Austin — As a Dallasite, it’s hard to not drip with envy about Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival kicking off its third year in Austin on April 23 to 26. They snagged names like Aziz Ansari, Seth Meyers, and Steven Wright in their first year. Their first year! Of course, it helps to have the heavyweight Paramount Theater holding it down, with Cap City Comedy Club lending standup cred.
Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival provides eight top headliners and another few dozen comics who are known nationally. Add to that several dozen more comedians for a grand total of over 100 performers in four days at multiple venues. Ground zero is the stately Paramount Theater and its Stateside at the Paramount in the Congress and 6th St. area of downtown.
Headliners at the Paramount:
• Jaunty Hannibal Buress, and quirky Demetri Martin (both on Wed.).
• Snarky Dennis Miller and surreal Maria Bamford (both on Thur.).
• The congenially puzzled Mike Birbiglia presents his Thank God for Jokes show on Fri.
• Kids In The Hall presents a reunion tour of their favorite sketches in two shows on Fri. and Sat.
• Marc Maron will perform Fri. at midnight, and tape his mega popular WTF podcast on Sat.
• Fred Armisen appears as Ian Rubbish in a special musical event on Sat.
Stateside at the Paramount hosts some national names. The Pajama Men do shows on Wed. and Thur. Bobcat Goldthwait appears on Thur. with support from Andrew Santino. Colin Quinn pulls in on Fri. with Unconstitutional, followed by a solo set of Dana Gould with opener Ardin Myrin.
Moontower expanded this year to include a few special-ticket events outside the official festival dates.
• Aziz Ansari performs four (!) shows at Bass Hall before the festival.
• On the Sunday following the fest, Internet sensation Miranda Sings presents her character show of talk, songs and nonsense at Stateside.
All the Rest
Lots of action is happening outside the Paramount, too, with stand-up shows featuring multi-act lineups in creative combinations at several nearby clubs: Hideout (better known for improv), New York New York, Parish, Parish Underground, Speakeasy, and Velveeta Comedy Lounge. More stand-up occurs at Cap City Comedy Club in north Austin.
For improv comedy, amble over to The New Movement for a variety of ensembles. Don’t miss Girls Girls Girls, an all-female musical theater improvisation troupe. The weekend is capped by Apollo from the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, plus Rich Talarico (staff writer for Comedy Central's Key and Peele), both on Sat.
The Speakeasy totally rocks the club shows:
• Three editions of 4Eyes at with James Adomian, Andy Kindler, Ari Shaffir, Rory Scovel and more on Wed.
• Dana Gould, Nick Thune and more on Thurs.
L.A. Movers & Shakers, including Laurie Kilmartin and the Sklar Brothers also on Thur.
• W. Kamau Bell, Dom Irrera, Joe Mande and more on Fri.
• Stars in Bars on Sat. features W. Kamau Bell, Colin Quinn, Godfrey, and more.
New York New York hosts a New York’s Finest show with Rory Albanese, Brooks Wheelan and more on Thurs. A women-centric show called Shebang with Erin Foley, Jackie Kashian, Laurie Kilmartin, Arden Myrin, and others holds forth there on Fri. and Sat.
Other big names in the clubs include Cristela Alonzo, Kurt Braunohler, Sean Patton, Bobby Slayton, and Brody Stevens. One to watch is Jen Kober who fuses stand-up, story telling, and improvised rock-n-roll comedy.
If lucky, you’ll have a chance encounter with the roving Puddles Pity Party.
But really, that just skims the offerings:
- Feast your eyes on the full schedule.
- Or scan the performer lineup for bios and websites; many acts appear in multiple shows.
Now that’s a mighty fine spread of styles, personalities and political persuasions. Like a great fest, there is simply too much to choose from. If you give up on sleeping, eating or using the bathroom, you might be able to catch a fraction of the shows. Prepare accordingly.
Tickets & Passes
All passes include:
- Downtown parking at One American Center (7th & Congress) every night of fest.
- Access to Festival Kick-Off Party.
- Access to Festival Wrap Party.
- Access to Artist/VIP lounge every night of fest.
- Access to Moontower-sponsored after-show mix & mingles every night of fest.
A basic Fan pass is $129 and includes entry after VIP badges and single ticket holders to Paramount and Cap City headliners, and entry after VIP badges to all other venues.
An Ace pass at $299 gets you four headliners, free admission to all midnight shows at the Paramount, and free entry into club venues. You also get access to pre-show happy hours with drink specials, music, and more.
The VIP pass at $599 includes entry and preferred seating for all acts at all venues, exclusive access to artist meet & greets, drink coupons, and lots of parties.
- Moontower’s Facebook page is a great way to get to know the performers.
- For inside stuff, follow the Moontower blog by John Merriman.
- More details at www.MoontowerComedyFestival.com
Dallas: Texas’ Comedy Stepchild
Kids In The Hall will swing by the Majestic on Sun. April 26 after Moontower. It would be great to see more of that. Bands tour North Texas on their way to South by Southwest. It certainly livens up the music scene here. Why not comedians? Please come by, Maria Bamford. We want to see you, too, Marc Maron. The rest of Moontower 2014 headliner lineup has performed here before and are ripe to come again.
Sigh. Just imagine a downtown Dallas based Moontower-level comedy festival: Hamon Hall for midrange acts, Majestic Theater for big names, and Winspear Opera House for the stratospheric. Small to medium acts could be hosted at various Deep Ellum/Expo Park venues. Austin may have over 50,000 college students, but we’ve got six-million people — and a half-dozen major universities — in North Texas. Surely there are enough comedy fans among them to fuel a mega festival. We’re overdue. OK, I’ll stop whining about it… for a while.
» Look for Amy Martin's coverage from Moontower later this month.