11 hilarious people from Moontower Comedy Fest you should check out
Our sides still hurt after Moontower Comedy Festival, which took over the Paramount and Stateside theaters and other comedy venues around town April 24-27. The laughs don't stop now, though. Here are 11 acts we saw at the fest that you should check out.
And for the calendar-markers: Next year's Moontower is scheduled for April 22-25. Early-bird badges are already on sale at moontowercomedyfest.com.
Chris Cubas. He is the most consistently funny person in Austin. I have seen Cubas many, many times and have never, ever seen him be bad. I have never seen him have an off night. Even if a joke is not entirely my thing, I have never seen him not land. No wonder he's everywhere. — Joe Gross
David Spade. Let’s just say my friends had it all wrong— Spade is funny. Like, "injure your head because you knocked it back and hit the wall behind you" kind of funny. In his headlining Moontower slot, he covered clickbait, gaining weight, getting older and what it’s like to generously name-drop Adam Sandler. Spade also said it was his first weekend in Austin. (Not quite sure how that is possible.) I hope for his sake and ours that he comes back again. — Kelsey Bradshaw
Eddie Pepitone's Pep Talks with the Bitter Buddha. Pepitone is a show-biz and comedy lifer, and even if he does wear a fedora indoors (and at all), the live version of his podcast was a delight. Joined by frequent collaborator Joe DeRosa and guest comic (and Austinite) J.T. Habersaat, the three riffed on road gigs, the general insecurity of comedians (not news, guys) and the unshirted horror of playing in "Stephen King towns." Also, I would watch the heck out of a TV show called "Please Call Saul." — J.G.
I Don’t Think So, Honey. Hosts of the Las Culturistas podcast Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers (joined by friend Joel Kim Booster) opened their show by singing “I’m Not Ready To Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks, and I was honestly satisfied there. Then nearly 40 comedians, from around the Austin area and elsewhere, ranted for one minute each on a topic they despised in a cathartic release: Kermit the Frog, geysers and paintings for sale in coffee shops were a few of the targets. It was a delightful evening. I lost my voice from laughing, and now you can catch me ranting around Austin, adding “I don’t think so, honeeeeey!” to my complaints for the next few weeks. — K.B.
Jenny Slate. You know her from "Parks and Recreation" and movies like "Obvious Child." You also probably know her from her many, many late-night talk show appearances. That's how I knew her, anyway, and I was not prepared for Slate's side-splitting, eye-watering headline set at the Paramount. Wacky voices all over the place. I have never heard a funnier story about growing up in a haunted house — I have never heard a story about growing up in a haunted house — and I've already repeated her rant about how horses are bad to several friends. If you ever get a chance to go see Slate do stand-up, you must take it. — Eric Webb
Jo Firestone. This New York comedian opened for Slate with a shrug; she'd probably describe herself as the death of the party, not the life. But oh, what a way to go, as the dry Firestone kept the Paramount audience in stitches by (yes, this is real) making them name as many kinds of birds as they could. — E.W.
Joel Kim Booster. When we interviewed Booster before Moontower, he made us laugh — and think! — even by phone. But seeing him live at Palm Door on Sixth during the fest was even more hilarious. A wild story about accidentally taking bath salts on a gay cruise distilled his intelligent, filthy brand of comedy into a single bit. — E.W.
Jon Dore. I didn't know a thing about this Canadian comic before seeing a tight set at 800 Congress Ave. (which is a fun venue during Moontower but could use a speaker in the back). Nice combo of oddball and observational stuff. — J.G
Nicole Byer. Well, I knew she would be funny. Her podcast, "Why Won't You Date Me?," is a laugh-out-loud hoot. Her Thursday night set was some next-level greatness, including an impromptu and flirtatious riff with an audience member that could have gone awry. She remained in control, spontaneous and hilarious, and I'm not sure I've ever laughed that much. I was dehydrated from the joy tears! Watch her episode (No. 3) of Netflix's "Comedians of the World" and see her live as soon as you can. — Sharon Chapman
Off Book: The Improvised Musical. Jess McKenna and Zach Reino are geniuses. Joined by the very funny Chris Redd at their taping of the Off Book podcast, these three turned an off-hand comment about a 7-Eleven into a 45-minute improvised musical that included a divine intervention from the angel Gabriel, Circle K propaganda, an inspired rap about hot dog rollers and a budding romance. They knocked it out of the park with a lesson that while 7-Eleven should be convenient, many of life’s achievements should be difficult. — Phil Jankowski
Schitt's Creek: Up Close and Personal. This is how you do it! Dan Levy, star and writer of the Pop TV/CBC sitcom, played emcee for the rest of his cast: his dad Eugene Levy, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Noah Reid and legend Catherine O'Hara. (There were many standing ovations: O'Hara got the only solo one.) The show, created by the father-son Levy pair, manages to be funny and a little edgy while maintaining its quirky, gentle center, and this live tribute hit all the right notes. Funny stories, great clips and a "Schitt's Family Feud" with cast vs. audience ended with the sweet emotional punch of Reid recreating one of the show's musical performances, his lovely cover of Tina Turner's "The Best." That song cemented his character's love story with Dan Levy's David Rose, and you could feel the fan love filling up the Paramount that Saturday night. Watch this show! Season five just aired, and they're in production for their sixth (and final) season. — S.C.