Interview with Michael Jastroch of Victrola

Victrola is a weekly comedy podcast produced by ColdTowne founder and senior faculty member, Michael Jastroch, who recently appeared in the 2017 SxSW comedy lineup. In this post, we discuss Victrola’s start, the cast and their selection as finalists in the first annual Improv4humans/Earwolf competition.

How did you get started with Victrola?

Funny. I just had a facebook memory come up for this. Bryan Roberts posted in 2013 the phrase “Car Bits, Seriously.” It refers to a road trip we took to OKC along with Josh Krilov and Steve Donovan to perform sketch. The way there and back, we improvised dumb audio bits for seven straight hours – basically pretending to prank call us and it was maybe the hardest I’ve ever laughed.

Josh, Bryan and I started getting together to record audio bits from time to time with the intention of turning it into something –  a podcast or a stage show – but nothing ever came from it. Mostly because of lack of know how and proper equipment.

I have a few recordings from that time, and I may release some of them someday as curios. There’s a bit – unedited – we did that I eventually cut up into an audio add for ColdTowne. I can’t find the finished version, but the unedited clip is pretty solid.

A few years ago, I got fed up with doing shows and having no record of my work or “product” to sell. A decade of shows, and the only thing to point to was some vague memories. The kicker was one night doing a show one night with Irene White that may have been the best thing I’ve ever been involved with and realizing that even though 50 people saw it, it’d be forgotten in two months.

Film is challenging, because you need a lot of people to make it happen and having relied on goodwill and favors for most of my creative life, I knew it’d be difficult to put stuff out consistently. With podcasting, at the end of the day, if it doesn’t happen, I’ve only myself to blame.

So I bit the bullet, dropped $500 on audio equipment and podcast hosting, taught myself some basics, and made myself a rule. I’d never miss a deadline, even if I put out crap, I’d put something out. Recording sessions are deliberately kept fun and casual, so people never have to feel like a dick for not making it  – although everyone in the cast makes 9 out of 10 sessions. And here we are.

My only regret is Krilov moved so he can’t bit out with us.

Bryan Roberts, Jericho Thorp, Dalton Allen

Recording: Bryan Roberts, Jericho Thorp, Dalton Allen

What do you think each of the cast members brings?

I casted the thing mostly based on a history of hanging out and doing bits. How easy does this person play and get what makes something funny? So they all have that in common. Plus, they all have a few voices up their sleeve. We all make each other laugh, and that’s important.

Lance Gilstrap – the perfect straight man. Very few people can maintain that much anger on stage and keep the ball rolling. It’s a skill I envy.

Molly Moore – such great character work. You never know what’s going to come out of her mouth, completely sincerely, as whatever nutball she’s playing.

Bryan Roberts – perfect timing and delivery. He could make a phone book funny. He’s also great at constructing actual jokes on the spot.

Bob McNichol – plays three dimensional chess while the rest of us are playing checkers. He doesn’t say the most, but everything that comes out of his mouth is funny on another level. Plus, he’s got that amazing dry delivery that sounds so sweet on podcast.

Cortnie Jones – is such a great character actress and she swings for the fences with

Molly Moore

Recording over a weekend retreat in west Texas: Molly Moore (foreground). Michael Jastroch and Bob McNichol (background).

whatever she’s doing. If Molly plays the affable loons, Cortnie plays all the sociopaths.

Jericho Thorp – One of the best character improvisers in the city. Such a great listener and so wonderful at making even the nuttiest stuff grounded in truth.

Me – I don’t know anymore.

Also, Dalton Allen, who helps with the editing and is unofficially now in the cast has a wonderful dry wit.

What do you think is the biggest deal about Victrola as a comedy podcast?

The great thing about podcasts is they are so easy to start. The horrible thing is they are so easy to start. Meaning, it’s real easy to assume you’re charming enough to carry on unscripted comedy – scenic or banter. But the truth is, that’s not only difficult to do, if you’re not a known quantity, no one gives a shit.

I didn’t want to do another four dudes talking around a microphone podcast. That niche is filled. So what makes us a big deal is when we put stuff out, the extra effort has been put in to make it as funny as it can be every time. Otherwise there’s literally no point in us existing.

If you could have one special guest superstar, who would it be?

All of Superego, who are huge inspirations. We were doing these bits and thinking about releasing this before we heard Superego, but they showed us the way forward.

What’s up with Improv4Humans and Earwolf?

Yeah! We are among the top three finalists in the Improv4Humans Contest4Humans. Which is awesome, because locally and nationally we were up against some heavy hitters. It’s a real honor and very validating to make it this far.

We’re recording a set on Tuesday the 28th. If we win, we get flown to the Del Close Marathon in NYC to record with Matt Besser. Which, given that we’re laboring in obscurity far away from industry or celebrity, would be very validating and hopefully expose us to a wider audience.  We don’t do this to be famous, but so much work goes into the thing, audience is nice.

How many sandwiches have you eaten at once.

More than 2, less than 6.

What do you have strong opinions about?

Everything. It makes me a better teacher and director, but occasionally paralyses me as a performer.

On the podcasting tip, one thing I hear all the time is how awesome Victrola sounds. Which to me is nuts, because I literally have no idea what I am doing and basically watched two youtube videos.

Which means if your podcast sounds like shit, you don’t care enough to watch two youtube videos. If you’re going to phone it in, isn’t there a better way for you to spend your time?

Recording: Lance Gilstrap and Molly Moore.

Recording: Lance Gilstrap and Molly Moore.

ALSO – I support crowd funding thing as a concept, but I think we’ve gone too far. What happened to – you know – paying your dues. I’m annoyed by people who have never made anything asking for handouts for friends and family. Make a few things on your own dime before you start begging for funds. You’ll learn more.

If Victrola wins and gets to go to DCM, what are you going to do to celebrate?

Go to New York on Matt Besser’s dime is all the improv reward I need. Maybe finally get one of those fancy VIP DCM wristbands so I don’t have to wait in line 6 hours to watch shows I used to be able to just pop into back in 2005.

Victrola records for the Improv4Humans finals tonight at ColdTowne at 10pm.  Check out the Facebook event here. Even better, subscribe to the podcast for weekly goodness.

Heavy Metal Drummer: Michael Dolan of Rezuranger

Michael Dolan is a Level 2 student at ColdTowne and currently featured in our MainStage show, Rezuranger. He shared with us how he happened into classes, and–eventually–his role in our Saturday MainStage production.

On July 22, 2016 I visited ColdTowne Theater to see my friend, Lisa Williams (Family Meeting), perform with her troupe The High Five at a CageMatch (now Throwdowne) show vs. Rezurangur. That was the first time I got to see Chris Baldenhofer and Delaney Jo Hernandez perform. I was so impressed that night by Chris and Delaney to make two person scenes much fun! I didn’t realize it then, but Delaney and I had actually been camp counselors in 2008 for a youth retreat, and it was awesome to reconnect with her. I also remember thinking Kevin killed it that night during the performance with The High Five.

