Top 10 Moontower Comedy Festival Performances We're Most Looking Forward ToA column article, Top Ten by: John Bender, Dylan Garsee, Nick Hanover, James Pound, Janelle Revord
The second annual Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival is kicking off later this week, and while it's got an incredible line-up of comedians and troupes, the bulk of CB's Austin crew has narrowed the list down to their 10 most anticipated shows to help you figure out what you should check out. And keep an eye on CB all week, as we'll be bringing you further coverage and interviews.
Honorable Mention: Puddles Pity Party
Where and When: Any time, any place
What It Is: Puddles Pity Party is the only thing on the Moontower line-up that had me asking both who and what it was. From what I gathered about Puddles Mimmette, at first glance he is a terrifying, old timey clown out of my nightmares projected in real life human form out to kill me. Delving only slightly deeper, he is still all of those things, but has the most beautiful, beautiful man voice that is so mesmerizing that I'm able to momentarily forget all of those other things .
Why We're Looking Forward to it: Although this is only the second Moontower Comedy and Oddity festival, the ratio of comedy to oddity, comedy has far outweighed and overshadowed anything that could be classified as an oddity, until now. The Moontower line-up page has not a single show listed for Puddles Pity Party, and the only description next to his terrifying clown headshot is "Whoa is me. I'm so sad. You make me cry cry cry. MonkeyZuma says hi. (You never know where and when Puddles will appear at Moontower...)" Puddles Pity Party definitely seems to be a performance worth experiencing, but with the uncertainty of when and where, Puddles may go down in Moontower history as something you'll only hear about in others' tales, making you wish that you had been fortunate enough to happen upon at the right place and right time.
- Janelle Revord
Where and When: NY, NY “The Bro Show” April 24th at 10:45 PM and The Hideout “The Austin Show” April 27th at 8:00 PM
Who He Is: A local Austin comedian and the host of the CB Radio podcast (not to be confused with our own CB podcasts), Cameron Buchholtz is a New York transplant with a bright future ahead of him who has performed at Fun Fun Fun Fest and done shows with the likes of Neil Hamburger and Todd Barry.
Why We're Looking Forward to Him: Austin is beginning to become a bit of a comedy mecca, so we'd be remiss if we didn't feature at least one comedian from the city that everyone who contributed to this feature calls home. And as far as locals go, Cameron Buchholtz is perhaps the most promising, both through his excellent interview podcast show CB Radio and through his stand-up act. Buchholtz is actually the first comedian I saw when I moved to Austin, back when he was doing open mics at the Velveeta Room. Oddly enough, the first open mic I went to also featured local weirdos “Captain America” (a man who dresses up as Captain America, always) and the Lizard Man in the crowd and Buchholtz decided to get rid of the material he had prepared and instead do an impromptu set about those two and Austin's celebration of weird culture in general; it was a bold move that could have gone horribly wrong, but Buchholtz's oddly disarming affability and knack for turning his self-described talent for “making people want to punch me” into a selling point made it work out fabulously. Fans of John Mulaney in particular are encourage to check in.
- Nick Hanover
You Made It Weird Podcast Live
Where and When: The Parish April 24th at 10:15 PM
What It Is: A live presentation of Pete Holmes' You Made It Weird podcast, complete with guests like Morgan Murphy, Greg Fitzsimmons, Dom Irrera and David Angelo.
Why We're Looking Forward to I: Pete Holmes hasn’t been marketed as an especially hot ticket at this year’s festival, but those familiar with his 2011 stand-up special Impregnated With Wonder or his excellent You Made It Weird podcast know to expect an incredible return on their cost of admission whenever he’s behind the mic. As the host ofYou Made It Weird, Holmes combines a self-deprecating, absurdist wit with an insatiable lust for attention, and he will go to absolutely any length to win the affections of his guests and audience. Holmes recently filmed a talk show/sketch comedy pilot that was picked up by Conaco--slated to run this fall on TBS--so this might be the ideal time to catch him before he makes his next career leap.
- John Bender
Where and When: The Paris, April 25th at 7:45 PM; NY, NY, April 26th at 8:15 PM; and Bethell Hall, April 27th at 10:30 PM
What It Is: It would be too difficult to try to rank and prioritize which female comedian deserved more spotlight over another in this top 10, but Moontower took care of that problem before it even existed with She-Bang, a three night showcase with a rotating line-up of local and national all-female comedic talent with a nightly rotating male host.
