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It's WaffleFest Time at the Hideout Downtown

So … what's something that you'd put on sweet toasted dough?

By Wayne Alan Brenner, 12:15PM, Wed. Nov. 20, 2013

McNichol may enjoy them even more than you do.
McNichol may enjoy them even more than you do.

We're thinking a little comedy improv might be the perfect capper to a cold Saturday of checking out the best that the East Austin Studio Tour has to offer.

We're thinking, OK, maybe catch a show and grab a bite to eat sometime before or after the staged delight.

But then we come to find out, hey, there's a more simultaneous approach available this night, as the Hideout Theatre presents their 12th annual WaffleFest weekend.

This means: You can see all the usual improv shenanigans you'd see there on a weekend, but even more, and with all the waffles you can eat, for the regular old price.

Um, say what?

We cornered the Hideout's artistic director Roy Janik at a party recently, disregarded the complex defensive maneuvers of his vicious attack dog Tuesday, and questioned the man (and his cohort)'s sanity.

Austin Chronicle: Roy, what the hell? You already have packed houses on the weekends, right? You don't charge any extra and this whole operation has to be a big pain in the ass. So why do you do this WaffleFest thing every year? Are y'all … crazy? Somehow beyond … neurotypical?

Roy Janik [takes a swig from his bottle of Crabbie's Ginger Beer, looks me right in the eye]: Well, Brenner, I'll tell ya. The first WaffleFest I attended, in 2005, also marked the debut of my improv troupe, Parallelogramophonograph. We stepped on stage and the audience roared with applause. They were 100% on our side and super-stoked to be there – and that was totally thanks to the waffle-induced sugar rush coursing through their veins. So, yeah, waffles and improv make a really good combination, and it's one of my favorite festivals of the year. It's a little bit ridiculous... and also an outpouring of joy. Because If you're the kind of person who loves the idea of unlimited waffles, then you're also a person who loves fun.

AC: OK, but why waffles? Why not, like, pancakes? Or why not – to my way of thinking, much much better – Pot Roast Fest?

Janik: WaffleFest was inspired by Bacon Fest in Atlanta, actually. And I think the two foods have a similar kind of universal appeal. People love to love waffles, if that makes any sense. But, to my mind, waffles are superior. They're infinitely customizable. You can go the traditional butter and syrup route, you can smother them in Nutella, or you can drown them in whipped cream and M&Ms. Besides, I'm fairly sure that Pot Roast Fest would bankrupt us – or at least cause the Hideout to burn down.

AC: But what about ColdTowne? The Institution Theatre? The New Movement? MerlinWorks at ZACH? The rest of Austin's improv "family." Why don't they do an annual WaffleFest? What the hell is wrong with those people? Don't they want to keep their audiences all happily stuffed with fresh-toasted goodness?

Janik: Maybe it's because they just hate fun. Or maybe it's because they're already all a part of this festival. WaffleFest is the largest showcase of local Austin improv talent, with troupes from all the improv theaters in town united for one weekend under one friendly, sticky banner.

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