ColdTowne’s Level 1 $99 deal is live and I’m here to sell it to ya!

Hi, I’m Lilli Lopez. If you’ve been to ColdTowne Theater, you might have seen me with B. Iden Payne Award winning team Prima Doñas in Latinauts, or maybe from The Rose, BettyFest, or even Futurx Festival. I’m a performer / artist / producer / writer and I also happen to be a faculty member and the marketing director at ColdTowne Theater.  So yes, I’m writing this to sell you something (plz don’t go).

Miles stuntin’ on ’em after a Bravado Grooming appt.

Here’s the THING though, ColdTowne Conservatory’s $99 Deal is the second best 100 bucks I ever spent. The first best is Miles’s adoption fee at Austin Humane Society. Wow, look at my son.

Before I even get into my own improv experience, did you even know we teach classes here? We teach classes here! Yes, ColdTowne has live comedy shows every night of the week, but we also have the ColdTowne Conservatory, which offers Levels 1-6 of improv, two levels of sketch, an advanced studies course and elective courses, intensives and workshops. Hell, we can even come to your work for teambuilding. But our most popular, might I even argue, the most valuable course ColdTowne Theater offers is level 1 improv. Classes meet weekly for 2 hours at a time over eight weeks. The reason level 1 improv is so popular is because improv teaches you to become a better collaborator, active listener and sharper communicator. These are skills are applicable to almost anyone and we definitely do our fair share of corporate trainings to know just how valuable these skills are in any setting. The annual $99 Deal is on sale now. That’s 8 weeks of level 1 improv or sketch for $150 off the regular price. I bought this deal back in 2014 and I am 100% satisfied with what that deal gave me (keep scrollin’).

Okay, so let me tell you about how I got to ColdTowne.
Fresh out of grad school in 2014, I moved to Austin for my first full-time job as a digital communications consultant. I’d always wanted to try to “doing comedy” and even though I didn’t know what that meant exactly, I did know I needed something to do outside of my job and I’d read that taking an improv class would improv my communications skills. At that point it was a career investment. TWAS SOLD. If this is something I enjoyed, I’d move on to level 2. If not, I learned the basics of improv.

I went to my first class in January 2015 and knew right away this was something I was going to enjoy. I had so much fun on day 1 and continued to have fun in each class I took after. Now, I teach level 1 at ColdTowne, I facilitate teambuilding at corporate events and I sometimes teach the free improv 101 classes we offer every Monday. I really do believe improv is for everyone. As a student and instructor, I have seen so many people find their voice, get out of their head and make decisive and bold moves. Here are some of my favorite skills I’ve improved or picked up doing improv over the last five years:

  • active listening
  • collaboration
  • creativity
  • problem-solving
  • trusting my gut

When I bought this deal, I took level 1 improv right away. As soon as the new year started, I was getting into class, but if you’re not able to start right away or maybe even want to recruit a friend to join you, you have time! You can start level 1 when you’re ready in 2020.

Shout out to my level 1 classmates + friends! This was after our first showcase.

Need another reason to treat yourself or someone special to this gift? There are so many amazing local businesses in Austin. Truly. And ColdTowne is one of them. With more than 13 years of slinging comedy and building legends under its belt, ColdTowne has only gotten better. As someone who really values where my dollar is spent (Capitalism is a TRIP!), I try spending my money at small businesses more often than not and as I moved through levels one through six of improv, began performing regularly, making friends and directing and winning some awards along the way, I have seen my small investment return so many gifts and opportunities. Shop local! Your local business owners are putting your money back into the community (hopefully, right?!). When I joined the ColdTowne staff a couple years after beginning classes, I quickly saw how and why ColdTowne’s Conservatory has grown so much in the last several years and why our classes fill up. The staff and faculty are committed to providing a space where everyone feels safe to explore their creativity and collaborate with others and this is reflected in the shows that are put up at ColdTowne Theater by students and performres. Improv really is life-changing and as our staff and faculty continue to diversify and prioritize sensitivity and inclusion in the curriculum, I am more excited than ever to recommend this level 1 deal. Some of the best deals in life can’t be found on Amazon, hunny. Sometimes you find ’em at a comedy theater under a video store.

GET THE $99 DEAL by Monday, December 13

ColdTowne Conservatory welcomed new Faculty members in 2019

ColdTowne Conservatory welcomed new Faculty members in 2019

ColdTowne Conservatory is very pleased to have welcomed 6 new faculty members to our ranks this past year.  ColdTowne veterans Lilli Lopez from Prima Doñas, Kim Lowery & Stephanie Thoreson from Loverboy, as well as new ColdTowners Maddie Cordovano & Tom Daily II performers transplanted from iO Theatre and The Second City in Chicago and also Haley Chamblee, ColdTowne’s new Conservatory Director have all joined our storied faculty ranks. We’re very lucky to have them!

Haley Chamblee is ColdTowne’s Conservatory Director. A graduate of ColdTowne Conservatory, Haley also serves as the registration coordinator for the annual Austin Ladies Comedy Retreat. Haley improvises with House teams Hawkeye and Porch Cat, and indie teams Lazer Squid, Ronin, and Thotties.

 

 

Maddie Cordovano trained in Chicago performing, working and coaching at both The Second City and iO Theater. Last year, she moved to Austin where she has found the joy of living in a warm place and the comfort of being part of this city’s friendly comedy community. Maddie improvises weekly in both Sweet Lightning at the Fallout, and Stool Pigeon at ColdTowne Theater.

 

Tom Daily II was thirteen when he started at the John Casablanca school for acting and started improvising in high school.  He moved to Chicago where he studied at the Second City Training program then took iO improv classes as well as Actors Studio’s courses Screen Study and Meisner Technique. ‘IN Chicago he appeared in “Attend the Tale Of Danny Tanner: A Full House Musical”. Once back in Houston, he performed with Station Theatre’s CAN’T TELL US NOTHING on stages all around Texas. And this year, he joined ColdTowne house team and B.Iden Payne winner of 2019 Best Improv Troupe, Sugar Water Purple.

Lilli Lopez is known for her performance in Latinauts: Improvised Telenovelas, a 2019 Austin Critics Table Award winner and 2017 B. Iden Payne Award’s (Outstanding Improv Production, Outstanding Cast [Improvised Show], and Outstanding Direction. Lilli also co-directed Latinauts: Wrath of Juan and LatiNacional, which just won 2019’s Best Improv Production, as well as a co-Directing win for Lilli. She also directed and hosted The Rose: Trouble in Paradise at ColdTowne. She is ColdTowne’s Marketing Director as well as an actor and teaching artist with the Paramount Theater Story Wranglers, and a producer of BettyFest, an annual all-women comedy festival. Lilli holds a masters degree in mass communication from the Manship School at Louisiana State University, where she researched nonprofit communication strategy.

Kim Lowery is on the Community Board of ColdTowne Theater where she graduated in 2015 from the Conservatory and from the inaugural class of the Advanced Studies Program in 2016. Additionally, Kim is one of the producers of BettyFest ATX, an annual all-women and non-binary comedy festival that celebrates the diverse voices empowering the Austin comedy community. You can see Kim perform every Friday night at 8:30 at ColdTowne Theater in one of Austin’s best comedy shows with Loverboy improv.

