Missed Connections ATX: Mining Local Personal Ads for Comedy Gold

Have you pondered the existence of love at first sight? Are you hoping to meet-cute the partner of your dreams? Do you still consider yourself a hopeless romantic in an age of dating apps and matchmaking sites? If your answer to any of these questions is remotely close to “maybe,” then Missed Connections ATX opening February 3rd at ColdTowne is a must-see.

Back following a sold-out run of shows in 2017 (including during Out of Bounds Comedy Festival), the show features Austin improvisors Nathan Sowell, Ronnita Miller (Damn Gina), Sanjay Rao (Midnight Society), Shane Gannaway, Kelly Campbell, and Tyler Groce. The fully improvised show also adds the talents of Allison Webber, Katie Stone (Naughty Bits), Frank Sanchez, and Dave Buckman (The Frank Mills) to the cast.

While the show itself is entirely improvised, the cast draws inspiration from missed connections ads posted on the websiteCraigslist.com. “Missed Connections ATX takes the lost opportunities of fellow Austinites and allows us to have fun with the looming conclusion that we’ll all be alone forever,” said veteran cast member, Tyler Groce.

The audience will hear personal ads read aloud for the first time along with the cast, adding an exciting element of discovery. “You very much see Austin keeping it weird,” cast member Kelly Campbell said in regard to the ads used in last year’s shows and in rehearsal.

From the Puritanically tame to lewd, crude, and naughty, Missed Connections ATX is guaranteed to feature pieces that run the gamut of lovesick, anonymous personal ads. “When you get an ad that starts off with ‘man for woman at junkyard,’ that’s when you know you’ve struck gold!” Groce said.

“The show is, in a way, its own lovingly crafted ad to the city of its inspiration,” said cast member Shane Ganaway. “Audiences will delight in the uniquely Austin voice a lot of these missed connections carry.”

The show lovingly pokes fun at the lengths we’ll go to find love or affection without being cruel or disparaging toward the post authors. “We take these missed connections as an opportunity to connect,” explained Groce. He went on to add that, of course, “we have a little fun along the way.”

Opening February 3rd at 8:30pm, the show runs every Saturday through March 24th, with a special Valentine’s Day show on Wednesday, February 14th. Filled with music and mayhem, Missed Connections ATX is a not a show you want to ghost. And if last year’s run is any indication, buy your tickets ahead of time before they sell out. Who knows? You just might make your own missed connection at Missed Connections ATX.

Get tickets in advance: bit.ly/2n5K9Bt

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

Robotic Improv Invades Long Center!

A mashup of Battlebots and Whose Line is it Anyway?, Bot Party 3.0 features integrated teams of humans and robots competing in comedic challenges based off of audience suggestions. Originally produced in 2015 as a Machine Shop series through Austin’s Fusebox Festival, ColdTowne co-founder Arthur Simone founded the group as a nonprofit theater organization. Collaborating with Red Sky Robotics and social roboticists from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Texas & MIT’s Media Lab, Bot Party’s robots have been featured in SXSW Create, Austin Maker Faire & East Austin Studio Tour.

Bot Party 3.0 is presented in association with ColdTowne Theater, Fusebox Festival and IEEE Central Texas from November 3-5. We spoke with mastermind Arthur Simone about the genesis of the show.

What drew you to working with Robots and AI in comedy? I had been doing improv with my dog Robin Goodfellow on a dare, anthropomorphizing his every move and endowing him as silent partner characters for scenes. Robin’s programming was pretty easy – food, water, cheese nibble resets in between scenes and bits. After that, I went through a Fusebox Festival Machine Shop program developing robotic characters for short form games, and I’ve relied on an entire community of roboticists, engineers and makers to build [Bot Party Robot] Annabelle.

What’s been some notable, weird, or incredible on-stage performance moments working with robots (or Dogs for that matter). If the battery’s weak or the network is slow the timing can really hit or miss, but convention floor events like SXCreate and Maker Faire have been great for a wide range of ages. The best interactions have been simple “Hey there’s” while dodging otherwise uninterested or too-interested groups of people. A subtle robot is a triumphant robot.

I’m surprised by the broader world of engineers and scientists you’ve become involved with. What kind of interesting advances have you learned about, and have you brought any of that knowledge into your other creative pursuits? I’ve always been interested in minimal theater and building from scratch. Here’s a ball! Call it a robot, why not? Where is the robot? Is it the ball or the machine system tracking the ball? Who makes decisions for this ball? Is it Big Brother or Skynet or Deep Blue? Maybe Etsy, is Etsy a robot? Speaking of, please visit my Etsy store or view my abstract expressionist oil paintings during the East Austin Studio Tour (I’ll be stop #31). Annabelle will be there too!

