Austinites Receive Gift of Improv Class. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next…

There’s just under one week left to take advantage of ColdTowne Theater’s annual holiday sale (aka the Holiday Class Pass!). $99 buys you or your loved one an eight week improv experience (over 50% off), along with a tee shirt and a printable gift certificate to stick under the tree, along with the knowledge that you didn’t phone in your gift this year!

Check out what some of our students have to say about their level 1 improv experiences!

Purchase the pass!

 

“A little over a year ago, I was hanging with a new friend who happened to be an improviser. She insisted that I’d like improv and should take classes. A few days later, she texted me the link to the baller $99 holiday special.Santa/my mom gives me a $100 limit for Christmas presents these days, so I swiftly forwarded said link to The North Pole.

Cut to today as I’m writing this during my Sunday night intern shift at the Coldtowne box office. I’m currently in my second level of classes, my level two showcase is in two days, and I’m pumped to start level 3 in January.

If you’re considering taking classes, do it. Really. I find myself feeling more focused, challenged, and present than really any other activity I’ve tried recently. Well, maybe spin class, but I know better than to try to convince a bunch of strangers to start spinning. So try it out! Buy one for a friend! And if they/you don’t dig it, you can get your money back in approximately 48 business hours.”

-Caitlin Gorman, Level 2

“I received the Holiday Pass as a Christmas gift last year from my girlfriend. I always talked about taking improv classes but never committed, and this gift was the kickstart I needed. It was terrifying at first, but as I grew trust in the process and trust everyone in class, that terrifying feeling was quickly squashed by an overwhelming feeling of love.

One class in particular sticks with me. I was having an anxiety spell and almost walked out of class. I just reminded myself to trust what was going on and to calm down. I ended up not leaving class and having a great day in class. Haven’t missed a class yet!

I am currently in Level 4 and my class consists of the same great group of people I started this journey with. We are not performing outside of the class shows, but we have started the process of getting more involved with getting stage time.

If there is one thing I can take away from all of this, it’s that the ColdTowne community is so welcoming. I currently intern at the theater and I’ve met so many awesome people in the process.”

– Joseph Juarez, Level 4

“At the time I got the holiday pass, I was getting a bit bored and wanted to take up a new hobby. I had taken a few classes and felt bored with them, and then my friend suggested improv. He took it up at Dallas Comedy House and loved it. So I started looking into classes here.

My experience in level one was amazing. It felt weird at first, but it was structured in a way that it eases you into being comfortable. I felt a good and safe connection with my class instantly (which basically went on to be the Loverboy we all know and love). To me, being in this class started to help me realize what I was really missing out on in my life, and why I had been getting bored. This class made me realize oh god I miss doing creative things.

I am still performing, and now I have a few troupes that play regularly and a sketch show that has a monthly slot. What I got out of the experience is more than I ever could have imagined. I was rock climbing for a few months and thought, “Oh, this community is friendly and supportive.” But the improv community is 20x as supportive. I’ve made hundreds of new friends, and I’ve laughed harder than I thought was possible.

Taking the class has literally changed my life, and I can not recommend it more. The $99 deal is way too good to not try. Sure improv isn’t for everybody, but when it sinks in oooo baby does it feel good.”

– Brian May, Graduate

ColdTowne Graduate Premieres Short Film Series

ColdTowne Graduate premieres short film series with the help of Issa Rae

Austin filmmaker and ColdTowne Graduate B.B. Araya moved to Austin about two years ago and immersed herself in the filmmaking, improv and comedy scenes. Shot over summer 2017, her six-part short film series We Are  is a genuine, humorous glimpse into the lives of seven young women of color navigating their way through friendships, self-doubt, and quarter-life crises. The series premiered last month to standing ovations at the North Door and was subsequently picked up by Issa Rae’s Youtube channel for distribution.

Araya is a member of several ColdTowne Theater improv troupes, including Best of Austin Nominee Loverboy (Fridays at 8:30) and the all-women cast of LadyParts. New episodes of We Are premiere on Sundays through November 5.  

