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Fun Fun Fun Fest Interviews: Sunday

Where punk rock and comedy bruise shoulders

By Audra Schroeder, Fri., Nov. 7, 2008

(L-r) Chris Cubas, J.T. Habersaat, Ruby Collins
(L-r) Chris Cubas, J.T. Habersaat, Ruby Collins

Altercation Punk Rock Comedy Hour

1:35pm, Stage 2

Austin transplant J.T. Habersaat started doing stand-up at 16 in New York City, so developing thick skin was a necessity. As a punk rock fan, he bridged the gap between the two with his decade-old publication Altercation magazine. The Altercation Punk Rock Comedy Hour has recently sprung forth as an extra middle finger, featuring Habersaat, Ruby Collins, and Chris Cubas.

Austin Chronicle: How did getting into stand-up factor into your punk education?

J.T. Habersaat: I think you get weeded out in short order within the stand-up scene if you can't handle critique. My punk education actually influenced my approach to stand-up rather than the other way around. I knew that Black Flag and Dead Kennedys often dealt with combative crowds, or people that simply "didn't get it," so on the rare occasion that I encountered an audience like that, it didn't derail me. There's a Henry Rollins quote I'm pretty fond of: "You either own the audience, or the audience owns you."

AC: Is there a certain kind of humor that appeals to you, and do you tailor it to the venues?

JTH: I personally prefer my humor dark and sarcastic, but I think the different styles represented on the tour are complementary rather than all one specific shade. In terms of the venues, we search out punk clubs, cabaret theatres, and indie joints that lend themselves well to the independent mindset. I'd rather not tailor the material for a solid payday at a comedy club. To me, it is more rewarding to perform to 50 DIY kids that get it.

AC: Can punk rock sometimes be ... a little humorless?

JTH: In my experience, they're usually "by the book" punks, meaning they're more concerned with the Mohawk and leather uniform than actual independent thinking. I've always admired people like Ian MacKaye or Mike Patton over the Sex Pistols and Maximumrocknroll. The concept of "rules" within the punk scene is absurd to me and beyond counteractive to the concepts of DIY.

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