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Guide to Austin Improv
The venues, events, troupes, and individuals who have transformed Austin into a "Yes, and" boomtown
Arts Story  August 25, 2016, by Robert Faires
"...They are adepts of spontaneity, practitioners of the unpredictable. They are improvisers, and Austin is overrun with them...."

Austin Improv Celebrates the Day of the Dead With La Vida de los Muertos
Hideout Theatre breathes life into una vida improvisada
Arts Story  October 11, 2018, by Trey Gutierrez
"...Zambrano rush to claim a vacant table at the Hideout Theatre's busy storefront coffeehouse. Riding the high of a sold-out performance of La Vida de los Muertos, a fully improvised two-act play set in the Día de los Muertos-inspired "World of the Dead," the two directors/performers begin fielding congratulatory texts and calls from family and friends..."

Austin Improv
Three of Austin's top improv troupes get to play away this summer
Arts Story  July 2, 2010, by Robert Faires
"...Improv troupes are so numerous in Austin nowadays that you likely wouldn't notice if one or two were to go missing some week. Thus, it's my duty to inform you when troupes disappear, especially when they're among the scene's more polished, clever, and successful ones..."

Great Austin Improv Shouldn't Be a Secret
Postmarks  June 14, 2007
"...Dear Editor, Big thanks to The Austin Chronicle, Wayne Alan Brenner, and Robert Faires for supporting Get Up and Austin Improv ["Get Up: How funky and strong is their fight," Arts, June 15]. The quality and the depth of improv in Austin is one of the best-kept secrets in town..."

The Pie and Ear Show: Old-School Austin Improv, Activate!
Bryce yourself for some McGehee-hee-hee on the cutting Egertons
DAILY Arts  January 16, 2013, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Tyler Bryce, chief wrangler of Thinning the Herd, has now gathered together some of the godparents of Austin comedy improv – those redoubtable stalwarts of years-back Comedysportz – and is bringing them to a once-a-month Wednesday night at The Vortex on Manor Road. And the first show's tonight, Wednesday, at 8pm...."

Ignore the Winter Weather Austin, Improv will Warm Up Your Weekend! 
Improv Warms All at the Paramount!
DAILY Chron Events  November 22, 2013, by Sarah Sharif
"...I went to the Upright Citizens Brigade second show of their four-day run at the Paramount Theater last night and was thoroughly impressed with the skills of the comedians on stage. One of the great things about an improve show is that it's always a one-time experience! I love that last night will never repeat itself in history- ever..."

47 Nonstop, Unsleeping, Possibly Hallucinatory Hours of Improv This Weekend
The Hideout is doing that wild thing they do every year
DAILY Arts  June 16, 2016, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...It’s not just that the action is nonstop, with so many troupes from the Hideout and all the other Austin improv venues joining in the madness...."

Improv-Educated
Out of Bounds Comedy Festival makes more room for Austin's increasingly savvy audiences
Arts Story  August 23, 2013, by Robert Faires
"...A scan of the 2013 schedule reveals the same number of nights (seven) as the last few years and approximately the same number of shows (120) and performers (500). But wait – they're spread across eight venues instead of the usual six, and, in addition to the regular cozy homes to improv, sketch, and stand-up (the Hideout, The New Movement, Coldtowne, the Institution, and the Velveeta Room), there are a couple of spaces that are significantly larger than the 50-to-75-seat mainstays..."

Merlin Works Institute and Gnap! Theater Season: Making the improv pie higher
Austin's strong improv scene is about to get even stronger, with a new training center and performance space
Arts Story  February 22, 2008, by Avimaan Syam
"...With two venues catering almost full-time to improv, three festivals on the calendar that spotlight improvisers, and three local troupes being selected to perform in the 2008 FronteraFest's Best of the Fest, the improv scene has never been stronger in our fair city. And luckily for Austin, it's about to get even stronger..."

Austin's Improv Comedy Marathon 2014
Supposedly sane people, totally making shit up for 45 hours straight
DAILY Arts  June 18, 2014, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Of course, a veritable army of local troupes will be performing, too, will be coming and going pretty much as they please … while eight improv stalwarts stick around hour after hour after hour to push the walls of sleep back, waaaaaaay back, in The Hideout Theatre's 45-Hour Improv Marathon...."

The Hideout Improv Marathon
Eight players improvise for 40 hours straight to help save their artistic home
Arts Story  June 26, 2009, by Robert Faires
"...If ever you questioned the degree to which Austin improvisers love to make shit up, swing by the Hideout Theatre this weekend. Eight committed players will be improvising right from happy hour Friday to the breakfast bell Sunday..."