We had a chance to talk with Araya about improv, the creative process and We Are.

Hey! We don’t know each other that well, so I have to ask some basic questions. Like, how and why did you get into filmmaking? What brought you to improv?

I’m really glad you ask about improv, because it is something so dear to me that I don’t get to talk about often enough. When I moved to Austin about two years ago, I was checking out I LUV VIDEO one Saturday night and thought the place next door looked tight. I went home and googled the shit out of it to learn it was a comedy theater. A few days later, I drew up the courage to come back for a free class (mind you, I had very severe social anxiety at the time – still do – but improv has helped tremendously) and then went on to sign up for Level 1. I had never planned on doing improv until I literally did improv – something just kept pulling me back. I’m so grateful because I ended up meeting some of my closest friends and collaborators at ColdTowne. Improv has also heavily informed my writing process – which is to just keep going – and is the reason I started writing comedy (everything I’d written before improv was melodramatic AF)! Improv has absolutely changed my life in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

Regarding filmmaking, I’ve always had an undying love for cinema. It stems from my dad who is a videographer and total movie junkie. He would take my sister and I to the movies every single Sunday and was always encouraging us to watch movies with intention and really immerse ourselves in the worlds created by filmmakers. People went to church; we went to the movies.  As I got older, I started wondering why there weren’t more narratives with women and POC. After doing a few years of solid research on filmmaking and writing, I decided to take a stab at it and made my first short in my actual backyard about three years ago. Then I made another one and another one and I couldn’t stop.

Tell me a little bit about the “We Are” Film Series. What was the genesis of this project? What was the collaborative process like?

The project was born out of me and [producer Tamar’s desire to make something aimed toward women who look like us in a city that – although very liberal/progressive – is not always reflective of us. We brought a team of wonderfully talented folks together, and it was a beautiful collaborative experience. Films were co-written with actors, so we built these characters together. I wanted everyone to feel like they were telling their version of the truth and a piece of them is in the work.

Any fun, amusing or weird “making of” stories from production?

On our last day of filming, we had about 30 extras and were shooting in a place with no AC. In June. In Texas. It was pretty hot to say the least. About halfway through the day, we tripped the breaker (whoops!) and the venue owner notified us that we we had to stop filming until it was fixed. Typically, that would stress me out, but the heat ate up my energy so I was like “Bet, we can take a break now”.

Everyone was like “what’s going on, what’s happening, why aren’t we shooting?” and Jess, Tamar, and I were just like “Oh, nothing!” Thankfully, it was fixed so we powered through the rest of the day. We were all pretty delirious by that point.

We Are is debuting on Issa Rae’s youtube channel this month. That’s exciting. How did that come about?

Earlier this year, I submitted a film I made called BETA (starring Ronnie Miller in her debut acting performance!) to a series they do called #shortfilmsundays in which they showcase films by creatives of color the first Sunday of each month. We were in the very early stages of working on We Are (I think we had just solidified our cast) when BETA was selected as a part of the series and that triumph definitely gave us a validating push. I went to LA this year and got to meet the team in person and told them about We Are, and they told me to send it when it’s done. They saw it and wanted to showcase it. It’s been a dream come true to be able to share all the work of our cast, crew, and artists/musicians here in ATX on such a large platform.

What was it like getting a standing ovation at the premiere?

I’m still processing that, to be honest. When it happened, I thought everyone just stood up because they had to pee after the film, but then they didn’t move. Then everyone turned around and looked at us (cast/crew) while clapping,and I was like “ohhh, i see what’s happening here.” At that point I left my body. It was deeply gratifying to receive a standing ovation because it validated that the project resonated with the people we made it for – which were the women in that room, particularly the women of color. It’s something I’ll never ever forget.

You perform with Loverboy. What was it like joining an already established troupe? How did they ask you? Are they all jerks?

