The Deliberate Elizabeth Spears

July 20, 2018


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


I like com­e­dy that sneaks up on me. Ver­sus, say, hood­ed assailants. It may sound cliché; of course the essence of humor is to intro­duce an unex­pect­ed per­spec­tive on a top­ic or sit­u­a­tion. Regard­less, there are per­form­ers who have a sin­gu­lar gift for set­ting expec­ta­tions through body lan­guage or affec­ta­tion, then seam­less­ly shat­ter­ing them, and our guest this week Eliz­a­beth Spears is defin­i­tive­ly among them.

[My friends] didn’t get it, but I loved [Car­lin] so much.”Eliz­a­beth Spears

When Spears takes the stage, she often sets a spe­cif­ic tone: mea­sured, calm, what some have called low ener­gy”. It’s almost the antithe­sis of one of the comedic styles she cites as a key influ­ence, the off-the-rails, man­i­cal­ly pac­ing, late George Car­lin. It was expo­sure to Carlin’s par­tic­u­lar brand of twist­ed per­spec­tive that Spears cred­its for get­ting her through a rough time as the native Aus­ti­nite found her­self strug­gling to adjust to her first year of col­lege in South Car­oli­na. “[My friends] didn’t get it, but I loved [Car­lin] so much”, she tells Valerie Lopez.

After wrap­ping that short-lived col­le­giate year in South Car­oli­na, hav­ing not found it at all to her lik­ing, Spears returned to Austin and con­tin­ued to put her­self into spaces that could attend to her unabat­ed inter­est in com­e­dy. In the audi­ence at events like Cold­towne The­ater open mics, it mat­tered lit­tle how the per­for­mances went, but that they hap­pened, and pro­vid­ed ample val­i­da­tion that devel­op­ing her comedic skills was to be a locus in her life. 

It takes scant sec­onds for Spears to lull you into a sense of what her per­for­mance will be like, and even few­er to unrav­el it com­plete­ly. My first expo­sure to Spears was one of her sets at The Velv, where she silent­ly took the stage, almost as if a mem­ber of the audi­ence had snuck up to the mic. She kicked off a sto­ry about of one of the uses for her bath­tub, as if qui­et­ly con­fid­ing to a group of friends. It quick­ly became appar­ent it’s the kind of sto­ry you tell only to a group of very close friends, who have absolute­ly no bound­aries. I want to say what nobody’s say­ing,” Spears says. 

I want to say what nobody’s say­ing.” Eliz­a­beth Spears

It’s not easy to har­ness that sen­si­bil­i­ty, to turn a top­ic on its head or pull the audi­ence – and fel­low per­form­ers – into a space they’re not expect­ing. The Damn Dirty Filthy Show, a show­case Spears co-host­ed, was about just that: get­ting come­di­ans to find their most glo­ri­ous­ly raunchy threads and make mate­r­i­al out of them. In Playpen, the show she cur­rent­ly hosts every Tues­day night at Fall­out The­ater, she sets the stage for the per­form­ers to try out what must be exclu­sive­ly new mate­r­i­al, at 3 min­utes per set.

Cred­it; Chris Collings

It mat­ters lit­tle whether the theme is dark, pro­fane, or shock­ing. More than any­thing, it feels like Spears is ded­i­cat­ed to the turn­about: a delib­er­ate plan to chal­lenge her­self and oth­ers to cre­ate the unex­pect­ed. She even has a fan site, Eliz​a​beth​fans​.com, which a devot­ed fol­low­er pieced togeth­er to cap­ture can­did moments in her glam­orous dai­ly life. 

Ok, she cre­at­ed that site her­self, but that doesn’t take away the mag­ic; in fact it adds to it. Com­e­dy often lands best, as Valerie notes in the inter­view, when the lens is focused on the source, and with Eliz­a­beth­Fans, Spears does lit­er­al­ly that.)

With mul­ti­ple years of Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin finals under her belt, and her first time host­ing at Cap City in August, Spears has refined her goals and is set on meet­ing them. Pull aside the thin veil of some­times dark and mea­sured demeanor, and you find a come­di­an with focused ener­gy, intent on success.

Just don’t try and sec­ond guess her.


Stay up to date with Eliz­a­beth Spears, and become a super-fan, at Eliz​a​beth​fans​.com. Here’s a pre­view of what she’s doing in the near future:

  • Fri. July 20th, 8:30 p.m. — Sor­ry, Closed for Com­e­dy @ SHED Bar­ber­shop
  • Tues. July 31st, 9 p.m. — High Tide @ Kin­da Tropical
  • Thurs. August 9th — A SHOW TBA
  • Sun. August 12th, 8 p.m. — I Can’t Believe It’s Com­e­dy @ Beer­land
  • Weds. August 15th, 8 p.m. — Host­ing for Brad Williams @ Cap City Comedy
  • Thurs. August 16th, 8 p.m. — Host­ing for Brad Williams @ Cap City Comedy
  • Fri. — Sat August 17th-18th, 7:30 & 10 p.m. — Host­ing for Brad Williams @ Cap City Comedy
  • Tues. August 28th, 10 p.m. — OOB Fest: Sex­tracur­ric­u­lars @ Hide­out Theater
  • Sat. Sep­tem­ber 1st, 7 p.m. — OOB Fest VIP Par­ty Show
  • Sun. Sep­tem­ber 2nd, 10 p.m. — OOB Fest Show @ the Velvee­ta Room
Elizabeth Spears