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Austin Sketch Fest

Skewering reality for the fifth year in a row – now with Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting and more

By Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., May 23, 2014

Leah Rudick (l) and Katie Hartman in a mellow mood
Leah Rudick (l) and Katie Hartman in a mellow mood
Photo courtesy of Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting

Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting isn't the only comedy duo coming in from New York City to rock the fifth annual Austin Sketch Fest at the Spider House Ballroom this weekend. There's another NYC twosome called Girls With Brown Hair, for instance. There's Stone Cold Fox, too – but they're not a duo, they're a whole damn troupe, a team that plays every Friday at NYC's Upright Citizens' Brigade.

And Ithamar Enriquez isn't a duo, either. He's just one man, albeit a man who's been on Arrested Development and Key and Peele and so on, and he's not even from New York: He's from L.A., bless his heart.

But Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting, the sketch-comedy duo of Leah Rudick and Katie Hartman? Among all the acts coming in from out of state (and let's not forget My Mans and Rabbit Rabbit from Chicago), the Skinny Bitches are the ones we talked to. Because, hey, even though Austin Sketch Fest is exploding with so much local talent that it Sensurrounds the mind – Stag Comedy! Your Terrific Neighbors! Master Pancake Theater! Bad Example! – even though the ATX reps some of the funniest shit around, let's connect with this celebrated pair of out-of-towners.

(Full disclosure: We've seen Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting perform a couple of times. And our ribs still hurt from laughing.)

Austin Chronicle: You're returning to this city to perform in the Austin Sketch Fest. When was the first time y'all came here?

Leah Rudick: We first performed in Austin in May 2008 for the Ladies Are Funny Festival – may she rest in peace, and may she be resurrected. It was our first show outside of New York City, and we were nervous and excited. The response was so positive, it really encouraged us to keep creating. We did that festival five years in a row and the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival once in 2011, so clearly we're big fans of Austin, its audiences, and its performers. And its food. And its drinks. And its sunshine. But mostly its drinks.

AC: And what brings you back? Has Jastroch offered you one of their legendary million-dollar package deals, complete with suites at the Hotel St. Cecilia, lunch at Franklin Barbecue, and a team of Matthew McConaughey robots to attend to your every need?

Katie Hartman: We'd rather not disclose the details of our contract and riders. It goes without saying that our harem of small dogs get their own plush hotel room. However, we will say this: blood diamond-encrusted hot-air balloon. Mostly we're looking forward to setting foot on land after three weeks on the Riviera – the yachting life can be so tiresome! Also, breakfast tacos and a fun show.

AC: Are you bringing back sketches you've performed here before, or do you have new material to rock the crowds with?

Hartman: It will be a fully new show to Austin! Unless we change our minds. No, just kidding – brand new show! Maybe. Just kidding! Lots of fun new stuff! Psych. JK on the psych! Yikes ... bikes ... tykes. We're not drunk – yet.

AC: What is it, in your experience, that differentiates this city from all the others you've been to?

Rudick: We've had the pleasure of peeking into a beautiful, tight-knit community of comedy/theatre/art creators who support each other and are ambitious and fearless. It's inspiring to be in a place where support from the community matches the skill and talent of the artists. From the outside, you get the sense that if someone has an idea, they're able to just go and make it happen without waiting for someone else's approval. It's unique, cutting edge, and we haven't experienced it anywhere else.


The Austin Sketch Festival runs nightly through May 25 at the Spider House Ballroom, 2906 Fruth. For more information and a full schedule, visit www.atxsketchfest.com.

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