 

Stephanie Thoreson is the winner of Hill Country Film Fest’s “Best Actress” award and ColdTowne Theater’s “Best Character Performer” award. She is on the Board of Directors for BettyFest. You can see Stephanie every Friday night at ColdTowne Theater performing with the award-winning all-women improv troupe Loverboy, named by Thrillist as one of the best comedy shows in Austin. Stephanie graduated ColdTowne Conservatory in 2015.

We’re thrilled to have these artists and veterans of ColdTowne Conservatory faculty. To sign up for classes or view class details and offerings, visit

 

Echo Lake brings you… Midsommar

A stay at a drug-filled pagan commune in rural Sweden might not be everyone’s ideal vacation, but Echo Lake knows you could use a good trip. After the opening series of seemingly incongruous sights, sounds and movements, “Midsommar” is a comedy of manners. Inspired by the recent Ari Aster film, comedians Courtney Hopkin, Lisa Michelle Jackson, Cortnie Jones & Valerie Ward create a festival of organic thoughts, movements and noises that dive deep into the unknown of folk horror, enhancing the dread in organic improv, and playing with our perceptions through a number of devices. Many things are possible in “Midsommar,” but the surest is that there’s nothing else like it. You all will be invited to participate, and who knows, you could be their next Queen.

What and why is Echo Lake?

Cortnie Jones: Echo Lake is a group of friends who just love performing together. We do organic improv, which is based on group mind and 10% performance art. We started performing about 5 years ago and we have so much fun with each other, we just can’t stop.

Courtney Hopkins: Echo Lake is an improv troupe. We (Cortnie Jones, Valerie Ward, Lisa Jackson and Courtney Hopkin) started this troupe because we had all performed together before and really enjoyed how weird we would get during shows. That’s was the skeleton of it. Then we found that when we’d do shows, we’d sort of congeal into a single character or point of view, like geese flying in a V formation or penguins all standing with their beaks pointing straight in the air. We very much act like birds. One of us will make crazy noises and then we’ll all make crazy noises. We often find ourselves shouting at an invisible adversary together or bleating like goats. It’s communal and it’s organic and it’s so so strange but it’s always funny.

Lisa Jackson: Echo Lake is four women who try to make each other laugh by doing the weirdest stuff we can and then copying it and then finding new weird stuff to do, while people watch it. Some people have said Echo Lake is “therapy” but others’ have said it’s “the universe blowing up”, but maybe it’s both and neither.

What is Echo Lake: Midsommar?

CH: Echo Lake: Midsommar is a comedy ritual where we choose the May Queen (in October) from the audience. We do what we specialize in, purely organic improv, but we have added elements of ritual to the show. We call out to goddesses and weave our own maypole. We’ll taunt a bear.

LJ: Like the SAT analogies, Echo Lake :: Midsommar as Midsommar :: Echo Lake but maybe without a bloody mallet to the head.

CJ: It’s a folk horror organic comedy paying tribute to the Ari Aster film Midsommar. Right? Is that what we’re doing?

Why Midsommar?

CH: When the movie Midsommar came out, people kept talking to us about how the movie basically had lots of organic improv in it and how it was very much like what we already do. We thought it would funny to “reclaim” our format by taking what they’d done and making it our own again.

Plus we love crafts. We have glued so many fake flowers together for this show. We hand made the set. We hand made our dresses.

There’s a bear. There’s a poncho for an audience member to wear….

CJ: I saw the film and laughed at inappropriate times because it was clearly an Echo Lake show on drugs. I love the folk horror genre. Most things don’t scare me, but the thought of getting caught up in cult is truly scary – the human mind is wild. Spiders? Nah. Ghosts? Nah. Accidentally getting caught up in a strange ritual? Yes, yes that scares me. So why not highlight that in a fun comedy way? We talked about it and 28 hours later we did a one-off show that went so well we got a run at ColdTowne, and it’s the perfect place to share this experience with an audience.

What can audiences expect?

LJ: Lemonade and entry into the cult.

CH: Expect to laugh. A lot. Expect to feel joyful and replenished after the show. Expect to feel genuinely creeped out but all in the safety of our protective net. We’d never ever let anything happen to you. We’d never let the bear hurt you.

CJ: Audiences will be confused but intrigued, laughing but crying, welcomed but afraid. You know, just a normal day.

Echo Lake is ushering in spooky szn Saturday, September 28 at 7 p.m. at ColdTowne. Don’t miss the rituals, Saturdays through October 26. Tickets are $10 and ColdTowne is BYOB.

Meet Y’all We Asian: Headlining at Spider House in September!

ColdTowne Theater is home to so many of Austin’s most adept (read: hilarious) improv troupes. Over the years we’ve seen some of these comedy teams turn their improv comedy from your typical improv show to something bigger. Y’all We Asian, Austin’s first and only all Asian-American comedy troupe has done that time and time again. With sold out main stage runs and packing the house monthly for “Last Friday Night,” at their monthly residency, Y’all We Asian is taking the Spider House Ballroom stage on Fridays and Saturdays in September to bring their signature shows to new audiences. We talked to YWA to hear a little more about their roots and experiences as the only Asian-American comedy troupe in Austin.

How did Y’all We Asian form?
YWA was formed from a showcase we put on for Asian American Heritage Month two years ago. The showcase was called “Y’all We Asian”, and it was a show that featured local Asian American artists in town. The event invite quickly grew from ~60 people that we invited, to 300+ people in mere hours. We ended up selling out the show in 2 days and that’s when we realized that there was a need and interest in shows like this in Austin. One of the performers of the show, Christine Hoang, suggested that we make YWA into a troupe, and we thought, why not? And that’s how the troupe was formed. – Yola Lu

Tell me how each of you got involved in improv and how each of you have gotten to where you are today. What struggles did you face along the way? 

I had just moved to Austin after college and I was purposefully trying to do things that scared me because I felt like I hadn’t pursued that many of my own interests in college. I’d loved stand-up and improv comedy from afar for a long time, but I was so afraid of getting on stage. My friend took me to a few shows at ColdTowne and encouraged me to sign up for classes. Improv classes taught to trust in myself and my instincts and in the group to have my back. – Minda Wei

I was in a pretty low spot in my life at the end of 2014, and I stumbled upon a Groupon for half off an Improv 1 class at a theater in downtown Austin. I knew some folks from college who performed there and thought “why not?” I struggled most with feeling like I belonged; a combination of imposter syndrome and the fact I was an Asian queer spending most of my time surrounded primarily by straight white cis-men. Three years later, that theater I joined would suffer an upheaval in management that nearly tore our community apart. One wild revolution later, this Asian queer is now one of the 5 co-owners of Fallout Theater, a new theater borne from the community I had joined just a few years prior. -VS

I got involved with improv classes to work on my communication skills for my career. I was a very quiet person growing up and did not get a lot of the learning one can obtain from feedback of conversation. Letting my ideas flow out without thinking too much on them was something I struggled with quite a bit. I had only intended to get a brief taste of improv, but my friends encouraged me to complete the full course program at ColdTowne. Now I’m eager to continue developing my skills as a performer. – FI

I got started in improv in Seattle, but at the time, all that was taught in Seattle was short form. I wasn’t sure if it was for me and stopped taking classes. It wasn’t until I moved to Austin that I discovered long form improv. I actually bought a holiday special class for my boyfriend at the time as a gift, and when I saw his student showcase, I was so in awe that I immediately signed up for classes after. It’s completely changed my life in that I finally started building a community around me of talented and kind friends.- YL

How did you all come up with “Starring Y’all We Asian”?
Initially, we were brainstorming ideas surrounding Lunar New Year since our run started in February and our last run centered on the Asian summer vacation experience. ColdTowne was very generous in giving us an 8-week run, and we realized that it wouldn’t still make sense to be running a new year show in April. We were kicking around ideas, and Asian representation in Hollywood was a big topic in the last year, and something we had on our minds when we had won the BIP. We landed on character-driven so that we could explore the film leads and how our AsAm viewpoints would color their world. – MW

We also just thought it’d be fun to “yellow wash” a movie to flip the narrative, which was how we landed on this idea – YL

What is a random fact about some of your performers that we wouldn’t otherwise know?

