Martin Short, Maria Bamford, James Adomian and the 2016 Moontower Early Lineup

Moontower 2016

The first wave of Moontower acts has been announced! So many amazing names on this list. From returning Moontower favorites like Maria Bamford, Ron Funches, and James Adomian to comedy legends like Kevin Smith and the inimitable Martin Short. We’ve got SNL’s latest addition Jon Rudnitsky, comedy lounge act The Lampshades, which includes Kate Flannery (The Office) and Scott Robinson, plus special shows like the Goddamn Comedy Jam which combines standup comedy and rock covers with a live house band. Over the coming weeks, I’ll bring you closer looks at some of these acts including interviews and deeper dives into their comedy. In the meantime, check out their websites and get to know the first members of the Moontower class of 2016! Badges are on sale now!

Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival Early Lineup 

James Adomian

Maria Bamford

Ahmed Bharoocha

Joe DeRosa

Debra DiGiovanni

Sean Donnelly

Jo Firestone

Ron Funches

Goddamn Comedy Jam

Anjelah Johnson

Jesse Joyce

Andy Kindler

The Lampshades

Matteo Lane

Annie Lederman

Joe List

Josh Adam Meyers

Jim Norton

Johnny Pemberton

Piff the Magic Dragon

Tony Rock

Jon Rudnitsky

Martin Short

Sklar Brothers

Kevin Smith

Beth Stelling

Brad Williams

Jenny Zigrino

Oh and here’s Martin Short on SCTV’s Half Wits just because.

Bob Khosravi Is Recording an Album

Hear ye, hear ye! Bob Khosravi is recording his first live comedy album for “Stand Up! Records” tonight, November 11th, at Cap City Comedy Club! The Austin based comic will be on the small stage at Cap, so seating is limited but a few tickets remain for this intimate affair.

Bob is a favorite of comedy fests including Moontower and Bridgetown, and he’s been a finalist in the Funniest Person in Austin contest multiple times. He’s a great storyteller with a wicked sense of humor and a knack for the absurd. I spoke with Bob about his early days performing in a motel bar, his joke writing process, and why you should attend his show.

Bob Khosravi

Tell me about the first time you tried stand up

The first time I “tried” to tell a joke was to a friend on a car trip. I told him I had a funny idea and wrote a joke, and asked if I could run it past him because he was as big a fan of stand-up. He asked me why I bothered because stand up was dead. Then he humored me, listened to the joke, and told me it was terrible.

The first time I got on stage was 11 years ago in the back corner of a seedy dive bar attached to a run down motel in Lewisville. Some friends heard there was an open mic there, and it was such low stakes I figured, “might as well.”

There were a handful of these older jaded truckers, and their wives scattered across the bar. The guys were playing pool, and the ladies were chatting and smoking around a table. When the mic started the ladies got excited, grabbed their drinks and gathered around the stage. Their husbands turned from their pool game long enough to give the small group of us “comics” a raised eyebrow expression that, after years of disrupting people drinking in bars I would learn, asked “why are you going to ruin our evening with your opinions?”

I only remember getting those women to laugh at one joke, but they were incredibly gracious, and were so happy just watching us attempt to be funny that it was the perfect first experience. I left thinking I can make people laugh. At least once in five minutes of talking.

How do you know when a bit is done?

When people stop laughing.

Honestly, I don’t ever feel like a bit is complete. Most of the comics I’ve talked to about it feel the same way. There are jokes I’ve told so many times I got bored with them, then a year later realized what I was actually trying to say and rewrote it. Then later found a different way to say it, or an angle I wanted to explore more. Nothing ever feels “done.” That’s why I put off recording for years.

How has the Austin comedy scene informed your act over the years?

I became more of a storyteller after I moved here, because the audiences are patient. They’ll let you take a while to get somewhere with an idea as long as you deliver in the end. I know it’s an attribute of Austin audiences, cause I’ve taken those stories elsewhere and been politely asked to get to the point.

I also always got the impression that the audiences here are more savvy. There are so many things to do in Austin that generally the people who show up to see comedy are fans. After moving here I started being way more honest and pushed past saying what I thought people wanted to hear.

What can people expect Wednesday night?

I’m not sure if I should set the bar high or low, so here’s an attempt at both.

For those who need a hard sell: Expect a brilliant night of comedy from a first generation American irreverently exploring the experience of growing up in his adopted country.

