Join us for Austin Sketch Fest, May 22-28 at ColdTowne and Spiderhouse Ballroom

So, you’ve got your Austin Sketch Fest All-Fest Access Badge and you’re trying to figure out which all-star comedy shows to see. You’re thinking, I have an all-fest pass so I can see them all! Not true, dumb dumb! Austin Sketch Fest is pulling out all the stops this year by doing something they’ve never done before — holding the festival in TWO venues at the same time. I’m pretty sure that makes ASF the BIGGEST Sketch Comedy Festival in the entire world, much less Austin, Texas . . . right?

Festival headliners this year are James Adomian (Comedy Bang! Bang!, Trump vs. Bernie) and Reductress LIVE! featuring Taryn Englehart and Jasmine Pierce, so those are a given. Both shows have an amazing lineup of opening sketch and standup acts.

Here are eight more shows that you don’t want to miss. Eight because it’s the 8th Annual Austin Sketch Fest, see?

  1. Monday, 5/22 — I Didn’t See You There: The Show of One-Person Shows. Oh hello, I didn’t see you there! This solo sketch show is curated by local king of comedy, Mac Blake, and features monologues from comedy vets and rising stars. The ASF classic is always weird and hilarious.
  1.  Tuesday, 5/23 — Shelby Quinn and Reilly Willson are Jim & Melissa,and that’s already hilarious. Watching this Chicago-based sketch comedy duo is like watching a throwback to Vaudeville with edgy commentary and over-the-top performances. They’re kicking off the night with Maria Pond (Loverboy) in Someone Has To and Sketch Fest favorites Your Terrific Neighbors.
  1. Wednesday, 5/24 — The Back Pack. A couple of years ago, Katie Kohler, Pete Betcher, Justin Morley, and Jeremiah Rosenberger graced Austin with their presence all the way from Montana. With their unique style of hushed comedy, dance, and clowning, they’ve gone on to create their own performance space in East Austin and have been recognized by the B. Iden Payne Awards Council for their excellence. This speechless sketch show will make you LOL. The slot is headlined by Haymaker from LA’s Pack Theater.
  1. Thursday, 5/25 — UCB Characters Welcome. This solo sketch showcase from Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre NY features writers from Above Average, TruTV, Comedy Central, Adult Swim, and more. You’ll be quoting its quips for years to come.
  1. Friday, 5/26 — Los Angeles sketch powerhouse Tantrum is paired up with ColdTowne Theater’s senior sketch troupe Pendulum. Two UMs for the price of one! Tantrum is a house team at the Pack Theater in LA, and its members have trained at UCB, iO, Second City, and the Groundlings. Sounds like a Voltron of comic genius to me.
  1. Saturday, 5/27 — This Is (NOT) the Gayest Show You’ll Ever See is fresh off of a sold-out run at ColdTowne Theater. You don’t have to be gay to see the dead-on satire in this biting revue, but it may (or may not) help.
  1.  Saturday, 5/27 — Definition of Knowledge. You’re already planning to see James Adomian headline, but this show is so stacked it’s worth mentioning again. Definition of Knowledge is probably the most unique act in the festival because they’re a slam poetry duo that doesn’t do comedy. Just kidding, it’s straight up comedy. Plus stand-up from Austin favorite Vanessa Gonzalez and the winner of VidTowne’s May Video Challenge. Hey, this isn’t a film festival! How’d that get in there? It’s funny, that’s how!
  1. Sunday, 5/28 — Master Pancake Theater. This audience favorite always closes out the festival with night of butt-gusting laughs. And a little birdie told me that James Adomian will be guesting with John Erler and the panel of Austin’s Funniest. (The birdie was James Adomian. [Cool bird!])

For more info and tickets, visit www.atxsketchfest.com.

Will Cleveland, Artistic Director, ColdTowne Theater

 

Bad Ass Producer: Lindsey Moringy of “The Do Over”

Lindsey Moringy is #purehustle.  From producing sold out festivals (BettyFest) to packaging sold out show runs, (there’s also that little music festival she produces, too), she’s a powerhouse of strategy and execution. Also: She’s really funny. As The Do Over wraps up its run, we asked her to school us on how she approaches being a producer and to see why she’s just so dang good. 