That show made me realize I wanted to do improv and couldn’t keep putting it off. I was still unsure about signing up for classes. I remember the two reasons I went ahead and did it: 1) I met Michael Jastroch during the 10 year anniversary weekend and remember thinking he was super witty and his characters were amazing. He’s a great teacher. 2) Kara King told me I wasn’t that funny in the ping pong/domino room at the Grand, so I had to prove her wrong. I signed up for Level 1 in the Fall 2016 class start.

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Dolan in Rezurangur press photo.

Towards the end of my Level 1 class, I saw that Rezurangur: An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssee was looking for improvers and musicians with a specific request for a good drummer. It was the perfect show for me since I’ve been a drummer for almost twenty years and played in a metal band called Uglytwin for almost 3 years. I knew it was my destiny.

After a very nerve-wracking audition with Kristin Henn and company, I was very unsure about getting into the show because I didn’t talk much during my multiple person scenes. Like everyone, I’m my own worst critic. On top of that, I saw a ton of excellent performers at that audition.

About a week later I remember getting the e-mail from Kristin announcing that I had been cast for the show. I was so ecstatic that I immediately started to send friend requests to every member of the show on Facebook, just to see who all was in the show with me. When I saw Chris, Delaney and Kevin, I was super excited to work with all of them, since they were all part of the reason I invested in classes at ColdTowne. I had the chance to see a lot other cast members in Rezurangur perform at ColdTowne, and now—having had a chance to work with them—I’m certain this is one of the best groups of people I’ve ever had the chance to share a stage with.

Now, as a Level 2 student, and about to move into Level 3, I am so excited to keep going through classes, and eventually graduate. I love this community of people and always enjoy watching every show especially Missed Connections ATX, Loverboy, and Damn Gina. Come see Rezurangur: An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssee!

Michael Dolan is an Austin native and has been a student at ColdTowne since 2016. He’s a drummer with 20 years’ experience of many different genres. He’s a beauty school dropout, graduate of Texas Bible Institute and doesn’t use any of that knowledge at his job doing Software Quality Assurance.

He’s performed in the Bit Show and now with Rezurangur: An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssee Sat. nights at 8:30pm only at Coldtowne Theater from March 4th through April 8th. $10 online, $12 at the door. Buy tickets here.

Don’t Let the Night Catch You: NightWatch Producers, Damn Gina

Damn Gina has been filling houses and winning audiences since the five founding members (Cené Hale, Maggie Maye, Ronnita Miller, Tauri Laws-Phillips and Xaria Coleman) met and started the troupe at ColdTowne in 2015. Quickly establishing themselves as audience and scene favorites, they have played all over Austin and recently won the B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Improv Troupe, 2016.

Our interview with Damn Gina’s Ronnita Miller and NightWatch director Erica Lies follows. You can also check out their recent interview with the Daily Texan.

Damn Gina's Maggie Maye and Ronnita Miller in NightWatch. Photography by Steve Rogers Photography.

Damn Gina’s Maggie Maye and Ronnita Miller in NightWatch. Photography by Steve Rogers Photography.

What inspired you when creating NightWatch?
Ronnita L. Miller – This show was inspired by a show we put up in December 2015 where the members of Damn Gina did monologues and scenes based on our own interactions with police officers. In these stories, we shared insight as to how people of color are treated in routine situations such as traffic stops and how our treatment may differ from our white counterparts.

Drew Wesley is rumored to play the investigator/detective and the whole cast is a super solid crew. Can you tell us about the cast and what they bring to the show?
Ronnita L. Miller- The whole cast is encouraged to play investigator/detectives and suspects. We have a great cast of very strong improvisors. We all get along very well. The cast is looking for interesting points of view that are presented at the top of the show when we profile the type of suspects that might commit the crime that we are investigating.

Erica: The cast is amazing. I don’t know how we got this lucky, but every person brings so much both in terms of character work and bringing great details and premises to scenes. They all make me laugh til my stomach hurts.

Ha, Drew is wonderful, but whoever heard that rumor must get their news from Donald Trump. I wanted to be conscious of whether what we’re making onstage just recreates the power dynamics of wider society, and the last thing we need is another story where a white dude has power over women of color. So instead everyone switches roles.

The members of Damn Gina play the lead detectives and the rest of the cast plays everyone else, including sometimes other investigators, the police commissioner, the  DA. Sometimes that’s Drew with his sweetly bungling detectives, and other times it’s Linzy Beltran as a cop that gets too close to her cases, or Rachel Austin as a Doogie Howser teen cop.

Maggie Maye, Laura de la Fuente and Frank Netscher in NightWatch. Photo by Steve Rogers Photography.

Maggie Maye, Laura de la Fuente and Frank Netscher in NightWatch. Photo by Steve Rogers Photography.

Is this a police procedural? What was your inspiration for the show?
Ronnita L. Miller – I would say it is a procedural. We tried to watch as many detective and procedural television shows to get a sense of the lingo and the tone. We didn’t want to repeat what we did in December 2015 because we each only have a finite number of stories and didn’t want to repeat those stories as they may lose impact. We thought it would be fun to use stories from the audience on times in which they were falsely accused to illustrate how personal bias and other factors can come into play when investigating a crime.

Erica: I see it as a procedural because the “crime” is wrapped up by the end. Even if the person caught and arrested isn’t actually the guilty party, the case is closed. Even so, I also wanted it to have elements like more modern crime shows that also delve more into the cops’ lives and their motivations. But here we’re twisting the procedural a bit, too. In cop shows, the crimes are always high stakes — murdered women, organized crime syndicates, so many serial killers — and the police almost always get the right people. We wanted to use the suggestion to both treat something small and ridiculous as high stakes, but also to look at a story that isn’t quite tied up as neat and pat as a procedural. We also wanted to mess with the tropes of crime shows. They’re so common you could make a bingo card out of them — masculine hero with a dead wife, excessively tough lady cop, “the DA’s breathing down my neck!”, the renegade who dares wear jeans, the captain saying “turn in your gun and badge.” Even just the mood and the deadly seriousness of those shows, it’s all ripe for mockery.

NightWatch with Xaria Coleman, Maggie Maye, Ronnita Miller and Laura de la Fuente

NightWatch with Xaria Coleman, Maggie Maye, Ronnita Miller and Laura de la Fuente. Photography by Steve Rogers Photography.

Why NightWatch?
Ronnita L. Miller – NightWatch came from a few different places. I think all the members of Damn Gina grew up hearing their parents say something along the lines of “Don’t let the night catch you…” which was meant to be a warning not to be running around at night where you could be mistaken for someone up to no good. If we think about Trayvon Martin, you can understand why this warning is so important. My parents had a rule that I could not be out after the streetlights came on or I would be in trouble.

If you think about police or neighborhood watch patrols, they usually take place at night when the streets are empty and danger is more pronounced. So we took those inspirations and combined it with the Game of Thrones Night’s Watch and it became NightWatch.

What else should we know about the show?

Erica: It’s raucous and fun and the whole cast is just so insanely funny. So, come prepared for an ab workout.

Damn Gina’s NightWatch plays the ColdTowne Main Stage through the end of February, every Saturday night at 8:30pm.  Advance tickets are recommended.

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ColdTowne Theater’s newest main stage show, Missed Connections ATX explores the sentimental, fantastical, and downright raunchy nature of austin’s most impersonal personal ads. We sat down to talk to show’s director, Chelsea Bunn, who handpicked a list of her favorite ads that aren’t going to make it into this run of shows.