There’s an ongoing joke about Kim’s 7 year old loofah that is literally falling apart that she still uses and keeps it together by tying it up with rope. I think she finally switched to some other thing that is more sanitary recently.

Also, one of our members, G-Su Paek recently got selected for the CBS Diversity Showcase! He’ll be moving to Los Angeles in the next week, so his last shows are actually this weekend if people want to see him before he departs. He got cast out of thousands of people who auditioned and we couldn’t be more proud of him. 

Y’all We Asian performs regularly at ColdTowne, but don’t miss them this month on Fridays and Saturdays in September at Spider House Ballroom.

Liz Behan: One Woman at Dusk returns Saturday, Aug. 17

For Immediate Release
Austin, TX – May 28, 2019

Description:
Liz Behan: One Woman at Dusk runs Saturdays at 7:00 pm August 17th through September 21st at ColdTowne Theater. Liz wants you to strap in… as she tells you the tale of a big ole country dyke. Starring Laura de la Fuente, a fan-favorite among Austin’s comedy obsessed, this solo sketch comedy show brings together elements from Laura’s own life – queer and latinx identity, absurdism, and family relationships – to create a show that is both uniquely Laura and universally relatable. With a cast and crew of Austin’s most talented sketch comedians and theater performers, this hour-long comedy program will include multimedia video content and live performances surrounding topics of sexuality, lesbian and queer identity, short fingernails, equality, and pop culture – all while being relatable, funny and queer as heck.

The show is written by and stars Laura de la Fuente of ColdTowne Theater’s improv house-team, Loverboy. She won the 2017 B. Iden Payne award as part of Prima Doñas for Outstanding Improvised Production Latinauts. She is part of queer sketch team, Martini Ranch, and has performed at San Francisco Sketchfest, Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, Austin Sketch Fest and the Del Close Marathon (NYC & LA). Liz Behan: One Woman at Dusk is directed by Chris McKeever, UCB Alum and cast member in B. Iden Payne Winning F*ck This Week. The show is co-produced by Bonica Ayala, a queer artist, photographer, and producer. Her clients include Grammy Award winning artists, commercial and non-profit organizations, social advocates, filmmakers, and comics. Also co-producing is Linzy Beltran, a writer/performer/producer based in Austin, TX whose credits include SheSheSheShe Improv, Prima Doñas improv, Glam Fam – sketch comedy duo, and Jazz Kween, a jazz and comedy variety show.

Tickets:
www.eventbrite.com/e/liz-behan-one-woman-at-dusk-tickets-64473931264

Venue:
ColdTowne Theater
4803-B Airport Boulevard, Austin, TX 78751
BYOB/Free parking

About ColdTowne Theater:
ColdTowne Theater is Austin’s center for Chicago-style, long-form improv, with shows
every night of the week. For phone reservations or more information, call (512)
817-TOWN, or visit www.ColdTowneTheater.com

Paranormal Disruption blends comedy and horror where it’s never been: the workplace.

Paranormal Disruption is a startup satire in a haunted reality. An upcoming web series written and starring Nikita Redkar, Paranormal Disruption is a comedic horror series set in a startup. It contains big funny characters in open floor plans and nap rooms with beer on tap. It addresses cult mentality, a lack of racial diversity, bait-and-switch job perks, and the chilling ease of your replaceability. Sound familiar? Thought so! It makes you wonder why there aren’t workplace horror shows.

Nikita Redkar (Moontower Comedy Festival, BettyFest) is currently crowdfunding for Paranormal Disruption, which features a cast of familiar Austin talent and an all POC crew behind the scenes. Nikita took a moment to tell us why we should all rush to hit the donate button.

Nikita: Like most comedians, I’ve kept up a string of jobs to keep me fed and sheltered while I pursue comedy. From healthcare to technology to even a shady law office, I’ve kept myself afloat in all sorts of day jobs. And I’ve noticed one common theme uniting all offices.

Remember in the early 2000s when Blink 182 was all like, “works sucks. I know.” That was true! And now, we’re in an era of following our passions and scoring our dream jobs (hey, I wouldn’t be here right now if I wasn’t doing exactly that!) But somehow, EVERYTHING has become a dream job. Offices have taken the message of “bE yOuRsElF” and dangled it in our faces in the form of an exciting work culture, only to have it be a lowkey trade for unquestioned allegiance. The number one culprit of this? STARTUPS.

How is this funny?! Oh it totally is. We haven’t seen enough of startup culture antics on TV. Silicon Valley got us started, but now it’s time to get more niche and call out the rapid spread of cool offices all over the world!

How is this scary? Well, I’m a big fan of horror. We’ll talk about this again in another paragraph.

The series weaves narrative structure with sketch comedy. As in, each episode contains 1-2 quick sketches introducing us to the absurdity and satire of startup culture.

But the overall episode pushes the plot forward. The series centers around Nikita, the main character, who begins working at a startup with a mysterious, insidious way of conducting business. The employees aren’t normal and seem to be operating on a weird agenda.

Horror is the most challenging genre. One wrong emotion from an actor, missed cue from a director, poor edit from an editor can ruin a perfect scare. That’s why I love the genre so much – it’s CALCULATED. Also, I love a good scary movie. Especially when I’m watching with someone I want to cuddle. If my series can give you that excuse, well I’ve done my part.

Paranormal Disruption’s core crew is made up entirely of people of color. I hadn’t set out to make a point of diversity, but everyone I’ve ever dreamed of working with turned out to be a person of color. And the best thing about us is we never have the same idea. Different backgrounds bring different perspectives, and if you want to relate to as many people as possible, you need as many perspectives as possible. That’s why I’m pushing diversity in film.

But I need your help! I want to make Paranormal Disruption as perfect as possible and that can’t happen without money. Why should you support me? Because I love when comedy has a good message. You know that feeling you get when you leave a comedy show feeling energized and smarter? Or even when you have a moment in your life where you feel a little less alone and a little more supported because you heard someone voice what you were thinking? That’s what I want to do with all my content, ever. I use comedy to learn about different perspectives and to learn about things I take for granted. It’s kept me on my toes, and I want to do the same for you.

In short, Paranormal Disruption is a startup satire in a haunted reality. It contains big funny characters in open floor plans and nap rooms with beer on tap. It also addresses cult mentality, a lack of racial diversity, bait-and-switch job perks, and the chilling ease of your replaceability. I hope you support or share our project. Mostly? I just hope you enjoy the shit out of it.

