I should open this with a joke. After all, this is a comedy article. I won’t though. While I do have my moments, I will leave the jokes to the professionals and simply tell you where to find them.
Comedians come with different styles, personalities and preferences. For some reason, folks don’t always understand this. Brendon K. O’Grady, local comedian and co-host of the Sure Thing showcase, put it into perspective: “Comedy should be treated like music. You don’t go to a concert, hate the band and the next time you get invited to a concert say, ‘Oh, I went to music once. I didn’t like it.’”
Showcases are designed to fight this perspective by giving options to audience members. I have three Austin comedy showcases you should definitely attend to test your taste in comedy.
As far as comedians go, Matt Bearden is an old hand in Austin. He’s the former Funniest Person in Austin winner, a veteran of comedy festivals like Fun Fun Fun Fest, Moontower Comedy Fest, Bridgetown Comedy Fest, and holds down the third chair on the Dudley and Bob Morning Show. When Matt became a father four years ago, he decided to cut back on traveling. After talking with Cap City Comedy Club, PUNCH! Comedy was born.
Punch! is the oldest comedy showcase in Austin. Matt Bearden hand-picks his performers from the plethora of local talent and a selection of nationally touring comics. He designed the showcase with people’s varying tastes in mind. Punch! lineups run the gamut of comedy styles and I have never left disappointed. This something-for-everyone approach has proven to be a successful formula and Punch! frequently sells out. Those in the know are privy to secret shows as well. I won’t tell you what they are because that wouldn’t be much of a secret, would it? You have to show to know.
The next season of Punch! starts mid-January, so check their site for details. Tickets are $5.00 and a call to Cap City Comedy Club will secure you a seat. Doors open at 7 PM and the show starts at 8 PM. Cap City offers a full bar and menu. There is a two-item minimum and a bottle of Shiner is $3.50.
Chris Cubas is no longer with us. He moved to Kansas City. Yet his legacy, Avalanche, lives on in the capable hands of Ryan Cownie on Mondays at Holy Mountain. Chris started the showcase in 2012 and, six months ago, Ryan Cownie joined him as co-host. Since Chris’ big move, Ryan has taken on the full responsibility of putting on the show. At the tender age of 17, Ryan started doing standup in his home state of Nebraska. He eventually made his way to Austin because of the comedy scene here. Since then, he’s established himself as a very capable host and funny comedian. He’s also a pretty good freestyle rapper.
Avalanche has a laid back vibe to it. Ryan describes it as friends getting together, having a few drinks and doing comedy. This isn’t to say he doesn’t take his job seriously. He’s as equally meticulous about setting up his show as Matt Bearden is with Punch! Where Cap City is north on 183 and Anderson Square, Holy Mountain sits squarely downtown at 7th and Sabin, next door to Red 7. Avalanche is free and Holy Mountain has happy hour prices all day Monday. This means $3.00 well drinks and $3.00 Shiners. If you want food, they have a food trailer out back that sells pretty good soul food.
One of the last places you would expect to see a live comedy show in Austin would be a restaurant. Yet every Saturday at 7:30, Brendon K. O’Grady and Duncan Carson host Sure Thing at Austin Java’s original location at Lamar and Parkway.
Sure Thing began as an open mic night hosted by Duncan. At the time, 102.7 FM was an all-comedy radio station. They got wind of the open mic and offered to sponsor a 10-week showcase that started in June 2012. After the 10 weeks expired, the station rescinded their sponsorship. Duncan and Brendon decided to take matters into their own hands and took over the show. They’ve been able to keep the show free and the room frequently fills to capacity, leaving only standing room.
This is the smallest venue of the three, but it makes you feel as if you’re part of an exclusive event. My party and I sat a couple of tables in front of the stage. When you have comedians like John Tole, who love to do crowd work, this proximity to the stage makes for a great night. Jon Mendoza saw me trying to not have an aneurism during his set and dryly observed, “I like his reactions.” I didn’t take a drink of my coffee for fear of spitting it out laughing. Austin Java is a restaurant with a full menu of great food and drink and a Shiner will set you back $4.75.
Now that you know your options, get out there and check out some comedy. Laughter is healthy.
Who is you favorite local comedian?