Yes! They asked me and Laura de la Fuente to join the cast after Cené moved to Amsterdam to join the cast of Boom Chicago. It was pretty sweet; we had been sitting in with them for a few weeks prior to them asking, and then in December, they asked us to join them for drinks after the show and popped the question! It was the sweetest moment, and I had been a huge fan of Loverboy long before I joined the troupe, because of how inclusive and welcoming they were to me and my friends when we were new to the theater, plus the improv was always tight, not to mention Cené was literally my first muse and trusted me enough to work with me so early in my filmmaking journey. They also had me sit in with them when I was wee little Level 3 baby and it was quite the honor to bestow upon a newbie.

Loverboy got a bunch of Best of Austin and B. Idea Payne nominations. How does it feel to be crushing it? And can I have a job when you’re famous?

The recognition is honestly in my periphery. The true honor comes from getting to play with such brilliant women each week. Regarding the job, probably, sure.

Araya’s work features a number of ColdTowne Theater graduates and performers including Ronnita L. Miller of Damn Gina, Ryan Darbonne of Sugar, Water, Purple, Xaria J. Coleman of Damn Gina, Michael Jastroch of The Frank Mills and Cene Hale, formerly of Damn Gina and Loverboy. You can catch her latest project, the We Are Film Series premiering new episodes weekly as part of #ShortFilmSundasys at Issa Rae Productions on Youtube. Want to be part of #ShortFilmSundays? Submit your film to submit@issarae.com.

Take a look at ColdTowne Theater’s improv and sketch comedy classes. The new session begins mid-October, so sign up now.  

Musical Improv with Andel Sudik

ColdTowne is thrilled to present a musical improv workshop taught by one of the acknowledged masters of the form.

Anděl Sudik was born and raised in Santa Clarita, California and spent her winters and summers on her family’s farm in Nebraska near Wahoo, before moving to Chicago right after high school.

Sudik has performed all over the US with The Second City Touring Company and all over Europe with Boom Chicago and was a member of the legendary ensembles Baby Wants Candy and The Deltones and comes to Austin October 22nd!

We had the opportunity to chat with Sudik in advance of her visit.

Hey! What brings you to Austin? I came to Austin for the first time for OoB two years ago and died from joy. The weather was fuxking gross, so I knew it was true love. I also got to see one of my oldest friends who lives in Austin now, and I realized that if I was ever going to do cool stuff like catch up with my friends and visit cool places, I would have to do that for myself. So I booked the flight and then figured the rest out.

You spent a few years in Amsterdam at Boom Chicago. What was that experience like? Boom was the most amazing and hardest experience of my life. I moved there when I was 24 and had never even been out of the country before. I got to travel to places I had only ever dreamt of, give my family a reason to visit Europe, all while living in a town that looks like a story book and drinking and doing drugs as though I was a 300 pound man (Which is kind of how I see myself, comedically).

European audiences are awesome. They like to heckle (esp. British ones, who will also tell you how they don’t find “American humor” funny), and they find it equally enjoyable for you to shut them down. It’s like an acceptable game you play and very freeing as a performer. You learn how to take care of yourself, while also getting laughs. Pop culture doesn’t fly out there, which is great for me because I have no retention of that sort of info.

We got to play big and bold and wear a lot of wigs, so I was basically in heaven. Though there’s a decent amount of culture shock. There’s a thing called “Dutch honesty,” which is basically like talking to a kind of shitty 9 year old: you are delighted that they don’t have a filter and still occasionally hurt by “truths” they so freely spout. One of favorites was a guy on his way out of the theater upon seeing me, declared, “Oh hey! You are just like a person but smaller.” So that was pretty in line with the typical show non-compliments you’d get (and one of the tamer things said to me as a woman).

I found it more challenging as a single straight woman both within the Boom Culture and also in Amsterdam in general. I think the experience helped to harden me in a way that forced me to protect myself too hard and too aggressively after I left, but I found similar battles as a woman in the stateside theaters I’ve worked in. Which is part of why I started directing and teaching more. But the experience was well worth it, the people I got to know and the friends I made and worked with are family.

