Altercation Comedy’s JT Habersaat knows how to throw a festival. Festivals have been popping up all over the country in recent years. While Just For Laughs is still the magnum opus of festivals (even more so with the addition of the Toronto JFL), there is plenty of room for other festivals to elbow their way into a niche, and Habersaat’s niche seems to be quality comedy for the crowd as much as it is ensuring a quality crowd for the comics.
From Kristine Levine, to Chad Daniels to David Heti, The Altercation Comedy Festival cranked out sets from some of the best comedians in the country. The crowds were not only mighty, but also filled with folks who enjoy the craft and nuances of comedy. This allowed for diverse line-ups throughout the festival, from a plethora of female headliners to the introduction of hilarious musical comedy folks.( I see you, Ver$ace Kolache).
Held at Kick Butt Coffee in Austin, TX, the three day event showcased over 40 comics in an intimate (capacity 150-ish) venue, as comedy should be. “I wanted the room to feel intimate, and I want the fest to stay intimate no matter how big it may get”, said Habersaat.
In its debut year, Altercation Comedy Festival sold out of three day passes well in advance of the kick-off show. Day of show tickets were only $13, and offered an entire evening of comedy. One ticket got you access to three shows a night, ranging from the “Odd Ducks” show to the “Total Beast Mode” – headliners only, closer show of the festival. Habersaat secured sponsorships (kudos to these folks for hopping on the first year, such forward thinkers ) from Deep Eddy Vodka, The Austin Chronicle and Stand Up! Records, to name a few.
Comedians played to captive audiences, the green room never ran out of Deep Eddy Vodka and Dan Schlissel from Stand Up! Records brought cookies with all of his artists’ faces painted on them. Habersaat curated a killer line-up of comedians from all across the country, and worked tirelessly to make sure that folks had places to sleep and/or a few bucks in their pockets for their time. Headliners got both! There was no “application” process this year (Habersaat hand picked his favorites), but comics should keep an eye out for future fests. Every single comic was hilarious, removing the awkwardness of having to say “good set” when you didn’t mean it.
Hats off to all involved for making a first year festival feel like it had always been there, and to JT Habersaat for showing that amazing comedy at a reasonable price is punk A.F.