This year, my 2019 Moontower Festival recommendations are guided by 3 guiding principles to ensure maximum fun. My 3 principles might not be the winning recipe for you, but chances are, if you set a few guiding principles for yourself, you’ll have a pretty rocking good time. I’m going to take advantage of the showcases more so than the headliners at Paramount or Stateside this year. Like many of my friends, I’m on a budget, but there is 1 headliner on my recommended list and if you’re on a budget, there’s bound to be a headliner show that will satisfy your craving for the “large comedy venue” performance without breaking the bank.
New App for 2019 Festival Goers!
The Moontower Comedy Festival is growing – the Wednesday night lineup up is bigger than ever this year and the number of shows and performers is getting harder and harder to follow. Thanks to technology geeks, the festival has created an amazing app available for both iTunes and Android users. I’ve already downloaded mine and am ready to explore and refine my schedule. Be sure to download yours if you plan on seeing shows every night.
Get it for:
Valerie’s 3 Guiding Principles for 2019 Moontower Comedy Festival
What is GDCJ? If you are among the converted, you know that the Goddamn Comedy Jam (GDCJ) with Josh Adam Meyers is a cathartic, nearly religious experience. Blending traditional comedy showcase with song covers, the party is fronted by firecracker Meyers along with his backing band (with Avery Pearson on keyboard) and “roadie” (Jeremiah Watkins). For 2019, the GDCJ will include featured sets and performances by Mary Lynn Rajskub, The Sklar Brothers, Jon Rudnitsky, Big Jay Oakerson, Joe DeRosa, Jon Dore, Bonnie McFarlane, Rich Vos, Brad Williams, and Adam Ray. In some cases (Ray, DeRosa, Sklars, and Oakerson) comics will perform on 2 of the 3 nights. I’ve seen each of these performers at past Moontower GDCJs and they are richly deserving of their double spots. If you brave the 3 nights of the GDCJ, you will be left breathless, out of a voice, and overjoyed.
Avery Pearson is hosting his own shows for the first time ever at Moontower and my best friend* Jeremiah Watkins is bringing back his highly popular Stand Up On the Spot showcase (which routinely sells out at the Hollywood Comedy Store) to the festival. In addition, Watkins is part of “The Wave” with Roast Battle which is returning (after a successful run for last month’s SXSW) to Austin and should not be missed.
Each of the guest performers will appear on showcases of their own or perhaps even podcast recordings of their own (Oakerson with Dan Soder on Bonfire, Ray and Williams on About Last Night, The Sklars on Dumb People Town). One of the live podcast recordings I’m thrilled to watch in person is frontman Meyer’s passion project, The 500 with Josh Adam Meyers. Meyers is passionate about music and he recently launched a podcast that will review and discuss each of the Rolling Stone Top 500 albums of all time. He brings on a guest to dissect an album and as of Moontower 2019, Meyers has reached album #476 (Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death with guest Bert Kreischer) and will be taping a live The 500 with guests Big Jay Oakerson and The Sklar Brothers. If you love music, then you need to attend this live taping and join the Fleece Army.
Attend all GDCJs and follow any one of the GDCJ members or guest performers and you will be plenty busy!
*Jeremiah is so friendly he makes you feel like he’s everybody’s best friend and has shared his time with us at Comedy Wham most generously. One of THE hardest working comics out there.
2. O Canada
I very much enjoy Canadian comedy. From the Kids in the Hall to SNL alums Mike Meyers and Dan Akroyd, to my beloved John Candy (I can watch Uncle Buck on repeat and never ever tire of it), I love the Canadian sense of humor. But, my problem is these are performers from my younger days, and I’ve been struggling to keep up with contemporary Canadian comics until this year.
It all began with Netflix’s heroic effort in releasing Comics of the World and discovering DeAnne Smith and K Trevor Wilson. Though admittedly, only Smith was a totally new discovery, I was already wowed by Wilson by way of Letterkenny (help us all if we’re trapped in a room and I have to confirm anything with you or our conversation is becoming heated or if we discuss hockey — insiders will know). Thanks to this year’s Moontower, I can see not only Smith and Wilson, but also fellow Canadians Kevin McDonald, John Dore, Nathan Macintosh, and Bonnie McFarlane as they perform on a dedicated show called Canadians of Comedy on Thursday night. And each of those performers will be doing a number of other showcases, so just because you miss the Canadians of Comedy showcase (I wonder if we’ll have to sing O Canada to kick it off? hmm, I better study just in case), doesn’t mean you miss out on seeing these proud Canadians on other stages, at other times*.
Attend the Canadians of Comedy showcase and then follow any of the performers as they take over (in a very typically polite Canadian way) Moontower.
* Maple syrup optional.
My bio on Comedy Wham’s website declares in its first sentence that I grew up unabashedly loving Saturday Night Live (SNL). This year, we have a few chances to catch SNL performers past and present (and maybe even future in the case of at least one performer).
David Spade is a past SNL performer often associated with his frequent pairings with the late Chris Farley, collaborations with Adam Sandler, and well known for his role on NBC’s Just Shoot Me. He’s a Paramount Theater headliner on Thursday night. Spade has made a recent return to standup, so this is an exciting opportunity to watch him in action.
Other past SNL cast members at this year’s festival include Sasheer Zamata (who will be a featured guest on Austin Film Festival’s On Story) and Jon Rudnitsky (one of my favorite performers at the 2017 Moontower festival).
Chris Redd is a current featured player and has quickly made a mark for himself and will no doubt attain repertory player status with his flexibility (from Germaine in Cha Cha Slide to Soulja Boy on Weekend Update to Corey Booker to the student in Mr. H). Redd will be performing with Spade at the Paramount and has multiple performances each night of the festival.
Bowen Yang is a current staff writer for SNL and made an indelible impression on me this season when he was cast as Kim Jong-un during host Sandra Oh’s episode. It was a brilliant sketch and it was exciting to see how natural Yang was on the SNL stage (he has plenty of TV performances to his credit, it wasn’t a fluke) that I could only hope that he’ll get picked up as a feature or repertory performer in the future. Yang has a podcast called Las Culturistas which he co-hosts with Matt Rogers and in addition to Yang’s showcase performances throughout the festival, you’ve got a chance to watch a live taping of Culturistas.
Seek out past, present, and maybe future SNL performers and writers to feel a sense of connection to the sketch comedy stalwart as they perform “live from Austin’s Moontower Festival”.
- Goddamn Comedy Jam is every night from Thursday to Saturday night. The show is at Antone’s Thursday and Friday and moves to The Parish on Saturday night. Start times vary from 11:30 to 11:55.
- Canadians of Comedy is Thursday night at Speakeasy at 8pm. Each performer on that showcase has multiple appearances throughout the festival.
- Saturday Night Live performers/writes – David Spade headlines Thursday night at 7 at the Paramount with Chris Redd featuring. Redd performs throughout through out the festival. Bowen Yang will record his podcast Las Culturistas Friday night at 6pm at Speakeasy and have performances throughout the festival.
- Follow my guiding principles or create your own by loading the Moontower Comedy app on your phone to track performers, shows, and podcasts. Available on both iOS and Android!