Chelsea Bunn, Director of Missed Connections

Director of Missed Connections

First of all, tell us a little about the show?

The show has a five act structure and marries short- and long-form improv. Each act is inspired by ads from Craigslist’s Missed Connections section, which the cast has never seen before!

Over the course of collecting ads for the show, how many ads do you think you’ve read?

Probably over 1,000! The show spans Central Texas, so in addition to Austin, I’ve also been pulling ads placed in Round Rock, Georgetown, San Marcos, and San Antonio.

Wow, that’s a lot of personal ads! Have you noticed any trends?

I’ve seen plenty of dick pics (reader beware! lol). A lot of Missed Connections seem to occur in gyms, barber shops, and grocery stores– where it’s generally expected that you mind your own business. I will say that I have no interest in entering a 24-Hour Fitness or Gold’s Gym locker room or sauna ever again… Some Central Texans are very free sexually!

Missed Connections cast member reads a Craigslist post during the show

Missed Connections cast member reads a Craigslist post during the show

OK, tell us about this list you’ve prepared for us…

Alas, we could only cram so many wonderful ads into our six week run. So, I curated a list of some personal favorites that aren’t making the run of shows. I hope you enjoy– and come see the show!

Ladies & Gentlemen, without any further adieu, Chelsea’s list:

I saw you on the game show this past week!!! – m4w (Austin)
I saw you on The Price Is Right this past week (I think it aired 1/11/17). You are gorgeous!!! Bubbly personality too! That’s a rare combo. Are you single? This is the weirdest way to meet, but my whole life has been full of really cool, yet weird stories. Hopefully this will be an ongoing story!!! Your first name starts with a “C.” If you see this, please reply with your full first name as the subject of your email. Also, please tell me more about yourself and send me a picture of you. I’m a great guy who will dispel all of the Craigslist stereotypes! I’ll send a picture with my reply to you along with more about myself. Thanks!!!

Your Name is Joe & Your Wife Works in Leander (Leander)
I don’t really know you but i know & work with your wife at a doctors office. Since i work with her, i don’t want to create work related drama, because i need my job. So i’m hoping someone on here knows you and can relate the message back that your wife is having an affair with someone here.

I don’t want to create unneeded issues for anyone else for my lack of detail on who & where. So if you think this is you, and want me to verify. Reply with your wife’s first name and if it’s her, i’ll reply back with her last name & vehicle she drives in.

Missed Connections cast during the opening weekend.

Missed Connections cast during the opening weekend.

Early morning..I need to learn basic vehicle maintenance – w4m (Southwest Pkwy)
Thank you to the man that changed my tire in the cold this morning. I don’t know who you are, and doubt you will see this. I was scared and cannot thank you enough! You were gone before I had a chance to stop and pay you because I had my mom on the phone. I feel so bad because it was freezing cold, still dark and you still helped. Thank you so much, I was really worried when you first stopped..(too many horror movies I guess)

Guy eating potato – w4m
I’m sorry for staring at you while you enjoyed your potato.

It looked really good. I’m going to get a hot plain jane potato soon.

that was some party. sad it had to end. – m4ww (my Dr. office)
The dr said everything would be fine in a few weeks. I should have known better. you guys are too tempting.

Lastly, and not for the squeamish…

farting in my mouth – m4w (my bed)
age: 35

I miss the way you hold your ass open and held your stinky farts in till I put my lips around your puckered asshole and then push out a hot steaming bomb in my mouth and I’d lick the inside of your ass while you blow out.

For more Missed Connections entertainment, check out Missed Connections ATX Saturdays, February 4 – March 11 starting at 7:00pm. Tickets are $12 at the door and $10 online.

Improv encourages, and is elevated by those of completely different backgrounds, race, age, gender identification, sexual orientation... Through improvising and learning improv, we get to discover what we have in common with each other, and how different our perspectives are.

Teacher Spotlight: Nathan Sowell#

Don’t Look Back: A retrospective on ’16 and look ahead w/Dave Buckman

Now that we’ve closed the books on 2016, we sidled up to Executive Producer Dave Buckman to
talk about his first full year of programming at ColdTowne Theater to see what shows and performers had a break out run or year. 

What mainstage shows from 2016 were your favorites?
Dave: Dinner for Six, famiLIES, Elvis’ Rockin’ Nativity, Express Yourself

February - March 2016 Cast, Express Yourself

February – March 2016 Cast, Express Yourself

Were there specific performers that emerged in 2016 through the main stage runs? What makes them notable to you?

Dave: Jae Long in famiLIES… It was his first time ever doing a play and he just crushed it and carried it.  I wish we could do it this season because now that Jae has transitioned, that lead character of Francis would be amazing and so much more poignant and timely if she was playing Francis now.

Chaz Formichella in famiLIES.  This was a character Chaz had played before in the previous incarnation in 2010, and it could have been such a throwaway part in the way it was re-written, but his turn, this time, as Simon was revelatory.  He brought more depth to that role than I thought was possible, and every line he delivered perfect every night because he was listening while he was acting.

Jared Robertson, Michael Perkins and Chris McKeever in Elvis’ Rockin’ Nativity.  They play the backup band for every number playing actual tunes well, sometimes having to do it in a different key than the original or a slower tempo depending on the person singing and they also portray the Beatles and the Sex Pistols in some sketches.  A complete multi-talented power trio-delight that literally drives the show.

Sanjay Rao of Empty Promises, Midnight Society

Sanjay Rao of Empty Promises, Midnight Society

Also, Molly Moore, Kenah Benefield, Tauri Laws-Phillips, Megan Mowry, Abby Lincoln, Sanjay Rao and Will Sitters all really leveled up and, I think, found and developed the shit out of their comedic voices this year in various mainstage shows.

What show surprised you the most and why?

Dave: Express Yourself was explosive and caustic and compelling and moving.  All done with basically a Living Room format. It was exciting to see Frank Netscher and Ryan Darbonne take a simple concept that we all felt ‘meh’ about (‘An Improvised Dangerous Minds’) and subvert the genre and turn it to something deeper and beyond all of our expectations.

If you could bring back one show, which would it be?

Dave: Dinner For Six.  Which we will.

Or famiLIES….with a transitioned Jae Long

Looking ahead to 2017 and the season that has been decided for the first half of the year, what are you most excited about?  Why did you decide on these particular shows?

The Do Over and Nightwatch are proven hits.  They’ve been developing their formats in other The Do Over timeslots all during last year and are really going strong in rehearsals right now.  I’ve been to a few rehearsals and they are getting stronger and more confident with their vision.  I think adding Erica Lies as NightWatch’s director was an amazing call.

Kristin Henn’s production of Rezurangur meshes so many of my favorite genres of comedy and theater: mockumentaries, heavy metal, actual live music, and my favrote kinds of characters: over the top showbiz characters mixed with real humans behind the curtain (see: Krusty the Klown or Spinal Tap)  And the cast and live band of improvisers Kristen and Cody have assembled… it’s gonna be a doozy.