You’ve also toured a lot with the Second City. Any fun stories? I love getting paid to go places I would never choose to go on my own (Eureka Springs, Arkansas anyone?) After touring, I got to do some theatrical gigs which were city specific shows, so you’d settle in a city for a month or two and live like a local, and I just thought that was the best.

I loved Cincinnati and La Jolla equally. Tucson was a dream (except for the meth and occasionally getting bottles thrown at me on my walk home). I fucking LOATHED Phoenix (except the place we were living was called Zazu Pannee and there was a gay bar called Plasma ATTACHED to it which was so wonderful).

I also worked on cruise ships on and off for a thousand years. I loved the safety of having a reason to talk to a bunch of people from a bunch of places (they saw me onstage) and also knowing that they would all be gone after a week, so no pressure. I love performing for people.

On one of my very first tours with Second City (I was like 20), at the very end of the show we were playing freeze, and I was an oscar statue and the gal tipped me back and forth and let me go and I fell, landing straight onto my face. Everybody gasped, so I – with my head trauma logic – thought “I better laugh to let them know I’m ok.” So I did, then one of the cast members asked  “Are you ok?” I lifted my head, and as I did, said “I’m bleeding. From my face.”

The lights went out, I was rushed off stage, the lights came back up on Ithamar Enriquez who said “Good night Dubuque!” and waved to stunned silence. There was a doctor in the house who came back and checked me out as I sat in front of the mirror looking at the gaping hole in my forehead and apologizing profusely for ruining the show, sure that I would be fired. Instead, I was taken to a plastic surgeon who sewed it all up, and I had an e-mail sent the the producers from an audience member framed that read “It really was a shame because up to that point it was such a great show. I hope the young lady is alright.”

You’ve been part of some legendary musical improv groups, including Baby Wants Candy and the Deltones. What are the unique challenges to doing musical improv? Can any improviser learn how to do it, or does it take a special skill set? Confidence and commitment. Some of my favorite musical improvisers are not technically trained. The more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more fun you let it be. When you’re first learning (like any skill) there are some mechanics that make it easier, but the trick is getting to know that stuff internally so you don’t have to think about it. Thinking is the enemy of improv, if you ask me.

What are you looking forward to in the next year, career-wise? I feel like, for myself, the election paralysis just wore off, so I resurfaced as a creative body in the last couple months. I’m starting/picking up work on some of my own projects (writing a farce, directing Man of La Mancha, working the structure of a solo improv piece, doing Stand Up) and becoming re-inspired to be a bit more proactive in fostering comedic POV in the unbelievably talented comedy community in Chicago (workshops, putting up a sketch show with the most talented people I can get my hands on).

I just got back from John Waters Sleep Away camp. (Yes. It was a thing. And Yes. It was spectacular.) And I watched his movie Female Trouble which was too subversive for me when I first saw it in HS (my delicate suburban sensibilities could only handle Crybaby), but this time I was ready. And damn, he nailed it. It inspired me to push farther, and make a little trouble.

Register Now

Excused Absence Youth Comedy Festival!

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

What is the Excused Absence Youth Comedy Festival about?

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

What are you most excited about during the festival?

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

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

Me vs. Game: A Love Story

by John Ratliff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

ColdTowne 7th Anniversary Comedy Marathon!

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

SCHEDULE
Thursday, October 17th
7:30pm PIZZA PARTY KICK OFF!
8:15-9:15 Duran and Johnson Political Satire
As entertainers and celebrities, Duran & Johnson have an obligation to tell the world their opinions on the most important issues of the day. This week’s topic: sexual politics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out of Bounds Comedy Fest at ColdTowne!

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

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

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

 

ColdTowne’s Newest Student Improv Troupe Debuts in August.

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

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

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

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

TICKETS HERE.

Stunts! Explosions! Blood! Comedy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

IFL 2013: There’s No Crying In Improv

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

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

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

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

Legendary Improv Format Debuts in Austin

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

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

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

November Workshops! Winter Classes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Making Bad Movies Worse!

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

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

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

TICKETS HERE

Summer Workshop Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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