What’s your prognosis for Austin’s cultural climate moving forward? We’re f*cked! support local artists.

You’re also extremely politically active. What can working with robots teach us about politics, and what can politicians learn from robots? Robots have been in politics for some time already, right? Think about prerecorded, even heavily edited, robocalls to voters from easily-recognized public figures. At least some robots are capable of learning history!

I AM TX Film Sheds Light on Rarely Heard Perspective

Filmmaker and ColdTowne Graduate, Ryan Darbonne’s love for film has run deep since his first job as an usher at Regal Westgate movie theater in South Austin. After moving to Denton to attend the University of North Texas Film School, Darbonne returned to Austin where he has since made his mark in the comedy, film and music scenes.

Now after wearing several hats including co-founder of Cinema41, Film Department Director at Austin Film Festival and original member of hip-hop group, SPACE CAMP Death Squad, he is in pre-production for his next big project, a narrative short film called “I AM TX.”

We sat down with Darbonne to learn more about I AM TX and why he is raising money to fund the project.

Tell us more about who you are… as a filmmaker.
I am Ryan Darbonne. I’m an Austin-based filmmaker with over a decade’s worth of experience in production. I have written and directed a number projects that have been featured on Noisey, OVRLD and other online publications. In 2011, I co-founded Cinema41: An award winning (Austin Chronicle ‘Best Of’ 2012) community arts organization dedicated to hosting free screenings of independent films with diverse themes and served as the Film Department Director at Austin Film Festival in 2013.

What are you up to outside of film?
In addition to my film work, I have written, directed and produced several successful live shows at ColdTowne Theater, and I’m a member of the award winning all black improv troupe Sugar, Water, Purple.

I AM TX is a narrative short film about a fictitious black hardcore punk band, comprised of members Charlie, Sonny and Otis, on their last leg of tour. Told over the course of one day, we follow the group from the desert roads of El Paso, TX to a popular music venue in Austin.  Throughout the film, each character is forced to contend with cops, insufferable fans, and an ever persistent “woke” music blogger who all serve to reinforce the band’s position as outsiders in a mad, mad world.  

Inspired by personal experiences, I wrote this film to showcase the frustration, anxiety and often humorous/painfully ignorant interactions that go along with being a “cultural mulatto.”

So you mentioned before that the cast is made up of actual musicians, who are they?
The film stars three key figures from Austin’s music scene: Audrey Campbell of Pleasure Venom, Jonathan Horstmann of BLXPLTN, and Greg Williams of Chief and the DoomsDayDevice. We’ve been rehearsing for weeks and they’re an amazing group, who all have personal stakes in what the film is trying to convey.

What is your goal with this film?
The film is a DIY project made by and starring punks of color. Hollywood has come a LONG way in its portrayal of people of color, but there has yet to be an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be black and alternative; to straddle two sides of a cultural track.

Why should people support and back this project?
This is a chance to support and help nurture diverse voices on film. Those wanting to back the project have until Nov. 10 to donate on Indiegogo at indiegogo.com/projects/i-am-tx#/

If you don’t have the means to donate, please share our campaign page and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram and Facebook: @iamtxfilm

 

 

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.  

ColdTowne’s Victrola Debuts Album

ColdTowne Theater’s sketch and improv comedy podcast, Victrola, debuts album

ColdTowne Theater’s sketch and improv comedy podcast Victrola’s debut album, Virtual Aurality, is due out on Austin label Sure Thing Records October 5th.

Victrola is a monthly smorgasbord of sketches written and performed by some of Austin, Texas’s best improv comedy talent – Michael Jastroch, Bob McNichol, Bryan Roberts, Lance Gilstrap, Cortnie Jones, Jericho Thorp and Molly Moore. As regular performers at ColdTowne Theater, the cast of Victrola have been performing with one another for over a decade.

Splitsider called Victrola “Plucky” and “delightful” and “painstakingly edited.” Another dope on the internet said Victrola was his favorite podcast. Recently, Victrola was a national finalist in the popular Earwolf improv podcast Improv4Human’s Contest4Humans and produced a podcast pilot for Audible.com. So, people are talking.