Why We're Looking Forward to it: There is no denying that comedy has had a history of male prevalence, there is even the ignorant opposition that women still have no place in comedy and just aren't funny. While I doubt that most people in attendance will be in that mindset, it is always refreshing to see the progress that comedy is making with the resounding talent that makes up all three nights of She-Bang. It makes me want to get all Spice Girls "Girl Power," or Beyonce's "Who Run The World?" up in this, even though I know for a fact that it's completely unnecessary to follow that song title with the appropriate response (Girls! Okay, sorry, I couldn't help it, I can never help it). The ladies of She-Bang will absolutely be able to prove with their own hilarity and merit who run this mother.
Where and When: Paramount, April 24th, 9:30 PM
Who He Is: Rising star comedian Anthony Jeselnik first gained notoriety thanks to his appearances on Comedy Central's Friars Club Roasts (which he wrote for before getting promoted to a performer, just in time to roast Donald Trump) of semi-famous celebrities and also-rans, but he's a force to be reckoned with, as his Comedy Central series The Jeselnik Offensive and his debut album Shakespeare have proven.
Why We're Looking Forward to Him: Jeselnik's standup material is a lean trident of hate, misanthropy, and general evilness that stabs you in the face repeatedly for 45 minutes (and I mean that in the best possible way). No topic is too taboo for him, but his delivery is so dry and witty, he comes off as someone who is immensely smart and perceptive, not douchey like that kid on facebook making Boston jokes already. Even his new primetime Comedy Central series The Jeselnik Offensive (as horribly named as it is) pushes the preverbial envelop of both the form of a talk show, as well as what can and can't be done on basic cable. For example, a recent episode featured a segment called "Latino Voices", where the panelists spoke about various pop culture topics, but in horribly executed hispanic accents. Genius. Evil, but genius.
Where and When: Paramount, April 25th, 11:55 PM
Who She Is: Anthony Jeselnik and Amy Schumer are often spoken of in the same breath, probably because they have roughly the same amount of material on abortions. However, while Jeselnik's bits are almost Mitch Hedburg short, Schumer will start a story, then start another joke, then tell a story off that joke, then go back to the original joke without a hitch, like Pulp Fiction, but with even more black jokes. A tiny blonde woman with chipmunk cheeks, she's deceivingly vulgar and filthy, almost like a Chatty Cathy doll with a drinking problem and a superhero-like ability to name the nearest Planned Parenthood in any city in the U.S.
Why We're Looking Forward to Her: Her new series Inside Amy Schumer, at least from the trailer, looks like it tries way too hard to be shocking, which makes me wary. But her standup special Mostly Sex Stuff was so refreshing and shocking at the same time, that I just think her humor doesn't translate well to the television form. But Moontower isn't a television fest (that's in June), so go check her out. Just don't be pro-choice. Or pro-life. Or black. Or a woman. Or a man. Or a person.
Advance Screening of Maron
Where and When: Stateside at the Paramount, April 26th, 5:30 pm
What It Is: Pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an advance screening of comedy podcasting's No. 1 Star Marc Maron's new tv show, with Marc Maron himself on hand with Matt Bearden co-hosting the event.
Why We're Looking Forward to it: I know that I’m in the minority on this among comedy fans, but I’m just not crazy about the WTFpodcast. It can be kind of low-energy and meandering, and the ratio of compelling revelations to idle reminiscing is often discouragingly low. I am very intrigued, however, by Maron, a loosely autobiographical upcoming series on IFC that stars the host of WTF, Marc Maron. Boasting a formidable stable of guest stars and the basic format and sensibility of FX’s Louie, Maron should allow its creator a chance to showcase his comedic vision in a format that is much more concise than a friendly two-hour chat. With any luck, Maron will act as a gateway into the WTF phenomenon for latecomers like me.
Michael Ian Black
Where and When: Paramount (with Chelsea Peretti and Judah Friedlander), April 27th, 7:00 PM
Who He Is: Michael Ian Black is a highly recognizable comedian with stints on some of the best sketch shows of his generation, as well as key roles in sitcoms like Ed. He's also a celebrated memoirist who release You're Not Doing It Right, a novel about his domestic life, last year.
Why We're Looking Forward to Him: As a long time MIB fan I’m very excited at the chance to catch Michael Ian Black live at Moontower! I’ve enjoyed his snarky/oddball style since the grand old days of The State and Viva Variety! and he found an even wider audience doing his talking head stint on VH1’s I Love The______ series. Nowadays he’s writing books, starring in Expedia commercials, and tweeting furiously every day, so I’m stoked to see him out of written word/commercial form and doing stand up. Here’s lookin' at you Johnny Blue Jeans!