For those who want to be pleasantly surprised: Expect a two item minimum.

The show starts at 8pm tonight, Wednesday November 11th, at Cap City Comedy Club (map). Tickets are onsale now.

Rolling with Randy Liedtke

Randy Liedtke

You may recognize Randy Liedtke from one of his many television appearances. The comic has appeared on Late Night with Seth MeyersLast Comic Standing, and Maron. You may have heard his voice on Adventure Time or The Bone Zone, the irreverent podcast he hosts with comedian Brendon Walsh. Maybe you don’t know his name but you heard about that comedian who was pulled over for eating an iPhone cookie while driving.

Well you might as well learn his name now because he’s not going away anytime soon. In the past week alone, Liedtke saw the release of his critically acclaimed standup album I’m on a Roll, the premiere of his new Comedy Central half hour, and appeared on @midnight and Conan. I spoke with the comic about YouTube, pranks, and his favorite comedy album. 

Part of your act involves pranking the audience. What’s the best (or worst) reaction to a prank you’ve gotten at a show?

One time I was hosting a show a long time ago and I told the audience I needed a volunteer. I brought this guy on stage and and once he got up there I introduced the next comic and left. So the guy was just stuck up there and him and the other comic were forced to interact. It was kind of rude to the other comic but they figured it out.

What was your favorite comedy album growing up?

Favorite comedy album growing up was Bob and Doug McKenzie’s Great White North They do a lot of fun creative stuff like interview you, the listener and make a joke about how you’ll need to flip the record over soon. It’s complete silliness I love it.

What’s the best thing on YouTube right now?

Best thing on YouTube is this guy who sings karaoke in his basement named Mike Young. He wears a robe and sings all the classics. He knows he’s not the greatest but he really goes for it. I found his videos a couple years ago but he hadn’t made a new video in a long time. I spent a whole year trying to get in contact with him and finally started emailing with him and encouraged him to start making new videos. On my podcast The Bone Zone, Brendon Walsh and I raised enough money to buy him a mini fridge for his basement which he now features in every single video, just him and a fridge in front of a green screen.

Randy Liedtke, I’m on a Roll is available for purchase on iTunes. You can also listen on Spotify. Follow him on Twitter.

Tweets of the Week from Moontower Alumni

Tweets of the WeekAnd I said, “What about [Tweets of the Week]?”
She said, “I think I remember the [blog posts]”
“And as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it”
And I said, “Well, that’s the one thing we’ve got”
                                                                                                -Deep Blue Something

Andy Ritchie Is Fighting for His Life


A few months ago, comedian Andy Ritchie discovered he had a brain tumor.

“It was a horrible call,” says longtime friend, comedian Nick Swardson. “For what he had and how young Andy was it was scary. I’ve lost a lot of friends to drugs and suicide. Mainly comedians. But this was different. This was a card dealt to a guy who didn’t fucking deserve that shit.”

“Andy has a GBM grade 4,” explains Andy’s fiancé Ruby Collins. “That’s not great. He’s had 2 surgeries to remove it, and at this moment it’s gone. It will come back if we don’t fight it. I think the most upsetting part of all this for him is that the surgery and now the bleeding has made it impossible to speak normally, write more than a few words, read, and memorize. Pretty much everything a comic lives for,” she explains.

“Andy had moved to LA not too long ago and was starting to develop some projects,” Swardson recalls. “He had a great concept about a show focusing on the Real Husbands of the WNBA. I was interested in helping him with it. After some time went by and I got off tour and that’s when I got the call from Colton [Dunn] that Andy was sick.”

In the wake of his diagnosis, fellow former Funniest Person in Austin winner Brendon Walsh along with old friends Nick Swardson and Colton Dunn started “Andy Ritchie’s Big Headache,” a GoFundMe to help Andy defray some of the living expenses he faces while he is unable to work. “It’s one of the great things about the internet, being able to help people,” says Swardson. “I pray every night for Andy’s return to 100% health. People don’t believe in prayer but fuck you it’s not going to hurt him.”

Andy Ritchie won Funniest Person in Austin in 2011. Pictured with Lucas Molandes. 

