Author Archives: John Merriman

Tig Notaro, David Cross, Jo Koy, Ali Siddiq, Nikki Glaser, Shmanners Podcast Join Moontower Lineup

The Austin Theatre Alliance announced a new wave of Moontower headliners Wednesday with Tig Notaro, David Cross, Jo Koy, Ali Siddiq, Nikki Glaser and more added to the lineup. The headlining acts join previously announced performers including Tiffany Haddish, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Mike Birbiglia, Janeane Garofalo, and Colin Quinn at the Moontower Comedy Festival on April 18th-21st.

David Cross appears as part of An Evening for The Comedy Resistance, a one-time-only event full of comedians, special guests and activists. Additionally, the popular Shmanners podcast with Travis & Teresa McElroy will kick off the programming at the Stateside at the Paramount. You can find the complete Paramount and Stateside schedules below. Tickets for all Moontower 2018 headliner performances will go on sale Thursday, 2/8, at 10am CST. There are a slew of other venues around town with dozens more performers and badges start at just $99. More information on ticketing and the complete lineup available here. Continue reading

Moontower’s Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Squeeze Boxes and Black Unicorns

Moontower Holiday Gift Guide 2017The holidays are here and we’ve got you covered. From an accordion full of records to a tell-all from one of this year’s most exciting performers, this treasure trove of gifts inspired by the 2018 festival lineup has something for everyone on your list. Continue reading

Tweets of the Week from the Moontower Class of 2018

Ryan Hamilton. Janeane Garofalo. Preacher Lawson. Colin Quinn. Yesterday, these headliners and dozens of other comedians were added to the seventh annual Moontower Comedy Festival lineup joining previously announced performers “Weird Al” Yankovic, Tiffany Haddish and Mike Birbiglia.  Get to know the comics scheduled for the 2018 fest with a brand new installment of Tweets of the Week highlighting some of the best posts from the Moontower Class of 2018 from the last seven days. Continue reading

Moontower’s Getting Weird in 2018: “Weird Al” Yankovic, Tiffany Haddish, Mike Birbiglia Set for 7th Annual Fest

The Austin Theatre Alliance today made an early talent announcement for the 7th annual Moontower Comedy Festival. Comedy heavyweights “Weird Al” Yankovic, Tiffany Haddish and Mike Birbiglia were announced as the first headliners of the 2018 festival and badges for the event are now on sale.

The biggest-selling comedy recording artist of all time, “Weird Al” returns to the Paramount Theatre as part of The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour. The show is a stripped down, no-frills production featuring rarities and b-sides from Yankovic’s extensive back catalogue. According to Yankovic, no two shows along the tour will be the same. “After 35 years of big productions, I just wanted to take it down a few notches and have a little musical palate cleanser. This show will be loose, unpredictable, and maybe a bit sloppy – we’ll be making it up as we go along!” The performer’s longtime friend and fellow UHF cast member Emo Phillips will open the show.

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Year in Review: Go Behind the Scenes of the 2017 Moontower Comedy Festival with Inside Joke

(Clockwise from top left: Morgan Murphy, Patton Oswalt, Martha Kelly, Jay Pharoah, Aparna Nancherla and Shane Torres).

As the Austin Theatre Alliance readies the 2018 Moontower Comedy Festival slate, take a look back at interviews with many of the comedians from the 2017 festival including all new interviews with Shane Torres, Martha Kelly, Ralphie May, Morgan Murphy and Wendy Liebman. Check out the 2017 playlist embedded below.

Inside Joke, the official interview series for the Moontower festival, has been talking to comics at the festival since it’s inception. Visit the YouTube show library for content from all six years of the event including interviews with headliners like Aziz Ansari, Maria Bamford, John MulaneyHannibal Buress, Chelsea Peretti, Leslie Jones and Colin Jost and many more. Continue reading

Rojo Perez Is a Comedian First

Rojo Perez came in with an early goal to never rely on being Spanish. “I never wanted anybody to see me and say, ‘oh, that dude is a Spanish comedian.’ The feeling was always, ‘oh, that’s a comedian. And he’s Spanish.'”

Originally from Puerto Rico, Rojo moved to Florida for college where he began his career doing stand-up comedy in clubs and cafés. Since moving to New York City, he’s become a regular in the comedy scene, performing at places such as Caroline’s, UCB East, UCB Chelsea, the Creek and the Cave and the Knitting Factory, among others. He spoke to Moontower about his early influences, his first time on stage and his writing process.

 

On comedy influences: I remember John Leguizamo‘s one-man shows really resonating with me. I don’t remember how I came across Killin’ Them Softly but I remember I’d watch it on a loop. George Lopez had an early one that was family specific where he was so open about his family and coming up in the struggle. I also remember an Ellen DeGeneres special I saw when I was really young where she ends with a great callback on how God is a woman. Continue reading

Live From Austin, It’s Saturday Night! Six Years of Saturday Night Live Cast Members at Moontower

Moontower has a long tradition of showcasing some of the best and brightest from Saturday Night Live and this year is no different. Newly minted cast member and spot-on Owen Wilson imitator Melissa Villaseñor, actor/comedian/impressionist/all-around-hilarious-person Jay Pharoah, and former Weekend Update anchor and legendary comic Colin Quinn are all slated to perform at the festival later this week.