You can make a donation to Paranormal Disruption on Indiegogo: www.indiegogo.com/projects/paranormal-disruption

Follow the series on Instagram

Y’all We Asian: When We First Saw Ourselves Represented On-Screen

Y’all, We Asian” is back with a new hour-long show that refocuses the narrative of Hollywood whitewashing. We’re empowering diverse voices and re-imagining films by inserting Asian leads. “Starring Y’all We Asian”, which pays homage to the #StarringJohnCho movement, will feature snappy, character-driven improv comedy inspired by movie trailers. Catch the show every Saturday night at 8:30pm from February 16 to April 6 at ColdTowne Theater!

Before Crazy Rich Asians was released, the last major Asian-American film was The Joy Luck Club, 25 years prior. 2018’s “Asian August” brought a lot of progress for Asian-American representation on the big screen – we’re finally getting more multi-faceted portrayals! We’re not just the goofy best friends! We’re #notsidekicks! “Starring Y’all We Asian” is a celebration of how far Asians have come in Hollywood and a reminder of how many more diverse stories there are to be told. We asked some members of “Y’all We Asian” about the first time they felt represented on-screen.

https://www.theroot.com/in-living-color-cast-then-and-now-1790867994

Steve Park was a standup and performer on the hit television show “In Living Color” during the 1991 season. Having loved comedy and watching performances from a young age, seeing someone that represented me on that big stage allowed me to have the dream that it WAS possible for an Asian to be on TV anywhere.” – G-Su Paek

https://maxlinkinfo.blogspot.com/2018/08/awkwafina-single-woman-seeking-manwich.html

“I remember Googling ‘asian female rapper’ when I was college. That’s how I found out about Awkwafina. This was in 2015, before Crazy Rich Asians, before she hosted SNL, back when she was just a scrappy rapper-comedian in Brooklyn making her own web-series called “Tawk”, which I remember binge-watching and screaming about for days. Awkwafina was loud, messy, and relentlessly funny. In her, I saw the weird parts of myself that didn’t fit into any mould that I grew up with. She is boldly herself at all times, and it has been so exciting to watch her rise.” – Minda Wei

“My first Jet Li movie was Hero. I quickly became obsessed with the talented, stone-faced, eagle eyed martial artist, and tore through as many movies as I could. He became my favorite actor and kung fu movies became one of my top favorites. I even started taking Tang Soo Do lessons and had an embarrassing trist as collector of swords and other martial weapons. Jet Li had it all! Strength, skill, cool as a cucumber, and looked dope as hell whether he’s rocking the long queue hair or the tac gear and black shades. Li was the pinnacle of my early concepts of “manliness”, a strong lead who could go toe to toe with the Stathams and Stalones. Even though I would later come out as a Non-Binary individual and re-evaluate all of my concepts of masculinity, Jet Li was no less important a figure in the grand tapestry of influences on my life and ultimately on my identity.” – Virgil Shelby

https://www.inverse.com/article/19390-fast-and-the-furious-tokyo-drift-is-on-netflix-instant-streaming

“I’ve seen other Fast and Furious movies, but there was no F&F that my friends and I were more excited about than Tokyo Drift. Despite the fact that the movie is set in Tokyo and stars a white guy, we watched it over and over again because we felt like “omg, Asians are on the map!” We looked cool, raced cars, and were tough and handsome and hot. It was exciting, even if we were mostly the background characters in the movie. But who cares! The title has Tokyo in it!” – Yola Lu

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0132yz7

“The first time I saw somebody in a lead role that represented me was when Bend It Like Beckham came out. There were a bunch of movies dealing with kids and sports like The Mighty Ducks, The Sandlot, Like Mike, and Rookie of the Year that were so popular at my school. Parminder Nagra as the central character of a sports comedy movie that blew up in popularity really helped me feel represented, especially with growing up in the only Indian family in my city for a majority of my life up to then. Back then, I definitely didn’t understand all of the social commentary in the movie, but I am proud they added depth to make it more than another typical sports comedy film.” – Faraaz Ismail

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/hasan-minhaj-homecoming-king-interview

While I had seen various Asian Americans on screen before, the first stand-out moment where I was like “wow, yeah I strongly feel and relate to this in a way that really plugs into my identity” was just a little over a year ago when I watched Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King”. He captured part of the “Asian child of immigrant parents” experience in a way that I had never experienced and made me feel seen and laugh and cry. It was so truthful and heartfelt and funny and he never sacrificed any pain for a laugh.” – Kim Tran

ColdTowne is proud to support Acton Children’s Business Fair

Acton Children’s Business Fair

Mark your calendars for October 27th for the Austin Acton Children’s Business Fair, a one-day market that gives children theopportunity to discover their inner entrepreneur and showcase their very own businesses.

ColdTowne is a proud sponsor of this year’s business fair.  The free, family event is organized by a team of passionate entrepreneurs, teachers, mentors, and parents, who want our children to learn about entrepreneurship in a practical and fun way, and is sponsored by Acton Academy, the Acton School of Business, and the generous support of donors and volunteers.

The children participating are divided by three age groups: 6-9 years old, 10-12 years old, and 13-16 years old. The program is a unique opportunity for children to launch their very own startup business and build confidence in their capabilities.

Many of our ColdTowne Conservatory Level 1 improv students are business professionals who have to interact with clients and present projects and pitches. Our corporate offerings help build speaking and listening skills for business professionals, but ColdTowne also has a kids program too!

Excused Absence Comedy is the youth program at Austin’s ColdTowne Theater, offering a wide range of improv training and performance to kids and teens. Sure, Improv is a lot of fun. Creating characters and situations on the spot can be hilarious both for the performer and for the audience, and performing with others creates a bond and provides an opportunity to become a better communicator. However, the benefits of learning and practicing improv go far beyond unexpected laughs and a louder voice.

Learning to Listen
How often do you witness a child (or an adult!) who waits for another person to stop talking so they can express their own idea, rather than responding to what was said? Learning to listen and say yes to our collaborators allows us to build entirely new ideas together and to let go of controlling outcomes. For many, making our own ideas heard feels like a winning or losing situation. Improvisers learn that building an idea with collaborators doesn’t take away from their own creations, it’s an exercise in making something bigger than ourselves. Even when it’s silly. Particularly when it’s silly! Once we have learned to do this in class and onstage, it becomes easier to apply the same principles to our lives.
Conquering Perfectionism
In life, we want to be smart, interesting and, often to our detriment, correct. But this self imposed need to be right can create anxiety and, for many children, can lead to simply withdrawing rather than risk being wrong. We don’t just learn to listen we also support each other’s offers unconditionally. When you practice being wrong and meet with an enthusiastic “Yes, and!” it becomes much easier to take risks and to just get the words out.
Creating a Flexible Mindset
In an improv scene, we take whatever we find and we agree that it’s exactly as it should be, then we build a story together. It’s not always easy for people to let go of their sense that things must be only one way, but improv’s insistence that we take a flexible approach when creating together helps performers begin to instinctively look for new ways to do old things.
Learn more about Excused Absence here: https://excusedabsence.com/

Don’t miss the Acton Children’s Business Fair!

Date and Time

There are two events, the Acton Academy Open House and the actual Acton Children’s Business Fair.

Acton Children’s Business Fair

Saturday, October 27, 2018. 10:00am – 1:00pm

Acton Academy’s Open House

Thursday, October 18, 2018 6:00pm – 7:30pm.