Missed Connections ATX was developed out of a short form improv game the Austin Translation cast invented in 2015. Chelsea Bunn, from that cast who hosted and developed the game wtthin that show has developed it into an hour long format.  The herat of the pitch is to  pull Missed Connection listings off of Austin’s CraigList and having them inspire the scene work, characters and relationships of a show.

And then down the road, Cortnie Jones is developing a reality show game show called The Gauntlet for May and June that is like an 8-week competition to whittle 32 improvisers down to a grand champion. I can’t wait for those finals.

If you could sum up the 2017 season in 4 words or less, thematically, how would you describe it?

Dave: Individual vs. The Collective.  Which I think is the great philosophical and political debate of our time.

Which directors and producers are you especially excited to see in the 2017 season?

Dave: Certainly, the return of our previous Artistic Director, Cody Dearing, in his first directorial show, Rezurangur, since stepping down early last year is a big deal. He has put up some of the most memorable shows in ColdTowne history and he’s not only a great guitar shredder in his own right, he’s quite possibly the best improviser/game finder/relationship builder in Austin improv, so I think that’s show is a perfect fit for him.

The co-directing combo of Mical Trejo (Latino Comedy Project) and Ben Bazan (Longtime CTer and outstanding Actor for Youth at Zach) with an all-Latina/o cast in outer space for La Frontera Final is going to bring in some amazing new theatrical perspectives that will be new for ColdTowne

Keith Horvath, who just moved down here from Chicago last summer where he was working at The Second City and The Annoyance Theater, my old haunts.  We speak the same sketch language and it’s exciting to get to share that voice with Austin.  His show, This Is (Not) The Gayest Show You’ve Seen is already in previews and if his Halloween show was any indication, this one is going to ba amazing.

Also, the announcement of any show as being “from the minds of McNichol & May” is always terribly exciting news.  

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Dave Buckman, Executive Producer

Thanks, Dave.

Dave Buckman was a director, performer and teacher for Amesterdam’s Boom Chicago (1999-2002), The Second City (2002-2014) and ColdTowne Theater (2006-present). Dave has worked in live sketch and improvisational productions with the likes of Seth Meyers, Ike Barinholtz, Jordan Peele, John Lutz, Kay Cannon, Dave Razowsky, Rebecca Drysdale, Mick Napier, Maribeth Monroe, Stephnie Weir and Jason Sudeikis and dozens more whose faces you know but don’t know by name.  

Since 2005, Dave has been living in Austin, TX with wife and creative partner Rachel Madorsky, teaching and performing with their award-winning troupe The Frank Mills and helping to establish Coldtowne theater as a hotbed for Austin’s alternative comedy scene.  
Dave has won two B. Iden Payne Awards for Excellence in Improvisational Theater, one with The Frank Mills in 2006 and one individually in 2008 and is proud to be a member of the B. Iden Payne committee in 2015-16. He is currently the Executive Producer and co-owner of ColdTowne Theater.

 

How do you call your Loverboy? On Friday nights, starting Jan 2017.

After Wednesday favorites Patio Talk moved to NYC to further their comedy careers in 2014, audiences wondered: who will move into the Wednesday night slot? Who could deliver that much energy, talent and delight week after week? Given the long shadow and packed houses that Patio Talk had built over the course of their residency, the expectations were sky high.

Enter Loverboy, a troupe of six graduates from ColdTowne (Cené Hale, Kim Lowery, Maria Pond, Chelsea Bunn, Stephanie Thoreson and Taylor Stewart). Deftly taking the baton from Patio Talk, they’ve proven their mettle week after week, with hilarious shows centered around the dating stories of a guest monologist. Beginning in January 2017, they will move to Friday nights at 8:30pm, taking over from the beloved and critically acclaimed Bad Boys.

We chatted Loverboy up over the internets about their origin story (hint: there was no nuclear accident), favorite show moments and what comes next.

How did Loverboy form?

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Original cast of Loverboy (from left Cené, Kim, Stephanie, Taylor, Maria and Chelsea)

I formed Loverboy because nobody had asked me to be in a troupe yet and the people had had the most fun with in class just happened to be ladies! – TS

I’m actually not an original member. I had been asked by Taylor if I was interested in being in a troupe that she was forming but I was so green and shy and intimidated, I didn’t even get back to her at the time. Then I sat in with them on maybe their second or third show and afterwards all I could think was, “Please ask me to join, please ask me to join, please ask me to join”, and luckily, they did. It was love at first show for me. -ST

Where is the name from?

I came up with the name Loverboy because it seemed to fit in with our format (dating and relationship stories) and I liked the nod to the 80s Canadian rock band. I think both groups are lovably dorky but still really fun and good at what they do! – TS

How did you come up with your form? How would you describe it?

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Loverboy performs at Out of Bounds in the State Theater, 2016.

The format is our variation on “The Armando.” We discovered through rehearsals that we like a rapid-fire pace and we’ve tried to play to that strength. Our format starts with short “vignettes” after each story, then we revisit the scenes/ideas that we liked the most, and end our show with a fast-paced, no-holds-barred run-out. -CB

I wanted the hook of hearing a different monologist’s story every week. It brings a new energy to every single show, which keeps things fresh for us and for the audience. We refined our version of The Armando over time. Several quick, unrelated 3-5 line scenes, followed by longer scenes and a second story. The last half of the show takes inspiration from the new story as well as everything that has happened since the show began, increasing the speed and blending worlds, revisiting characters, playing those games hard and looking for that killer “blackout joke”. – TS

What are some memorable show moments?

People have shared some amazing stories with us. One of my favorites was a guy who was asked to impregnate his date– it was their first date. He escaped by crawling out of the restaurant’s bathroom window. It was just like a sitcom! I’ve also enjoyed learning more about ethical polyamory, pansexuality, asexuality and other lifestyles. Love is love! -CB

We’ve had the full spectrum of memorable stories, from touching, to heartbreaking, to oh-my-god-I-can’t-breathe-because-I’m-laughing-so-hard. My favorite was when our long-time teacher and ColdTowne Theater co-owner Dave Buckman told stories from his time at BOOM Chicago in Amsterdam for our 4/20 performance. In Amsterdam he directed some now-famous comedians like Seth Meyers and Jordan Peele and he showed the audience a slideshow of photos from that time. It’s extra special now because orginal Loverboy cast member Cene Hale is now performing with BOOM Chicago. Full circle! – TS

My most memorable Loverboy moments usually happen before the show. Like when we had a sing off which ended in Cené down on one knee proposing to Maria, or the first time we performed together, we promised we wouldn’t let anyone “cook” onstage. I didn’t know what that meant in improv terms, and I thought, “Oh cool, yeah. Cause we’re women… so we don’t want to do a bunch of stereotypical cooking scenes…..” They corrected me. – KL

Many of my favorite show memories are more visceral, like the memory of the way a moment on stage made me feel as opposed to the actual specifics of said moment. For example, there was this one time Taylor and I came out on stage together and it was clear neither of us had an initiation so we just mirrored each other acting like wrestlers and found the game organically, together.  I can’t remember what in the world the scene evolved into, but I remember feeling so connected to her. I was buzzing. Because when you’re really in the moment with someone(s) and it’s working, it feels like magic. -ST

It’s hard to think of one moment, but I enjoy most when we make each other laugh. – MP

If you could have one local celebrity as a monologist, who would it be?