In the six years since the fest began, Moontower has hosted a slew of SNL talent including Colin Jost, Leslie Jones, Seth Meyers, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and many, many more. Check out this playlist of Moontower interviews with cast members past and present and stay tuned to the Inside Joke YouTube channel for brand new interviews throughout the fest. To purchase badges and tickets click here.

Matt Ingebretson Comes Home

Texas native Matt Ingebretson returns to his home state next week for a series of shows at the Moontower Comedy Festival. The University of Texas grad co-wrote, co-created & stars in the upcoming Comedy Central show Corporate and hosts a hugely popular LA showcase called Good Heroin.

Matt talked to fellow Austin ex-pat and Moontower performer M.K. Paulsen about his early days in Houston, writing for the Texas Travesty at UT, and the inspiration for his dark corporate satire set in the “dystopian present”.

You have Texas roots, right? Tell us about your background.

I grew up about an hour south of Houston. I spent most of my childhood roller-blading around my neighborhood and drinking two liter bottles of Dr. Pepper by myself. And wearing cargo shorts and a t-shirt I bought from Pac Sun. That was the Texas I knew. Very few cowboy hats and boots, an ocean of flip flops and pre-distressed jeans.

You wrote for the Texas Travesty while an undergrad at the University of Texas. Tell us about that experience and how it helped you in your comedy career?

Texas Travesty was a good place to start in comedy. It was a university publication, so you could feel free to learn and make mistakes and not really know what you’re doing, but there was also a healthy dose of “you should feel ashamed of yourself if you’re not funny” coming from my peers. My senior year I took over as editor-in-chief. I had a real sense that if the work in each issue wasn’t good it was entirely my fault. It ingrained in me a feeling of constant dissatisfaction with everything I do, which is a great motivator in my life that makes me feel terrible constantly. Continue reading

Aparna Nancherla Is Just Putting It Out There

Named one of Variety’s “Top Ten Comics to Watch 2016,” Aparna Nancherla has been a writer/performer for Late Night with Seth Meyers and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. She’s also made memorable appearances on Conan, Inside Amy Schumer, and Judd Apatow’s Love to name a few.

Her debut comedy album Just Putting It Out There was the first release from Tig Notaro’s Bentzen Ball Records label. Ahead of her appearance at Moontower in April, Aparna shares some insight into her comedy influences, her joke writing process and her love of migas tacos.

On Comedic Inspiration: I discovered comedy a little later than most (roughly ’78, according to amateur historians), so when I was really little, my carefully cultivated humor preferences ranged from Sesame Street to Weekend at Bernie’s 2. When I was in high school, I discovered SNL and Late Night with Conan O’Brian, and really gravitated toward the sillier stuff. I didn’t know much about stand-up besides seeing Ellen once on TV and then maybe Seinfeld another time, also on TV. I definitely didn’t think stand-up was something anyone could do. I thought it was like the circus and you had to be born into the trade.

The first stand-up I really remember getting into was Mitch Hedberg. My friend gave me two of his CDs. Then after that I think came Jim Gaffigan, Paul F. Tompkins, Jen Kirkman, and Maria Bamford. Now I am constantly inspired by my peers and up-and-coming comics, just off the top of my head–Nick Vatterott, Joel Kim Booster, John Early, Naomi Ekperigin, Emily Heller, Kyle Mizono, Julio Torres, and Ana Fabrega. I love people who play with the form. There are so many amazing minds, it changes any given week who I’m dazzled by.
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Finding Enlightenment with Eddie Pepitone, The Bitter Buddha

Comedian Eddie Pepitone is a study in contrasts. One minute he’s railing against society at the top of his lungs and the next he’s cheerfully recommending his favorite vegan restaurant.  A comic’s comic, Pepitone is famous for playing unhinged characters on shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the Judd Apatow produced Love on Netflix. “The Bitter Buddha” shared some wisdom with Moontower about channeling anger for a role, what he does to relax and what he likes to do in Austin.

On playing angry characters: Well, fortunately or unfortunately, my rage — inspired by my Sicilian father — is always close to the surface, so it’s pretty accessible to me.

On relaxing: I love watching my NY sports teams and Agatha Christie PBS shows, reading one of my thousand books I have lying around, and hanging with my wife and two dogs in the park.

On the current political situation: I have found that I’ve had to take a day or two or three away from news and social media because it’s just enraging. The good ole USA is headed straight toward fascism and so many people are hurting it’s unbearable sometimes. The most enraging thing is the split in the left and the abhorrent right wing. Disgusting. So it’s very tough to deal with. Meditation and nature help. Continue reading