Notes From A Comedy Junkie: The Best Bit, Best Show and Coolest Concept at Moontower Comedy Festival

Sara Dahms is a comedy superfan who even goes so far as to call herself a comedy nerd. Raised on National Lampoon, John Hughes, Gene Wilder, and Fairy Tale Theatre, her life changed after her older sister showed her Eddie Murphy’s Raw in 1988. Soon after, she found  and became a stand-up junkie for life. Eighteen months ago, she took her first comedycation to see Jeff Ross play in Miami on her birthday.  Since then, she’s been traveling all over the country checking out the best comedy everywhere, a confirmed comedy addict, and now she’s agreed to share her travels with us. This is her column. In this edition, Sara heads back to Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin Texas! Read all Sara’s write ups here!


Moontower Comedy Festival was a huge success. I saw eight shows in two days, connected with a ton of awesome people and had an absolute blast all along the way. Here are some of my highlights.

Best Bit of the Festival: The Bonfire’s “Who Knows Their Partner Better” with Big and Dan Soder vs and Chris Stanley

Soder, Bennington, Stanley and Oakerson are all I need… and this thermos..

The Bonfire put together one hell of a show for their standing room only, sold out crowd. Big Jay and Dan Soder rented dusters and wore cowboy hats to really get into the Texas spirit. Everyone thought that Dan found himself a new style and should have rented to own that duster and I agree. Mark Normand and Nikki Glaser were the scheduled guests and were completely hilarious. Little did the audience know, but Dan and Big Jay had a very special surprise for us. In an attempt to redeem themselves, after losing a game of, “Who Knows Their Partner Better?” at The Bennington Family Thanksgiving Show, the guys brought out Ron Bennington and Chris Stanley for a rematch.

Their producer, Jacob took on the roll of host and Big Jay and Dan went head to head against Ron and Chris in a Newly Wed style trivia game to see who knows their SiriusXM partner better. It was anyone’s game…. Or was it?!

Jacob asked the first quest. “What song best describes your partner in the bedroom?” Chris and Jay wrote down their answers.

Dan was up first. He said that Ginuwine’s very sexy song, “Pony” best describes him. Jay turned over his board and it said, “Build me up Buttercup.” A swing and a miss!

Now it was Ron’s turn to reveal his musical, sexual style. He said it was any song by the group, ABBA. I was a bit surprised by this reveal but hey, maybe Ron is a “Dancing Queen” in the bedroom. Then something really strange happened, Chris turned over his board and it said, “ABBA”! The crowd went wild! I guess Ron must really be into ABBA if even Chris knew that answer. I tried to figure out what ABBA song was sexy… “Fernando” was the best I could come up with, but ok. If Ron likes to get busy to ABBA, then more power to him.

For the next question, Jacob asked the guys to fill in these blanks. “My partner may be the world’s best blank, but also the world’s worst blank.” Jay and Chris wrote down their answers.

Dan shared his answers first. He said that he was the best at voices but the worst at singing. Jay was SO close. He wrote that his partner was the best voice guy but the worst deep kisser.

Now it was Ron’s turn to share his answers about Chris. He said he was going to do some word play with this one and say that Chris is the best, Beatles and worst Beetle. There was no way that lightening could strike in the same place twice right? Wrong! Chris turned over his board and it said, “The Beatles!” WTF was going on?! Soder said he was starting to smell a fix.

Jacob proceeded to ask Ron for a job before asking the next question; Which one of your partner’s friends do you find most attractive?

Dan gave his answer. He thought that Dave Smith was Jay’s most attractive friend and unfortunately, Jay guessed incorrectly with Justin Silver.

I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen with Ron and Chris. Ron clarified that if he was talking about one of Chris’s friends, it would definitely be “Cold Play.” Chris turned over his board and it said, “Cold Play!” Holy crap! How were they doing this?!

The next question was another fill in the blank with, “The perfect partner is one who blank.”

I was surprised Jay missed this because everyone knows that for Dan the perfect partner is one who lets them, “f their t’s.” Ron and Chris were on a roll and their winning streak was not about to end. Ron prefaced Chris’ affinity for the “back door” and gave “Doors” as his answer… Right then and there the lightbulb in my head went off… He was naming musical groups in alphabetical order! What a hilariously clever way to guarantee victory! Chris revealed his answer and low and behold, he got it right.

Then they switched gears and had Ron and Jay write down their answers and Dan and Chris got to try their hand at guessing. Now that I had cracked their code, I was having fun playing along and trying to guess what Chris and Ron’s next musical answers would be. I guessed Eric Clapton for “E” but the guys went with The Eagles. My “F” was for Fleetwood Mack but their answer was Foghat and even though George Harrison is my number one “G,” Ron and Chris won the final round with Genesis.

The fix was in and The Bennington Show team walked away with a 7-0 victory! The Bonfire guys may have lost this game but they ended up with what I thought was the funniest bit of the festival!