Location

Acton Children’s Business Fair

Pease Mansion Lawn
1606 Niles Road
Austin, TX 78703

Acton Academy’s Open House

Acton Academy
2201 Alexander Ave
Austin, TX 78722

The 25th annual Austin Film Festival kicks off on October 24!

 

ColdTowne Theater is excited to continue our partnership with Austin Film Festival at this year’s Austin Film Festival & Writers Conference!

The 25th annual Austin Film Festival kicks off on October 24th with our Film & Food Fundraising Party. Come enjoy cocktails and cuisine with filmmakers, producers, celebrities and foodies from Austin and beyond at the historic Driskill Hotel! The live auction will be hosted by Will Cleveland and all proceeds benefit Austin Film Festival’s Young Filmmakers Program, which aims to improve creativity, literacy, and communication skills through the arts of screenwriting and filmmaking.

On Thursday, head to the Driskill’s Victorian Balcony for First Three Pages, Live! featuring Will and Erica Lies. Join host Dave Buckman and AFF for an afternoon of live readings featuring the first three pages of works-in-progress, forgotten screenplays, and a few other surprises.

Back by popular demand, we’re offering morning improv workshops during Friday and Saturday of the Conference to help you “rise and shine” throughout the day. Join hosts Dave Buckman and Rachel Madorsky to learn techniques that you can utilize at the Conference to pitch your script or approach your screenwriting idol with confidence.

Dave Buckman will host this year’s Awards Luncheon (tickets are sold out – call to get on the waitlist 512-478-4795)! Dine with panelists, awardees (Roger Corman, Tony Gilroy, Daniel Petrie, Jr., and Larry Wilmore), and hear inspiring speeches from this year’s honorees and winners.

You won’t want to miss these incredible events. Check out the promo codes below and get your tickets for the fest today!

coldtowne25 – $25 off all badges – you will need at least a Conference Badge to participate in First Three Pages, Live! And the Friday session of Morning Improv if you are interested in Morning Improv on Saturday and checking out films you can purchase a Lone Star Badge

 

coldtownefp – $15 off a Film Pass – for access to all 8 days of film and the Film Pass Party in partnership with Do512

Here is some information about some of the comedies we are screening this year!

Travel back to 1989 for a special retrospective screening of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure presented by Ed Solomon on Sunday, October 28 at 7:00PM at the Galaxy Highland – screen 9!

Check out this year’s Comedy Vanguard Films:

Simple Wedding

Nousha might have finally found the one in Alex, an eccentric bisexual artist. But when her parents find out about the blossoming relationship, she’s pressured into tying the knot before either of them are ready. The thrust-upon wedding becomes a runaway train as cultures clash and families collide.

Filmmaker Interview

Thursday, October 25 | 7:10 PM | Alamo Drafthouse Village

Tuesday, October 30 | 8:30 PM | Galaxy Highland screen 8

Original Sin (Pecado Original)

In partnership with Cine Las Americas

A sexually-frustrated woman, her uptight husband, and a freewheeling artist form an unlikely love triangle.

Trailer

Filmmaker Interview

Thursday, October 25 | 9:45 PM | Bethell Hall-St. David’s Episcopal Church

Tuesday, October 30 | 5:30 PM | Galaxy Highland screen 9

Antiquities

Walt moves back to his hometown in hopes of learning more about his recently deceased father. After accepting a job in a local antique shop, he ends up not only finding out who his father really was but learns more about himself than he ever thought possible.

Trailer

Friday, October 26 | 4:00 PM | State Theatre

Tuesday, October 30 | 2:30 PM | Galaxy Highland screen 7

In Reality

In partnership with Something More

In order to reclaim her bearing on reality, newly heartbroken Ann confronts her overgrown fantasies by making a film about the experience.

Trailer

Saturday, October 27 | 8:30 PM | Galaxy Highland screen 8

Wednesday, October 31 | 1:00 PM | Alamo Drafthouse Village

The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova

Estranged siblings Sarah and Aaron arrive in Dombrova, Poland with a singular mission: to fulfill their dying grandmother’s wish to find, dig up, and bring home the bones of her favorite childhood dog.

Saturday, October 27 | 9:30 PM | Bethell Hall-St. David’s Episcopal Church

Wednesday, October 31 | 9:30 PM | Hideout Theatre

Lost & Found

Seven different stories interconnect around a lost-and-found office at an Irish train station. Even though they each have their own journey, they all stumble upon something they weren’t expecting.

Trailer

Sunday, October 28 | 1:00 PM | Alamo Drafthouse Village

Monday, October 29 | 4:00 PM | Hideout Theatre

Friends From College Season 2 Premiere–FREE and open to the public!

Creators Francesca Delbanco & Nicholas Stoller in attendance

Season 2 of Friends From College follows six Harvard alums in their 40s living in New York City and the complicated relationships they have with each other. It’s been a year since Ethan & Sam’s affair was exposed to the 4 other friends – including Lisa, Ethan’s wife – and the friend group is still fractured. No one has heard from Lisa, Ethan has been living a repentant year of writing a YA novel, and Sam has been trying to repair her marriage with her husband Jon.  But with Max’s wedding coming up, the friends won’t be able to avoid each other much longer. Between the engagement party, bachelor party, and wedding, the six will have to overcome the destruction in their past and figure out how to function as a friend group again. Will they be able to move forward or will they regress back to their old destructive patterns once again?

Friday, October 26 | 7:00PM | State Theatre

To purchase a Film Pass or Badge visit austinfilmfestival.com or call 512-478-4795. Film Passes are also available for purchase at The Long Center and The Paramount Theatre box offices.

An Uncomfortable Woman: Read, Relate, Donate

Meghan Ross is a writer, producer, and comedian, and the host of the women-run late night show That Time of the Month (Teen Halloween episode is this Saturday at ColdTowne, featuring an all-teen girl lineup!). We sat down with Meghan to talk about her upcoming film, An Uncomfortable Woman.

 How’d you get to ColdTowne?

I moved to Austin 2 years ago from New York, where I had started performing comedy and completed my improv/sketch training at UCB, and ColdTowne was kind enough to give me a monthly spot on the schedule when I wanted to adapt That Time of the Month here (I’d previously been co-hosting it for 2 years in New York with Liisa Murray). This fall, I’m also directing and producing An Uncomfortable Woman, a dark comedy short film I’ve written with Sam Stepp.

You’re currently in pre-production mode for An Uncomfortable Woman. Can you tell us what inspired you to write and produce this project?

Every year, I make a resolution to film something I write, and every year, I procrastinate on that goal (does this make me relatable???). About a year ago, Sam and I started meeting up as writing accountability buddies, keeping each other in check on our own personal projects. During one of these meetings, Sam had just finished watching a disturbing amount of Lifetime movies on YouTube and we started discussing how they all have one theme in common: show women in pain, as a form of entertainment.

We were both drawn to the dark comedy genre, and it seemed natural to use that tone to depict someone going through some real shit, while using humor to cope with it. I’d found myself in one of those shit moments last year with the passing of my Aunt Dawn, who was like a second mother to me. I continue to use comedy to help me ride the ups and downs of the grief rollercoaster (which sounds like a failed idea for a Six Flags ride).

Our idea developed further when we honed in on a woman dealing with her own personal trauma, and at the same time, experiencing the everyday behaviors of a patriarchal society. We thought it’d be interesting to show what seem like trivial moments in the script (ex: a waiter putting his hand on her waist to brush past her) as much more eerie and exaggerated through cinematography, to convey the discomfort a woman feels internally, but might not be as obvious to others externally. And on top of everything that’s already happened to this woman (her mother passed away, she had to move back into her childhood home after the end of her engagement), she still feels like a third bad thing is lurking around the corner.

