-caliber performance. The audience will choose a movie that hasn’t yet been released , and – based on the trailer for that film – our cast will perform their artful interpretation of these sure-to-be classics. In other words, Oscar Bait.

Our cast of improvisers have trained at not only Austin’s finest comedy theaters but the finest comedy institutions across the country (iO, Second City, UCB). Their credits include Master Pancake, Stag Comedy, Midnight Society, Stool Pigeon, The Team, and Girls Girls Girls. Watch them craft a completely improvised, live action movie before your very eyes- for you and cinema enthusiasts alike.

We guarantee our versions of these movies will have more stuttering, more obesity and more Sandra Bullock.* In other words, they will be funnier.

CAST:
Addison Billingsley
Cody Dearing
Lance Gilstrap
Madeline Malka
Kyle Sweeney
Nathan Sowell
Katie Thornton
TICKETS HERE.

* Sandra Bullock not a guarantee.

ColdTowne Theater Invades the State Theatre This Friday Night!

What’s the worst thing about a bad movie? You could sight poor lighting, production values or the cheap ass special effects. But really, the thing that makes a bad movie unwatchable is the terrible script, bad acting and shitty soundtrack!

Once again, ColdTowne Theater has come to the rescue. This FRIDAY NIGHT at the STATE THEATRE, we will be replacing a movie’s original terrible dialogue and music with our own slightly less terrible (and infinitely more funny) improvised dialogue and music. We’re flipping the script, making the movies worse and in the process creating improv comedy GOLD – all based on suggestions from the audience.

This Saturday, we will be playing around with the classic shit show The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Get your tickets for this show here.

Classes Start Next Week! Advanced Improv w/ Dave Buckman!

Our final session of 2012 is starting next week! Now’s your chance to get in on Austin’s most popular improv classes before the world ends.

Our instructors have decades of professional comedy experience — touring and working with some of the biggest comedy institutions in the world — and have trained hundreds of Austin’s best improv talent. One of them was even voted BEST IMPROV INSTRUCTOR by the Austin Chronicle.

If that isn’t enough for you, this session we’re offering a money back guarantee. If you don’t love your class and have a great time, we’ll write you a damned refund check. Read more about our classes or just go ahead and register. Our classes always sell out, and there are limited spaces remaining!

This session, the unimpeachable Dave Buckman is offering up his graduate-level improv class! Keep reading, yeoman!

ADVANCED IMPROV WORKSHOP w/ DAVE BUCKMAN
TUESDAYS 6-8p AND SATURDAYS 1p-3p
(Starts November 17th)
$100/4 classes or $200/8 classes
REGISTER FOR 4 CLASSES
REGISTER FOR 8 CLASSES

Description: You may have noticed, kind improviser, there are a significant number of improvisers in town these days. Many experienced upper level of performers don’t have opportunities to take workshops or get notes any more. This may be you. You are in a rut and haven’t felt like you have had a “good show” in months.

This class is specifically designed for experienced improvisers, graduates of Austin’s Improv Training Centers and Improv instructors. Take an honest and supportive look at your own scene work, get some good feedback and receive notes that are fair and honest, try out some new exercises and leave you feeling re-energized, focused and proud of your scene work.

You’ll see a leap in your performance abilities and tour confidence that first month; Step up your game. Hone your craft. Play with people with different levels and backgrounds with the common goal of getting better and doing something you love.

This 4 week Intensive is designed to Strengthen the skills needed by the participants of the class.

Continue Reading

Making Bad Movies Worse!

What’s the worst thing about a bad movie? You could sight poor lighting, production values or the cheap ass special effects. But really, the thing that makes a bad movie unwatchable is the terrible script, bad acting and shitty soundtrack!

Once again, ColdTowne Theater has come to the rescue. Every Saturday night at 8:30 in September and October, we will be replacing a movie’s original terrible dialogue and music with our own slightly less terrible (and infinitely more funny) improvised dialogue and music. We’re flipping the script, making the movies worse and in the process creating improv comedy GOLD –  all based on suggestions from the audience.

This Saturday we will be debuting our show with the classic shit show Santa Clause Vs. the Martians. Each week, we’ll be picking a new movie for your consideration.

TICKETS HERE

Live Storytelling with Austin’s Funniest!

The Mission is a playful project in storytelling at ColdTowne Theater. Centered around a monthly theme, two performers from Austin’s wide community of talented artists will each share an autobiographical piece, while a variety of other storytelling forms are experimented with throughout.

This month’s theme is Sophomore Effort and features performances from Kristen Henn, Joe Hafkey, Bob Khosravi along side slam poet Isaac Harigle, musical guest Duncan Carson and expressionist Adam Shumate!

red envelope Comedy Variety Show Premier!

Red envelope is a monthly choose your own comedy adventure variety show where audience votes determine the course of the show. We hand pick the finest and funniest Austin performers and have them do, well, whatever you want! Performances are the first Thursday of every month at 10 PM at ColdTowne Theater. Red envelope is hosted by Courtney Sevener & Elizabeth Osterwisch.

This month is the pilot episode! Be a part of history by witnessing: Bad Boys wrecking shop with sketch or stand up (totes up to you), the Nesting Dolls murdering improv, and many more surprises!

Out of Bounds at ColdTowne!

We are eight days away from the other largest comedy festival in Austin: Out of Bounds! With over 500 hundred improvisers, sketch comedians and stand ups descending on Texas in the week leading up to Labor Day, this year is another monster.

This year, OOB is bringing down some of our favorite improv troupes as headliners: the legendary Beer Shark Mice and 30 Rock’s Adsit and Lutz! Shows are happening all over Austin at venues across town, but since this is the ColdTowne website, we thought we’d clue you in to what was happening in our neck of the woods.

Friday and Saturday night, from 7pm to midnight, we’ve got incredible improv and sketch comedy troupes appearing from all over the country. We’re particularly excited about K.C. Redheart (Chicago), Old Milwaulee (Los Angeles) and a rare, home-turf ColdTowne show. Also, our friends at Mascot Wedding are doing a FREE live radio show at ColdTowne Saturday at 6pm! Oh, did we mention we’re BYOB?

In addition to all of that sweetness, many of your favorite ColdTowne Theater house troupes will be performing at the festival. In no particular order, you can see Tears But Joy, Galactic, Elevator Action, Hot Property, Magician Vs. Clown, Oh Science!, Rachel and Dave, Scout, Bad Boys, Ratliff and Jackson, Jorak and Jorak, Nice Astronaut, Sarah 7, The Team, Miller and Purselley, Midnight Society, Mike and Irene (w/ Eric Hunicutt), The Frank Mills, and Stool Pigeon (w/ special guests Adsit and Lutz)!

#IFL 2012 Prelim Recap 2

The claws came out last Friday night in the second preliminary round of the Improv Fantasy League! The Immutably Misanthropic McMeullers of Middle Ridgetop faced off against  The Murchison Middle Schoolers and  The Bee Cave Honey Boo Boo Children of Str8 Death and emerged victorious!

At the top of the show, The Middle Schoolers won the right to pick the first free agent and determine the run order of the show. The free agents – recent NYC transplant Ben Masten and newly minted NYC resident James Patrick Robinson – were passed over in the initial pick for the mystery improviser, Robin Goodfellow. For those not in the know, as a member of Buddy Daddy, Robin Goodfellow is an internationally touring improv star. He is also a dog. The McMeullers picked up JPR, much to the chagrin of Ben Masten, who was a little sad that he got picked last over a puppy dog.

The McMeullers came out of the gate swinging with a no frills, hilarious montage showcasing explosive improv chops. The Honey Boo Boo Children performed a terrific Toddlers and Tiaras-themed Close Quarters inside a prison. The troupe rose to the occaision in pageant worthy dresses, much to the chagrin of Ben Masten, who squeezed himself into a tight little red satin number that showed off his “figure.” Ben gets the prize of suffering the most indignity in the history of IFL. The Middle Schoolers roared back with a strong showing, featuring, among other things, a gigantic puppy erection. Despite having the advantage of going third, it wasn’t enough to overcome the McMuellers, who eked out a victory in the final vote count.

The McMeullers will be performing in the Semi-final Round 2 on Saturday, August 18th. The Middle Schoolers gained enough votes to take the lead in the wild card running. The runner up of next week’s IFL must get more than 15 votes to move on to the next round.

The next preliminary round happens this Friday, August 17th at 8:30pm and features SoCocoNuts vs. The Gathering of the Jollyville Juggalos vs. Payton Gin & Juice!

 

Schedule Changes Starting… Now!

ATTN: Friends of Austin Improv Comedy! ColdTowne Theater has done some slight schedule reordering that is taking effect during our August/September block of shows. We thought you’d like to know about it, because it means more awesome shows!

