Montreal, Aspen, Edinburgh, and Melbourne are all cities across the world with at least one thing in common. They each have their own highly respected comedy festival. Now Austin, Tx has thrown their hat in the ring with the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Fest, bringing a wide array of amazing talent to the Lone Star state.
It's an exciting atmosphere I'm not used to seeing on a Wednesday night. 12 venues across mostly the downtown Austin area all filled with crowds anxious not just for comedy, but more to support the idea of the festival itself. It's highly positive and you can tell the performers are juiced to perform.
The most difficult part is choosing which shows to go to. At 8pm you have Maria Bamford performing at Cap City, Aziz Ansari at the Paramount, Hannibal Burress at the Parish, and two different Mash Up shows featuring some great new performers.
I decide on the Stateside, a small side stage of the Paramount where JR Brow is performing every Pink Floyd song ever written in one note.
I've seen it many times yet I always laugh. JR is the only comedian who can bring a guitar on stage and not get the ire from stand up snobs who hate "guitar comics".
Now - there's many valid reasons why most guitar comedy is terrible, (Clapton, not that funny anymore) Brow avoids the lame tag by being a comedian first and foremost, approaching his musical side with total comedic originality. His complete and total dissection of Green Day's songwriting hackery is so dead on, it could serve as a thesis for any music major at Julliards.
Baron Vaughn from USA’s Fairly Legal
follows next, and kills with his love of early 90's Disney Cartoon TV themes like Ducktales, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, and Darkwing Duck. Pointing out that whoever sang those songs - put everything they had from their soul. With "musical changes so big even Aretha Franklin would say... 'we're gonna work up to that one'". I'm dying and for the whole night I'll have 'LET'S GET DANGEROUS' stuck in my head.
The show is great and all the performers were on their game, but I felt a small sense of anxiety. One I think the majority of the audiences are experiencing throughout the festival's run. Its a feeling that with so many shows you have to constantly battle the urge to wander off and see whats going on elsewhere. I imagine music festivals have a similar sense of anxiety, but unlike Moontower, there isn't a busload of bongo slapping hippies passing out 'molly' to "reaally feel the tunes, dude". No - these audiences are mostly sober and genuinely supportive.
Not their fault, they're good people. Maybe the bongo slappin' hippies don't know there's an untapped market of comedy specific festival goers right here in the music capital of the world. Then again, maybe 'Molly' isn't the drug of choice for comedy audiences either. That would be cocaine. Just ask the 80's - when both 'Blow' and Stand Up were booming.
Its a different kind of boom here at Moontower. The majority of people attending really feel the value of the performers and their craft - which is a good thing - because I still blame 80's coke for every Disney produced Robin Williams movie made in the 90's.
Disney... maybe that's what Harry Anslinger meant by "gateway drug".
If Nancy Reagan showed just a few clips of Robin Williams in Flubber
, Steve Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen
, or any one of Eddie Murphy's last 10 movie roles and told kids "it all started with pot" - the drug trade would come to an absolute stop.
Not that drug use really dictated Eddie Murphy's choices... Wouldn't you sign on to every Pluto Nash
project you could get yer hands on - if you knew it could erase the cultural memory of being busted for picking up obvious Hollywood tranny penis?
Well, either that or just launch her off an LA balcony... THE POINT IS we all have our choices!
Which just may be the greatest thing about the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival.
Day one.... Lets get dangerous...
For this series of Moontower blogs, Jay Whitecotton will be trying as hard as possible to get them out quickly. Please excuse any and all grammatical/spelling errors as well as the many unsubsantiated claims his drunken misinformed rants will lead too. He didn't go to college....OH! And thanks for voting him #1 Blogger in San Antonio.