Every year the Moontower Comedy festival seems to outdo itself and this year there were more shows than ever that we wanted to check out. And we saw a lot. And we missed a lot.
Moontower puts fans and comedians first. This is not about industry, and comedians aren’t nervous and thinking about a show that could be career changing. Comedians are having a fucking great time, and being silly, and letting their guard down while they are also delivering killer shows to amazing audiences. Colleen, Lietza, Jim and the rest of the crew who run Moontower run the shows like clockwork and keep the comics happy which means the fans are going to not only have amazing shows but also have great experiences in between the shows, hanging out with comedians, and other fans, going to bars and diners and after parties. It’s truly a party at the Moontower every year.
We wrote on Twitter about the pre-festival Dudley and Bob with Matt Podcast at Cap City Wednesday: Don’t know if the rest of Moontower can live up to
@DudleyandBob kickoff show at Cap City, but if it can…we’re in for a hell of a week. It was an unforgettable show- Dale’s investment compromised 22 years of sobriety for their annual special guest Ron Bennington which made for some very real moments, and some very hilarious moments. Joe DeRosa was a perfect add to the show, and he brought along the legend Rich Vos as a surprise guest. After four years of checking out the Dudley and Bob and Matt Show, this year was the absolute best. The rest of the festival did in fact, live up to its opener.
The best show of the festival- New York’s Funniest at the Stateside Theater was every bit as spectacular as we knew it would be in our predictions about what shows every fan needs to attend. Ron Bennington hosted the show with a knock out set all about New York City, and then from Rich Vos who opened, to Dan Soder who closed there wasn’t a slow moment in the entire show. The best set of the night? Jessica Kirson– and if you’re not already a giant fan, you will be. Her long overdue Comedy Central special comes out later this year.
The festival had more giant headlining shows than ever this year, and admittedly, we saw none of them, but…the talk of the festival was undoubtedly the Schitt’s Creek team rolling into town and crushing with two back to back shows at the Paramount Theater. Audiences were completely star struck by the great Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy and crew, and this is definitely the headlining show that will be tough to top next year or any year. There were a dozen headliners, and we heard great things about them all but none of the headliners were talked about more than Sal Vulcano, who headlined the Paramount Theater Friday night. Sal didn’t hightail it out of town immediately after his show like many of the headliners do- he hung around and popped in on shows all over town including the Goddamn Comedy Jam, What’s Your Fucking Deal and other showcase shows. Sal has always been naturally funny and after the massive success of Impractical Jokers, he easily could have just started doing headlining shows anywhere he wanted and cruising along, but he didn’t. He worked his stand up for years, grinding it out like everyone else at New York Clubs and bars, which is why his show was a highlight of this year’s festival. Nate Bargatze is a stone cold killer, and the world is just beginning to find that out. Austin discovered him this week and will never forget him.
The Goddamn Comedy Jam has evolved to become such a giant component of Moontower. It’s just understood that every night, everyone is going to cram themselves into Antones or the Parish to cap off great comedy with comedians singing their asses off with the Jam. Josh Adam Meyers can wake up any crowd, no matter how exhausted they are after a night of shows, and the comics just up their game every year. Highlights? SNL fans got to see a different side of Chris Redd who sang Nickelback. The Sklar Brothers performed Highway to Hell, Jon Dore fired out Killing in the Name Of, Brad Williams actually had a jacket made for his performance to do his cover of Chris Jericho’s Fozzie covering Abba and Big Jay Oakerson is almost an honorary member of the band now. But nothing was going to beat Rich Vos, Bonnie McFarlane and their 11 year old daughter performing R. Kelly. Mic Drop. See below.
Meeting Eliza Skinner was a highlight, we saw her go toe to toe with Eddie Pepitone and Dana Gould at the That’s Offensive Panel on Saturday. And Tim Dillon continues to be one of the funniest rising voices in all of comedy. Pay attention to Jeremiah Watkins. This is going to be his year. Next year he’ll be playing bigger rooms and before long you’ll see him play the theater. Austin just loves him, and so do we.