- James Pound
Where and When: Cap City, April 24th, 10:30 PM and Stateside, April 25th, 7:15 PM
Who She Is: Maria Bamford has been a groundbreaking pioneer in comedy for quite some time, not only with her success as a woman in a heavily male dominated field, or being one of the most talented vocal impressionists around today, but with the open, honest nature of her comedy, which details her dysfunctional upbringing as well as her experiences suffering from bi-polar disorder. So much comedy draws from the pain of experience in a comedian's personal life in one way or another, yet mental illness isn't something too often directly touched upon. Maria Bamford has an incredible way of presenting the subject of her own struggles with mental illness-- a still very misunderstood and difficult subject to confront, even without trying to find a comedic light within it-- and can still make an audience laugh.
Why We're Looking Forward to it: Personally, voice impersonations, stories about her pugs, and pop culture references aside, I'm most looking forward to seeing Maria Bamford's continuing relentless pursuit of normalizing mental illness. To make it something understood by those who aren't plagued by it, that it's something that is a sickness can be suffered and can not be overcome by just sheer willpower; and for those who are plagued by it to also find a sense of normalcy in knowing that although it is something suffered, there shouldn't be shame in admittance of having a mental affliction, and to take the appropriate actions in dealing and living with it.
Where and When: Paramount, April 24th, 7:00 PM
Who He Is: One of the leading lights of the current SNL cast, Bill Hader has also appeared in many of the biggest comedy films of the decade, including parts in several Judd Apatow productions.
Why We're Looking Forward to Him: I would say that Bill Hader has been my favorite part of Saturday Night Live for the past 5 years easy. Not only that but he’s constantly stealing scenes in any movie he appears in; Superbad, Adventureland, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Tropic Thunder come to mind. From his incredible celebrity impressions (no one does a better Vincent Price in my opinion... or Lindsey Buckingham for that matter!) to the crazy original characters he’s created (Stefon!!) no one on television makes me laugh on a more consistent basis. It’ll be a dream come true to see one of my comedy idols live!
Where and When: NY, NY “The Bro Show,” April 24th, 10:45 PM; the Parish, “Double Trouble,” April 25th, 10:00 PM; Velveeta Room, “Four Eyes,” April 27th, 7:45 PM...also hosting She Bang on April 26th
Who He Is: An incendiary stand-up comedian with a knack for keeping an audience on edge with his high energy and his self-described “Jewish Morrissey” appearance, Moshe Kasher is one of the most promising comedians of our generation, as specials like Moshe Kasher Live in Oakland and his memoir Kasher in the Rye have proven.
Why We're Looking Forward to Him: Kasher was my choice for best performance at last year's Moontower, when Dylan and I were caught completely by surprise by his set at the otherwise totally pointless Super Secret Show. What makes Kasher so effective as a performer is that unlike most comedians, particularly comedians of this era, Kasher utilizes every square inch of his body and the stage to engage the audience. He contorts himself, terrorizes crowds and creates a completely unique ebb and flow throughout his sets. Even if you've heard a joke of his before, he never tells it the same way twice and his body language and speech patterns radically alter the tone of his material. He is not to be missed.
John Bender is a Twitter anarchist with questionable opinions about celebrity lifestyles and the Lost finale. He edits erotic novels by day and works tirelessly by night to improve upon his personal record of 41.06 in the Mecha Marathon minigame in Mario Party 2. He also plays in Fitness.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights at pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek culture. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on twitter @garseed.
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he's the last of the secret agents and he's your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Comics Bulletin, where he reigns as the co-managing editor, or at Panel Panopticon, which he started as a joke and now takes semi-seriously. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd rants about his potentially psychopathic roommate on twitter @Nick_Hanover and explore the world of his musical alter ego at Fitness and Pontypool.
James Pound is a movie nerd who’s not sure how he stumbled onto this comic website. He sporadically tweets and checks in to TV shows at @JSterlingPound and hosts a weekly Geeks Who Drink pub quiz in Austin, TX.
Janelle Revord is one of the few authentically born and raised Austinites you'll ever encounter in your lifetime. When she's not yelling at people who have just moved to town to "get off her lawn," or attempting to holla at celebrities to get drinks with her when guest-hosting on CB's own Paranoid Video, you can find her on twitter basically doing the exact same thing in 140 characters or less.