The (Just For) Tonight Show! Turns Two!

The (Just For) Tonight Show! is a completely improvised late night talk show based on audience suggestions that features a rotating cast of Austin’s best sketch and improv actors bringing to life guests such as Cul-de-sac Donna, Larry Jenkins (Full-time mortician / part-time magician) and Donald Trump’s best friend “Ronald Grump”. With past special guests that include James Adomian from Comedy Bang Bang and Katie Rich of SNL, The (Just For) Tonight Show has showcased some of the most memorable moments on the ColdTowne stage from the last two years.

The (Just For) Tonight Show! 2 Year Anniversary Show is on December 30th and features a cavalcade of special guests, including performances by Allison Webster, Brian May, Carlos LaRotta, Chloe Ingram, Chris McKeever, Christian Payne, Christina Parrish, Conor Sullivan, Dalton C Allen, Danielle Gonzalez, Devon Coleman, Dylan Garsee, Griffin May, Jericho Thorp, Jonah Yohana, Josephh Stahlman, Katie Kohler, Katie Moore, Katie Stone, Kyle Romero, Lane Ingram, Mac Blake, Maria Pond, Mason Pitluk, Matt Needles, Michael Jastroch, Michael Perkins, Nathan Sowell, Nicole Russell, Peter Parsons, Will Cleveland, Yamina Khouane, and Yola Lu. GET TICKETS HERE!

We spoke to Austin Sketch Fest Producer AJ McKeon about his journey to Austin and 2 Years of the (Just For) Tonight Show!

You moved here not THAT long ago, relatively speaking. What brought you to Austin in general and ColdTowne specifically? What were you thinking? I moved to Austin with my then fiancé now wife for work. She got a job down here, and I had never lived anywhere but NYC. I figured it was time for a change and to take a chance and it has really been one of the best experiences of my life. Before moving one of my main concerns was what the comedy scene was like. With the UCB in New York, the opportunities were endless there, but the scene here is even better. I looked at all the theater options to see what their “Improv Philosophies” were, and ColdTowne’s aligned the closest with UCB, so that is where I checked out first. I went to a few shows and auditions and got put in a show and it really took off from there. I owe a lot to Will Cleveland (the Sidekick on The (Just For) Tonight Show! and fellow UCBNY alum) for reaching out and pulling me in to the community.

There’s suddenly a lot of UCB ex-pats floating around ColdTowne. What are the differences in the scenes? NY is soooooooo big, but the concentration is around mainly the UCB. Down here, we are also big, with 5 theaters, but there are specific camps. You can kind of pick a lane and do whatever you really want. The coolest thing about CT vs UCB is if you want to put a show up, just submit it and if it’s cool you’ll get a slot.

Two years of the Just for Tonight Show, huh? What was the genesis of the show? I am a huge fan of The Chris Gethard Show from it’s days on NYC public access. Each year on the show, they would do an episode called the Crowd Sourced Character Contest where fans would submit names of a character and nothing else. Then, performers would have to do them on the show. I’m also a big fan of Comedy Bang Bang, where extremely talented performers come in as characters, and the host Scott Aukerman has to deal with them and be the perfect straight man. I loved Conan growing up and am a fan of how weird Late Night would get at times. Specifically, the Brian Stacks bits on the show were the inspiration for the interruption section of The (Just For) Tonight Show!.

How has the show evolved or changed over the last two years? We originally started more along the lines of the crowd sourced character contest where the audience would submit characters they wanted to see and then at random I would call them out and perfumers would come on and be them. We switched over to performers coming in with characters they wanted to play, so there was more ownership and we could get to a game faster. Will and I still have no idea what the character are going to be other than their names, and maybe occupation so we are still able to find things to explore and play with as they come up. We also for a time had improvised musical guests but have moved away from that since it’s a really unique skill.

Any memorable moments or stories? There are a bunch that stick out to me. This show has given me the chance to perform with some of my idols, James Adomian and Katie Rich just to name a few, not to mention so many talented people in Austin. Other highlights: Ryan Darbonne playing the Rock but not knowing anything about the Rock’s wrestling career. Jared Robertson playing Joe Pesci as a musical guest preforming a song titled “Butt stuff” that lead to multiple people walking out. In our very first show Conor Sullivan came in with panty hose over his face and a gun, so that was a great way to kick off the run.
Really anything that Will Cleveland would interject with, he is the perfect sidekick / co-host and I love him dearly. Chrissy and Carlos’ Universal Studio Employees who worked on the Jurassic Park ride but knew nothing about any other movies and just loved fidget spinners was so fun. Having a full band for our festival shows with Jonah Yohana, Stephanie Thoreson, Jared Robertson and Chris McKeever there is always awesome!

And then of course Ray Jay McKeon. Ray Jay was a character that Michael Perkins did on a show at ColdTowne and he brought the house down! It is one of the funniest performances I have ever been a part of and then we brought him back a few more time including our show at OOB last year with James Adomian and he killed it again. He brought me a birthday cake (it wasn’t by birthday) with the number 69 on it for no reason. Michael Perkins is the best!

What are you looking forward to – creatively speaking – in 2018? Creatively, the biggest thing I am looking forward to in 2018 is creating a baby, due February 6th, but I am also going to try and figure out what the next iteration of The (Just For) Tonight Show! is as I shift my focus to fatherhood and see if we can keep the show going in some way shape or form!