Ah, ColdTowne! That powerhouse of comedy along the Airport Boulevard corridor, as they call it.
That outpost of entertainment started by refugees sent packing from Nyawlins' Hurricane Katrina back in the day: Now it's all dolled up in a coat of vivid colors, bedecked with a new logo and compelling you to enjoy the array of stand-up and sketch and improv shenanigans rattling its funky cage almost every day of the week.
But: Wasn't the whole ColdTowne crew set to, like, move on a couple of years ago? And now they're not? They're staying put, right there in the gentrifying stretch between the imminent ACC main campus and the (even more imminent) In-N-Out Burger? What's up with all that? That, and that new logo?
We asked ColdTowne's Michael Jastroch to fill us in with the deets:
Jastroch: Our original logo was "designed" in 2005. It was the culmination of months of back-and-forth negotiating. One rejected logo involved a tank shooting a fleur-de-lis – I stormed out of the room at that point. Ultimately, we went with a random idea that I had stamped on a flier – the original ColdTowne Boxers. What did that have to do with comedy? We didn't know, but we knew it was distinct and would cause people to wonder.
Brenner: So, this new logo … ?
Jastroch: Well, the improv comedy scene – ColdTowne in particular – has a reputation as being a kind of cult. The work we do in service of comedy brings with it an incredibly strong sense of community that borders on family. It's a cult, but it's also a cult dedicated to making jokes and playing pretend. So we wanted our branding to play on the idea of a monolithic, Illuminati type of cult. We also wanted it to be self-aware and amusing. We settled on the pyramid/circular shape of our main logo as our kind of "All-Seeing Eye" for the Austin comedy scene – with all the ridiculousness that that implies.
Brenner: So you just kind of came up with the graphics yourself?
Jastroch: No, that was, ah, we've been a huge fan of Bryan Keplesky's design work with Misprint Magazine, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and Bird's Barbershop since we moved to Austin. As we were talking through the redesign, I happened to run into him out and about. It was fortuitous, because we couldn't have tackled those ideas as thoughtfully and as strikingly as Bryan did. Everything he sent to us was absolute gold, and he was incredibly patient as every single cook in the kitchen weighed in on the process. Everyone should hire him – he's amazing.
Brenner: So Keplesky painted the building, and –
Jastroch: No, The fine people at Homepressed designed and painted our mural – and they totally nailed it.
Brenner: OK, so now you're all good to go. But you're not actually going – at least not locationally, right? You're not gonna up and move to, ah, wherever the hell else it was that you were planning on a while back?
Jastroch: As many people know, we had grand plans to move a few years back and raised some funds for that purpose. We spent a year working on a specific property, sinking a lot of money and time into the project, only to have the lease fall through at literally the last second, leaving us with some very expensive and useless floor plans. As much as that sucked, there turned out to be a silver lining: Airport Boulevard is no longer the cultural wasteland it once was. We used to be the only thing open on the stretch (along with I Luv Video). Now you've got East Side Pies, House Pizza, Your Mom's Burgers, Tyson's Tacos, Fabricker, Komé. There's rumors that there's going to be a tapas restaurant opening up in the old Gas Station, and of course they're building the In-N-Out Burger as we speak. (Expect all the comedians in Austin to gain a few dozen pounds by 2015.) Not to mention the awesome food trailer that's outside of ColdTowne, Haute Pockets. Also, ACC is opening up down the road and they're working on rezoning the entire corridor. We're in a great spot that's only going to get better.
Brenner: And thus the paint job, the new signage, the interior improvements.
Jastroch: Yeah, we've been slowly upgrading the space over the last year– improving the AC, the layout of the interior, building a green room, upgrading the furniture and lights and all that. People forget that we built that place literally out of a junk room with a total budget of $500. Arthur Simone, in particular, has been busting his ass to make the space reflect the quality of the content that's been going on inside for the last seven years. So, yeah, we expect to be in our current space for the foreseeable future.
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