The 43 Hour Improv Marathon
Comedy worth losing sleep over
Arts Story  June 1, 2012, by Robert Faires
"...Three years ago, the home for improv on the Avenue was looking to raise some cash to keep its doors open and decided to attempt the improvisational equivalent of the 26-mile run by having eight players perform for 40 hours straight. You might have figured that anyone's synapses would've fried after a full night and day of making shit up, but those audacious marathoners not only survived the stunt, they literally kept their wits about them through the final hour, staying fresh, focused, and incredibly funny ("Hideout Theatre Marathon," July 3, 2009)..."

Hideout Improv Marathon
In hour 40, these improvisers were still in top form: fresh, focused, and incredibly funny
Arts Story  July 3, 2009, by Robert Faires
"...Going to an improv show at the crack of dawn on a Sunday is a tad surreal. Nowhere near as surreal, I'm sure, as performing improv then – especially when you've already been doing that for 38 hours straight – but still..."

Still the Fading Stains of Some Bad Improv Blood
Because: You have Five Families, you're gonna have some dysfunction.
DAILY Arts  August 28, 2014, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Let's note that, in the recent roundtable talk with representatives from the Five Families of Austin Improv, some "bad blood" was at least obliquely mentioned in conversation. The more diverse bulk of that invigorating coffeeshop palaver is featured in our current print edition and online right here … so, right now, here in the midst of the 13th annual Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival, let's just glance at an out-take from that discussion, at what those Hideout, ColdTowne, New Movement, Institution Theater, Merlin Works, and OOB people had to say about this … bad blood:..."

Live! Nude! Improv!
They’re getting naked at the Hideout
DAILY Arts  August 11, 2011, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...It’s true: Upstairs, in the theatre run by that venue’s talented cadre of improvisers, some of the performers, male and female, are doffing their duds in the middle of a show. And sometimes? Sometimes the audience – at least some of the audience – is joining them. WTF, indeed. “You can blame Andy Crouch [of the Austin Improv Collective],” says Marc Majcher, who recently directed (and appeared in) one of the Live Nude Improv gigs. “Andy wanted to do something really risky and transgressive after attending the Rude Mechs’ production of Dionysus in ‘69. Risky, both in the sense of the physical nudity and emotional intimacy, and in blowing out the process of putting together the show itself.” And what about – the audience? “Oh, it's completely audience-interactive,” says Majcher, grinning. “We take out the seats and risers from the theater, and the show’s performed in the round.” So Andy Crouch was really inspired by that Dionysus in ‘69 – “Exactly” says Majcher. “The pretense is that everyone, audience included, is there as part of the first rehearsal for a new play..."

Improv Thanks
Postmarks  August 25, 2006
"...Dear Editor, As a member of the Austin improv community for 10 years, I want to sincerely thank you for putting improv on the cover of the Chronicle [“Mission: Improvable,” Arts, Aug. 25]..."

Big Gay Musical Brings Queer Comedy to Austin
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll leave dusted in glitter.
DAILY Qmmunity  July 11, 2018, by Courtney Naquin
"...Looking for a comedy to spice up your Saturday? Something with music and glitter and queers? Then you’re in luck, because a big gay musical is debuting in Austin this week. Every Saturday from July 14 to August 25, Big Gay Musical: An Improvised Super Super Gay Musical will take over the Hideout Theatre...."

Your Laugh Track to Austin
A quick romp through our city's finer funny spots
DAILY AAN  June 17, 2016, by Ashley Alkek
"...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..."

Top 10 Wonderful Things About Austin Theatre in 2008 (In No Particular Order)
Chronicle Arts writer Avimaan Syam recalls 2008, in the theatre
Arts Story  January 2, 2009, by Avimaan Syam
"...7) Ka-Baam!! (Austin Improv Collective) Austin's improv scene has grown to include plenty of great runs of theme shows, such as Asaf Ronen's superhero tribute...."

Two Shannons Take the Improv Stage to … Where?
Local stars McCormick and Stott, together at last for the first time
DAILY Arts  December 14, 2017, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Two Austin-based improvisers who are, separately, nigh on brilliant...."

Austin Sketch Fest Rocks Our City All Week Long
The ninth annual festival puts scripted comedy front & center
DAILY Arts  May 17, 2018, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Because you’ve got stand-up, and you’ve got improv, and they pretty much comprise the scene. Everybody’s always talking about them, and there’s always so goddamn much of both (and, surprisingly, so much that’s so good) in this town...."