Tell us about your background in performing and producing.

Lindsey Moringy, She puts the "pro" in producer

Lindsey Moringy, She puts the “pro” in producer

I’m a graduate of ColdTowne’s Conservatory, and am currently taking more improv classes at The New Movement. I also am one of the producers of BettyFest, an annual comedy festival that celebrates women performers. By day you can find me doing digital marketing for some of your favorite music festivals. By night you can find me performing with:

  • The Do Over (every Saturday in January, 8:30pm at ColdTowne!)
  • SheSheSheShe (see us 2/28 at ColdTowne  in SHE! True Hollywood Story!)
  • Stool Pigeon (see us at ColdTowne every Sunday at 8:30pm!)
  • Baby Bob Saget (lol we play wherever people want to see us)

I WILL NEVER NOT USE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SHOW PROMOTION AND YOU SHOULDN’T EITHER, READER FRIEND!

How did you get started?

I started taking improv classes to have an excuse to turn off my brain and force myself to have fun once a week, and I really fell in love with Austin comedy and the people who do it. I basically realized I had no hobbies, and that I was letting work stress me out all the time. I told myself that I wouldn’t join any troupes (tbh I was scared no one would want me), but then during Level 2 at ColdTowne I was asked to be in SheSheSheShe with my main babes Megan Mowry, Laura de la Fuente, Linzy Beltran, Stephanie Ard, and Jessica Vasami. I’m SO grateful they asked me to join and that they have constantly supported me ever since. Now I know so many incredible fellow improvisers who allow me to be a big ol’ dummy in front of random strangers and sweet friends on a regular basis, and that’s strangely empowering.

Tell us about the show. How did you come up with the concept?

The Do Over (FREE Deep Eddy Vodka – THIS Saturday at 8:30pm!!) is really the brainchild of a group of people, not just me. It’s also an Adam Sandler movie available on Netflix, but we didn’t know that was coming out when we first titled the show – luckily, I’d say we won that battle. My two boyfriends, Linzy Beltran (comedy boyfriend) and Aaron Walther (real life boyfriend) helped me refine the idea and build the cast.

You see, I’m a bigtime worrier. I have had a lot of moments in my life that I wish I could do over: the passive/shy way I’ve reacted to sexist remarks, not applying for out-of-state colleges,  not eating breakfast this morning, etc. I figured other people must have similar thoughts, and that it would be fun to build a show that focuses on what your life MIGHT have been like had you made the other decision, if you had one do over. Viewing yourself in an alternate reality can be fun and also terrifying, but always entertaining.

I pitched the idea to Will Cleveland who at the time did not know me. He agreed to direct the show, and I’m so glad he did – it wouldn’t be the same without him. He helped guide the cast into creating the form that the show ultimately took. He keeps us grounded and relatable. Emoji prayer hands.

What is your approach to producing? What’s a definite do and don’t?

My main secret is that I always bring La Croix to rehearsals. No one will ever be dehydrated on my watch!

DO: Trust the people you pull into your show to do a good job with it.

DONT: Get so trapped in your own head about producing a show that you forget to have fun when you’re performing. Also, don’t be stubborn about your idea because it’s going to morph with other people’s input and turn into something even better than you could have ever imagined.

Complete this sentence “a good producer is _______ and ________.”

Receptive and Creative.

What’s next for you? Are you particularly excited about any upcoming projects?

Ronnita Miller and Xaria Coleman of Damn Gina perform

Ronnita Miller and Xaria Coleman of Damn Gina perform at BettyFest, 2016

I’m going to be working on BettyFest (follow us on Facebook and Instagram @bettyfestatx!) and performing as much as I can, because at the end of the day that’s why I’m here. Not to force show promotion on you 24/7, but to have fun with my frahnds. Oh, and I’m def going to catch Damn Gina’s show Night Watch when they take over the main stage slot at 8:30pm every Saturday in February – they are unstoppable.

Don’t miss the final weekend of The Do Over, this Saturday (1/28) at 8:30pm.

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

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

Tell us about the show.

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

What inspired you when creating this show?

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

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

Kim Lowery as Elvis.

Kim Lowery as Elvis.

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

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

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

Why Elvis?

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

What else should we know about the show?

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

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