Wendy Davis. -CB

Elijah Wood, but I want the DJ version. – TS

Wendy Davis. (Amy Poehler would be my ultimate choice if we expand beyond local, and I hear she likes Austin!) – KL

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Loverboy with monologist Kyle Houston Moore.

Joss Whedon! “Shocking.” – said no one ever. -ST

Is it cliché to say Matthew McConaughey? – MP

You guys have this incredible playful energy. Where do you think that comes from?

We’re friends IRL and I think that plays into it a lot. Also, we know how to make each other laugh and we don’t hold back! -CB

Yes, we’re definitely real life BFFs! To get us going, we start our pre-show warm ups with a high energy check in, and we try to keep that up throughout the show. Truth be told, sometimes those warm ups are even more special to me than the show itself!  – KL

Our sincere love for each other. And yes, we work hard to check in with one another. – MP

Tell us about the tattoos.

Some of us had been considering a Loverboy tattoo for a while, and when we were in NYC for the Del Close Marathon, Stephanie drew up a concept that represents what we chant each week before our shows, “Less Fear, More Love”.  This sincerely stands for what I’ve learned from working with these women, and it has changed my life in incredible ways. – KL

I took this workshop with the amazing Rachel Madorsky called “Let the Love In” and the underlying theme boiled down to less fear, more love (also that improv will certainly make you cry and feel feelings and examine your existential thoughts on existence and humanism, like a lot, but anyways, haha).This idea really struck a chord with me. It was such a succinct way to think about being in the moment on stage with yourself and other people that you care for and trust. It’s also just a great way to think about being, like in the world, period.  Eventually it became our mantra. Less fear! More love! -ST

Give us a sneak peek of Fridays in 2017. What should an audience expect? Why would they come?

Our fast-paced improv show will continue to be inspired by your love stories, but expect to see some changes to our programming (and lineup) in the next year… -CB

There’s obviously no replacing Cene. But, who is replacing Cene?

We agree that Cene is irreplaceable, which is why we aren’t replacing her. If and when we add new member(s), they will be asked based on their skills and talents. -CB

Psh, she’s easily replaced. I mean all we gotta do is find somebody who is as amazing, talented, funny, smart, kind, caring, sings like an angel….wait…hold on, I’m crying… – TS

Wait, Cené is just on vacation right. She’s coming back right?!? -KL

I’ll be the one in the corner, weeping. Please excuse. -ST

I don’t get it. Cené said she was going to the store to grab milk. – MP

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It’s a tongue, duh.

Your logo: Is it a tongue or a wang?

NOT A WANG!!! We worked with a female artist who helped us establish our logo/brand. We were drawn to lips because they are playful, feminine, and play to the fact that people are telling stories. Plus they’re sexy. (There, I said it.) -CB

I sort of love that people think it’s a wang. I never saw it that way until someone was asked to take our poster down at work because it was inappropriate. – KL

Ew. – MP

 

What troupes or players are coming up that you are fans of?

Lady Parts, for sure. I’ve also really enjoyed the QueerTowne jam– lots of talent within that community! I think I speak for all of us when I say that we adore Kenah Benefield, who is a wonderful performer AND we are #blessed to have him running our tech every week. KENAH IF YOU’RE READING THIS, NEVER LEAVE US! -CB

Basketball Dog is so dang funny. – TS

Lady Parts on and off stage all the way! I’m a huge fan of Will Dwyer’s and Michael Perkins’ writing and improv, and even though they’re not exactly “coming up”, I’m a nut for Damn Gina.-KL

Yes! Agreed on all accounts! We’re gonna need a deeper bench! -ST  

You Gave Me a Mountain (of a Show): An interview with Elvis’s director Will Cleveland

Will Cleveland is the Artistic Director of ColdTowne Theater, and has performed, produced and directed shows at the theater since moving to Austin from NYC in 2013. Prior to coming to ColdTowne, he managed UCB’s traveling team and was a producer for UCBComedy. He is a native of Arkansas and you can see him in Play by Play with Chris McKeever every month at ColdTowne.

Tell us about the show.

Elvis’ Rockin’ Nativity is a throwback variety show from TV shows like The Johnny Cash Show, The Dean Martin Show, Sonny & Cher, and The Smothers Brothers. It’s final conception asks what if Elvis had a Christmas Variety Television Special and things didn’t really go as planned. Elvis is the host of the show and his friends play different roles in the Nativity Christmas Pageant like Johnny Cash and June Carter who play Joseph and the Virgin Mary.

What inspired you when creating this show?

I grew up watching reruns of the Smothers Brothers, Sonny and Cher, and sketch shows like Laugh-In, and Carol Burnett. Also, I’ve always been a big Elvis fan. I wrote and directed a version of this show in 2012 at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater East in New York. I was on a video production team for UCBComedy and wrote it as a commercial parody first, but couldn’t really see us producing it as a short video, so I pitched it to the theatre as a full show. So, we put up a 25 minute version that was a lot of fun, but one night only, so it really left me wanting more.

Kim Lowery plays Elvis, and there are several other male characters played by females. Tell us about the thought process behind that casting decision.

Kim Lowery as Elvis.

Kim Lowery as Elvis.

Yeah! When I was in high school, I found a “lost” episode of Seinfeld online, and directed it as my senior project for theatre class. Jerry, Elaine, and George were no-brainers, but nobody in my class could play Kramer. Except Rachel Harding. She was taller than anybody and she was really funny. And then, of course, she crushed the role. After that, I never really questioned casting roles based on gender – especially for comedy. When casting Elvis for this show, I thought about some awesome dudes to play Elvis, but something was holding me back from asking or even holding auditions. I went to see a play at Vortex in the summer and Kim was there too. After the play, we were having drinks in the courtyard, and it just kind of hit me. I think it was something about Kim’s rock and roll style and her very open mind, but I thought she should play Elvis, so I just asked her right then and there. Once we started our writers meetings, all bets were off and every role that was written was on the table for anybody to play.

If someone isn’t familiar with Elvis, will they still enjoy the show?

No doubt about it. We have a short film intro to Elvis and who he was at the top of the show. And, even though it’s set in 1970-something, the sketches are very contemporary and satirical to issues we’re still talking about today. There’s something for everybody in this show.

Why Elvis?

There’s so much to explore with Elvis – Rock Star, Movie Star, Soldier, Karate Master, Spiritualist, “Government Agent”…all these things are ripe for parody. but Elvis is already such a big, larger than life character – almost a myth, like John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart. Of all the things Elvis accomplished in his career, he never made a Christmas movie or TV show. He made some Christmas albums, but of the 31 movies he starred in, there wasn’t a Christmas Movie or TV special, so it was just kind of up for grabs so to speak.

What else should we know about the show?

It’s about 70 minutes long. BYOB if you’re into that. We have a very merry atmosphere in the lobby before and after the show.

Elvis’s Rockin’ Nativity runs through December 17th, Saturdays at 8:30pm. Tickets are $10 advance and $12 at the door, with advance tickets strongly recommended due to the popularity of the show.  Pick up your tickets here, darlin’.

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

Wondering if you or your loved one will enjoy taking classes at ColdTowne? Check out this blog post from Megan Mowry from this past March: she started in our free 101 class (every other Monday at the theater) and hasn’t looked back since.

