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!

 

Dynamite Summer Bogo Deal – FREE COMEDY!

Any good blog post about an awesome Summer buy one get one deal should begin with a list that might start something like, “The 5 best ATX summer deals,” … you know, something with a little lifestyle research tied in. Then the blogger cleverly ties said cliché summer suggestions to a sweet deal with a rhetorical twist.

We’re not lifestyle bloggers though, so we’re going to cut right to the chase.

This summer (now through Labor Day), you can get into any late night show (i.e. the last show of the night) at ColdTowne Theater for FREE if you attend an earlier show that same night***. Start AND end the night at ColdTowne Theater. When you come in for a show earlier in the night, present your ticket stub at the counter for free admittance to the late performance.

Sounds cool! Please explain more.

Want to check out Pendulum Presents on a Thursday after Frankenfriends? We got you covered. Want to check out Movie Riot, go to the Grand for a few hours, and come back to see Everything’s Fine Mom at 11? Got your back! Want to see the 8:30 Saturday mainstage show, then come back in December for a free ticket? Get lost. This is only cool for the summer (Not associated with #1 hit music maker, Demi Lovato’s summer hit, Cool for the Summer™) while the city empties out due to the oppressive heat!

Plan your night by checking out ColdTowne’s calendar or Evenbrite page.

Okay, final review of what you gotta do.

Buy a ticket to any show and get that sweet ticket punched at the bar. Return later, present thine holy punch and enjoy a free late night show. BYOB optional.

But wait! There’s more!

If you’re like us – in a perpetual state of financial panic – you’re always looking to stretch your entertainment dollar. As always, we have a variety of completely free events each and every week.

IMPROV 101 – Our weekly free improv class!

DREW’s GYM – Pay what you want improv rehearsal at our Conservatory!

STAGE DIVE – Our Monday night stand up comedy open mic!

STOOL PIGEON – Our Sunday night all-star improv show!

*** Offer subject to seating capacity. Unclaimed tickets will be released at showtime for people presenting their ticket stub. Offer not good for nights with only one show.

ColdTowne featured on KLRU with Stand Up Empire (June 26th)

The comedy scene in Austin is exploding. With eight comedy theaters (and counting), and hundreds of improvisors, stand ups and sketch comedy performers, Austin is quickly producing talent that competes easily with comedians from larger markets, such as Chicago, LA and NYC. To chronicle the exploding comedy scene in ATX, creators Mike Wilson and Brently Heilbron developed Stand Up Empire, which is produced by local PBS affiliate KLRU.

Directed and produced by Chris Shea, Stand Up Empire chronicles the comedy scene in Austin, with a distinct focus on the top-notch stand up scene.  We were recently featured on the fourth episode, with interviews with Executive Producer Dave Buckman, Managing Director Erika May McNichol and Loverboy’s Stephanie Thoreson.

We were delighted to have Stand Up Empire recognize ColdTowne as a hotbed of comedic talent across all the comedy types, and to be featured alongside Live at ColdTowne regular Martin Urbano and Avery Moore.

Check the whole thing out, and watch for the segment on ColdTowne around 21:40.

You like? Check out Live at ColdTowne Fridays at 10pm and Loverboy on Wednesday nights at 8:30pm.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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