Author Archives: John Merriman

Austin Exit Interview: Danny Palumbo

Moontower alum Danny Palumbo moved to Austin in 2011 to pursue stand-up comedy. A few short weeks ago, he said goodbye. A comedian’s comedian, Palumbo made his mark on the scene, hosting innumerable shows in town, bringing us the satirical restaurant sites Lil’ Buco and Abbrev’s and winning the Funniest Person in Austin contest in 2015. After gaining traction on the festival circuit, the comic decided it was time to move on. I caught up with Danny days after he appeared at the prestigious New Faces showcase at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal.

What comedians or comedies did you watch growing up?

Robin Hood: Men In Tights and The Naked Gun were the two movies that were on all the time when I was 10. We had one of those illegal cable boxes, so all the slap-stick comedies of the 90’s were on. Leslie Nielsen really resonated with me as a kid. I still very much enjoy Dracula: Dead and Loving It. I didn’t really start watching stand-up until I was about 15, but Todd Barry’s first half hour really stood out to me. My junior year of high school I was washing dishes five nights a week, so I would get off work and be home right when Conan started at 12:30. All of those things had an impact for sure. Continue reading

Former ‘Funniest Person’ Winner Eric Krug Will Record Live Comedy Album at Austin Sketch Fest

Eric KrugFormer ‘Funniest Person in Austin’ winner Eric Krug is set to close out Austin Sketch Fest with a live album recording for Sure Thing Records on May 29th. A limited number of tickets are still available. Krug won the Funniest Person in Austin contest in 2008 and has since appeared on Comedy Central’s Live at GothamWTF with Marc Maron and was selected as one of the New Faces of Comedy for Just for Laughs in Montreal. I spoke with Krug about his time in the military, depression as a motivator and US presidents.

Talk to me a little bit about your beginnings in comedy.

I was in the Air Force in 2005-2006. I was going to be getting out and I didn’t really have anything better to do but I didn’t want to stay. I didn’t want to serve my country anymore. I had enough of that. I had enough of the country and the service.

Basically I was a real big pussy for a long time and I would go all the way down to Austin from San Antonio to watch comedy. I really liked the comedy scene, but I was still too scared to get up on stage. Then my ex broke up with me. We were still seeing each other casually even though we were broken up and then I went over to her place once and she was on her way out on a date with another guy and that’s when she decided to break up with me. Continue reading

The Paramount’s Stand-Up Comedy Intensive Returns This July

Comedian Ralphie Hardesty is back this year to teach another one-week stand-up comedy intensive for kids in grades 6-12. The accomplished comic will introduce students to the process of writing and performing a stand-up comedy routine from writing jokes to working a crowd. The class runs July 25th – July 29th. Ralphie is a gifted performer and a wonderful teacher who performs regularly around town. I spoke with him about his background, influences, and what students can 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. Continue reading

Cap City Comedy Club Names Balthazar Lounge In Honor of Late Comedian Andy Ritchie

AndysLast night at an intimate ceremony for Andy Ritchie’s family and friends, the folks at Cap City Comedy Club named the small lounge after the late comic. “Andy Ritchie’s Balthazar Lounge” references a favorite bit where Andy described encountering a “lost falcon” poster.

The tables at the club featured candy-filled cell phones atop bowls of candy with small signs that read, “Hell yeah, I want some candy,” another reference to a popular bit. The comic’s King Ding-a-Ling CDs and t-shirts featuring an original drawing of the comic from Kerry Awn were also distributed.

In attendance were Andy’s mom, brother and Ruby Collins, the comic’s fiancée, plus a multitude of comics including Mike MacRae, Martha Kelly, Chris Cubas, Bryan Gutmann and Trey Galyon. The event was organized by Cap City’s general manager and co-owner Margie Coyle and director of operations Chandy Popp Kurweil who worked with the comedian for many years. Continue reading

She’s All That: Master Pancake’s Kath Barbadoro

KathWhether she’s mocking movies with the hugely popular Master Pancake, reporting from the streets of Austin for ATX Uncensored(ish), or dropping in for a killer stand-up set, Kath Barbadoro is one of the hardest workers in the scene. I spoke with Kath in advance of her Moontower shows and we chatted about her favorite films to ridicule, the creative challenges of writing in someone else’s voice, and seeing Maria Bamford in high school by any means necessary.

Tell me about how you got the job at ATX Uncensored(ish).

They saw a bunch of people for the host job that Brian Gaar eventually got. I initially came in and auditioned for that. They were looking to fill these two correspondent roles. They tell me this isn’t why, but I feel like the reason they brought me back in is because I ran into Brian at a bar and he was like, “Yeah, we’re trying to fill these roles,” and I was like, “Well I’d like to do that.” They brought me in and I didn’t realize it was a job interview until the very end of it when I’d already been there for like 2 hours. Then I felt really stupid.

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Seven Minutes with Ian Abramson

ianabramson copyMost comedians live for laughter. They fine-tune their timing and expertly tweak their material according to an audience’s reaction. So what happens when you take away everything that sustains them? What if there was no audience?