The comedians at Moontower come and go. Every year, different performers come to town, but there are a few special people who have become ‘festival anchors’ and return year after year making each trip to Austin feel like a trip home. The Sklar Brothers are as important to Moontower as breakfast tacos. The festival couldn’t be the same without Andy Kindler in attendance- who by the way is one of the funniest people on the planet. Already mentioned that the Comedy Jam has come to be a must attend on a nightly basis in Moontower. And there’s also two other shows that have become so important to Moontower fans- Bennington and The Bonfire. The Bonfire with Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder is an Austin tradition now, as is Big Jay Oakerson’s What’s Your Fucking Deal show at the Parish where we get to see people who don’t do crowd work attempt crowd work. This year, Ron Bennington hosted the big New York’s Finest show at Stateside, hosted an amazing hour long conversation with Brad Williams for Unmasked, and a killer panel about Offensive Comedy that packed out 800 Congress and nearly started a gender war on stage with Dana Gould, DeAnne Smith, Eddie Pepitone, Eliza Skinner, and Brad Williams. But Bennington’s new headliner show, Crowd Source was the highlight- truly something special that takes the concept of crowd work to a very different place. It was exciting seeing Bennington work out his ideas for the first Crowd Source show in Austin.
The show that got away for us was Roast Battle, Austin Edition. Sean Donnelly vs K Trevor Wilson? Kurt Metzger vs Brad Williams? Are you kidding? With Dudley Bob and Matt as judges? This was surely an incredible show but we had obligations on the other side of town with a hilarious but un-hosted 800 Congress closing show- that wrapped with Jessica Kirson, Andy Kindler and Ron Bennington back to back, handing off the mic like the marathon runners they are. Unforgettable. Apologies to everyone at the North Door for not making it over, but our ground crew this year was small this year. Because we couldn’t be everywhere at once, we reached out to the fans themselves to tell us what their favorite moments were this year, and they gave biggest love to Jeremiah Watkins, Sal Vulcano, and Crowd Source. And we found out too late that this year there were goats. Goats doing Yoga. Goat Yoga. With Jon Rudnitsky. Shit.
Selina From Austin, Texas. Get a Satellite Badge! You see comics running around the festival so its a good time to be downtown. Favorite shows: I went to Ron Bennington’s Crowd Source, it was great, and the Blue moon show last night. It wasn’t as dirty as I thought it was going to be but it was great. DeRosa, Metzger, Billy Wayne, Andrew Schulz, Eliza Skinner, Rich Vos. Loved seeing Rich Vos.
Travis From Austin Texas. So far, we saw Sal Vulcano at the Paramount and that was unbelievably hilarious. We tried to do back to back at the Paramount but we cut one shot and went to a show at Antones: Stars in Bars. There was a surprise showing from Ronny Chieng and he was hilarious. He had a moment talking about folks from Asia being non-biased. I didn’t know we were going to get to see him. And we loved it.
Kristen from Austin. It’s a MUST to come to Moontower. Since it started, I would say David Spade stood out. He was the absolute best. No filter. Completely no filter. He did not keep it PC, he just let it fly and that’s what I want to see. I deal with work and bullshit everyday I want to see somebody who just lets it fly.
Scott from Texas. Third time at Moontower. It’s a good guys trip, a weekend for us to get together with friends. This has become a tradition for us. We’re all in Texas, so it’s not too far for any of us. It was really cool to see Sal Vulcano last night, we loved him. We’ve listened to Bennington for years so all of the people who come on that show, we now get to see them in person.
Justin From New Mexico. I’ve been a Big Jay fan for years ever since This is Not Happening. Last night I was at the Goddamn Comedy Jam, Josh Adam Meyers really brought the heat. Joe Derosa, Brad Williams, K Trevor Wilson really brought it at a show at the Velv. Great show. K Trevor talked about going to an orgy and running into people he knew, Brad Williams came up and said he went to an orgy and ran into the dude from Letter Kenny. It was great.
EJ From Austin. You need to at least get the satellite badge. I saw Ron Bennington Crowd Source, that was why I bought the badge. I saw Dudley and Bob with Matt and I’m going to all the podcasts tonight.
Jennifer From Austin. Fourth time at the festival. It’s super fun, its like the “south by” of comedy but on a smaller scale. Main headliners and satellite events around the city. It’s really cool and keeps you in touch with the city. I get the star badge. Favorite performer? Nate Bargatze. He was awesome, super hilarious. David Spade was amazing, Jenny Slate was super cute, but I had no idea what to expect with the Nate show. I had no idea who he was before and it was hilarious.
Tim from Austin, Texas. Kurt Metzger was amazing, I don’t know why he’s not headlining. Most of the comedians here are incredibly approachable. Fun Fact: Last year the Sklar Brothers made fun of me in the Ping Pong tournament and then saw me riding a bike later and made fun of me for that.
Scott from Shreveport, Louisiana. First time at Moontower. It’s a great way to see a bunch of comics all at once. I just saw the Andy Kindler Particular Show and it was great. I’ve been waiting to see Eddie Pepitone for a long time, and he was very funny. I liked Carmen Lynch, and Kurt Metzger, very funny sets.