Recorded in the middle of nowhere over a long weekend in February of 2017, Virtual Aurality employs the technique Victrola uses for their podcasts. Namely, recording hours and hours of improv and cutting out the parts that aren’t funny. The end result is hilarious and chaotic, and captures the spontaneity of a live improv show without all the awkward bits.

Virtual Aurality will be available on online retailers (iTunes, surethingrecords.com,victrolapod.com) starting October 5th and is available for pre order and sampling right now.

We sat down with some Victrola cast members to to discuss the upcoming release.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

What was the recording process like for the album?

Jericho: We recorded at my cabin in west Texas. It’s near an old Union fort where they stationed Buffalo Soldiers. The cabin is on the San Saba River, not too far from Menard, TX. It’s beautiful, quiet, and peaceful out there. The perfect place for a bunch of comedy nerds to get intensely liquored up and laugh loudly around a fire.

Lance: A lot of the sessions ran really long and we would often start the day a little slowly, holding back ideas because we were just getting warmed up. By the time a two hour or more session was almost over, we would get very ridiculous. To the point where I don’t think anyone was afraid to say anything and we supported it all.

Bob: We spent Friday night hanging out and talking about ideas we had, and put them all on the huge piece of paper. We went through all of those ideas and more over the course of recording on Saturday and Sunday. We had fires going outside for alot of the weekend, and it was so far away from big cities that you can see so many more stars than usual. Like 10 or 20 more stars. Insane.

Molly: Someone brought a very fancy telescope, but I got there late and everybody had already had their telescope fun so I went out alone. The trek to the ‘scope was cold and spooky and dark and no doubt filled with lurking snakes and once I got there, I couldn’t figure out how to work it so instead I just looked up with my own two (20/20, bragging) eyes and invited the cosmos right in. Another cozy moment happened around the fire as we listened to a playlist curated by soundhound Bob that was heavy on deepcut soul, funk, and reggae — all very warm music. As each song began, there would be an identical fifteen-second pause before Dalton would say “hey, this is great. What is this?” and Bob and the rest of the guys would geek out about the song.

Cortnie: My favorite part was Dalton, who brought a stick of cinnamon. We never used it, I have no idea why he brought it but it sat on the counter. I also saw a hat at the cabin that I assumed came with the cabin. A week or so later I saw Dalton wearing it and thought he stole it. Turns out, it was just his hat. It was really fun to stand in front of mics and just fuck around with what was funny about each sketch idea. Michael is really good coming up with usable premises. Bob’s understated straight man paired with Lance’s crazed straight man is always hilarious. Lubu brings the jokes and Molly and Jericho’s voices and game ridden bits are over the top hilarious. I think I almost peed myself twice during recording. Two days of recording sketch comedy is pretty tiring, but I was pretty proud of us for all getting along and still having fun and coming up with some really good sketches and jokes in the end. I’m really proud of the work we’ve all put into the album, especial Michael, who has worked endlessly on editing out all our thirty hours of bullshit material into one hilarious album.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

What sketch from Victrola – album or podcast – did you have the most fun recording?

Molly: We entered some strange time vortex during the recording of Smorgasborg and emerged – no joke – an hour later sweaty, disoriented, and newly registered with Discover. It was JAZZ, my man! It’s also always fun meeting up with grumpy old Mr. Peters and ragging on the guy.

Bob: We did one recently with Juliet and Aly sitting in where we were in a Target dressing room. I could not stop laughing during it. I’d say Jastroch and Dalton cut maybe 60% of it out, and rightfully so.

Jericho: I love any sketch that devolves into the characters and world succumbing to some ultimate evil. I mean, just in general. One of my non-evil favorite moments is when I brought my horse to a dog training class and insisted it was just a really big dog.

We make each other laugh constantly. I’m always surprised/pleased when a moment where we all are laughing makes it into the final product. People do this sort of laugh/word vomit thing to get out their line before they bend over and try to laugh as quietly as possible off the mic. When we’re all doing that together, it’s pretty great. I think people seeing that from the outside without any context would assume we were all having some kind of fit.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

Any moments from sketches that you wish weren’t cut out?

Cortnie: There was a moment with special guests Kasey Borger where we were at a swimming pool, we were lifeguards and I said, “Tweet!” thinking Jastroch would cut it out and replace it with a whistle, but Kasey asked why I said that, so I explained and the whole thing made it into the episode. It’s pretty funny, but I wish I had just made a better whistle noise. We are improvising, so it’s nice when those little reminders pop into episodes.

