Small Business Saturday in Austin > Black Friday

by Lilli Lopez

Tents! Cold temperatures! Injuries and FULL BLOWN FIGHTS! Every year we see folks working retail, dealing with waves of shoppers lined up as soon as a week in advance for Black Friday, when they should honestly have the day off (RADICAL, I KNOW).  So when I heard about Small Business Saturday almost a decade ago, I was thrilled to participate. A full two days after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday falls on December 30 this year. Before you head out for door-busting deals at your local major retail stores, maybe consider saving the rest of your Thanksgiving and Friday for feasting on leftover and spend your hard earned dollars at local businesses.

Small businesses are the cornerstone of any thriving local economy. Austin is filled with homegrown businesses and boutiques and even comedy theaters. ColdTowne Theater neighbors some of our favorite local businesses in Hyde Park, North Loop, and now Mueller neighborhood.  To the west we have some of our favorite coffee shops and vintage spots in the neighborhood: Flightpath Coffeehouse and Epoch. Blue Velvet Vintage right next door, then we have Room Service Vintage down the street and New Bohemia just next to The Grand, which is walking distance from ColdTowne.

Austin can seem overwhelmingly corporate sometimes, but you really don’t have to search high and low to support local businesses and get exactly what you need and more. Need some new gift ideas for the holidays? Las Ofrendas (creator of Frida Friday ATX) has a new shop housing several vendors and their incredible handmade gifts. You can visit them at 916 Springdale Rd F-6. Or maybe stop by our neighbors at Toy Joy off Airport (next to New Bohemia) for some funky toys and gifts. OR you can still get the ColdTowne $99 Deal on Level 1 improv or sketch classes now through December 14. You don’t even need to leave the house for that!

When you skip the Black Friday stampedes for Small Business Saturday, you’re keeping your money in Austin and supporting local business owners, their staffs, and families. As I mentioned in my blog post about ColdTowne’s $99 Deal, where I spend my money is important to me (pay gap, ya know?), so if Black Friday gives you evil J-Bezos vibes, buy local. Visit your favorite small businesses this Saturday and feel good about where your money’s going.

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