Bettyfest is the only Austin comedy festival that celebrates women on and off stage. It started five years ago with Patio Talk, an all-women improv troupe with a weekly residency at ColdTowne Theater. In 2015, BettyFest was reimagined as a one-night marathon with a philanthropic component. Since then, the fest has raised nearly $7,000 for organizations like SAFE, which aids survivors of abuse, and the Lilith Fund, which helps low-income women pay for abortions.
I spoke to Bettyfest co-executive producer Lilli Lopez about what’s on tap for this year’s Bettyfest.
This festival seems extremely relevant right now.
It’s a scary time being a woman and has been. It feels like it gets harder every day to fight for ourselves in this country, but we can use humor to fight it and to feel better. Our goal for this festival is to give women a break for a night in a completely joyful and supportive space. Now that we’ve moved into a bigger space, our goal is to raise more money for the Lilith Fund and put a spotlight on the incredibly vital work they do for women. They do the toughest work, and we want people to know it and help them in any way they can — even if it’s just buying a ticket and showing up.
What does success with Bettyfest look like after the first five years?
Empowering ladies, women of color and nonbinary folks in a safe performance space. We've taken the festival downtown to the Historic Scoot Inn with the support of C3 Concerts. Our hosts are Carina Magyar and Roxy Castillo; both have been comedians for over a decade. We are also ecstatic to bring (former Austin comic) Maggie Maye back from L.A. for a weekend as our headliner. There are more than 60 talented comedians in the show that night performing improv, stand-up, sketch and bit characters. We’ll have women-owned businesses, a photo booth, special Bettyfest cocktails provided by Tito's and screen-printed tees by Kong Printing. All involved on the night of the event are standing with us in support of the Lilith Fund by donating a portion of their proceeds.
The 5th annual Bettyfest benefiting the Lilith Fund is Nov. 3 at the Historic Scoot Inn.
Here are other comedy events to be thankful for in November:
Tom Papa at Stateside at the Paramount. I first noticed Tom Papa when he appeared opposite Matt Damon in the movie "The Informant." His acting chops extend to an array of films including voicing the title character in Rob Zombie’s upcoming animated feature "The Haunted World of El Superbeasto." He also curates some pretty great comedy on his weekly Sirius radio show. Papa, a regular of "Conan" and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," performs live at the delightfully intimate Stateside.
Aziz Ansari at Bass Concert Hall. Ansari has made a name as an actor ("Master of None," "Parks and Recreation") and an author ("Modern Romance"). As a comic, Ansari has sold out Madison Square Garden, no easy feat. He’s kept a relatively low profile this past year after a woman said he pressured her to have sex on a date.
Sklar Brothers at Cap City Comedy Club. Identical Twins Randy and Jason Sklar have been working the standup circuit going on two decades now. They’ve also become a local institution by hosting an annual pingpong tournament Austin’s Moontower Comedy Fest. Check them out at one of these Cap City shows.
Conan O'Brien at ACL Live. Late night host O’Brien is again taking his act on the road. For anyone who has seen the 2011 documentary "Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop," the talk show host’s live show is unpredictable and wild. The Austin show will feature Conan along with performances from Run Funches ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Taylor Tomlinson (Netflix’s "The Comedy Lineup"), and Flula Borg ("Pitch Perfect 2").
P-Graph at Hideout Theatre. Austin improv veterans--and my favorite troupe name-- Parallelogramophonograph (Kareem Badr, Kaci Beeler, Roy Janik and Valerie Ward) have been performing together for over 12 years and 700 shows. They specialize in improvising full-length plays, showcasing a range from delightful and frenzied to dark and sinister. The mercifully abbreviated PGraph also have a serious case of wanderlust, having toured internationally at global festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Catch them most Thursdays in November at the Hideout.
Martha Kelly at the Velveeta Room. Former Funniest Person in Austin winner and hometown heroine Martha Kelly landed her acting debut playing the role of Martha Brooks in FX’s "Baskets." Kelly’s unforgettable performance has landed her roles on "American Gods," "The Meltdown with Jonah & Kumail" and a part in "Spiderman: Homecoming." Check her out live at the legendary Velveeta Room on Sixth Street.