Bob: Cortnie and I played these bumbling cops early on in the first season.  It was super-fun and super long. It was eventually released as like 6 minutes, but I’m pretty sure we went on for like 30 minutes as these cops.

Molly: There have been a few moments that I have felt personally attacked for being left on the floor (one about mixing up the name for Netflix comes to mind). Whenever this happens, I confront Dalton who says something to the tune of, “I think it played better to the room than it would in an episode.” Very polite but also VERY RUDE.

Lance: I do remember Molly doing some kind of counting thing once that got cut and when I heard the episode, I thought to myself “why would that not be in the episode? I was literally on the floor, laughing when she did that! But I don’t remember the specifics and I’m sure there was a good reason. Maybe you had to be there.

Jericho: Jastroch, Dalton, and anyone else that helps with editing/recording do a pretty great job of picking the most perfect cherries to put into the episodes/album. I pretty much trust them at this point to make me sound way more witty, quick, and amazing than I do in real life. They left in a bit where I gradually reveal that not only am I James Taylor, but also a ghost hovering outside a man’s window, giving him life advice. Not sure what else I could want.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

What’s been a favorite Victrola memory ?

Cortnie: I love our live shows. My favorite is when we went to Dallas and did a show for three people, Dalton being one of them. The lobby was so loud we could hear them during our entire set. It’s those times we have the most fun.

Molly: We did a SXSW show this year. The setup was two big chairs in front of a mic and a small couch with a mic. Cortnie and I took the chairs while the guys squeezed onto the couch, a reality I didn’t realize or appreciate until a photo surfaced. I do remember watching the guys struggle to pass the mic around on their tiny little couch while I sat cross-legged on my giant chair in front of my very own mic and felt at peace. QUEEN ALERT!!

Jericho: Improv is usually a very in-the-moment, “you had to be there” form of comedy. Writing the show on the fly with some of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life has been such a great experience. These people are not only my creative partners, they’re my friends. It’s kind of amazing to have something like this together. We meet once a week, walk into a tiny room together, and have the best time. Then that’s distilled into something that’s genuinely funny and of which I am very proud.

Lance: My favorite part is always getting lost in recording a sketch. One where we are all cracking each other up and then we end it and we’re like “we were recording that ONE sketch for forty five minutes.”

Bob: I just love how easy it is to get together on Mondays and record. It’s low pressure and everyone’s open to whatever ideas we bring in. I don’t know if it’s a favorite memory, but we’re frequently listening for practicing drummers or trumpet players who live in the same building as Jastroch and Cortnie. I’m sure it’s tough to edit around, but it makes me laugh when i start hearing trumpet scales bleeding into some scene in our headphones.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

 

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

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.

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.

Hill Jones Worshops and Show!

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

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

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

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

Driver’s Seat 2:00-3:30 w/Hill Jones

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

And then you have the choice of either:

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

or

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thank God It’s Saturday Returns!

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

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

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

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

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

Slam Team Six – FINAL SHOW!

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

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

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

WARNING: THIS SHOW LIKELY WILL NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

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

Directed by Lance Gilstrap
Produced by Cody Dearing

 

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.

Legendary Improv Format Debuts in Austin

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

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

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

Live BBQ. Delicious Comedy.

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

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

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

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

GET TICKETS HERE.

Austin Sketch Fest Tickets Are LIVE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ATX Sketch Fest Early Bird Passes and Lineup!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday Night Camp-In — Improv Comedy!

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

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

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

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

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

TGIS — 90s Sitcoms Saturdays in March!

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Comedy and Bad Romance

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

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

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

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

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

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

TICKETS HERE!

*Tyler Perry
**Get your butt touched

Sci Fi Comedy This February!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 2013 ColdTowne Mainstage Season!

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

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

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

More below the cut… Continue Reading

Comedy Classes — The Best Laziest Gift That Keeps On Giving

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

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

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

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

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.

ColdTowne Theater Invades the State Theatre This Friday Night!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

Live Storytelling with Austin’s Funniest!

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

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

red envelope Comedy Variety Show Premier!

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

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

#IFL 2012 Prelim Recap 2

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

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

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

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

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

 

Schedule Changes Starting… Now!

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

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

Our new line up is below the cut! Continue Reading

#IFL2012 Prelim Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TICKETS HERE

Fall Classes and Workshops!

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

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

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

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

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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.

#IFL2012!

