Bathroom graffiti at Austin\'s Moontower Comedy Festival

Moontower Rambles: A Look Back

Amy Martin explains why she'll absolutely stay out way too late for Austin's Moontower Comedy Festival again, and why conservative Dallas isn't ready for something like this.

published Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Photo: Scooter Smith
Bathroom graffiti at Austin's Moontower Comedy Festival
Austin — “Can’t you just see all that on Netflix?” So ask my friends about going to Austin for four days of Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival. That’s their code for “Why submit yourself to the endless lines and crowds of a festival when you’re nearly 60 and have brittle bones?” Sure, I feel a bit zombified and asleep on my feet. I stayed up past 2 a.m. for nearly a week seeing two to four shows a night and writing about them all the next day. I may be too old for this, but I'm absolutely going to do it again.

Because through a television monitor you can’t hear people gasp when Maria Bamford makes a searing joke on suicide. You don’t see the guy next to you wiping tears from his face after laughing so hard at Mike Birbiglia. There’s no way to pick up the anticipation from a packed house as they tense up hoping that Marc Maron will extend his set just a little while longer—and the ecstatic release when he does. Life is made of moments, the only thing on your deathbed you’ll recall, and Moontower served up a banquet overflowing with moments.

For a Dallasite, it was more than a comedy experience extravaganza. Many of these comics will never appear in North Texas. The mainstream comedy clubs here book very conservatively—see Cap City Comedy for how it can be done in Texas—and those hip clubs that would love to don’t have the budget. Even though migration has brought us non-Southern blood, and most of the stereotypical conservatives we’re known for have moved north to Collin County, Dallas remains a tough crowd that likes it safe and is not willing to take many chances.

I am left with a heart full of gratitude that I got to see The Pajama Men, Maria Bamford, Brent Weinbach, Jen Kober and the unforgettable Bridget Everett. Same with Dana Gould and Andy Kindler who are also not likely to come here. Aggressive comics are not my thing, but I stumbled into sets by Godfrey and Brad Williams and was sincerely impressed. It changed my mind. All these exposures have accelerated my development as a comedy journalist and a person. And it would never have happened without Moontower.

Plus I got to know Austin a little better. I’m a jazz fan, so the town has never been a music mecca for me. In the five days I was there for Moontower, I discovered the oasis of sophisticated hippiedom that is South Austin, staying in the Zilker Retreat that had chickens and a vegetable garden outside our door. I hung out with funny people on the balcony of the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin and marveled at the inebriated walking carnage that is Sixth Street. at 1 a.m. Frequent servings of really good healthy food and coffee helped counter the nights of drinking in bars. I had an Austin experience, worth the drive down I-35.

Enjoy these photos of graffiti splendor in the men’s bathroom of Stateside, a very Austinish way to promote a festival.

» Our chief comedy critic Amy Martin is at Moontower Comedy Festival this week. Keep watching TheaterJones for interviews, reports, reviews and more. Thanks For Reading

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Moontower Rambles: A Look Back
Amy Martin explains why she'll absolutely stay out way too late for Austin's Moontower Comedy Festival again, and why conservative Dallas isn't ready for something like this.
by Amy Martin

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