Chris Cubas: Hashtag, You're It
#PointsMe champion returns to take on the Moontower crowds
Austin's own Chris Cubas is part of the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival again, but not because he recently won the first #PointsMe competition run by Comedy Central's @midnight show. Yes, Cubas did win that – and knocked 'em in the aisles and at home on his first national TV gig – but the comedian is part of Moontower again for the same reason he aced that Twitter-based thing: The man is sharper than Norman Bates' favorite knife and as relentlessly funny as – ah, we'd have to be Cubas himself to do the end of that simile any justice.
And here he is, back in Austin after a yearlong stint doing Doug Benson's Movie Interruption up in Kansas City's outpost of the Alamo Drafthouse. Back not only for Moontower, but because this city is choice No. 1 when it comes to where the rising star with the Sideshow Bob hair wants to live.
"Austin is the best," says Cubas. "The scene got even bigger than it was when I left – and it was already huge. There's so much stage time you can get; there are so many really good shows here. You go to Buzz Mill on a Wednesday night, and it's fuckin' packed. It's outside on the patio – and there are always a ton of people out there – but when the comics come on, people stop whatever they're doing, turn their chairs to the stage, and it's a real show. And there's Sure Thing on Saturdays at Austin Java – it's packed. There are all these awesome, independently run shows that are just, like, the city's finally catching up to the scene, you know? Which is great, because the locals are killing it. Cody Hustak, who won Funniest Person in Austin last year, he's a beast. Jay Whitecotton, Ralph Hardesty, Lashonda Lester. Kath Barbadoro. I know I've been totin' her name forever, Kath, but she's like, she's always been funny and she's just getting that much funnier. I'm so proud of this scene – and not like I'm responsible for it in any way, but you watch your friends, you go to the same open mics, you're watching shit and seeing everybody get so good and get smarter and somehow more original. This scene, I – I love it, I just love it. And there's always been a lot of comics here, but it's always been a music town, you know what I mean? It's always been more supportive of music as far as people coming out for shows. But I feel like, now, people know about the scene, and they come out for it."
And when they stay in, maybe they're catching comedy on their various media devices? Example: Cubas' appearance on @midnight, where he was the first winner among the multitudes judged by how funny their tweets are. Which we, still laughing from having seen the episode, asked him about.
Austin Chronicle: Was the win a total surprise, or did you ever think, like, "My tweets are on fire lately, I've got this thing nailed down."?
Chris Cubas: I didn't think I had it nailed or anything. I mean, I know I'm good at that stuff, I know I'm funny – but I also know that there's however many thousands of people doing it. I had a feeling that, at least for the first one, they were gonna pick somebody that had confidence, that – well, that they wouldn't pick someone who hasn't had any exposure, you know what I mean? I knew they wanted #PointsMe to be an ongoing thing, and if the first guy they pick is someone who's never been onstage, who just chokes and can't fuckin' do it ... you know? But they're shrewd, they know better than that. So that kinda weeded things out a little bit, but that didn't mean it was gonna be me, because there's tons of great comics playing the game.
AC: What was it like, being on the show?
CC: It was incredibly fun to do. The second I got there, they were like, "OK, just riff as much as possible. We're gonna film for 45 minutes and edit it down to 20, so just go out there and be funny, there's no other rules." And they let me do whatever I wanted. My first joke was a "Bill Cosby's a rapist" joke, and they didn't just let me do it, they left it in there, it was awesome. And I did a "Hands up, don't shoot" joke – and they left it in there. You know, I wanna be funny, but if I have a chance to make a point while being funny – why not? But you've gotta be funny. Everybody wants to be Doug Stanhope, everybody wants to be Bill Hicks – and those are great people to aim for, but they had the fundamentals down, they knew how to be funny. You have to be able to couch what you're saying in a way that people are still laughing. Otherwise you're just a guy on a soapbox yelling – it's not comedy.
AC: OK, you've had this big exposure, you have a manager, your career's on a good trajectory – now's when we start treating you like Chris Cubas, Comedy Oracle. So, what kind of comedy bits will people be doing 10 years from now?
CC: Man, I don't know about bits – but I'll tell you what the shows are gonna be, and it'll be even faster than 10 years. These things are hugely popular in England, and I feel like they have been forever, and I think @midnight, specifically, is a show in the States that shows it can be successfully modeled here. It's these panel shows that they do with comics – there's a ton of them in England. Like Never Mind the Buzzcocks and 8 out of 10 Cats and QI. And they'll be framed like it's a game show or whatever, but it's just a chance for four comics to get onstage and be funny. And for whatever reason, the States hasn't adopted that model yet. But how could it not be successful? I mean, it's cheap as shit! Can you imagine how cheap it is to buy four chairs and a desk?! That's all it – you can't – look, you pay your comics whatever the base is – they're on TV, being funny, great exposure for everybody, the studio's gonna be happy .... Mark my words: In the next five years, you're gonna see a shit-ton of those panel shows.
Chris Cubas appears at Moontower Thursday, April 23, 8:30pm at Velv Lounge, 521 E. Sixth; Friday, April 24, 7pm at Vulcan Gas Company, 418 E. Sixth, and 11:55pm at the Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress; and Saturday, April 25, 8:30pm on the Google Fiber Stage, 201 Colorado, and 10:15pm at Cactus Cafe, 2247 Guadalupe. For more information, visit www.moontowercomedyfestival.com.