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

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

For the first three Friday nights in August at 8:30pm, three teams made up of ColdTowne Theater performers and students will compete to advance in a tournament style competition. At the top of each show, the audience will have the opportunity to bid actual money on free agents for their favorite teams. At the end of each show, the audience will vote for their favorite team who will then move on to the next round. The semi finals and finals will happen on August 18th, and will be followed by a ticker tape parade. (We’re not kidding.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturdays in May! Mike and Irene and Miller and Purselley!

If the creative history of the 20th century has taught us anything, it’s that great ensembles come in groups of four. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Laverne, Shirley, Lenny and Squiggy.

ColdTowne Theater is continuing that tradition in May. Two improv comedy duos are teaming up every Saturday night at 8:30 to bring you half hour long manic tableaux of characters and absurd situations that have never been seen before and will likely never be seen again. It’s ColdTowne, so anything can happen.

Mike and Irene (Michael Jastroch and Irene White) are two veteran improvisers who have appeared in countless sitcoms and movies. More accurately, Irene has appeared in countless sitcoms and movies and Mike was in a commercial once. Mike and Irene perform character driven improvised comedy pieces, focusing on the absurdity of small moments, and the banality of the big ones.

Miller and Purselley (Nat Miller and Pierce Purselley) is a two person improv group that looks to tell a story. They explore the narratives of everyday life, concentrating on the intricacies and nuance of grounded characters and the truth of those lives in the moment. They seek the story that’s already happening on stage and follow it.

The ColdTowne Conservatory’s New Dean: Irene White

ColdTowne is excited to announce that our good friend, the talented IRENE WHITE is taking over as Dean (’cause why not?) of the ColdTowne Conservatory. Along with the talented and awesome Cortnie Jones, she’ll be directing all manner of improv comedy education business at ColdTowne, from helping to improve our syllabus to creating elective and graduate programs.

Irene hails from Texas, where she graduated from UT. She has studied at the Second City in Chicago and IOWest in Los Angeles, where she also taught improv for many years. Irene can be seen in lots of commercials and in episodes of Brothers & Sisters, Friends, Will & Grace, and Scrubs. Her recent credits include Carpoolers, Man Stroke Woman and the film Green Hornet.

Irene is joining our stellar team, who’s teaching and directing credits include Second City, Boom! Chicago, iO and more. If you’re interested in finding out why we’re one of the largest improv training center outside of New York, Chicago and LA, sign up for one of our upcoming classes or read more here.

REGISTER FOR CLASSES
Session 1202 – Saturdays 1-3pm (Starts March 31st) Click Here to Register Now
Session 1202 – Mondays 6-8pm (Starts April 2nd) Click Here to Register Now

Mainstage Sketch Show Has a Name, September Debut!

Murderers and con artists. White collar fraud and suicide bombers. Bernie Madoff and Rupert Murdoch. There’s a crime wave sweeping the nation, and it has absolutely nothing to do with any of those things.

The real crimes against humanity are being perpetrated every day by the very people that birthed you. Your parents are guilty of turning you into a neurotic, self-obsessed basket case with commitment issues, and you will do the same to your kids in a never ending mobious strip of dysfunction. Never fear! ColdTowne Theater is on the case.

After School Special Victims Unit blends the manic, primary-colors of children’s programing with existential sadness of parenthood to create a comedic blend of sketch comedy, music and satiric nihilism. Featuring a kids show written by phobic parents, grossly inappropriate puppets and more terrible career advice than you can shake a stick at, After School Special Victims Unit promises at least several uncomfortable moments with your mother and father. Continue Reading

Yo, Austin! Fall Comedy Preview at ColdTowne

Hey guys, now’s as good a time as any to go ahead and formally announce some big-time schedule changes happening at ColdTowne Theater. Austin comedy nerds rejoice! We’re moving to seven nights a week of live comedy as well as offering a broader range of special events and runs of shows with better production values. We’re also using this opportunity to institute a PAY WHAT YOU WANT pricing structure for our off night shows.

Don’t panic! You can totally get in for free if you’re super broke and we totally won’t guilt you or anything. Asking for a dollar or two from the people who can afford it will enable us to produce better shows and more of them!

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Bad Boys Present: Sin

Thursdays at 8:30pm in August, join Bad Boys as they mine sin for all of the laughs it can yield.  What causes people to commit adultery? Overeat? Cut you off in traffic when you’re late to a movie? Bad Boys will get to the root of these daily transgressions and then blow them out of proportion to discover the laughter in what truly causes people to be awful to each other. You’ll wish all comedy could be this divine.

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