Want to go ahead and snag that holiday class pass?

 Purchase the pass!

By Megan Mowry

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.

Announcing the Jan – June ’17 Mainstage Schedule!

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As a year of bang-up, award-winning programming comes to a close, we are excited to announce the selections for the ColdTowne 2017 Mainstage, from January through June 2017.

All the Mainstage shows are Saturdays at 8:30pm.

The 8:30 Mainstage shows are:
January 7 – 28
The Do Over
Produced by Lindsey Moringy
Directed by Will Cleveland
The exciting return of The Do Over, a show that asks what would happen if you could revisit decisions, small and large.

February 4 – 25
Damn Gina! presents Night Watch
Produced by Damn Gina!
Directed by Erica Lies
Part police procedural, part Interrogation, Night Watch is produced by the B. Iden Payne award-winning Damn Gina!, Austin’s first all-black, female improv group.

March 4 – April 8
Razurangur – An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssey
Directed by Cody Dearing
Produced by Kristen Henn
From the director of Slaughter Your Shorts (2014) and Buddies! (2015) and the producer of Gardenalia (2016) comes a comedy that follows a heavy metal band both on and off stage.

April 15 – May 6
La Frontera Final (The Final Frontier)
Directed by Mical Trejo and Ben Bazan
Produced by and Starring The Prima Doñas
The Prima Donas, an all-Latinx comedy team presents this improvised comedy about space travel and their fateful return to earth. Unscripted and presented in a combination of English and Spanish.

May 13 – June 17
The Last Video Store
Directed and produced by McNichol & May
From two-time “Best of the Fest” winners McNichol & May, The Last Video Store centers on the personalities that work and patronize a beloved video store as it reckons with its relevance in the digital age. Inspired by Cheers, Spaced and High Fidelity each show uses elements from famous independent films.

Tickets for each show will be made available in the weeks prior to the opening of the show.

Stay tuned for the Saturday 7pm line up and season tickets!

 

 

Midnight Society: Don’t Call it a Comeback

Midnight Society formed in 2007, and have since built a reputation among audiences and improvisers for the quality of their work. With shows that can deliver grounded scene work, absurdity and raucous physicality in the course of a single show, their command of the stage is never in doubt.

Recently adding super talents Molly Moore and Sanjay Rao, they’re experiencing a new wave of attention and regularly packing it in Saturday nights. We sat down to talk to them about their history, favorite shows and adding cast.

Tell us about how and when Midnight Society formed.

Lance: Midnight Society was the second student troupe formed at ColdTowne in 2007. This means that we each auditioned and the theater selected the members. We were lucky enough to have been put on that one student troupe that stayed together more than a year or two. The group has been through a lot of changes, but have the same excitement for playing that we had nine years ago.

Photography by Roy Moore (ahpook667)

An early version of Midnight Society at Out of Bounds. Photography by Roy Moore (ahpook667)

Who, among the current cast, are the original members?

Lance: Lance Gilstrap, Jericho Thorpe, and Joel Keith are all original members.

What does the current cast look like? Why were those cast members chosen?

Lance, Joel, & Jericho: The current cast includes those aforementioned original players plus Molly Moore and Sanjay Rao. Molly was chosen because she makes brave choices and backs them up. She is goofy as hell, but also great at listening and calling out absurdities.

We picked Sanjay because he’s got serious stage chops. He commits to game like a monster and brings full emotion to absurd choices.

But we mostly picked both of them because they’re SO funny and we have so much fun playing with them. We click.

Who inspires you, individually or collectively?

Molly: I am inspired by people who look like they’re having a lot of fun being with each other on stage. I think joy and engagement are the most translatable energies both between performers and out into the audience, so when I see groups able to really harness that, I am one happy camper.

Sanjay: I get inspired all the time. There are great improv shows happening all the time and with the internet you can catch great stuff that happens in other cities too. I love Fuck That Shit from UCB and Cook County Social Club from iO. But I also get inspired by movies, television, and books. I love watching great acting and great characters. Lately I’ve been really into Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher, Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, and Ian Mckellen as Macbeth. It changes all the time but I get really excited when I get into something new. Who knows what it will be next?

What is a favorite memory?

Lance and Jericho: We have so many favorite memories (The “Comet Creepers” Show, That time Jericho lifted and then threw the entire cast using the force, etc…), but we thought it would be more fun to ask the two newer members.

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Jericho uses his powers. – OOB 2013.

Molly: My favorite memory is when we were all 9th graders in a band classroom and Lance realized that he forgot to get his permission slip signed for our band trip to like, Fiesta Texas or something, and we all realized that we forgot ours too and everyone freaked out on stage and in the audience. It was like everyone was experiencing the same collective memory with a great singular howl of regret.

Sanjay: I’m fairly new to the group but I already have some great memories with Midnight Society. The first thing that comes to my mind is a mono scene we did where we were working at a restaurant. Our suggestion was Pokemon Go. The show had nothing to do with the game up until about halfway through when Joseph Dailey mentioned people were coming in here just to play Pokemon Go and not ordering any food. In response, Lance Gilstrap, who was playing the owner of the restaurant, created a sign that said something like “You can’t catch a pikachu unless you take a seat and chew!” and not only did the audience lose it but I lost it as well and I’ve always felt I was pretty good at not-breaking during shows. I couldn’t help myself.

Why should someone see your show?

Molly: Parking is very easy, beer is very cheap, we’re very cute, flirty, good listeners and honestly I don’t know what else you could want from a Saturday night.

Sanjay: Midnight Society has been a staple in the AIC for so many years. Molly and I have brought in some new blood and our rapport has been quite honestly amazing. We’ve been putting on some amazing shows. So if you want to see some great improv at a great venue on a Saturday night then I guarantee you Midnight Society will not disappoint. We’re getting such good feedback with the stuff we’re doing on stage that I’m so excited to play every Saturday night.

Lance: Honestly, I think you should just come to see us for Molly and Sanjay.

Midnight Society plays Saturdays at 10pm each week* and will perform in the 10pm time slot on Saturday, 10/22 in the Anniversary weekend lineup #coldtowne10.

*Toxic Chakra will play for MS on 10/8.

The Art of Good Filth, by Will Dwyer

image1There is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your show get a spot on ColdTowne’s calendar and this is one you won’t want to miss.

The one thing we wanted to demonstrate when we were planning this variety show: the bluest comedy that Austin has to offer, displayed at its highest intelligence. A taboo joke is often at best the laziest route to a laugh; at its worst, it can be an offensive reinforcement of hate. In a vacuum, however, there is no reason a fart joke cannot be as smart as one about quantum mechanics. We see the beauty in the raunchy comedy being crafted by some of the best comedians in Austin and want to showcase it with Pure Unadulterated Filth: a variety show coming to ColdTowne Theater, September 23rd at 11:30 pm.

Sex, drugs, farts, death, politics, race, and gender are among the ledges that P.U.F. wants to challenge Austin comedians to step out onto. A good comedian can take a topic that is isolating and make it relatable, allowing those things that are dark within all of us to be more safely approachable. Reductress pretty much did all of the work of proving our point with their recent day dedicated to addressing rape; dozens of articles about sexual assault struck at the heart of something unspeakably dark with beautifully pointed satire. Whether your comedy punches up expertly at the power structures in place or seeks to delight with the underbelly of human vulnerability, we want to showcase the best this town has to offer.

