Girls Girls Girls Holiday Spectacular!

Girls Girls Girls celebrates 15 years as an improv troupe this year and is performing their last show of 2017 5:00PM Saturday, December 9 at Coldtowne. Bring your funny holiday story and laugh along as GGG turns it into a mini-musical! GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.

Beginning as Austin’s only all-female improv group, GGG soon added improvised singing and dancing to become Austin’s only musical improv troupe. From there, they started Ladies Are Funny Festival in 2007, the first comedy festival in Austin featuring only female comics and performers.

In many ways, GGG paved the way for all the talented, all-female groups, musical improv groups, and women thriving in the Austin Comedy scene.

“Being an all-girl group used to be quite the novelty act. No longer! Now there’s a ton of all-female groups all over Austin. I like to think we had something to do with that,” says founding troupe member Shana Merlin.

“It’s like Survivor. GGG has outlasted so many tests and treacheries of life to stay together continuously. It helps that we rehearse weekly and have seen each other through marriages, divorces, online dating, health scares, and the births of 6 babies during our time together. We aren’t just performers anymore. We are a tight-knit sisterhood with all that comes with that,” says troupe member Cynthia Oelkers.

“We do it because we love stepping outside of our daily lives and just PLAYING. And it wouldn’t work if we didn’t support the hell out of each other. One performance note we often get is about how well we support each other on stage. It’s because we support each other like that in real life. We babysit for each other, listen when someone is struggling, call to check in, and drop off groceries if needed. We call each other out and hold high expectations of ourselves and our troupe mates. We expect everyone to bring themselves fully to the process, do their troupe jobs, and show up every week. We also respect each other’s limits. Sometimes you can’t make rehearsal because you were up until 2 am with a sick baby or you have a huge project at work or your in-laws are in town. We have a running phrase: ‘I’ll allow it.’ We each have blanket permission from the group to do what we need to do to make it work,” says Amy Averett.

GGG has performed in many theaters around Austin: Salvage Vanguard (rest in peace), The City Theatre, State Theater, The Paramount, Dougherty Arts, The Hideout, The Institution, The Spiderhouse Ballroom, The New Movement, ColdTowne, and ZACH, among others.

“We have loved working with so many iconic Austin theaters – headlining at cozy improv theaters, performing between runs at the City Theatre, and singing at the historic State Theater with the Out of Bounds Festival,” says Sarah Doering.

Girls Girls Girls Improvised Musicals has been an artistic collective since September 2002. They have performed in festivals in New York, Minneapolis, Seattle, Honolulu, Atlanta, Dallas and, of course, our home of Austin, Texas. GGG is the 2012 recipient of the B. Iden Payne “Excellence in Improvisational Theater” award.

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.

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.

 

 

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.

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!

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.

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#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.

ColdTowne Theater Premier Week!

Out of Bounds is over, but the Austin Comedy train is just getting rolling at ColdTowne Theater. This week marks the full debut of our newly revamped schedule, which includes new feature shows and marquis runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights!

We’ve got three shows debuting this week! Family Tides, our exploration of family dysfunction, begins Thursday along side the soft opening of our new monthly game show, the Game Show Show. Friday is the debut of our new mainstage sketch comedy spectacular, After School Special Victims Unit, which runs Fridays and Saturdays in September. Keep reading after the break for more information and tickets! Continue Reading