Five New Things In Austin's Comedy Scene
1. The Hideout Coffee House, that Downtown bastion of improv and other arts – recent site of SXSW's Dailymotion outpost (wherein Mac Blake reigned triumphant, laughswise, in an impromptu showcase of some of Austin's best stand-ups) – that Hideout has finally supercharged its restricted liquor license by offering wine-and-vermouth-based cocktails and aperitifs. Normally, this would be a "Yeah, whatevs, big fucking deal" sort of announcement – except that the venue's powers-that-be commissioned the talented Lara Nixon of Bad Dog Bar Craft to concoct those con-cocktails. The tasty whistle-wetters were debuted at a preview party a couple of weeks ago – right over the Hideout's newly remodeled counter, which prompted co-owner Roy Janik to remark (with increasing tipsiness) several times: "Yeah, we literally raised the bar with this thing!" I can personally vouch for a drink called The Maestro: Zucca Amaro over a shot of espresso. And I reckon Mr. Janik can vouch for all the rest.
2. Speaking of Janik and beverages … the upcoming Fusebox Festival (a sort of smaller and more sprawling SXSW for the performative arts) will feature among its delights Lord Wenseleydale's Last High Tea. That's a collaboration between acclaimed improv troupe Parallelogramophonograph (of which Janik's a fourth, along with Kaci Beeler, Kareem Badr, and Valerie Ward) and Foreign & Domestic's equally adored pastry chef Jodi Elliott. It'll be a tea-fueled afternoon of faux-British shenanigans and fancy noms, there among the art and woods of the Umlauf Sculpture Garden.
3. Speaking of beverages and improv troupes … there's a Finnish liqueur called Lakkalikööri that we're sure the members of local improv troupe ¡Zarzamora! would like to sample in its country of origin, now that they've accepted an invitation to perform as part of the Finnish International Improv Festival – as the only American troupe in the festival. Of course, air travel, yeah, that shit requires some mad scrilla. Which is why the ¡Z! men are attempting to leverage the ethnic synergy embodied by their Estevan "Chuy" Zarate with a Help Get Our Mexican to Finland campaign on Indiegogo.
4. Speaking of beverages and non-improv troupes … you know what a fine epicenter of alcohol-enhanced imbibing the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is, right? You might want to buy a drink or two there this Sunday night, then – although you could just as easily get drunk on the sketch-comedy antics of Stag Comedy, as they present their newest show, Sensible Pantsuit. The troupe, a supergroup made up of members from other sketch troupes – kind of like the band Asia, but with less music and no debut album with a Roger Dean illustration of some big blue sea-dragon – features Ximena Estrada, Lance Gilstrap, David Jara, Joe Parsons, Andrew Rosas, Dave Youmans, and that Dailymotion-slaying Mac Blake mentioned in item #1 above.
5. Speaking of sketch comedy … Stag Comedy will be among the plethora of troupes featured at Austin Sketch Fest 2013 this May – just a month after the comedy juggernaut of Moontower has come and gone. You already know the power & glory of the Funniest Person In Austin and the Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival, right? Says ColdTowne Theater's Michael Jastroch, executive producer of this Sketch Fest, "We want to do for sketch comedy in Austin what OOB does for the improv scene and what FPIA does for the stand-ups. We've also broadened our definition of sketch to include "Scripted Comedy," to include podcasts and game shows." Knowing that Mac Blake, Lance Gilstrap, and Sam Malcolm are "the real movers and shakers" of the event, and that Paul F. Tompkins and the Upright Citizens Brigade troupe Beige and others are jetting in from beyond Texas, we reckon it's gonna do some sweet business.