Where to Watch Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Premiere in Austin
Local watch parties, plus GoT trivia nights and menu specials
DAILY Screens  July 12, 2017, by Kimberley Jones and Jennifer Murphy
"...Hideout Theatre 617 Congress Guessing what batshit-crazy thing is going to happen next on GoT is half the fun. To that end, the comic crew at the Hideout will do a weekly 7:30pm improv show called “Next Week on Game of Thrones” ($10 entry), followed by a free episode airing of what actually happens at 9pm. Sundays, 7:30-10pm..."

When Is Austin Comedy a Sure Thing?
Maybe on a Wednesday, definitely on a Saturday
DAILY Arts  February 3, 2016, by Spencer Beghtol and W. A. Brenner
"...Hell, Chris Cubas is hosting The Sting! at King Bee and Lashonda Lester, Joe Hafkey, Abby Rosenquist, Zac Brooks, and Derek Phelps are featured there tonight. That’s gotta be a sure thing, right? Also, Donnell Rawlings is at Cap City tonight – and Bob Khosravi’s his opener; that’s pretty much the definition of “sure thing.” And there’s improv and sketch all over town, too, and of course those umpteen comedy open mics that Joe Faina’s told us about..."

Austin Creative Alliance Honors 2015
Third class of honorees: Moser, Mexic-Arte, Esparza, Harden
DAILY Arts  November 10, 2015, by Robert Faires
"...The focus of the evening is on the honorees, of course, but the ACA has ensured that there's a lot more to the festivities, including free food and drinks, as well as a host of impressive performances. Contributing their talents to the event will be: • John Pointer of Live Music Capital Foundation • Minor Mishap Marching Band • Amphion Youth Choir • Dance Waterloo • Austin Dance India • Puppet Improv Project and • Aytahn Benavi of Young Performing Artists..."

Five Fun Things To Do in Austin This Weekend
Even besides that amazing Texas Book Festival, we mean.
DAILY Arts  October 15, 2015, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...3. Continue laughing on Saturday with another form of comedy – improv comedy – at any of the venues listed right here..."

Austin’s Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival Has No Bounds In Stock
The annual juggernaut of performative hijinks returns to the ATX
DAILY Arts  August 28, 2015, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...But Michael Joplin isn’t just an improviser and actor and aka the disc-spinning demon DJ Manateemann...."

Fragile Rock: Austin's Emo Puppet Band
Maybe the world's only emo puppet band?
DAILY Arts  June 3, 2015, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Or: This all started because Brently Heilbron, formerly of old-school Austin improv troupe Monks' Night Out and frequent perp of other legendary hijinks around town, has been writing songs and musicals for decades...."

AFF: Another Hit of 'Austin High'
New showtime added for local stoner comedy
DAILY Screens  October 26, 2011, by Kimberley Jones
"...Written by Kirk Johnson and Will Elliott (of the popular Beef & Sage videos) and directed by Alan Deutsch (Dog the Bounty Hunter), Austin High is cast wall to wall with players from the local comedy and improv scene. Watch the trailer below and see how many faces you can identify..."

The Austin Visual Arts Awards
A new set of honors for the city's hardworking painters, sculptors, and other artists
Arts Story  December 4, 2009, by Robert Faires
"...Let's see, we have the B. Iden Payne Awards for theatre, the Austin Improv Collective awards, the Austin Fashion Awards, the American Institute of Architects Austin Honor Awards..."

Austin Planetarium Hosts Star Trek Premiere Party
Trekkin out with Richard Garriott and the Austin Wind Symphony
DAILY Screens  May 1, 2009, by Kimberley Jones
"...Party highlights include: a performance by the Austin Wind Symphony featuring "Music From the Final Frontier"; a Trek costume contest; a performance by Start Trekkin (Austin improv group); and a raffle for a chance to win a Zero-G flight from Space Adventures with Richard Garriott...."

Austin Confessions
Chris Gray gets laid.
Music Story  March 9, 2001, by Christopher Gray
"...Music by the Gourds, Vallejo, Slaid Cleaves, Lucinda Williams and band, plus the "86ed" tribute to Austin in the Eighties, and a blues revue starring Jimmie Vaughan, James Cotton, and Lou Ann Barton. Perennial MC Paul Ray hosts, with amusements by improv troupe Monks' Night Out..."

All Over Creation: A Brief History of Laugh Riots in Austin
As April overflows with comedy festivals, an overview of Austin's celebrations of funny
Arts Column  April 13, 2012, by Robert Faires
"...Eliot's poetic puss: April may be the cruelest month elsewhere, but in our town, it's damn near the funniest. In addition to all the ongoing hilarity in Austin's large and varied comedy scene – Esther's Follies, Master Pancake, Punch!, No Shame Theatre, the Cage Match, stand-up at Cap City Comedy Club and the Velveeta Room, plus about a hundred other improv and sketch shows – the month boasts the biggest bevy of special comedy events on the calendar..."