Swardson reflected on their early days in Minneapolis. “I started doing improv in Minnesota. Comedy Sportz to be specific. Me and my friend Colton Dunn. We were from St. Paul and we joined a high school league in Minneapolis. That’s when we first met Andy Ritchie. He played for Holy Angels. He was hilarious. He stood out above everyone. We both admired him and wanted to be his friend. And we did. We are all still friends. Andy is one of the funniest but more importantly one of the nicest dudes. We all graduated and our lives scattered. He and Colton went on to do more improv. I started stand up. Andy later did both.”

Swardson continues, “Colton and I traveled a lot and lived all over. Andy did the same but because of family health issues he had to stay close to home. Which was frustrating for him but that’s the kind of person he is. He stayed home to help.”

Throughout all of this, Andy has kept his sense of humor. When I spoke with him on the phone he was upbeat and animated. He had recently been to the movies with Brendon and spoke fondly of the old days. He was genuinely touched by the support he has received thus far. When not at the hospital, he and Ruby spend a lot of time at home. They watch Netflix, cook dinner, and plan their future. The two met in Austin several years ago where they were fixtures of the burgeoning comedy scene. At some point, they decided it was time to move out west and things were just starting to pick up steam. “He had just gotten a job writing for a TV show two weeks before he was diagnosed.”

Andy and Ruby in Cozumel in 2014

During the course of our correspondence, Andy returned to the hospital. “He started an IV med that’s worked for some, but it caused bleeding in his brain which is why we’re here again. He’s stable and will be fine, but we don’t know if we can continue this med. There are others, of course very expensive, but we now have this opportunity to try them.”

Ruby recently told me that they have an opportunity to work with a new memory and speech therapist. “The ‘speech therapist’ we got for free tried to hypnotize him with a pocket watch and sell him workbooks from the Internet,” Ruby says. She has hopes that the therapist will help give way to what she calls “a new and improved Andy Ritchie.”

“I say ‘new and improved,’ because bravely, through all of this, Andy keeps talking about how this has changed his values, changed his attitude,” she explains. “He can’t wait to feel better and get back to writing, going to shows, enjoying the company of friends, and simply living in appreciation of each moment.”

“That’s something I need to practice as well. Just notice this moment. Man, I love him so much,” she says in closing. “And he has to get better so we can get married!”

Read more about Andy and check out his GoFundMe here.


Bill Burr Brings His Stand-Up to Bass Concert Hall Next Month

Bill Burr

HOT OFF THE PRESSES! Moontower favorite Bill Burr will perform at Bass Concert Hall on September 21st. Tickets go on sale at 11am today, August 7th. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Easily one of our favorite interviews at Moontower, Burr is quick, funny, and unapologetic. Even if you don’t know his stand-up, you may be familiar with his work as an actor on Breaking Bad, Chappelle’s Show, and The Heat. Below find some excerpts from our talk backstage at the Paramount during Moontower 2013.  See you at the show!


Inside Joke – Bill Burr on Touring

Inside Joke – Bill Burr reveals the ending of “Breaking Bad”

Tweets of the Week from the Moontower Alumni Association

Tweets of the Week

Hello my baby / Hello my honey / Hello my ragtime gal / Send me a TWEET by wire / Baby my SOCIAL MEDIA’s on fire.

Guys, I am truly sorry for what I just did. Can I make it up to you with some tweets of the week? Good idea. Thanks! Have a great weekend! You too! My car’s over here. Oh, haha, me too. We should really hang out sometime. Yeah, I’d like that, I’ve just been really busy lately. Yeah, I know how that goes! Haha, yeah me too! Okay bye for real this time!

Moontower Favorite Ralph Hardesty Teaches Stand Up Comedy Intensive for Students


And now for something completely different! This summer, The Paramount Academy for the Arts presents a Stand Up Comedy Intensive class as part of its Performing Arts Camp. The classes run from 1pm-4pm on July 20th – July 31st and are open to students in grades 6-12. Festival favorite Ralph Hardesty (Moontower, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Bridgetown Comedy Festival) will introduce students to the process of writing and performing stand-up comedy and cover topics ranging from writing jokes to working a crowd.

“With the Paramount having such a big identity as a home for comedy we wanted to connect to that work,” explained Associate Director of Education & Outreach Brian C. Fahey. “Ralphie has been a featured comic in Moontower for the past few years and he’s a middle school teacher so he’s a great fit to teach the class.”