We believe that blue comedy is so much more than lazy jokes that attack vulnerable groups of people, and then hide behind free speech — decrying the PC nature of modern society — when faced with criticism. Comedians performing at P.U.F. shows don’t hide. They stand tall behind the comedy they have created, because they have worked hard to craft a voice which can deftly address topics that most find uncomfortable. So, in the end what does this all mean? Have conviction, above all else. Even in the face of a fart joke.

Our Pure Unadulterated Filth variety showcase features standup from Christina Parrish, sketch from Pendulum and improv from Toxic Chakra. It’s a powerhouse show. Friday September 23rd, 11:30 pm. Tickets will sell out.

– Pure Unadulterated Filth is a show by Kara King and Will Dwyer

Congratulations B. Iden Payne Nominees

Today, the B. Iden Payne committee announced their nominees for theater and improvisation. We are delighted to announce that several ColdTowne shows, troupes and performers have received nominations.

Our July/August 2016 Main Stage production, “Dinner for Six” received several nominations, including:

    • Kristen Samuelsen, Producer
      Outstanding Improv Production
    • Joseph Dailey
      Outstanding Direction of Improvisational Theater
    • Aly Dixon, Abby Lincoln, John Ratliff, Sanjay Rao, Kristen Samuelsen, Nathan Sowell
      Outstanding Cast Performance (Improv)

For the production of “familLIES”, Bryan ‘Lubu’ Roberts received a nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Comedy.

Several ColdTowne troupes also received nods and were nominated for the Rudy Klopnik Award for Outstanding Improvisational Troupe. They are:

Loverboy
Chelsea Bun, Cené Hale, Kim Lowery, Maria Pond, Taylor Stewart, Stephanie Thoreson

Damn Gina
Xaria Coleman, Cené Hale, Maggie Maye, Tauri Laws-Phillips, Ronnita Miller

Sugar Water Purple
Tosin Awofeso, Kenah Benefield, Ryan Darbonne, Derek Fields, Jarret King, Chris Villafano

High-fives to the troupes above for the well-deserved recognition. We regularly brag on the #deepbench ColdTowne has, and these three troupes are a prime example of the continued talent that graces the stage here.

We’d also like to congratulate several performers, students and friends for their nominations in non-ColdTowne productions, including:

Ben Bazan
Outstanding Actor in a Play for Youth
as Tomas in Tomas and the Library Lady (ZACH)

Cené Hale
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
as Multiple Roles in Love Me Tinder (Heckle Her)

Jarrett King
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama
as Lincoln in Topdog/Underdog (Viceroys)

Amber Quick
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Drama
as Stella in Streetcar Named Desire (Austin Shakespeare)

Kim Stacy
Outstanding Ensemble Performance
Spiker and Sponge in James and the Giant Peach (ZACH)

Ammon Taylor
Outstanding Score
for Love Me Tinder (Heckle Her)

Adrienne Dawes, Scott Hearne, Ronnita Miller, Kenah Benefield, Chelsea Bunn, Megan Mowry, Maggie Maye
Outstanding Production of a Comedy
for Doper Than Dope (Heckle Her)

Adrienne Dawes, Cene Hale, Jared Robertson, Ammon Taylor
Outstanding Production of a Musical

Katie Kohler
with 11 nominations as part of her comedy collective The Back Pack
Outstanding Direction of a Comedy
Outstanding Production of a Comedy
Outstanding Cast Performance (Scripted)
Outstanding Featured Movement
Outstanding Sound Design
Outstanding Puppetry

Isto Barton
Shit Faced Shakespeare

Other Nominated Friends of ColdTowne
Kaci Beeler, Curtis Luiciani, Asaf Ronen, Michael Ferstenfeld, Da’Shae Moonbeam, Laura Freeman, Taji Senior, Mike Carreon, Sarah Marie Curry, Beth Burns, Jay Byrd, Adrienne Dawes, Peter Rogers, Sara Farr, Cascade, Something for Nothing Theater, En Route Productions and Fuck This Week

 

Congratulations to all our friends and artists receiving nominations, even those not listed here.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on October 24th.

 

BettyFest Interview with Patio Talk: A Legendary Improv Troupe who Happen to be Female

BettyFest was founded in 2014 by Patio Talk (Chrissy Shackelford, Juliet Prather, Amy Wright, and Kasey Borger), a comedy team based in New York City that originally formed at ColdTowne Theater in Austin, TX. Their members have been trained at UCB NY, iO Chicago, and of course, ColdTowne. We sat down with the ladies of Patio Talk to learn more about how they came together as a troupe, why they started BettyFest, and what their hopes and dreams are for the future of women in comedy.

AND SAVE THE DATE: BettyFest is an all-night-long event happening on Friday, 10/14 at 6pm at Spiderhouse Ballroom, featuring all-female improv and sketch troupes. All ticket sales will be donated to SafePlace, so be sure you buy yours now: http://bit.ly/2b5PEYY

How did Patio Talk become a troupe? Can you give a little history on how it all started?

Juliet Prather: We were all obsessed with how the others played so we made a Cagematch team just to have fun and get a chance to play together. It felt like magic so we decided to never ever break up. I guess it’s important to note that unfortunately at the time none of us had gotten to really play with just women or had seen only women performing together that much, so we think that was a big part of what brought us together and what made Patio Talk feel (and still feel) so special.

Kasey Borger: We really came together like any cagematch team, we just really enjoyed each other’s style of play, respected the heck out of each other and wanted to have some fun. We didn’t intentionally set out to be a team of only women, but when we did we realized it actually played a big role in how we played together and probably the fact that we didn’t get to see that or be a part of it often made it feel so magical.

Chrissy Shackleford: We met up and decided to submit to cagematch. We met up at Spiderhouse cafe to come up with a name and landed on Patio Talk because we liked the format of opening with everyone on stage character matching. Our first rehearsal (or one of the firsts) was at Juliet’s place. We just sorta goofed around and did some scenes and I remember it feeling so fun and easy and I was so legitimately amused by everything everyone else was doing and that’s something that is really rare that we just stumbled upon – this insane on stage chemistry we all have together.

Amy Wright: We talked about the form at Spiderhouse and wanted to do something very easy and fun that was as freeing as a montague without it just being a montague. My favorite moment from one of our initial cagematch runs began with Chrissy as a single mom hosting a sad Christmas and ended with us all going to the mall to see our deadbeat dad playing Santa. We respect and love each other offstage and it translates into onstage chemistry that’s hard to find just anywhere.

Where did the idea for BettyFest come from?