Starting in August, all of our regular improv blocks will have a consistent headlining troupes. That means that Austin’s funniest comedians will have a permanent home, joining the elite ranks of improv troupes who have held down a night on their own. (For reference, those ranks include multiple B. Iden Payne Winners the ColdTowne, Frank Mills, Parallelogramophonograph, B. Iden Payne nominees Midnight Society and Austin 360’s “Best Comedy Show” winner Stool Pigeon.)

Our new line up is below the cut! Continue Reading

#IFL2012 Prelim Preview

This Friday night, #IFL2012 continues with a three way grudge match between The Immutably Misanthropic McMeullers of Middle Ridgetop,  The Murchison Middle Schoolers, and  The Bee Cave Honey Boo Boo Children of Str8 Death!

The winner will move on to the Semi-Finals on August 18th. The runner up will be in the running for a wild card spot, assuming they can get more votes than last week’s runner up, The Congress Bats.

We sat down with team captain Brad Knox, cyborg-robot scientist and two time level 6 graduate, to discuss The Immutably Misanthropic McMeullers of Middle Ridgetop’s strategy going into tomorrow’s match.

Greetings team captain! You’re about to dive head first into one of improv’s oldest and most valuable traditions: meaningless competition and stupid bits. What made you get started at ColdTowne in the first place?
I saved up money for lessons. It was gonna be either piano or improv. My last piano instructor recommended improv.

What are the challenges facing your team as you move into the preliminary rounds?
Mostly focus. There are a lot of distractions in IFL. I’ve instituted a strict “no alcohol, no sex” rule for the 24 hours before our show.

How do you expect your team to fare? What do you expect from the other teams in terms of competition?
Judging by the names of other troupes, there’s only a few that need paying attention to. If our team keeps their head straight, keeps our privates to ourselves, we’ll have no problem walking right into the finals.

Any words of inspiration for your teammates?
Remember the McMuellers family motto.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Mitt Romney 2012

TICKETS HERE

Chicago Super Troupe 3033 Comes to ColdTowne!

iO Chicago super group 3033 is coming to Austin for two shows at ColdTowne Theater. Widely regarded as one of the best improv groups on the planet, 3033 consists of veteran Chicago improvisers Bill Arnett, Alex Fendrich, Rush Howell, Danny Mora, and Andy St. Clair. This show is not to be missed!

From the Chicago Reader: “A comedy supergroup consisting mainly of former members of People of Earth, 3033 creates some of the liveliest, most consistently solid improv around. Members Andy St. Clair and Alex Fendrich have been highlights of recent Second City E.T.C. shows; Rush Howell, a lawyer by day, is one of the scene’s wittiest performers; and Bill Arnett and Danny Mora are personable comedians with off-beat senses of humor. Unlike most troupes at iO, 3033 doesn’t stick with the Harold improv format. Instead, they play it loose, letting an audience suggestion and Jason Chin’s playful music and light effects steer them. At a recent show the topic of gangs inspired a hilarious 70s-era game show.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 25th:
Tickets Here.

Continue Reading

Fall Classes and Workshops!

What do actors, comedians, musicians, lawyers, software engineers and soccer moms have in common? They’ve all taken our comedy improv classes and can be seen headlining improv shows all over Austin and around the country.

If Austin were the Star Wars universe, ColdTowne Theater would be the Jedi Academy. Except we have more than one Yoda. Also, for this metaphor to work we’d have to assume that improvisers have the force.

In any case, our instructors have taught and directed shows at the country’s biggest comedy institutions and one of them was named Austin’s Best Improv Teacher by the Chronicle.

Read more about our classes here. Or just skip right ahead and register. Or, if you’re an experienced improviser, just keep on reading to learn about our upcoming Master classes and workshops!

Continue Reading

#IFL2012 Prelim Recap

ColdTowne Theater brought the comedy thunder last night with the opening salvo of the 2012 Improv Fantasy League. Three teams entered, but only one walked away triumphant.

At the top of the show, the Greenbelt Greenbelts garnered the most audience support, and were able to pick the run order and get first choice of the free agents. They went with the mystery door free agent, the Speakeasy Constable. the Mopac Mofos picked up Chris Baldenhofer and the Congress Bats picked up the Ghetto Sketch Warlock, Bryan “Lubu” Roberts.

The Mopac Mofos opened the show with a tight La Ronde-inspired montage. Big laughs abound, but it wasn’t enough to eek out a win in this field of competitors.

The Congress Bats boldly decided to dress up as Bats and then do a  Bat, an improv format that takes place entirely in the dark. A bold move, considering that a poorly executed Bat runs the risk of completely alienating the audience. They stepped up to the challenge and performed one of the best Bats to ever happen at ColdTowne.

