The Austin Chronicle

ColdTowne Theater: Comedy moves uptown

By Robert Faires, October 27, 2006, Arts

When you can count all the comedy venues in Austin on the fingers of one hand, the opening of a new one qualifies as a real occasion. So let's pop a cork of Dom Pérignon over the debut of ColdTowne Theater this weekend. The new space, created out of the old Space at 4803 Airport, is yet another sign of the explosive growth of the improv/sketch scene in recent months (see "Mission: Improvable," Aug. 25, 2006) and also of how deeply the comedy troupe ColdTowne, formerly of New Orleans, has made a home of Austin since its move here after Katrina. (How deeply? The group was just voted Best Improv Troupe, along with Girls Girls Girls, in the 2006 "Best of Austin" Readers Poll.) While ColdTowne, like every other local improv group, has been using the Hideout as home base, it also successfully produced four shows at the Space, which led to the troupe hosting a week of programming there in June and, after that went well, being handed the keys to the building 52 weeks a year.

Rather than concentrate on improv like the Hideout or stand-up like Cap City Comedy Club or the Velveeta Room, ColdTowne aims to offer tastes of everything. The first weeks feature improv, sketch, stand-up, and even a variety-act competition styled after The Gong Show. But the new theatre doesn't mean ColdTowne the troupe will be leaving its old friends at the Hideout behind. Its club will draw heavily on familiar troupes from the downtown venue – Get Up, You Me & Greg, the Knuckleball Now, among others – making ColdTowne the theatre seem somewhat like Hideout North. But, of course, it'll have its own character – more intimacy, for instance, with seating for 30, some on couches, arranged in a horseshoe. Based on a preview performance, ColdTowne troupe member Michael Jastroch says the theatre has a nice "living-room-esque" quality.

For the opening months, look for improv from Get Up and Parallelogramophonograph on Thursdays, 8pm; sketch from the Plurals and You're Fat on Fridays, 8pm; stand-up hosted by Seth Cockfield on Friday, Nov. 3 and Dec. 1, 10pm; The Great Big Gong Show, hosted by Kerri Lendo, on Friday, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8, 10pm; improv show Whirled News Tonight on Saturdays, 8pm; improv from ColdTowne and the Knuckleball Now on Saturdays, 10pm; and improv and sketch from You Me & Greg on Sundays, 7pm. In the future: theatrical open mic No Shame Theatre; improv commentary on TV wrestling, McMahon!; a project from Sinus Show madman Jerm Pollet; and the ColdTowne Conservatory, offering training in "Chicago-style" long-form improv and sketch writing from members of ColdTowne and the Frank Mills. For more information, call 524-2807, or visit

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