Valerie Lopez is about to record her 200th interview for Comedy Wham, the Austin-based powerhouse of comedy-scene reporting. It’ll be a live podcast, the comedians to be interviewed are none less than Brendan K. O’Grady and Duncan Carson, and it’s happening on Wednesday night at the Fallout Theater, and you’re invited.
Yes, we said Fallout Theater.
Yes, yes, we know we recently made a big fuss about the new Buzz Mill on East Seventh and their all-comedy-all-the-time agenda.
We stand by that fuss and we give it a thumbs-up, because, no shit, that place has it … um, how do say? That place has it goin’ on, you know? They opened the new club just a couple months ago, and they have that excellent Brunch Bird menu, and – yeah, all of that.
But Fallout Theater, they’ve been bringing the hilarity since forever. (Or, well, at the very least, since that whole clusterfuck with The New Movement was resolved, right?)
And they’ve been bringing it, with show after show after show, during this (we’re hoping final) portion of Our Pandemic Situation, too.
And now the Fallout is hosting this Wednesday’s live podcast event – and it’s not just Valerie Lopez’s 200th interview, but also Comedy Wham’s sixth anniversary.
And – those Sure Thing guys are part of it?
Ah, it’s gonna be a terrific night for Austin comedy! Criswell predicts!
[Note: No actual Criswell has predicted.]
So, to give y’all a bit more general intel before the wits hit the fan, we’ve wrangled up a mini-interview of our own right here – with Comedy Wham’s head honcho. With, to be more descriptive, Comedy Wham’s ebullient head honcho …
Austin Chronicle: Okay, did you plan on having the Sure Thing guys for this 200th interview, or was that pure chance? And, if you did plan it that way, why them?
Valerie Lopez: Seinfeld was unavailable. [She laughs.] Actually, Duncan Carson and Brendan K. O'Grady were my very first interview – and almost every anniversary, I've tried to sit down with one or the other of them. They've witnessed the changes in the comedy scene as much as I have, and they're really fun to talk to. And one year, when I didn't sit down with them for an anniversary, Brendan teased me about forgetting them for the anniversary episode.
AC: Comedy Wham is such an obvious labor of love – which must require a lot of labor and a lot of love, to keep it going for six years. What caused you to start it in the first place?
VL: In 2012, as part of my divorce therapy, I started attending the Sure Thing weekly showcases religiously. For me, laughter truly was healing. After about four years, I realized I was as curious about what someone's life was offstage as what they were sharing with audiences onstage. I was doing another podcast at the time, but we decided it wouldn't make sense to incorporate interviews into that podcast, so I launched out on my own. What I didn't realize at the time was that Comedy Wham would grow to be so much more than a podcast. My favorite thing to hear when I talk to a comic I haven't met before is "Oooh, you're the one that runs the events page? Thank you!" It's beautiful to me that what started as one thing has morphed into so many things that Comedy Wham does, and has created strong friendships with my web guru partner Richard Goodwin and contributor Lara Smith.
AC: Okay, why the name Comedy Wham? As opposed to, like, Comedy Pow or Comedy Gishklork or anything else?
VL: Please excuse me while we research our rebranding to Comedy Gishklork – you may just be onto something, Brenner! But, seriously, the name was all Dave Thomas' doing. No, not the Wendy's Dave Thomas. My friend Dave launched a blog named Comedy Wham in 2014 to promote local comedy shows and, by 2016, he was a newlywed and a new dad and unable to keep up with the website. When I approached him about expanding to include an interview podcast, he was excited and happy to have me do that. He was also able to stay involved by writing the articles that accompanied each podcast episode – a tradition that continues to this day. I've always loved the name Comedy Wham: It's simple, a bit silly, and unique. Even after Dave officially stepped away for the full soccer dad life, I've never once thought about changing it.
AC: Imagine you could interview one famous comedian, recently dead or long dead, who you’ve never interviewed before. Why would you choose that person in particular?
VL: Ah, an impossible choice. When I think about who consistently makes me laugh no matter how often I watch their work, the name that always comes to mind is Chris Farley. I watch Tommy Boy and Black Sheep several times a year and laugh at everything he does. You can't convince me there's a more perfect SNL sketch than the Chippendale's sketch. Part of the appeal of wanting to sit down with him is that I think he'd appreciate the minutiae that I sometimes get into with a guest – much like his SNL interviews. “Do you remember when …” And I think he'd be honest with me about his mental demons – and I like to think that when someone is open with me, it helps the listener who may be facing their own demons. One of the things I've grown to appreciate is how much comics are willing to open up to me, and I'm grateful to have that connection with them.”
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