Fun Fun Fun Fest Preview: Comedy On The Yellow Stage
Ralph Hardesty (Fri., 1pm) January 26, 2011: Hardesty, long a local arts correspondent online and co-host of The Encyclopedia Show, tried stand-up at Kick Butt Coffee where he opened with "a joke about my cat's butt." An inauspicious start, but two years later Hardesty's opened for Hannibal Buress, Jackie Kashian, and helped inaugurate the San Francisco Comedy & Burrito Festival.
Jon Benjamin (Fri., 4:15pm) The voice behind animated sitcoms Home Movies, Archer, and more recently Bob's Burgers, Benjamin's timbre onstage comes across heavy and worn, giving his humor the deadpan punch that provokes belly laughs unexpectedly. He additionally co-created Jon Benjamin Has a Van on Comedy Central, which aired its first season last year.
Hannibal Buress (Fri., 4:45pm) Chicago-born comic Buress has an understated, calm delivery that gently bolsters the absurdity of his topics, from being mistakenly labeled a voice of the "streets" early in his career, to his detainment at the hands of the Montreal police for jaywalking. He frames the mundane into comedy like only a few entertainers can, inheriting the mantle of "What's the deal with ...?"
Ashley Barnhill (Sat., 12:45pm) More local love: Austin comic Barnhill got her start writing jokes in miniature for Twitter, and then moved her delivery to the stage. Finding her strength in the caustic, surprise one-liner, Barnhill's style frequently skews morbid, from the slow death of a relationship to actual, real slow death.
Wyatt Cenac (Sat., 4:30pm) One of Jon Stewart's well-meaning but frequently off-base correspondents on The Daily Show since 2008, Cenac came into his own with last year's Comedy Person. While his main gig focuses on partisan humor, Cenac's stand-up is less thorny and political, amiably walking a line between conscious comedy and gags centered around the pleasures of television or the agony of Medieval Times.
David Cross (Sat., 5pm) Alongside Bob Odenkirk, David Cross helmed the beloved Mr. Show With Bob and David for three brief but endlessly influential years in the Nineties. With the recent Bigger and Blackerer, his comedy turned more inward, exploring drug use, life in New York, and newfound domesticity, alongside rips on political incompetence, religious bigotry, and race relations.
Mortified (Sun, 2:35pm) Confessional reading series Mortified wasn't founded in Austin, though something about the act of exhuming and then reliving the most humiliating stories of adolescence through the exchange of bad poetry, pained diary entries, and even song lyrics plays well in this town.
Eugene Mirman (Sun, 4:40pm) Russian-born Mirman is the indie comic's comic, releasing his debut album on the Suicide Squeeze label and opening for acts including Modest Mouse and Yo La Tengo. Hip cred aside, his spastic, "absurdist" humor remains engagingly grounded. Most recently, he released The Will To Whatevs, a supposed self-help book full of questionable advice.
Doug Benson (Sun., 5:10pm) Benson basically exhaled Cheech & Chong into the present with his 2007 documentary Super High Me, wherein the comic smoked pot for 30 days and recorded the results (better SAT scores, larger waist). More recently, he recorded five stand-up albums in as many years, showcasing his affable style and true-to-life stories involving a Furry convention, lots of tweet jokes, and quite a bit of marijuana material.