Tell us about the leading lady.

Robin Beltran as Dylan in An Uncomfortable Woman

The role of the lead character is played by Robin Beltrán, a Houston-based actress who also happens to be an amazing vegan chef and an all-around wonderful woman being! Our goal was to cast a WOC as the lead, because we wanted to flip the trope of an ethnically-ambiguous sidekick who serves a white lead character’s storyline and instead focus the story on the WOC, with support from the fantastic Haley Alea Erickson (Say Uncle Improv) as the lead’s childhood BFF.

I met Robin through casting and quickly learned the obstacles she’s had to overcome in her personal life, from a tragic incident where her husband was shot (propelling her family to adapt a plant-based diet, since it was the only way he could process food), to a former news station employer criticizing and wanting to change everything about her appearance, including her natural hair. Her resilience has been so inspiring to me, and she’s been incredibly supportive of the project since the day she came into auditions.

 

Why was it important to you to have a crew made up entirely of women and POC?

It’s taken a long time for the TV/film industry to realize the importance of diverse casting when it comes to telling stories from the perspective of POC (see: Matt Damon, Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, someone probably auditioning for Aladdin 2 right now) and we still have a lot more work to do to improve it. But booking a diverse crew and staff (anywhere from the writers’ room to showrunners, gaffers to directors) continues to be an afterthought for many studios and networks who boast about their “woke” content.

That’s why another priority on this project was to have a crew that reflects the inclusiveness of the cast. And for me, that extends to booking women in roles that are often exclusively filled by men on set. I’ve witnessed this gender inequality in previous work experiences in the TV industry, as well as in the comedy scene with show lineups. I may not be a rich and powerful TV/film executive, but I can still implement the kind of change I’d like to see, even on a smaller level.

How can folks support the project?

We’re currently raising money to fund our film (most importantly, pay and feed our amazing cast and crew). If you have the means, please consider donating to our Indiegogo campaign where in exchange, you can get some cool-as-hell prizes from local women-owned businesses, women artists, and women professionals.

If you can’t donate, please share the link with anyone/everyone you know! We’re also looking for businesses who are interested in donating meals for craft services during our shoot days, so if that’s you, please email us at uncomfortablewomanfilm@gmail.com.

Where can we follow for updates?

You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@uncomfwoman), and Instagram (@uncomfortablewoman). This is the one scenario where it’s appropriate to follow around “an uncomfortable woman.”

You can see Meghan Ross in her monthly ColdTowne show, That Time of the Month, and on Saturday, Nov. 3 at BettyFest at the Historic Scoot Inn.

Destroy the self. Replace it with comedy. Pendulum Presents: The Ascendant

Pendulum Presents ascends expectations of typical sketch comedy.

Pendulum Presents: The Ascendant is a sketch comedy show about the world of cults, running Oct. 6 through Nov. 3 at ColdTowne Theater. On the eve of their Ascension, the members of The Ascendant gather to reminisce about their experiences in the cults of their past. You’ll come along with them on a trip down memory lane as they discuss the downsides of using jorts as a cult uniform, the perils of being a boy prophet, and the tricky politics of ritual suicide.

At this point, Pendulum is an established voice in the Austin comedy scene, with many of Austin’s top comedians and writers counting themselves as writers and performers. “Pendulum has created dark and hilarious sketch comedy shows at ColdTowne every month for the past three years,” says Will Cleveland, Artistic Director, ColdTowne Theater. “They have a fearless approach to humor that splits the audience into cringers and belly-laughers.”

The members of Pendulum have performed at theaters and festivals all over the country, including the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, SF Sketchfest, Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, Austin Sketch Fest, and Houston’s Trill Comedy Festival.

Pendulum members are James Fernandez, Dylan Garsee, Emma Holder, Lane Ingram, Yola Lu, Brian May, Griffin May, Meredith Newell, Tevis Paxton, Kyle Romero, Nicole Russell, and Steven Smith. In addition to Pendulum, you can see them in many of Austin’s beloved comedy shows like Stool Pigeon, Movie Riot, Frankenfriends, The Gayme Show, and Y’all We Asian.

“We here at Pendulum have a reputation for putting together shows that are overly ambitious, kind of frightening, and filled with lots of detail about fantastic and horrible invented worlds,” says Pendulum cast member Kyle Romero. “So we set out to write a show about cults and cult leaders, and then we liked it so much we accidentally became a real cult in the process. Whoops!”

Pendulum Presents: The Ascendant runs at ColdTowne Theater (4803 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751) Saturdays at 7:00 pm, starting October 6th and through November 3rd. Tickets are $12 at the door and $10 online. For more information, contact coldtowne@coldtownetheater.com, call (512) 814-8696, or visit www.coldtownetheater.com.

About ColdTowne Theater

ColdTowne Theater is Austin’s main stage for alternative comedy. Running shows 7 nights a week and featuring the smartest, brightest, and hardest-working comedians in Central Texas. For phone reservations or more information, call (512) 817-TOWN, or visit www.ColdTowneTheater.com

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pendulum-presents-the-ascendant-sketch-tickets-49694748330

MEDIA CONTACT
Lilli Lopez, Marketing Director
ColdTowne Theater
lillianallopez@gmail.com

B. Iden Payne Award-winning cast, Prima Doñas presents an all-new live comedy telenovela

You may or may not have gotten a chance to see a Latinauts show at ColdTowne in the last year and a half. If you did, you know that the cast (known as improv troupe Prima Doñas) is made up of Latinx improvisers who have spent most of 2017 and 2018 making up shows on the spot with a telenovela twist. After three sold out main stage show runs at ColdTowne Theater and after bringing home three B. Iden Payne Awards in 2017 including outstanding cast in an improvised play, the group is taking their highly conceptual theater-prov to a White House setting in Latinacional.

The all-star cast of this comedy explore the relationships and trials you might see in a telenovela, all the while maintaining their character’s duties as part of the the President’s Cabinet. The show features some of Austin’s most talented performers, including: Yamina Khouane ( nominated Best Actress in the Chronicle’s 2018 Best Of Austin), Carlos La Rotta of Movie Riot (ColdTowne) and Laura de la Fuente (Martini Ranch & Loverboy, ColdTowne). Prima Doñas also just finished headlining at FuturX: A New LatinX Festival and Out of Bounds Comedy Festival here in Austin this past August.

The idea behind bringing this new iteration of Prima Doñas’ signature telenovela improv format to the White House is heavily inspired by West Wing and HBO’s Veep. If you’re yearning to see literally anyone else in the White House, even just for an hour, Prima Doñas will take you there with a promise to make no references to today’s political disarray… if they can help it.

Directed by Ben G Bazán and Lilli Lopez, Latinacional runs at ColdTowne Theater (4803 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751) Saturdays at 8:30 beginning September 29 through Nov. 17, no show on Nov. 3. Tickets are $15 at the door and $12 online. For more information, contact coldtowne@coldtownetheater.com, call (512) 814-8696, or visit www.coldtownetheater.com.