Best in Show: Ron Bennington Presents: Judah Friedlander 2020; The World Champ’s Presidential Press Conference

Judah Frielander’s Presidential Press Release was my favorite show of the festival. It was more than just an amazing, comedy production, it was a kick ass, interactive party as well. There was music, drinks, and decorations for days. The party started outside, before the show even began. Bennington’s crew handed out flags, face paintings and posters while we waited in line to get in. Ron Bennington came outside for a moment and happened to be with comedian, Tom Rhodes. I met Tom at Just For Laughs a few years ago and I was very happy to see him again.

The God Damn Comedy Jam gets the party started

Once inside I got settled in, ordered a drink and enjoyed The God Damn Comedy Jam’s performance of an original song they wrote just for this event. That was when one of the members of the Bennington family, Debra Kessler, asked me if I would be interested in recording the press conference with Judah’s camera? It is always my pleasure to help out in anyway I can. Friedlander came out, stood at the podium and announced his plan to run for President of The United States of America in 2020. He revealed his hilarious presidential platform while Ron Bennington moderated.

Me and Ron Bennington

The last segment of the show was a Q and A where “bloggers” were able to ask Judah questions. This was a very memorable bit and a great interactive experience for the audience because they were the ones who got to volunteer to be the bloggers who asked Judah the prewritten questions during this very funny portion of Judah’s presidential press conference. The show ended with everyone singing a version of “Hey Jude” called “Hey Judah” and I got to come on stage, sing along with Ron, Judah and Vito while I filmed the audience!!! What a perfect way to end a perfect show!

Me and the World Champ Judah Friedlander

Judah 2020; The World Champ’s Presidential Press Conference would

do extremely well at other festivals and I hope that they consider giving it a try. I would love to see this show again in the future. Bennington, his team and Judah Frielander really hit a home run with this one and it was, hands down, my favorite show of the festival!

Coolest Concept for a Show: The Story Wranglers

I was lucky enough to run into one the coolest people I met when I was at Moontower last year, Antonio Delgado. We first met after the Kill Tony podcast. For those of you who remember, there was an intoxicated contestant who tried to get into a fight with Jeremiah Watkins at Moontower last year. Antonio was the first staff member to rush the stage and help to remove the disgruntled comedian. After the show, I thanked him for being so quick to react and the rest is history. Needless to say, I was happy to run into him again and we decided to grab a few drinks at the after party to catch up.

Antonio Delgado and I at the Netflix after party

One of the many hats Antonio wears is systems manager at The Paramount Theatre, so I asked him what his favorite shows were this year. That is when he turned me on to a show I had never heard of, but have been completely obsessed with ever since, “The Paramount Story Wranglers.”

The Paramount Academy for the Arts’ Literacy to Life program and the wranglers who work for them have created a magical partnership with several local schools and are aptly using theater and comedy as a means of teaching literacy amongst students of all ages and academic abilities. The wranglers do this by pushing into classrooms, helping kids write tons of stories and then just as their name implies, “wrangling up” all of the stories then having the kids bring them to life on the stage. I absolutely love this concept and as a middle school counselor, I am dying to do this with my own students!

The first story that was brought to life at Moontower Comedy Festival featured Avery Moore and was called “Vegetable Party.” It told the tale of a group of veggies trying to have a “blender party” and was peppered with Spanish because as Antonio explained, many of their students are English language learners so in addition to promoting literacy, The Story Wranglers are also helping these children to learn how to write and speak English. This group of professionals value their students’ creativity, try not to censor them and live by the code that every idea, is a good idea. The role of “PeaPlum,” which was played by Jeremiah Watkins was the perfect example of why allowing students to be free and not stifle their creativity is so darn important. Jeremiah was a half pea, half plum who was pregnant with a full plum baby and looking for a husband so he decided to throw himself a baby shower. Hilarious! Jeremiah and his brand of comedy are perfect for this specific type of theater and according to Antonio and several of The Story Wranglers who joined us, he completely killed it and the audience loved him.

Jeremiah Watkins as the very pregnant “PeaPlum”

The Story Wranglers’ show did not only have comedy fans in the audience, it also had teachers and students affiliated with the program in attendance as well. I love how comedy never ceases to bring people together. Their plan is to try and have two productions of The Story Wranglers at Moontower Comedy Festival next year and my plan is to try this out for myself in the classrooms and on the stage of the school I work in!

Moontower Comedy Festival was a huge success last year and I feel like it got even bigger and better this year. There were so many crazy, good shows going on there were times when it was almost impossible to choose between them all and that is the best problem a comedy junkie like myself could ever have in life! I also LOVED the addition of the Netflix after parties. They were the perfect way to end the night. Besides all of the amazing shows and parties, my favorite thing about going to comedy festivals is meeting all of my fellow comedy junkies out there. It was great meeting so many new people as well as finally being able to put some faces to names! It’s like there is a big inside joke and us comedy nerds are the ones who are lucky enough to be in on it. I love all of my junkies out there!

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Sara Dahms
Sara Dahms
Sarah Dahms is a comedy superfan hails from Chicago and travels all over the country checking out the best comedy everywhere.