I spoke with Ralphie about his own beginnings in comedy, what he wished he knew when he started, and what to expect from the class.


When did you first develop an interest in comedy? Tell me a bit about your background and early experiences in standup.

I’ve been interested in comedy my entire life! I used to watch old reruns of I Love Lucy and the Mary Tyler Moore show over and over until I memorized them, and I would recite them at the dinner table. Standup is one of my first loves, but I didn’t start doing it until I was older. I went to my first open mic when I was 28, and that was because I was unemployed and needed things to occupy my time. I didn’t know that it would end up taking SO MUCH of my time, or I might not have ever started. I’m happy I did?

If you could tell your younger self one thing you learned about standup since you started, what would it be?

I would tell my younger self to start earlier than I did. I started a full 10 years later than I wish I had, since the only thing that a young comedian needs is experience, as much as they can get. That’s why I think this class is such a great idea, because it gives very young adults experience in a safe space. It’s a terrifying idea, to try to make strangers laugh, but anyone can do it.

Tell me a little bit about the stand-up comedy class. What can students expect?

I think the class will be a fun way to generate ideas for stand up comedy performances, as well as workshopping their own original jokes. We’ll also be watching excellent examples of (completely clean) comedy, which should be pretty universally entertaining. So, in short, students can expect a really fun time watching and performing comedy!


For more information about the classes and to register online, click here.

More on instructor Ralph Hardesty:

Ralph Hardesty is a die-hard Midwesterner who, after a series of indelible life mistakes, eventually wound up writing comedy in Austin. Hardesty has performed at a ton of festivals including Fun Fun Fun Fest, Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Ladies Are Funny Festival (though he is male, he is no less a lady) and the San Francisco Comedy & Burrito Festival, which was delicious. Moms love him.

Laugh Like Maggie Maye This Weekend


Maggie Maye has one of the all time great laughs. It’s loud, joyful, and easy to pick out of a crowd. I once heard it echo off the walls at a Sarah Silverman show at the Paramount Theatre, turned to my date and said, “Maggie’s here!” It’s spontaneous and unaffected and it speaks to her love of comedy. Want to laugh like that? You’re in luck! Because on top of being a great laugher, Maggie’s a fantastic performer and she’s bringing her comedy to the Velveeta Room! I spoke with her about her career beginnings, the evolving comedy scene in Austin, and what to expect this weekend.

Tell me about your career beginnings. When did you know you wanted to be a comic and when did you realize it was something you were going to try and pursue full time?

I love making people laugh. I always wanted to be a comic and hoped it would become a career. After I started doing it I just wanted to do it all the time, no matter what.

Tell me about your history in Austin. How has the scene has evolved?

I’ve lived in Austin for 10 years and started comedy here, at the Velv. The scene was fairly large when I started and it has just gotten bigger. I’ve noticed a lot more people moving to Austin specifically to do comedy, which is awesome, since Austin is a great place to cut your teeth.

How has the growth of the scene helped (or hindered) your growth as a performer?

The crowds are smart and reward creativity, which encourages me to keep my standards high. The comics here are also smart, really funny and hardworking, which is inspiring.

What’s the best thing about living in Austin?

It’s got a lot of fun stuff going on. It’s changed a lot, but it’s still a cool city. I mean, we’ve all changed.

What’s the worst thing about living here?

Not enough people just handing out money and snacks.

Who are some of your comedy influences, large and small?

Dave Chappelle, Wanda Sykes, Chris Rock, Bill Burr, amongst many others. I’m also influenced by my background, as it created the lens through which I see everything.

What’s the first joke you wrote?

I can’t remember what was the first joke I wrote for stand up, but I can assure you it was probably stupid. I think it was about drinking?

What can people expect to see at the weekend’s shows?

They can expect anything they want, it’s a free country and I’m not the boss of them. But they’re expecting a great show they won’t be disappointed. Kerri and Aaron are hilarious and always make me laugh really hard, so it’ll be fun times.

Maggie Maye headlines the Velveeta Room Friday (6/26) at 9pm and Saturday (6/27) at 9pm and 11pm. She is joined by Aaron Brooks and Kerri Lendo. Tickets are available here

The Best Tweets of the Week from the Moontower Class of 2015

Here’s what your favorite Moontower comics were tweeting about this week! For more tweets from your favorite Moontower comics, subscribe to our list on Twitter.