Comedian Ian Abramson wondered the same thing, and thus Seven Minutes in Purgatory was born. The comedian’s hugely popular show was recently picked up by Comedy Central, and the stage show comes to Moontower next week featuring comics from the fest. I spoke to Ian recently about the show, writing for The Onion, and why improv and stand-up don’t always get along.

Tell me a little bit about the origins of Seven Minutes in Purgatory.

Certainly: Seven Minutes in Purgatory is a show where the comedians perform to a camera in one room, and the audience watches in a separate room. When I was in Chicago I was thinking, “There’s this relationship between the audience and the performer,” and I thought it would be interesting if you got to see what a comedian did when they didn’t have anything to respond to.

Were you the guinea pig for this, or how did you first get it together?

I produced it with a man named Matt Burn in Chicago. We sat down and talked through it, and we built a whole show’s worth of comedians doing seven minute sets to try this out. The way that that played out is I hosted and then I brought up comedians. So I was the first person to do it, but by the end of the night, eight people had.

Did you come to any scientific conclusions about who would succeed at such a thing?

Right off the bat what was interesting to me — something we didn’t anticipate — was just that people get a kick out of it. The people that are showing up for the show know what the show is, hopefully, and if not, hopefully it becomes clear what they’re doing. That means that anyone that’s sitting down to watch the show gets a comedian saying, “Man, this feels so weird!” and that gets a big laugh. Because the audience is living that moment-to-moment with them, if anything it makes the audience more aware of the fact that they are part of the show. They’re keenly aware of the fact that they’re sitting there watching the show, and their response to it is part of that experience. That was an interesting thing that we wouldn’t have thought would happen, but that was one of my favorite parts of the show.

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Tweets of the Week from the Moontower Class of 2016


This edition of Tweets of the Week features some of the best and brightest from Moontower’s class of 2016. For more, subscribe to Moontower Comedy 2016, a Twitter list featuring many of the comics performing at this year’s festival.

Broadcasting from Moontower: Podcasts and Radio Shows Taping at the 2016 Fest

In addition to stellar stand-up shows, parties and special events, Moontower is thrilled to present our full lineup of podcasts and radio programs, some of which will be broadcasting live from the fifth annual festival. We’ll see — and hear — you in a few weeks!

Friday, April 22nd

Opie with Jim Norton 

OpieandJim Who: Gregg “Opie” Hughes and Jim Norton

What: Hugely popular SiriusXM show broadcasts live from Moontower and will feature some of the biggest names at the fest. Guests for Friday’s show include Mark Normand, Chris DeStefano, Jesse Joyce, Colin Jost, and Kurt Metzger

Where: TBA

When: 2pm-5pm


The Bonfire bonfire

Who: Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder

What: Comedy Central radio program where the comics cover a variety of daily topics, share their best stories from the road and give fans a chance to call in and chat. Guests TBA.

Where: 800 Congress (map)

When: 4pm-7pm


Sklarbro Country SBC

Who: Jason and Randy Sklar

What: Weekly comedic takes on the worlds of sports and pop culture. Guests TBA.

Where: Speakeasy, 412 Congress (map)

When: 5pm-7pm

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Nick Mullen Has a TV Credit

Nick Mullen has made a name for himself on the internet with his dark, uncompromising sense of humor. Whether writing infuriating op-eds as Nicole Mullen, a dim-witted, outspoken mom, pranking businesses as Clarence Elmore on his Help Me, I’m Old podcast, or petitioning fans to Free Steven Avery (and make me the official Adidas spokesperson), he’s made a career out of pushing boundaries. I caught up with Nick in advance of his Moontower appearance to discuss living in NYC, the challenges of being a full-time comic, and why he’s one of four people David Cross follows on Twitter.

How’s New York?

It’s all right, I guess. Fuckin’ pizza pie.

Are you performing a lot?

Yeah, I am. Thought it’s harder to get up here. People think you get up all the time in New York and it’s true for like 35 people doing comedy.

Who do you see out there?

I see Kurt Metzger pretty often. Me and Kurt are pretty cool. We’re both working on a show. But yeah, I don’t really hang with anybody. Dan Soder. And then a couple of guys from D.C. I’m friends with. I see Jake [Flores] around.

And are you doing standup full time?

I’m doing standup and pursuing writing stuff. The business changes. You can’t really have a career as just a comedian unless you’re a headliner and there’s no path towards me headlining right now. I don’t have any fucking credits. Although Fox News has been putting me on Red Eye with Tom Shillue as a panel guest. They have guests on and give them topics to riff on. Yeah, it’s pretty loose, man. It’s pretty fun. It’s a TV credit. It’s something you can put on a poster for fuckin’ one nighters. Continue reading

Tweets of the Week from the Moontower Class of 2016

With Moontower just a few weeks away, we thought we’d take a moment to look at some of the best tweets from comedians (and one Ghostbuster) appearing at the festival next month. The full schedule is up as of this week with a complete list of performers, shows, podcasts, and special events. Check out all of the action on our completely redesigned website. Badge up today! And now, without any further ado, here are your tweets of the week! Continue reading