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New Movement Downtown!

Even comedy can metastasize

By Wayne Alan Brenner, 10:19AM, Thu. Apr. 12, 2012

Building a bigger megaphone.
Building a bigger megaphone.

Moving? Shaking?
Oh, definitely something like that:

The New Movement Theater,
that Eastside powerhouse of comedy
started by Chris Trew & Tami Nelson,
all relentless with the shows & classes
& the general fomenting of professional humor,
is experiencing a bit of new movement right now.

Literally: TNM is cloning itself
into a sweet new venue in the ATX:
Downtown and underground –
in a basement space at 616 Lavaca that's opening this weekend.

We recently spoke with the bearded Air Sex champ himself,
to find out what, precisely, are the haps:

Austin Chronicle: You've got this thing opening up this weekend.

Chris Trew: Yes! We're very excited!

Chronicle: Um, don't you think there's already enough comedy Downtown?

Trew: Well, there's not a lot of the comedy that we really push for Downtown.
In fact, I'd argue that there's really not any. I mean, the more underground style, like New
York or Chicago style of improv or sketch – you know what I mean?

Chronicle: No, tell me.

Trew: I think there's definitely a market for all types of comedy in Austin – clearly, or else
there wouldn't be so much of it. But I definitely think we've been working really hard to have a vibe
that's different from other theaters. And if we hadn't, then we wouldn't still be here. Because,
you're right, there IS a lot of comedy happening Downtown already, and all over the city. So
you have to survive by offering something different, and I hope that people realize that we're
still around and that we're successful because we are offering something different.

Chronicle: What made you decide to try to leave Rosewood?

Trew: Actually, we're keeping it. We're going to have two New Movement locations.
The Eastside theatre is going to be kept as a classroom, because we just have too
many classes running right now, our waiting list got out of control. And, starting in May,
we'll also be doing stand-up shows there every weekend.

Chronicle: Is there a particular focus for the new Downtown space?

Trew: The Downtown space is just a larger, slicker version of what we were previously
doing at Rosewood. It's a lot of improv and sketch and some stand-up.
We're doing stuff seven days a week, and, as always, our primary focus
is on our students getting as much stagetime as they need to develop their thing.

Chronicle: And how'd you luck into that space?

Trew: Well, we've had issues in the past with – how do I say this? – we've had a lot of
bad luck in Austin, but also a lot of good luck. And I think good things happen to people who work
really hard and treat people the way they wanna be treated. And we just got really lucky
and got a nice Downtown space that's really ideal for us. We have a very nice rental situation.

Chronicle: Has there been any reaction from the comedy scene Downtown –
the Velveeta Room, the Hideout, the Paramount – to y'all's moving in there?

Trew: All I know is that we're very involved with Moontower [Comedy & Oddity Festival],
with Eliza and those guys. We are a Moontower venue, and I helped book all the improv
for Moontower. As far as everyone else, we haven't had a lot of contact with them, but people
have been invited to our opening. So the ball is in their court.

Chronicle: So you've got a bunch of different shows going on this weekend –

Trew: Correct!

Chronicle: And if a person could see only one show –
I know this is like choosing among your favorite children –
but which one would it be, which one would you recommend?

Trew: Oof. I gotta say, they should come out on Friday night for the actual
First Show Ever at nine o'clock. Because it's a group of people who are very much
responsible for, not only the growth of the New Movement community, but also
the literal growth with the building and everything. It's a small group of people
from New Orleans and Austin and Houston all doing one big show.
It's pretty much all the people that have made stuff happen at the theatre.
And please don't misquote me: There's a lot of people who've made a lot of things
happen at the theatre. But the show on Friday at nine is, you know, the founders, the person
who runs TNM Houston, the person who runs Austin, the person did all the build-downs.
It's all the major full-time players. All the people who, ah, who don't have other jobs –
that's the best way of putting it.


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