All images sourced from Moontower Comedy
Let’s get the difficult part of this article out of the way. If you see me sobbing in a corner during the 2018 Moontower Comedy Festival, it’s because I had to skip so many power-packed (or is it punchline-packed?) showcases and live podcasts to see other stellar shows that it’s brought me to tears. But prevail I shall. In its 7th year, the festival continues to bring us an abundance of riches.
In the spirit of the continued explosion of comics who have their own podcasts, the 2018 Moontower lineup includes an even greater variety of podcasts for us to choose from. One new show is You Up with Nikki Glaser. While I’m excited to see Nikki, I’m also looking forward to seeing her cohost, Tom Thakkar who came through Austin a few years ago and impressed me with his comedy and his willingness to talk at length about the comedy industry.
One thing I’ve noticed is my recommendations this year tend to focus on headliner acts. Some selections surprised even me, but more on that in a moment. Other selections follow my fairly predictable leanings toward the LA comedy scene comics. Let’s dig in shall we? The quicker we get through this, the quicker I can get back to studying the schedule to see how many shows I can pack into my itinerary.
Two recent Netflix comedy specials informed my first 2 recommendations. Judah Friedlander and Ryan Hamilton. Judah fits in my “type” of comedy – subversive, biting, but demonstrating an intellectual element too. Judah’s special blew me away. It was unlike any other special I’ve seen and he’s a Moontower favorite (he allegedly skipped last year’s Moontower to give someone else a chance to win, “World Champion” of the Ping Pong Slapdown), so this makes him an easy recommendation. Ryan Hamilton’s Netflix special shocked the hell out of me. Billed a “clean” comic, I was set to be disappointed when I watched his special, but I’ve watched it several times and he has a gift, not only for comedy, but for making me forget that he bills himself as a clean comic. Now, I consider that mastery of the art form and I’m excited to see him live.
I was blessed to catch Tig Notaro perform at her own curated Bentzen Ball in Washington DC a few years ago. It was a magical performance to witness. For that reason alone, Tig is on my “must-see” list, but add to that her connection to Texas, her One Mississippi show (boo to Amazon Prime for cancelling the masterpiece after only 2 seasons), and her riveting personal story, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you can get in to see this sell-out performance.
I plan to catch Weird Al Yankovic because frankly, I grew up listening to him on Dr. Demento and I’ve seen him live twice. It’s a guaranteed good time – just be sure to bring your own tin foil hat (hardcore fans will know what I mean).
Speaking of classic comedy, who doesn’t love Kids In The Hall?? Scott Thompson of KITH fame, brings his Apres le Deluge: The Buddy Cole Monologues to Moontower. Thompson experienced personal setbacks a few years ago, but is back in full force and I’m incredibly excited to catch him perform and return true to comedy form.
As far as perennial Moontower favorites, don’t miss Andy Kindler (either his Particular Show or opening for Tig’s Paramount show), The Sklar Brothers (hosting their View from the Cheap Seats, serving as live commentators during the Ping Pong Slapdown and many other appearances), and Big Jay Oakerson (The Bonfire, New York’s Finest and many more).
And now, my annual proselytizing of The Goddamn Comedy Jam (GDCJ)…. This will be my 3rd year of attending and recommending the Jam. Don’t miss any of the 3 performances during Moontower. It’s that simple. Last year, I got to see the late Ralphie May perform a short set, and then deliver the most rousing rendition of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer. I get chills thinking about it. You will collect lifelong memories from watching this show. One of my favorite parts of seeing the GDCJ is the backing band and performers, especially Jeremiah Watkins who I interviewed last year. Watkins is back after an incredible year of success – he became a paid regular at The Comedy Store, went on tour, got married to his high school sweetheart, gained 30 lbs in a month for a bet with long-time pal Tony Hinchliffe (don’t worry, he’s already shed it), regularly sells out his Stand Up on the Spot showcase, AND launched his 2nd podcast, Jeremiah Wonders. I thought I was busy!! I’m looking forward to catching Jessimae Peluso, Yamaneika Saunders, Nikki Glaser, Jon Rudnitsky, and Ali Siddiq on the GDCJ because if it wasn’t for GDCJ, I might otherwise miss these performers during the festival. Some of these performers are household names in the comedy world, but others I’ve recently discovered and I’m looking forward to getting a more proper introduction.