Austin Sketch Fest

Rise of the Planet of the skits

Sweet mercy, it's comedy sketches, hordes of them, coming this way!: Your Terrific Neighbors' Courtney Hopkin and Joel Osborne performing in the 2011 Sketch Fest
"Sweet mercy, it's comedy sketches, hordes of them, coming this way!": Your Terrific Neighbors' Courtney Hopkin and Joel Osborne performing in the 2011 Sketch Fest (Photo courtesy of Steve Rogers)

Quick, while the stand-ups are still exhausted from their marathon battle for punch line supremacy (see elsewhere on this page) and the improvisers are resting up for their annual weekend-long endurance test in a couple of weeks (see ... well, we haven't written that one yet), now is the time for Austin's sketch comedy writers and performers to seize the spotlight, garnering some of the attention they just don't get as much of most of the year.

It seems a bit, you should pardon the term, funny that sketch has wound up the Rodney Dangerfield of the local humor scene – gettin' no respect – given that the city's first legitimate comedy sensation, Esther's Follies, was built on sketches and continues to pack the house with them 35 years on. But the not-so-funny fact of the matter is, outside that celebrated laugh palace, Austin simply hasn't seen the steady stream of brilliant and original talents in sketch comedy that it has in the stand-up and improv communities.

That's been changing over the past few years, and that sparked the brain trust at ColdTowne to found the Austin Sketch Fest, a five-day jamboree of scripted comedy from funny folk both local and from across the nation. According to ColdTowne majordomo Michael Jastroch, "We started Sketch Fest because we wanted to provide a crucible for locals doing scripted comedy to come together and build a scene that is as vibrant, dynamic, and nationally well-regarded as the improv community. Since we began the festival, people who previously had little knowledge of each other have begun coming together and working on material." Jastroch cites sketch successes on the viral video front with video sketch collective Humordy and the consistently sold-out live performances of Stag Comedy, The Hustle Show, The Encyclopedia Show, Ghetto Sketch Warlock, and Mac Daddy's Bar and Grill.

For its third iteration, Sketch Fest will feature 12 acts in nine shows over five days in three venues. At the top of the heap is Mr. Show alum Paul F. Tompkins, who will perform his new batch of stories, Crying and Driving, twice at the Spider House 29th St. Ballroom. Also among the imports: Chicago's Astronaut Theatre, Los Angeles' Fantasy Sex Picnic, and, making its triumphant return to Sketch Fest, L.A.'s Delicious Moments, with Ithamar Enriquez and Brian Shortall bringing their self-created, self-aware sitcom to the party. Representing the hometown will be Austin's very own Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumna, Mary Jo Pehl, performing her new solo show, One Across; Your Terrific Neighbors; Spirit Desire; Hot Property; The P! Company; There's Waldo; previously mentioned Stag Comedy; and a special Sketch Fest edition of The Encyclopedia Show. With such an impressive lineup, it appears that Austin's sketch renaissance is well under way.


The 2012 Austin Sketch Fest will take place May 23-27, Wednesday-Sunday, at ColdTowne Theater, 4803-B Airport; Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd; and Spider House 29th St. Ballroom, 2908 Fruth. For a full schedule, visit www.atxsketchfest.com.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Austin Sketch Fest
Austin Sketch Fest
Austin Sketch Fest
Skewering reality for the fifth year in a row – now with Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting and more

Wayne Alan Brenner, May 23, 2014

Comedians With Theatre Damage
Comedians With Theatre Damage
The fourth annual Austin Sketch Fest scripts itself silly

Wayne Alan Brenner, May 24, 2013

More by Robert Faires
Batman’s Iconic Emblem Lights up Lady Bird Lake for Caped Crusader’s 80th Anniversary
Batman’s Iconic Emblem Lights up Lady Bird Lake for Caped Crusader’s 80th Anniversary
Congress Ave. Bridge and its resident bats proved the perfect backdrop

March 18, 2019

DC Swoops Into SXSW to Kick Off Batman's 80th Anniversary
DC Swoops Into SXSW to Kick Off Batman's 80th Anniversary
To the Bat-Bridge, Robin!

March 15, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Sketch Fest, ColdTowne, Michael Jastroch, Stag Comedy, The Encyclopedia Show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mary Jo Pehl, Your Terrific Neighbors, Spirit Desire, Hot Property, The P! Company, There's Waldo, Paul F. Tompkins

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle