Your Laugh Track to Austin
A quick romp through our city's finer funny spots
By Ashley Alkek,
4:20PM, Fri. Jun. 17, 2016
You’re from out of town and you’re looking for a laugh. You want a night out filled with comedy and maybe a nosh to get you by. Austin’s comedy scene can help with its ever-growing stand-up acts and improv groups. If you find yourself in the Downtown area and beyond, this will guide you to the prime locales for Austin’s top comedy.
The legendary Velveeta Room (521 E. Sixth) is your first source of laughter, welcoming up-and-coming stand-up comedians such as Kath Barbadoro (Master Pancake Theater) and Mac Blake (2013’s Funniest Person in Austin winner). If you’re feeling the acts, stick around for some open-mic goodness (or badness, depending on the performer).
Your next destination is not too far. From the steps of Velveeta, hook a right and walk 50 paces to Austin’s SNL equivalent. Esther’s Follies (525 E. Sixth) is a modern day vaudeville theatre, housing local magicians, jugglers, song and dance routines, and sketch comedy. These seasoned comedians use topical humor to keep the crowd engaged and laughing.
Flag down a pedicabber and ask her to take you to the Hideout (617 Congress). Hop out and enjoy the coffee shop treasure attached to the theatre. Order a red-eye and let their well-established improv community perk you up.
Hail a cab for a quick drive to the Spider House Ballroom (2906 Fruth) near the UT campus. Check out their Bounce House showcase which local comedian Brendan O’Grady says, “draws some of the best audiences around.” He adds, “it’s an incredibly exciting time to be living and performing comedy in Austin right now. We have one of the most bustling and diverse scenes in the country with dozens of weekly mics.” As the showcase ends, head next door to Spider House proper for an IPA and post a Facebook status looking for a ride up north.
Your old college friend picks you up after two more drinks and as payment for the ride, you gift him some doughnuts from the Mrs. Johnson’s Bakery drive-through (4909 Airport) down the street from Coldtowne Theater (4803 Airport). Grab a half a dozen glazed and at least one raspberry jelly. Don’t forget to grab a sixer from the gas station across the street from Coldtowne, since it’s BYOB. A gong will be struck, indicating the start of a Cage Match, which showcases improv groups battling for audience approval. O’Grady mentions that the crowds at Coldtowne “are always energetic and enthusiastic in regards to seeing new acts.”
With the last two beers, bribe your buddy to hitch one last ride to the comedy mecca of Austin, Cap City Comedy Club (8120 Research). Cap City hosts some of the biggest acts in the country from Hannibal Buress to Natasha Leggero. Cap City is also the place for fresh talent to get noticed. Almost all of the local comedy you’ve seen tonight has had a spot at Cap City. Even O’Grady has hosted a few shows there and now even hosts his own night at Austin Java (1206 Parkway) called Sure Thing. The city has treated him and his fellow comedians well, and “Sure Thing has been packed to capacity every Saturday night for the past four years.”
Your buddy ghosted before you can find a ride back to your hotel, but without hesitation the doorman points you in the direction of Trudy’s to end the night with a stuffed fried avocado. Now that’s nothing to laugh at.
The 2016 Association of Alternative Newsmedia Convention takes place July 6-9 in Downtown Austin.