KB & JP: There are so many nights when you can show up to a comedy theater and see a lineup of all male performers and no one bats an eye, because that’s just the norm. We wanted to create a night that made it seem like seeing a lineup of all women performers was just as normal. That idea inspired the original tag line “a night of comedy by comedians who happen to be female”. We wanted to make it seem like that was something you could just accidentally waltz into as an audience member and enjoy just as much, because guess what, you can and you should. We thought, wouldn’t it be ridiculous if a comedy event read “A Night of Comedy by Comedians Who Happen to be Male?” It’s completely unnecessary because it’s pretty much what someone would unconsciously expect to see at a comedy theater. We wanted to sort of point out the ridiculousness of it. Who cares if the performers are all women? Women rock lol. Our idea was to showcase some of the most talented comedians we knew and, whoops, they all happened to be female. We wanted to make sure that, yes, it was about women but not just “lol a night of women”, but a night of very talented women who are comedians first and foremost.

KB: One thing that really stuck with us was when a teacher came to see a cagematch show that happened to be two teams of women up against each other and commented that he noticed the energy in the room was different when it was a night of all women performing. That was important to hear for me because it illuminated how rare of a night this was that not only was it taken note of that it was all women, but it also truly felt different than other nights at ColdTowne. We wanted to bring that same energy again in a bigger way.

CS: Agree with everything said, one thing that was important to us was that on the actual night of the show there was really no mention of “ISN’T IT CRAZY THAT WE’RE ALL WOMEN?” or “HERE’S A NIGHT TO CELEBRATE WOMEN IN COMEDY!” It was just a killer show with big laughs.

AW: Also a large part of it was an effort to encourage more female-identifying teams to perform at ColdTowne. We wanted to motivate women who might not have played otherwise/women who might be new to the community/women who might have been a bit intimidated by the typically male-dominated scene to play together. We hoped BettyFest would inspire these teams to continue playing together after the show.

What was the first BettyFest like?

JP: So fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was good.

KB: It was the best!!!! The turnout and support really blew us away for being such a new run of shows. One thing that was so cool was to see women look around them in their classes or in their theaters and create teams of people they thought were talented, respected the heck out of, wanted to have a good time with and whoops! they were also all women. It was just great to see right in front of us a bunch of teams of women whereas our experience coming up in the theater was watching mostly teams of all men. This is not to say these teams wouldn’t have already come together or were already together, it was just really great to look at the submissions and see how many talented women there have always been in the community and then see them teaming up.

As far as actually creating the festival, we treated it very seriously and put a lot of work into the marketing and making a show that would sell out every night. We learned a lot from that and took what we did for the first show into the second and improved on that. It was a great learning experience, personally.

And as far as just the logistics of the show, it was the exact same as the second iteration and, if I’m not mistaken, this third iteration– with a stand-up and two improv teams comprised of all women.

CS: Dude, it was dope. It was the first time I had seen a show sell out so fast that we had to turn away basically a whole second audience the night of the show – which was a great marketing tool – because if you’re already at the theater and the show sold out then hey why don’t you just buy a ticket for next week’s show! Which was so rewarding because we all worked our asses off to produce that festival. We put so much time, effort, creativity, and money into marketing the shows and it was such a joy to see the theater straight up lit for the fest.

AW: It was so moving to see the support from the community. Everyone got hyped up and involved. We learned so much from the first year and, like Kasey said, we really tried to step it up for the second year. The photobooth idea we borrowed from Waterbed and it really made it feel like an event. It was also a great marketing tool because people started sharing BettyFest photos on Facebook and Instagram. It was sweet to see a bunch of people with profile pictures of them holding maxi pads and champagne for a while.

What do you hope for in terms of the future of BettyFest?

KB: I hope no boy identifying boys are ever allowed!!!!!! Lol jk! But seriously, I just hope that it keeps on truckin’ and everybody keeps on having a good time with it. It’s our lil bb and something that is still so important to us. It’s great and exciting to see it blown out so much this year and in such capable hands. Maybe my true hope is that it actually becomes so completely redundant because of how many nights a week women are playing in comedy theaters that it becomes a relic of comedy’s past??!!??? Idk I guess I have a lot of hopes and dreams.

CS: I’d love to start burning penises at the 10th annual BettyFest. I think it’s great that it’s moving over to a bigger venue – since that was the biggest problem we faced that very first year – high demand and not enough seats. I guess I hope that in its future it still means as much to everyone involved as it meant for us creating it.

AW: I hope to see BettyFest end sexism in comedy by the year 2035. If this does not happen, I’ll assume it’s bc no penises were burned or even singed just a little bit. I hope that more and more teams form and begin rehearsing in order to submit for BettyFest and then they eventually take over the scene and destroy all barriers and live full, happy lives.

What are you all up to now? Any plans on making a surprise appearance this year? 🙂

JP: We’re all doing the UCB thing and working on our own stuff, but we still play a lot together which is rad. I feel really lucky to have Patio Talk, and I think BettyFest was a big huge influence on the entire team and the love we have for each other. But no, no surprise appearances planned. Unless that was a sneaky invitation ??? Hehe.

KB: I am incredibly famous now and you can catch me in the hit TV show “Seinfeld” or signing autographs for my current autobiography ”Still Kasey After All These Beers”. If we do all make an appearance it will literally be a surprise to us all!!!

CS: I’m moving from Brooklyn to Queens soon so understandably that’s pretty emotionally taxing for me. I mean, I’m taking my brand from Lena Dunham to Leah Remini, for crying out loud. Other than that I’m still grinding away, I teach at UCB now and my “solo” comedy show just got picked up for a run at UCB Chelsea starting this fall which includes surprise performances from Kasey, Amy, AND Juliet….so basically Patio Talk will live forever.

AW: I’m filming a partly improvised film in Connecticut and then heading back to NY to continue with UCB classes. PATIO TALK FOREVER. TEXAS FOREVER. CLEAR EYES, FULL BEERS, STILL KASEY.

More on Patio Talk from the archives.

Congrats Cené, Danny and Dave!

ColdTowne Alumna/Alumnus Get Hired
We are late to the party, but are incredibly excited to announce that Loverboy’s Cené Hale was recently hired as a cast member for Boom! Chicago – Amsterdam, joining them in August. She follows in the footscene-300x200teps of former cast members such as Jordan Peele, Becky Drysdale and Seth Myers, to name a few. If you’ve seen Cené, you know what a talent she is. She’s already performing in the cast at Boom! and we enjoy living vicariously through her photos of thcatlow_dannye city.

Just recently, former student and Bad Boys founding member Danny Catlow was added to the cast of the Second City – Chicago tourco. Since arriving in Chicago a few years ago, he’s been seen all over Chicago and performs regularly at the revered Annoyance Theater.  We couldn’t be more excited for Danny and the recognition of his talent in a city filled with the good stuff.

Thank You Out of Bounds!
Closer to home, ColdTowne Executive Producer Dave Buckman recently wrapped up another hella successful Out of Bounds. We hope you made it to a show during the festival because it was boss for anyone with a propensity to laugh. Bringing Austin some of the finest acts from all over the world to your from doorstep for a jam-packed week might seem like magic, but that magic takes a lot of work, and along with a team of committed staff and volunteers, the producing team is responsible for pulling it all together.

Dave is a long-time member of the producing team along with Jon Bolden (Bad Boys, noted director), Roy Janik (Hideout Artistic Director) and leader Ruby Willman (LA-based producer and teacher). He has been key in booking many of the headliners that wow Austin-audiences each year and keeps the students and performers at ColdTowne supplied with inspiration and audiences supplied with good times. Thank you Dave and team!

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.

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.

 

 

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.