About ColdTowne Theater
ColdTowne Theater is Austin’s main stage for alternative comedy. Running shows 7 nights a week and featuring the smartest, brightest, and hardest-working comedians in Central Texas. For phone reservations or more information, call (512) 817-TOWN, or visit www.ColdTowneTheater.com

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/latinacional-improv-tickets-49992183968

MEDIA CONTACT
Lilli Lopez, Marketing Director
ColdTowne Theater
lillianallopez@gmail.com

Monday Night Mash is bringing something new to Austin Improv – Teams

By Will Cleveland

Webster’s dictionary defines a troupe as a company, troop; especially a group of theatrical performers that tours to different venues, while it defines a team as a group of animals such as A: a brood, especially of young pigs or ducks B: a matched group of animals for exhibition.

An improv team is like a an improv troupe, but instead of a group a friends performing together and managing themselves by submitting for stage time and organizing their own rehearsals, they are sanctioned by a theater’s artistic staff through auditions, are coached regularly, and are given a dedicated time slot to perform.

Earlier this summer I went to New Mexico in search of UFOs (because I want to believe!) and Colorado in search of legal weed (because I want to believe!), but before that, I sent a performer survey to about 120 regular performers in the ColdTowne community from recent graduates of ColdTowne Conservatory to 10+ year veterans. I asked them about their practice, their goals, and their interests in programming at CT. A lot of things stood out to me, but most of all, people wanted more shots to get on the stage and be part of something that was consistent and frequent. Once they had graduated level 6 in our conservatory, a lot of people were asking “now what?”

As Artistic Director, my major responsibilities include giving performers stage time while generating revenue for the theater. This had me looking at Monday Nights. The Monday Night Mash has traditionally been, as are many of our time slots, an avenue for troupes who are just starting out to get performance opportunities on the ColdTowne Stage.

Here’s a brief history of how the Mash started from it’s first showrunner, Courtney Hopkin: “It started in 2008 at Kick Butt Coffee. They still made smoothies during our shows so we had to shout over the blender. We moved to ColdTowne in May of 2011 and ran it for a while with a troupe called No Chaser… and then ColdTowne took it over. We started it because we were having a hard time getting scheduled and there were no other shows happening on Mondays.”

10 years from its start, the show has been a target slot for troupes who just want to have some dang stage time! That’s fantastic! We need those avenues to help people develop their craft. However, I was feeling that Mondays needed a little boost to help build its draw. I was also feeling that the stakes of a Monday night show were often low for the people performing, and wasn’t as prioritized as other shows later in the week. Not by all troupes, no, but by many. Heck, a few times, troupes didn’t even show up, (LOL, what?!) while others would sell out. I could reward troupes that promoted and brought a house with more Monday slots, but then there’s fewer vacancies for younger, hard-working troupes to perform. Dilemma!

After some thought and feedback from owners and staff, and gauging interests of coaches and faculty, I decided it was time to introduce a team system for Mondays. At other theaters in larger markets like UCB or iO , it’s called “Harold Night”, only we’re not necessarily doing The Harold. We just want to provide a space where trained, capable improvisors can do the work, rehearsing and performing for an audience, that makes them great and pushes their art forward.

We opened auditions and the response from the community was passionate and lively. 58 performers auditioned while even more reached out to say they were unavailable, but were interested and excited for this opportunity created. After a full day of auditions and coach’s drafts, these 4 teams spurt forth from behind the vintage video store:  

Lemon

Amy Labashosky
Ashley Blom
Dalton Allen
Ellen Pizarek
Erica Lies
Jon Bender
Paul Carrubba
Spencer Bloom
Coach – Tauri Laws-Phillips (Damn Gina, ColdTowne Faculty)

 

Identity Crisis

Adam Weightman
Austin Howell
Jessica Soos
Kevin Anderson
Kim Roche
Matt Shirley
Ronnita Miller
Wendy Salome
Coach – Nat Miller (ColdTowne Faculty, iO Alum)

 

Hawkeye

Bill Hoffler
Haley Chamblee
Joseph Juarez
Preston Pentacost
Shane Gannaway
Tracey Rideout
Coach – Stephanie Thoreson (Loverboy, ColdTowne Alum)

 

Hunnicut

Adam Protextor
Audra Schroeder
Betsy Harper
Emmy Silak
Jason Burnet
Kareem Morgan
Michelle Cook
Nicholas Marino
Coach – Katie Stone (Stool Pigeon, Martini Ranch)

I am very excited by this new format and am pleased that so many students and performers are excited about it too. If you are interested in getting involved or auditioning for the next round of teams, come see the show on Mondays at 8:30 and ask me how. I’ll be emceeing the night. Until then, watch the skies, because there might be some crazy shit up there, who knows, and if weed were legal, well, wouldn’t that be cool!

 

It’s 2023 and Weed is Legal In Texas

Dream Shake Productions’ Alex Ybarra and Carl Stoneking first started making comedy videos together 10 years ago as students at Texas Tech University. After college they pursued more traditional career paths, but their passion for filmmaking reunited them three years ago in Austin. Alex and Carl immediately got involved in the local comedy scene including taking classes with the ColdTowne Conservatory, enlisting dozens of comedians and actors in their award winning short comedy films.  

Last year they took on their most ambitious project, a web-series written by Christina Parrish called Toddumentaries. The science-fiction teen dramedy has been an official selection at SeriesFest in Denver, Melbourne WebFest and HollyShorts Festival in Los Angeles and is making its debut online this month. After the success of Toddumentaries, Ybarra and Stoneking decided for the first time to seek outside funding for their next project, High From Texas, which is live on Kickstarter until the end of August.

We sat down with Ybarra and Stoneking to learn more about their new stoner comedy. 

Tell us a little more about Dream Shake Productions.

Stoneking: Alex and I started making dumb comedy shorts when we were in college, it was just for our own amusement.  Then about 4 years ago I decided to move to Austin and pursue filmmaking more seriously. Alex was already living here working as a PA.

Alex: I was just soaking up everything on set, or I have been for a while now. I worked on independent films, TV series and had a stint in the post production office for Terrence Malick. I wanted to be an assistant director before deciding to jump into the camera department, and that’s where I’ve been the most comfortable. Filming comedy is what I want to do, and I’m eager to continue improving my skills behind the camera. I’ve always thought Carl was a natural director, and I’m a natural facilitator, so we continued to grow our relationship and here we are, still making things.

Stoneking: We both graduated from ColdTowne Conservatory. We met Christina Parrish through the theater, and she wrote the last web-series we produced (Toddumentaries). We also met Cody Dearing, who helped write our new project High From Texas.

Some of the cast and crew at the first High From Texas table read.

What is High From Texas about?

Ybarra: High from Texas is set in the year 2023 when weed has been legalized nationwide. It follows a small town couple as they attempt to open the lone star state’s first marijuana dispensary despite concerns from a collection of interesting locals. 

What made you want to combine weed and Texas? 

Stoneking: I spent a lot of time in Denver and found the whole marijuana scene very hilarious. I didn’t really see any shows that represented it accurately, so I wanted to write one. When I moved to Austin, I felt like I was really living in Texas for the first time. You go to Barton Springs or Zilker, you see the capitol, living in this city really made me feel like an actual Texan.  So it felt natural to me to combine these two cultures that I’ve spent time in.  

What is your goal with this web series? 

Stoneking: The first thing we want to do is make people laugh. Cody Dearing and I have spent almost a year working on the scripts, and we are very proud of where they are now. The cast is made up of some of ColdTowne’s most talented performers, so with them the scripts are taken to another level.   