Improv Comedy’s Full Spectrum
Treating social anxiety one laugh at a time
News Story  March 2, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"...For anyone with social anxiety, the task can be borderline traumatic. So it would seem that attempting improv comedy for anyone diagnosed with autism would be impossible...."

Five New Things In Austin's Comedy Scene
A quintuple shot of Lakkalikööri for all my friends
DAILY Arts  March 22, 2013, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...1. The Hideout Coffee House, that Downtown bastion of improv and other arts – recent site of SXSW's Dailymotion outpost (wherein Mac Blake reigned triumphant, laughswise, in an impromptu showcase of some of Austin's best stand-ups) – that Hideout has finally supercharged its restricted liquor license by offering wine-and-vermouth-based cocktails and aperitifs..."

Improv for Evil
'You're a loose cannon, Cochise!'
Arts Story  November 28, 2008, by Barry Pineo
"...While Austin boasts so many improvisational comedy troupes you probably couldn't count them on 10 hands, it most likely can only boast one that was created because of an improvisation: Improv for Evil. "Most of us went through the Hideout school," says Marc Majcher (pronounced "may-chur"), one of IFE's founding members, "and after our graduation show, we went out to dinner with our instructor, Andy Crouch..."

BS4 Improv & Sketch Comedy Fest Schedule
Fri, Apr 2 - Thu, Apr 8
Arts Story  April 1, 1999
"...Esther's Pool Improv Jam, hosted by Only 90% Effective (Austin, TX) Lone Star Comedy (Dallas, TX)..."

'Austin Secrets'
Handling real people's secrets sends improv pros places they've never been before
Arts Story  March 18, 2011, by Robert Faires
"...It's no secret that Austinites have been spilling their guts onstage of late. Indeed, so many people know about it that Austin Secrets has become the most wildly popular improv show ever mounted at the Hideout Theatre, and its current run has sold out every performance..."

Improv Thanks
Postmarks  February 24, 2008
"...Dear Editor, I wanted to thank Avimaan Syam, Robert Faires, and The Austin Chronicle for the excellent piece on the grand opening of the Merlin Works Institute for Improvisation and Gnap! Theater Projects Improv Season [“Merlin Works Institute and Gnap! Theater Season,” Arts, Feb. 22]..."

BS4 Improv & Sketch Comedy Fest Schedule
Thursday, Apr 8
Arts Story  April 8, 1999
"...Maggie Mae's Judo Intellectual (Chicago, IL) Improv Asylum (Boston, MA)..."

A Guide to Austin Stand-Up: Venues
Where to find the funny in town
Arts Story  March 30, 2017, by Robert Faires, Wayne Alan Brenner and Sean L. Malin
"...This endearingly tiny, BYOB space on the Airport Boulevard corridor between I-35 and Koenig is a stronghold of improv – indeed, it bears the name of the improv troupe that was chased out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and made a new home in Austin – but the venue caters to the punch-line crowd, too. The standing open mic on Mondays and Live@ColdTowne show on Fridays, with their diverse acts and consistent quality, make this an indispensable spot on the stand-up scene. – R.F...."

What the Hell Is Going On, Austin Arts Scene?
Here: Some nuggets of news from the frontlines of local culture.
DAILY Arts  November 21, 2013, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Also, Russell Etchen? Former head honcho of this city's dearly departed Domy Books? Transgressor publisher Morgan Coy and his crew recently held a competition for Transgressor t-shirt designs – and that same Etchen's work was the winner. Reckon you'll see it improving the chests of media transgressives (and the smarter hipsters in town) before the year's out...."

Big Range Austin
With improvisational movement, the performers work to play – to free up the ways they move
Arts Story  June 12, 2009, by Jonelle Seitz
"..."When I see a good improv session, it's almost like watching a boxing match. There is this tension – it's not just talking back and forth..."

