Moontower Comedy Festival (part 1) - Austin Sessions
As I type this in the Stephen F's Bar and Terrace a little after midnight, I look up in any direction to see amazing comics. Brad Williams is chilling with Godfrey a few tables away. Dom Irrera is at the bar having a drink. Rory Scovel is darting between a crowd of people. Ari Shafir is in the corner laughing, talking to some fans. To top it off, sprinkled throughout the bar are the familiar faces of Austin comics chatting it up and having a blast. Honestly, it's pretty surreal.
Taylor and I kicked off the first night of Moontower by grabbing a slice of pepperoni pizza and a beer at the Jackelope. Our first show of the night was the Four Eyes show at the Parish hosted by the hard working Kerri Lendo. Kerri is somehow cramming in hosting Moontower shows, interviewing comedians for Inside Joke with co-host John Merriman, and performing.
Opening the show was veteran comic Andy Kindler (Everybody Loves Raymond, Bob’s Bugers, Dr. Katz). Pretty sure he was riffing about 70% of his set and it was solid. Next up was Mike Lawrence, a comic I've heard on plenty of podcasts (like WTF w/Marc Maron), as well as hosting his own Nerd of Mouth podcast. You also might’ve caught him on @midnight or his appearance on Conan. Hilarious.
Nick Mullen, who I'd met earlier in the evening and used to live in Austin, blew my mind. His bits about 9-11 conspiracies and elderly people needing technical support killed! The funny Sara Schaefer followed up with a fantastic set. She’s been on Last Call with Carson Daly, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, and Inside Amy Schumer.
Rory Scovel took the stage screaming Shut up! Shut your mouths! "SHUT UP!! SHUT….UP!! SHUT THE F-"....you get the idea. This was a comic I’d been looking forward to and I wasn’t disappointed. He’s been on @midnight and can be seen on TBS's Ground Floor. Next was Ari Shaffir, doing a bit about zombies eating dicks that had the crowd rolling. I’d never heard any of his stand-up previously but he was great! He did a Reddit AMA last year that was awesome and hosts his Skeptic Tank podcast.
Closing the show was James Adomian, another comic I was super excited to see. Mike, a friend of mine, turned me onto Scott Auckerman’s Comedy Bang Bang podcast a while back. Adomian is a regular on the show doing amazing impersonations of George W. Bush, Jessie Ventura, Paul Giamatti and several more. If you listen to podcasts and love comedy, Adomian on Comedy Bang Bang is a must.
For the second show of the night we didn’t have to go far. From the Parish, to the Parish Underground, we made the arduous walk downstairs. The hilarious Doug Mellard hosted the Austin Towers show featuring local comics. In case you hadn’t figured it out, all the shows at Moontower are themed except for the headliners. Four Eyes = comics with glasses. Austin Towers = Austin based comics. Etc, etc… This show had a bit of an electrical charge leading up to the opener.
Comedian Kat Ramzinski was the first comic up. Kat was brutally mugged three days prior to her Moontower performance and plugged the tragedy straight into her stand-up set. She told me it took her a little over a day to figure out the material, the whole time wondering if she would even be able to do it without crying. The verdict? She crushed. The balcony above her was filled with her fellow comics watching her with pride, support, and love. I’m totally projecting that onto the comics that were watching but if I’m wrong they can write me.
The current Funniest Person in Austin, Mac Blake, followed Ramzinski with a solid set. The co-host of Jazz Cigarette (and former Austin Sessions guest) got some great laughs with his futuristic sexable tv bit and his t-shirt cannon bit. Matt Bearden, the creator and host of Punch! (a weekly comedy show at Cap City Comedy Club) sauntered out for his set carrying a bag of Beanitos, then proceeded to pass them out to the audience. Bearden, also a former guest, was juggling Moontower performances, hosting duties and somehow getting up and doing his early morning radio gig. Bravo sir.
The timid acting Derek Phelps, a finalist for Funniest Person in Austin, took the stage next. I'd never seen any of his stuff but it was a great surprise. Funny guy. Phelps, also an accomplished musician, has performed on David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Jools Holland and more. He’s also performed comedy at Fun Fun Fun Fest. Next up was Brian Gaar. I recently heard Brian on a Statesman Shots podcast and was happy to get a chance to see him perform. Along with performing comedy, Gaar works for the Austin American Statesman as a business reporter. John Ramsey took the stage next with a clean set that was incredibly funny. John has performed at Live at Gotham, HBO’s USA Comedy Arts Festival, and has headlined at Cap City. On top of all that, he’s also an attorney.
The terrifically nice Mike MacRae closed the show with an energetic set sprinkled with brilliant impressions. I briefly met Mike at the very packed Stephen F’s Bar while his hands were full eating a slice of pizza. I extended an invitation to guest on the podcast and gave him my card by awkwardly sliding it into his back pocket. MaCrae’s impressive list of credits include performing on David Letterman, Frank TV, Premium blend, Montreal’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival and so much more.
To see an extended set of pics from the shows, click here and here!