What’s Happening in Comedy at SXSW 2015


SXSW kicks off in Austin, Texas this Saturday, March 14th, and is promising to be a massive event for talent, media, sponsors, industry types and those who want to be on the cutting edge of pop culture.

And for the eight consecutive year, there will be an impressive comedy presence, with a tremendous line up and expected drop ins, pop ins and secret guests yet to be announced.

We talked with SXSW comedy producer Charlie Sotelo about the festival and what separates it from all the others.  “One of the things that differentiates SXSW Comedy from other festivals is that we have the world’s biggest interactive festival and a major film festival happening concurrently, so we have these amazing things happen,” he said.   What he’s referring to is the cross over possibilities and drop ins that inevitably result from three major festivals happening in the same space in overlapping time frames.  “We’re able to get these great acts just from the association with film, and then every year there’s an event that comes in for film and of course they’re going to do stand-up comedy.  Like this year, that’s kind of how the Judd Apatow thing happened, he’s here with Trainwreck and Amy Schumer and they’re like’ hey, can we jump on a show?’  And that’s pretty nice.”

Charlie also told us that their super secret guest, who is promised to be a “big comedy legend” will perform in a 100 seater for the Super Secret Show, and will also appear on Big Jay Oakerson’s What’s Your Fucking Deal.

The surprises are one of the things that make SXSW special.  Like last year for example, when Grumpy Cat showed up and asked (through her owners) to be introduced to Seth Meyers, and on the way to the elevators, they ran into Marc Cuban and Jay Z right before bumping into Shaquille O’Neal.  That kind of celebrity intermingling also allows for SXSW podcasts to have the greatest guests.

But for Sotelo, what really makes SXSW special is getting to help incredibly talented people get recognized on a larger stage.  Audiences may come to see the big stars in the line-up but they leave talking about the people whose names they didn’t know when they arrived in Austin. “So many great things have happened for comedians here at SXSW, because you’re in an environment so rich with other talent, with media and with sponsors.  People get hooked up with brands and networks every year,” Sotelo said, “and as a programmer, that really makes you proud.”

This year’s line-up includes performances by Adam Cayton-Holland, Al Madrigal, Allen Strickland Williams, Amy Schumer, Andrew Orvedahl, Andrew Santino, Ari Shaffir, Ben Roy, Beth Stelling, Bill Burr, Bob Saget, Brent Morin, Brooks Wheelan, Chris D’Elia, Dan Harmon, Dave Ross, Doug Benson, Eliot Glazer, Eric Andre, Erin Whitehead, Glenn Wool, Horatio Sanz, Iliza Schlesinger, Jake Weisman, James Adomian, Big Jay Oakerson, Jay Pharoah, Jeffrey Ross, Joe DeRosa, Jon Huck, Judd Apatow, Katie Dippold, Lauren Lapkus, Liza Treyger, Mary Holland, Matt Besser, Matt Braunger, Matt Walsh, Mark Normand, Mike O’Brien, Nate Bargatze, Nick Kroll, Nick Thune, Pat Bishop, Paul Virzi, Rachel Feinstein, Rick Glassman, Ron Funches, Sasheer Zamata, Scott Aukerman, Shannon O’Neill, Stephanie Allynne, Tim Robinson, Todd Glass, Vanessa Bayer, W. Kamau Bell, Wyatt Cenac and others.

Some of the highlights of this year’s SXSW Comedy festival include:

  • An Above Average Evening, with Upright Citizens Brigade, featuring Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer on Sunday March 15th following the screening of Judd and Amy’s movie, Trainwreck..
  • Two Denver based shows, with the smoking hot Grawlix team of Ben Roy, Andrew Cayton Holland and Andrew Orvedahl on Sunday March 14th, and Denver’s Sexpot Comedy presents WOMEN Live, no, its not women.  It’s actually Jake Weisman, Dave Ross, Allen Strickland Williams, and Pat Bishop!
  • The premiere of The Embassy which is the new sitcom from James Adomian and Scott Aukerman. The event will include a live script reading complete with a special cast including Colin Hanks, Lauren Lapkus, Horatio Sanz and others to be announced. The live reading is Saturday, March 14th.
  • The Upright Citizens Brigade is partnering with Above Average for several special events throughout SXSW week, including the annual Above Average Talent Show. This year, Bob Saget, Vanessa Bayer, Jay Pharoah, James Adomian and Tig Notaro will perform.  The event  benefits OutYouth, a local Austin LGBTQ organization and charity.
  • On Monday, March 16th Bill Burr and Al Madrigal, who created the All Things Comedy podcast network will be joined by Doug Benson to hold a conversation on how comedians can stay in control of their own content and creativity through new technology and business models.
  • Comedy Central will present Big Jay Oakerson’s What’s Your Fucking Deal?, the all crowd work show, and Ari Shaffir’s This Is Not Happening with Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Santino, Nick Thune, Sasheer Zamata and Big Jay.
  • The festival will be taping its first tv comedy special, hosted by W. Kamau Bell and including Beth Stelling, Todd Glass, Matt Braunger, Mark Normand, and Iliza ShlesingerThe special will be filmed over the course of two live tapings and the audience will only be open to SXSW badge holders.

Plus Doug Benson’s Doug Loves Movies and Doug Interrupts, Roast Battle, The Super Secret Show, Comedy Bang Bang, the Cast of Undateable, and more.

Get badges and info at SXSW.com.  The comedy shows at the festival start this Saturday, March 14th and run through Tuesday March 17th, with four addition shows running form Wednesday March 18th, through Saturday March 21st, one per day.

Badge Info | SXSW Comedy Schedule

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