Fun? This Weekend? In Austin, Texas?
Even without live music: metal, Faires, hot sauce, and Philip K. Dick
DAILY Chronolog  August 24, 2012, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...And, OK, there will be plenty of live music at this Sunday's 23rd Annual Hot Sauce Festival, because god forbid there should be a festival anywhere in the ATX without a bunch of live music to go along with it, right? Repeat: There will be live music at the Hot Sauce Festival – where there will also be so many different kinds of hot sauce that your mind will be even more boggled than your tongue is devastated. But. There will be no live music at Saturday evening's wine-fueled reception (6-7pm) for "Retrospective," the solo show of visual art by the Chronicle's arts editor, Robert Faires, which is currently improving the walls of Salvage Vanguard Theatre's lobby gallery. You, what? You didn't realize that the man whom American Theatre magazine lauds as "one of the 12 most influential theatre critics in America" is also a terrific illustrator? That his pen-and-ink glories have been gracing the pages of your favorite altweekly for decades now? Well, now's your chance to see much of that work in one place, while making with the small-talk among fellow aficionados and quaffing down the Chardonnay..."

Your Austin New Year’s Eve Guide
These are the many ways to say goodbye to 2017
DAILY Chron Events  December 27, 2017, by Chronicle staff
"...New Year's Eve Improv Extravaganza Sun., Dec. 31, 8 & 10:30pm, The Hideout Theatre & Coffeehouse, $35 Laugh on into 2018 with an enchanted evening of improv games, scenes, musical numbers, and more..."

Getting to Oz Through Austin Arts
Area arts events make a Yellow Brick Road to The Wizard of Oz in Zilker Park
Arts Story  May 18, 2017, by Robert Faires
"...When Dorothy's canine comrade Toto decided he'd had enough of Miss Gulch's dognapping scam, he took a leap from the back of her bike and scampered back to safety on the trusty means of transport he was born with: his four legs. (They served him just as well when escaping the green-fingered clutches of Gulch's doppelgänger, the Wicked Witch of the West.) Turns out the local improv scene has in its ranks a performer who also knows the value of moving on four legs and knows it firsthand, er, paw..."

A Guide to Austin Stand-Up: Annual Events
Festivals aren't just for music and film
Arts Story  March 30, 2017, by Wayne Alan Brenner, Robert Faires and Carina Magyar
"...Austin's granddaddy of comedy festivals (15 years and counting), Out of Bounds started with an exclusive focus on improv and sketch, but brought stand-up under the tent in 2009. These days, joke-slingers constitute about 60 of the 500 performers that play the weeklong event..."

Treat yourself Austin to a few nights of Improv
Affordable Comedy at Your Doorstep
DAILY Chron Events  November 18, 2013, by Sarah Sharif
"...I had not heard about this group before, so when I saw that multiple nights were being taken over at the Paramount, I had to find out why. The UCB is about staging affordable, high-quality comedy and providing improv and acting classes..."

Do Women Rule The Austin Comedy Scene?
Kat Ramzinski suggests that, yeah, they sure as hell do
DAILY Arts  February 21, 2013, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Lashonda Lester: True Hollywood Tales (multiple seasons, monthly at Salvage Vanguard Theater); Kat Ramzinski: Chillin' (Fridays at the Velveeta Room); Katie Pengra: Late Slots (Fridays at the Velveeta Room); Kath Barbadoro: Clubhouse (Mondays at The New Movement); Ashley Barnhill: Bangers Show! (monthly at Bangers Sausage & Beer Garden); Maggie Maye: Schtick Open Mic (Mondays at ColdTowne); Kelly Stone/Natalie Cox: Hot Mess Show (at Bar One 41 in San Marcos); Holly Lorka: monthly show at the North Door; Roxxy Castillo: Crapshoot Improvised Comedy (Fridays at The Institution Theatre); Shana Merlin of Merlin Works: Improv at Zach Theatre; Alex Berry, booking The New Movement; Kerri Lendo, booking the Ladies Are Funny Festival and running Gnap!'s No Shame Theatre; Quinn Cannady of 247 Comedy Radio; Danielle Sweet, booking the open mic at Cap City Comedy Club; Margie Coyle and Chandy Popp, managing Cap City Comedy Club; Lietza Brass, booking the Paramount Theatre...."

Aria Having Fun Yet, Austin?
One Ounce Opera takes it to where you live your life
DAILY Chronolog  August 20, 2012, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Intrigued, because we've always liked the sound of the wild solos from the best operas and only ever wished they could be removed from the stagey posturing and hyper-theatrical ostentation of the actual productions. Intrigued, because Emily Breedlove – opera singer, improv artist, bicycle marathoner – was part of this thing. So we made arrangements for an interview. And now here's that interview, transcribed, in which Fiore and Breedlove fill us in on the whys and wherefors of this sonically extravagant, boundary-breaking endeavor. Brenner: Opera in bars and stuff..."

Austin Sketch Fest
Rise of the planet of the skits
Arts Story  May 18, 2012, by Robert Faires
"...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...."

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