People Talk Funny at Austin Sketch Fest

The annual jubilee of jokes leads off with a spoof of a Trump-Biden debate and a speech on toxic femininity

Jamie Loftus as girlboss supreme Shell Gasoline-Sandwich (Photo by Callie Biggerstaff)

Eager to see Joe Biden and Donald Trump go mano a mano on the debate stage? You don't have to wait another month or two. The two candidates will be duking it out this Saturday in a debate moderated by Vanessa Gonzalez.

If that sounds unlikely, then perhaps it's worth adding that the presidential mouth-off is part of this year's Austin Sketch Fest. Yes, the annual jubilee of jocularity, now in its 11th year, is mounting its own version of the much anticipated event with Anthony Atamanuik and James Adomian subbing in for Trump and Biden, respectively – and forgive us for thinking it may be better than the real thing. As the pair proved with their series of Trump vs. Bernie debates for the 2016 election, the two comedians' skill at caricature is second to none, and both can be scathingly funny when working over the political landscape. Indeed, Atamanuik has practically made a cottage industry out of his impressive impression of Trump, following the debates with appearances on various cable series and his own Comedy Central program, The President Show. As for Adomian, he's been honing his Biden impression on his podcast, The Underculture, and it's already sharpened to a brilliantly surreal edge. (His riff on Biden's "CornPop at the swimming pool" speech spins into a Twilight Zone of hilarity.) Having these lampoon versions of Trump and Biden field questions from Gonzalez – a "Best of Austin" Readers Poll choice for Best Stand-up Comic in 2017 – is the icing on this mock debate cake.

Of course, if you're past the point of being able to find anything funny in this presidential election – and, as a past presidential debater once said, "I feel your pain" – you may prefer the fest's other headliner, Jamie Loftus, performing her solo show Boss Whom Is Girl. In it, you're graced with a motivational speech from premium girlboss Shell Gasoline-Sandwich, who preaches the gospel of toxic femininity in corporate life and explains to the audience's aspiring girlbosses (and their XY chromosome allies) the Pussy Pyramid of Girlboss Needs. Just keep your eye on Shell's AI assistant Patricia, whose evolving sentience and growing antagonism suggest she's computer kin to HAL 9000. Loftus is a joy to watch here, not just because she gleefully skewers that curious cross-breeding of conscienceless capitalism and #feminism – *koff* Elizabeth Holmes *koff* – but because she's so weird doing it – from so far off-center, you can't be sure where the next joke's coming from.

Loftus anchors Friday, Aug. 21, as Trump-Biden does Saturday, Aug. 22, but comedy acts surround both: Los Angeles' Dynamo, Latinx Comedy Pachanga, Red & Yellow, Royale, and Self Esteem Party; NYC's After School Snack, Archnemesis, the Executives, Secret Crush, and TV Party; and the ATX's Bat City, Chlane, An Evening and Possible Morning With Carl Sagan, Pendulum, Prayer Circle, and Victrola.

It goes without saying that Austin Sketch Fest is virtual. That means it's free – you just have to go to – but the folks at ColdTowne wouldn't object if you opted to make a donation to the festival and theatre via

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Austin Sketch Fest, ColdTowne Theater, James Adomian, Anthony Atamanuik, Jamie Loftus, Vanessa Gonzalez, Boss Whom Is Girl, The Underculture, The President Show

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