The Greenbelt Green Belts went on to destroy the competition to advance to the semi finals on August 18th with a show that included two key ingredients to any comedy show: references to balls and karate.

The next preliminary round is on August 10th at 8:30. The Immutably Misanthropic McMeullers of Middle Ridgetop vs. The Murchison Middle Schoolers Vs. The Bee Cave Honey Boo Boo Children of Str8 Death! Tickets here.

#IFL2012!

Mom’s apple pie. The Lincoln Memorial. Making out. None of these things are nearly as quintessentially American as a good old fashioned football. The old gridiron. The pigskin. Two teams of hot sinewy dudes matching wits on a field of battle. And nothing’s more quintessentially hilarious than people fantasizing about playing football.

With that in mind, Austin’s ColdTowne Theater has decided to combine it’s love of sports, arbitrary competition and hilarity into a month of football-style improv comedy competition, replete with drafts, free agents, referees and tailgating.

For the first three Friday nights in August at 8:30pm, three teams made up of ColdTowne Theater performers and students will compete to advance in a tournament style competition. 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. The semi finals and finals will happen on August 18th, and will be followed by a ticker tape parade. (We’re not kidding.)

Preliminary Round 1 Tickets
Preliminary Round 2 Tickets
Preliminary Round 3 Tickets
Semi-final Round 1 Tickets
Semi-final Round 2 Tickets
IFL FINAL Tickets

SOLID GOLD HUSTLE

ColdTowne Theater’s smash hit comedy variety show, is coming back for a month-long victory lap. Every Saturday in July at 8:30 PM, The Hustle Show will perform a solid hour of their very best material. This ain’t the weak shit, son.

Brought to you by the finest gathering of Austin’s comedic minds this side of I-35, the Hustle Show cast features ColdTowne veterans, FPIA finalists, and members of Stag Comedy, Mascot Wedding, and Your Terrific Neighbors. Expect interpretive boogying, southern millionaires, the afterlife, and more. Come for the sweet laffs, stay because you’re too embarrassed to stand-up. I see you.

Featuring: Courtney Sevener, Jeff Whitaker, Curtis Luciani (July 21 & 28), Scott Raney, Tre Fuentes, Ann Potter, and Ximena Estrada. Hosted by Mac Blake and David Jara.

Tickets:
Saturday, July 7th at 8:30pm
Saturday, July 14th at 8:30pm
Saturday, July 21st at 8:30pm
Saturday, July 28th at 8:30pm

Bad Boys and Elevator Action Double Bill! Thursdays at 8:30!

Thursdays in July, two of ColdTowne Theater’s best improv groups — Bad Boys and Elevator Action — share a double bill of titanic proportions!

For the unaware, Bad Boys have garnered acclaim as one of the best improv ensembles working in Austin, playing to sold out houses across the city and inspiring audience reviews such as “everyone in the “Bad Boys” troupe wears glasses. They were also hilarious.” One of their members has become internet famous from a series of viral videos from the folks at Humordy.

Similarly, Elevator Action has been blowing up — though mostly in out of town markets. This Summer they’ve performed in Minneapolis, Dallas, New York City, and Oklahoma City. They’re not internet famous, YET.

Guiding you through this evening of high octane comedy excitement will be none other than Funniest Person in Austin Finalist Maggie Maye.

The Thursday Night Social Club at ColdTowne Theater also boasts people’s favorite feature: free booze.

ColdTowne Theater, Live and In Your Town!

Attention fans of Austin Improv Comedy! ColdTowne Theater is coming to a city near you. Near you, that is, if you in the metro areas of the following cities: Minneapolis, New York and Oklahoma City. And in the grand scale of the universe, technically we all live near one of those cities, right?

First up, ColdTowne Theater super troupe Elevator Action is appearing in the Twin Cities Improv Festival at the amazing Huge Theater. They’re playing with the incredible Bearded Men at 11:30, Friday June 22nd.

Next stop is the 14th Annual Del Close Marathon, June 29th to July 2nd. ColdTowne Theater’s comedic powerhouses are descending on New York City for the entire weekend,. At last count, nine improv troupes are performing all weekend long. You can catch the ColdTowne Tourco Friday night at 10pm at the Hudson Guild Theater.  (Called “Consistently Stellar!” on Splitsider).

Finally, Elevator Action returns to the Oklahoma City Improv Festival stage July 21st. Theater owner Michael Jastroch will be teaching some workshops, as well.

Take that, America.

Summer Workshop Series

The 1987 Carl Reiner masterpiece, Summer School, featured a motley gang of misfit students, a high school gym coach forced to teach an English class and, if memory serves, a shocking twist ending (spoiler alert: the school was dead the whole time).

The only difference between our Summer Workshop Series and the movie Summer School is that our motley gang of misfits are there by choice and the closest thing we have to a gym teacher on staff is actually a web developer.

Austin, check out these amazing improv classes from Dave Buckman (Second City, Boom! Chicago), Todd Schanbacher (iO Chicago) and Karen Graci (iO West).

“From Moment One,” 1:00PM-4:00PM, Saturday, July 28th

$30, 14 student cap
REGISTER HERE
Feel overwhelmed in scenes? Thinking too much? Doubting your instincts as a performer? This workshop specifically focuses on how natural, honest choices from the very first moment in scenes lead to solid scene work. Students learn how to build their confidence by tapping into the power of immediate physical, emotional, and vocal choices, and discover ways to create these organic starting points. This workshop challenges students to trust their instincts, all the while balancing character development, scenic relationships and game.

Musical Improv, 1:00PM-4:00PM, Sunday, July 29th
$45 for participation/$20 for audit only, 12 participation spots and 10 audit spots
REGISTER HERE
Register here to Audit
You doing musical improv. If these words make you fear that you’ll look like a complete douchebag onstage, then this workshop is for you. Learn to apply your existing improv skills in song and strengthen your vocal technique in this workshop. We will explore lyrics, rhyming (and effective alternatives to rhyming), song structure, and how to convincingly get into songs from an improvised scene. The goal of the workshop is to not only expand your skills, but expand your confidence as well. Plus it’s gonna be a lot of fun. Taught by veteran Chicago and Los Angeles-based improviser Karen Graci, a Baby Wants Candy alum.

KAREN GRACI
A proud native of Buffalo, NY, Karen performed for Chicago’s The Second City for more than three years. While touring the US and abroad with The Second City National Touring Company, Karen was grateful to perform in The Second City’s first-ever USO Tour, entertaining American troops in Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. She was also a resident cast member in The Best of Second City at The Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas for over a year.  Karen co-wrote and starred in the sold-out run of Camp Hot, a three-woman sketch show featured at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater and the Los Angeles Improv Comedy Festival. Her one woman show, Her Potential, was a 2007 and 2008 Del Close Award nominee for Best Scripted Show at iO West. A veteran of ComedySportz Chicago and Baby Wants Candy at iO Chicago, Karen now performs regularly at iO West with King Ten. Karen is an instructor at iO West and also taught at Second City Las Vegas and Second City Los Angeles. Karen coached the iO West Main Stage Harold Team, Local 132, and is the current coach of Main Stage team Bandit.

Continue Reading

Hot Property: Development Hell

Clear out that 8:30 PM Saturday slot on your June calendars. Dinner with people you don’t even like can wait! Sketch comedy troupe Hot Property (combined credits include Master PancakeMascot WeddingMidnight Society, and Stag Comedy!) brings a month full of comedic fire and brimstone with Development Hell.

Every show will be different because Hot Property never stops writing. They will be constantly updating, trimming, adding, and cutting sketches left and right for you because perfect is never good enough. They will even write sketches before your very eyes!

Tell Siri to make an appointment for Saturday nights in June at 8:30 at the Coldtowne Theater. Nobody soaked in gasoline will be permitted in the theater because this show’s going to be hot!

Tickets Below The Cut:
June 9th at 8:30pm
June 16th at 8:30pm
June 23rd at 8:30pm

ATX Sketch Fest — All Fest Passes Added!

We are three weeks and a day out from Austin’s ONLY Festival — The ATX Sketch Fest! We’ve released a very limited number of All Fest Passes to the event, good for any shows save Paul F. Tompkins Crying & Driving Tour . Good news, however, because it’s entirely possible to purchase pass upgrades with tickets to the Paul F. Tompkins Shows!

The festival kicks off at ColdTowne Theater on May 23rd, with performances from the Encyclopedia Show, the Hustle Show and There’s Waldo. We continue May 24th and 25th at the Hyde Park Theatre with shows from the P! Company, Spirit Desire, Stag!, Ghetto Sketch Warlock, One Across, Astronaut Theatre (NYC), and Fantasy Sex Picnic (LA).

The weekend will be capped off at the 29th Street Ballroom with two performances from Paul F. Tompkins and a special appearance by last year’s festival darlings, LA’s Delicious Moments and Austin’s own Your Terrific Neighbors.

Buy Passes and Tickets

Like Us On Do512