Ybarra: Beyond the comedy of the show, we really want to shed light on the issues of federal prohibition on marijuana, and to show that it’s not that big of a deal. Life in Texas will go on, there will be so many people who are for it, and the state would be better off, period. Texas is so far behind the rest of the country, we honestly just want to create a world where that’s not the case. It’s fun to ask the question, “What if Buc-ees had a small marijuana dispensary section by the Yeti coolers?” There’s a lot to lampoon here, and we intend to do that without restraint. 

Why should people support and back this project?

Stoneking: The scripts are hilarious. The cast is extremely talented.  There are 40 million Texans and like 3 billion pot heads, so the audience is enormous!  We just need a little help to get it out there.

Ybarra: This is a collaboration with so many funny Austin improvisers and comedians, who are working together on a unique idea. The list of actors is incredible, and you can find all of them on stage in Austin any given night. Not to mention, there are a lot of shows about weed, and there are a lot of shows about Texas, but we have created the only show about weed AND Texas. Apparently, Willie Nelson is a fan of the whole idea, too. He agreed to sign some posters as Kickstarter rewards, and three have been bought already. We’re extremely grateful for his interest, it’s amazing.

If you’re into the idea, believe the state of Texas doesn’t want us to CHILL or just love throwing your money at the arts, you can back the project here: https://goo.gl/m9KXXH

You can also check out other work by Dream Shake Productions here: https://goo.gl/w1BhEo

That Time of the Month celebrates its 3rd birthday!

First impressions aside, That Time of the Month is actually a late night show hosted by a woman that your heart has long desired, but broadcast networks have never delivered! Once a month, Meghan Ross showcases all types of talented comedic acts including music, stand-up, characters, sketches, and general weirdness from women beings, with improvised commercials in between.

Before relocating to Austin, Meghan produced the show in New York for 2 years with co-creator Liisa Murray, featuring past special guests Aparna Nancherla (Corporate), Jo Firestone (The Tonight Show), and Akilah Hughes (Genius Kitchen). She adapted the show at ColdTowne Theater shortly following her move.

That Time of the Month 3-Year Anniversary Show is on Saturday, March 17th at 11pm and features performances from Andie Flores (Muy Excited), improvised commercials from Say Uncle (The Say), a Strong Female Lead(er) interview with Tiffany Lopez (OH TIFF!), stand-up from Avery Moore (Moontower Comedy), plus free champagne along with treats and giveaways from sponsors Zucchini Kill Bakery, Adamo Nail Bar, and OH TIFF! GET TICKETS HERE!

We spoke to That Time of the Month host and producer Meghan Ross about the past 3 years of That Time of the Month!

What was the inspiration behind That Time of the Month?

My fellow improv teammate and sisterwife from another misterwife, Liisa Murray, and I started scheming for our own variety show in New York. We came up with the insane premise of hypothetical TV network executives giving two women their own late night show (there are no women late night hosts on broadcast networks – Full Frontal with Samantha Bee premiered a year after our show, and that was on cable). Since these “TV network execs” clearly didn’t trust us to do a good job, we called each episode a pilot, and at the end of each show, we’d receive ridiculous notes from them on what we should change about ourselves and the show (written by us – shoutout to internalized sexism!).

In between our self-deprecating womonologue jokes that poked fun at stereotypes placed on us, we featured comedic and musical performances from humans who happen to be women, along with late night-style couch interviews. It was important for us to provide more stage time to women, since then, and still today, you often see a lack of diversity in casting and show lineups – both in the comedy scene and in the TV and film industry.

How has the show evolved or changed over the last three years?

Shortly after I moved to Austin, the 2016 Elections happened, so I took some time off from comedy to sit shiva for the country, and to get my shit together for the next iteration of the show. That’s when I decided to incorporate a Strong Female Lead(er) segment, where I interview an activist or entrepreneur doing kickass work in the community. It’s been one of my favorite additions, and I’ve met some incredibly inspiring ladies that have helped restore my sanity and faith in humanity.

Hosting the show solo versus leaning on my co-host Liisa for emotional support and general Stevie Nicks witchy vibes was also a new challenge, but it’s forced me to gain confidence in my ability to run a show by myself in a new city. Or at least pretend I’m confident for 60 minutes.

Also, for the first year and a half, Liisa and I would start the show by dancing to a song (for a while it was Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman”) for the entire length of it (upwards of 5-6 minutes). We’d end up out of breath for our monologue, and when we kept running over our 60-minute slot, we’d be like, “Well, what unnecessary thing could we possibly cut to save time?” and proceed to include the entire dance intro for 20 episodes. It was inspired by how Abbi and Ilana used to start their Broad City Live show at UCB (gotta point out that this was pre-TV show, post-web series, because I’m a recovering comedy snob), since they looked like they were having so much damn fun together, and we wanted to convey that up top. I’ve retired that bit, and accepted that no one wants to see me dance alone on stage for that long.

Any memorable moments or stories?

During the third pilot episode, which was also my birthday show, our late night desk (a cheap folding table from the props closet) collapsed on one side right after one of us said, “Legalize pot,” causing everything to go flying into a puddle of champagne. It was the funniest, dumbest visual ever for our low-budget show and the best comedic timing I’d ever witnessed.

About a year after that, I got the brilliant idea to host a dog wedding on the show, and since no one could really tell us no, we did it. During the desk bit segment, we had a barkelorette party for the dogs, because dog toys look a lot like sex toys. We had a real ordained minister, comedian Lauren Brickman, lead the ceremony and we married off comedian Lily Du’s puppy Jacuzzi to singer Jessica Rowboat’s dog Frodo. The dogparents even read beautiful vows on behalf of their doggos, and afterwards, Jacuzzi ate a doggie cupcake to consummate the whole thing. It was pretty weird of me to force these dogs (neither of which are mine) to marry, but even weirder was when I ended up fostering and adopting my dog Dreidel just a week after the wedding. Second best comedic timing.

My Aunt Dawn, who was like another mother to me, passed away suddenly this past May. I thought about cancelling the May show, but realized she would have wanted me to still do it (not via some Field of Dreams voice, but more because she’s that kind of selfless person and was very supportive of my comedy). I dedicated the show to her and tried to include as many details in her memory, like baking funfetti cookie sandwiches for the audience, which were her specialty, and making a show playlist of her favorite songs. I wrote about her for my monologue as I was flying back to Austin, but didn’t have time to prepare a written desk bit. I decided since it was right around Mother’s Day, I would do an improvised “Call Your Mom” segment where I ask if anyone would be willing to call their mother on speaker at midnight in the middle of a late night show. Improvisor Laura de la Fuente volunteered, and her amazing mom answered the phone and casually chatted with us (in front of our audience) while rushing to catch a plane, and indulged us with an embarrassing story about Laura that had everyone in tears from laughing so hard. After experiencing a family tragedy, that episode really helped me use humor to cope.

What are you looking forward to – creatively speaking – in the next year of the show?

I’ve started partnering with women-owned businesses to showcase and promote women entrepreneurs and business owners in the Austin community, and in return, they generously provide the audience with treats and prizes. I’m also investing a lot of my time and resources to growing the show in 2018, turning it into more than just a side hustle. If given the opportunity, I’d love to make some real TV network executives uncomfortable with my presence.