Mike from Texas. Third year coming to the festival. Each year there’s always somebody special you want to go out and try to get a hold of and as long as you keep your schedule you’re good to go. This year for me its been Ron Bennington. All the way across. I just wanted to see him so bad, and I couldn’t get out east so its been good for me.
Jared From San Antonio. Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder and Joe DeRosa and Andrew Schulz. That was the best show, New York’s finest was just lit. All headliners and everyone killed it. Jessica Kirson was great.
Pat Sajak from Austin. Definitely don’t sleep on all the small shows. My favorite was at the Velveeta Room, that night Jeremiah Watkins started bombing, and just owned it, and that was funnier than any prepared routine anyone is going to do during the whole festival. I liked Eliza Skinner at the Velveeta Room. She felt like the air was totally sucked out of the room. I thought she crushed it. But half the crowd was not even paying attention. I saw Jenny Slate and I had never seen her- it was totally cold but hers was really good. A little too much barf talk but other than that it was good. and Chris Redd was amazing I hadn’t even heard of him. There’s a lot of sleeper stuff.
Eric From Indianapolis: First time at Moontower. There’s JFL, Moontower, Skankfest and that’s your list. You gotta do one of those each list. The first night, Dudley, Bob, Matt, Rich Vos, Ron Bennington and DeRosa was fantastic. New York’s finest was great. I’ve seen Taylor Tomlinson, she was great in her set. And Matt Bearden, I really like that guy. I did that Goat Yoga this morning and it was a blast. A little bit of Yoga and then there’s baby goats. The woman said nobody really does it for the Yoga, everyone does it for the goats. And then Jon Rudnitsky is emceeing. He said I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing and that was great. That was a blast.
Isaac From Austin. We came last year with Satellite Badges, and this year we bumped up to Warriors. Headliners were great, big Nate Bargatze fan, big fan of Sal Vulcano on his show and that was great, never seen his standup and that was really great. David Spade, Chris Redd opening for David Spade was great. And beyond that we got to see Jeremiah Watkins who we discovered last year, do a full set at the Velv and that was awesome. The Ping Pong tournament is great too.
Kevin From New Jersey. First year at Moontower. The 500 with Josh Adam Meyers, the Bonfire, New York’s Finest was awesome.
Josh From Houston. Second year at Moontower. It’s a great time, you get a lot of access to the talent, and there’s a lot of good talent to go see. This is our first time with the Nexus Badge. All the headliners and any side show. You can see anything you want and get drink tickets too. Sal was great last night. The guy from South Africa, Loyiso Gola. His ability to connect with language, really connected, it was a great show. Somebody you never heard of, didn’t know it was going to be good and he absolutely killed it.
Jeremy From Austin. First Time at the festival. We usually go out to see music. It takes a little bit for me to get into it, but when I go to a show I love it. I have moments I remember maybe more than music. We saw Jeremiah Watkins Stand Up on the Spot at the Velv; just that we could shout out themes to them and they would make up material- made me slightly apprehensive for them but it was hilarious.
Daniel and Jack From Witchita Falls. Second year at Moontower. Goddamn Comedy Jam was amazing. Josh Adam Meyers was hilarious, everyone on it was hilarious, the band was amazing. They got everyone involved, there was a really good vibe to it.
James From Texas. You gotta come and not give a shit about going to big headlining acts. It’s great. Jo Firetone is amazing, I would follow her into the gates of hell. Kurt Metzger is always fun to see, he’s like Yogi Bear. Jon Dore is here, that’s great.
David From Austin. Third time at Moontower. We don’t really do headliners, Sal Vulcano was the first time we did that because we love him on Impractical Jokers. And we saw him when he was here two years ago on all the smaller shows. We love hopping show to show to show. Last year, who was that last year who did all the crowd work? We like the crowd work because after you see a lot of these guys they start doing the same jokes again so we like seeing the improv. We’re really excited for Roast Battle, we watch that on Comedy Central. That’s our must have for tonight.
James From Austin. We just saw Sal Vulcano’s show and that was really good. We watch him on Impractical Jokers on tv, and his stand up was just as good, the guys he had on before him were great. The whole show was just cracking everybody up.
Nick from Philly. Crowd Source was my favorite show at the fest! Ronnie B all day!
Diane From Austin. First time at Moontower, she came for her wife’s birthday. This one was pretty good- Unhinged at the Parish. Every comedian was hilarious. Dana Gould is always funny.