TNM's Megaphone Marathons Takes on Two Cities
The annual comedy mini-fest rocks the ATX and NOLA
By Wayne Alan Brenner, 2:05PM, Wed. Jul. 9
I'd swear that the last time I talked to The New Movement's Chris Trew, the comedy entrepreneur and host of the World Air Sex Championships was carrying a baby sugar glider among the dark follicles of his forest-thick beard.
Figured it must be some kind of gimmick Trew was planning to debut at Austin's next Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival – like, maybe when the sugar glider is a bit older and trained? – because the OOB is just a couple of months away.
Meanwhile, potential sugar-glider antics notwithstanding, the various epicenters of improv and sketch comedy continue plying their diverse entertainments throughout the city. Like, for instance, the place that Trew is co-founder of: The New Movement. That underground comedy club at Seventh & Lavaca has an especially fun thing coming up, Trew tells me, a fifth annual fun thing: The latest iteration of Megaphone Marathons.
[Note: This is in addition to The New Movement's usual slate of shows, of course. Whether it's Patrick Knisely & Mark Carpenter rocking the stage as Opposites on a Wednesday night, or TNM sketch troupes Bad Example or The Neighborhood tearing consensus reality a new one on any given evening, or who knows what array of improv savants and stand-up stars … tell you what: Shit is happening at the subterranean bastion of humor and madness.]
And these Megaphone Marathons … as noted above, they don't happen just here in the ATX: This concentrated burst of improv and sketch and stand-up and comedic variety starts in Austin, but then it tours to the nation's other New Movement location: New Orleans.
"There's lots of crossover among the performers, too," says Trew. "Cool part about the Marathons is usually every group plays both cities. It's like a road trip, tour, party, and festival in one."
Which has gotta be pretty tough, right, coordinating everything?
"The toughest part was making room for all the applicants," says Trew. "This year was our largest number of submissions yet – but nearly everyone got in, because we expanded the programming. We have a very popular Summer Intensive program that blends right into the Marathons schedule, so people from all over the country who take our intensives are automatically included. So we're seeing a lot of people decide to spend a week in Austin and a week in NOLA and do two festivals instead of being in an expensive city – like Chicago or New York – and taking a class with 19 other people and not doing any shows."
And the Marathons are coming soon – July 14-20, in Austin; July 21-27, in New Orleans – and then, after it's all just a mess of wild memories and photos on Facebook, what's up next for The New Movement?
"The Air Sex tour in August is our biggest yet," says Trew, grinning, "and then the documentary we're shooting will be nearly complete. And we're going to be a part of the Out Of Bounds Festival again, this year. The next big thing for us is setting up sketch group Bad Example to do another big new-show-every-week run. And we're launching an improv tour for our alumni in September." He strokes his beard, as if to comfort any baby sugar gliders lurking therein. "And there's FunFunFun," adds Trew, "which is huge for us every year. Then it's on to planning for our six-year anniversary and SXSW!"