Top 10 Austin Comedy Stories - Valerie Lopez for The Austin Chronicle

December 16, 2022

Top 10 Austin Comedy Stories

New fests, new venues, and big returns


The new Cap City Comedy Club (Photo by John Anderson)

1) Cap City and FPIA Return

Austin's longest-operating comedy club shuttered after 30-plus years in a dark dilapidated shopping center and returned glorious to a shiny new space in the Domain this summer. With it returned the Funniest Person in Austin, with Tyler Groce winning the crown and cape after only his third attempt in the contest. (See "Can Cap City Comedy Club Reclaim Its Throne?" July 29.)

2) Moontower Just for Laughs Austin Debuts

Comedy stalwarts Just for Laughs and Moontower Comedy Festival joined forces in April 2022 for two jam-packed weeks of mirth. The festival offered everything from big theatre headliners to up-and-comers to live podcasts. Moontower Just For Laughs Austin just announced round one of its April 2023 lineup, and it promises to deliver yet again.

3) ColdTowne Theater Is Back

The improv experts survived the pandemic via online classes and shows, and October brought the return of ColdTowne's live performances in a new (temporary) space on East Second. Co-owner Dave Buckman is leading an ambitious fundraising effort to secure funding for a permanent home to the theatre, which offers a robust mix of classes and shows across sketch, improv, and stand-up formats.

4) Laughter Everywhere

Clubs and bars are common venues, but 2022 seemed to bring variety to where you can watch comedy. SHED Comedy (launched pre-pandemic) returned to hosting shows in a barber shop. The monthly Tilted, hosted by Derek Kopswa at the Lake Creek Pinballz arcade, launched this year, as did Business Hours, co-hosted by Zain Hussain and Carlos Morrison at Friendly Rio Market, where every week the audience sits between the narrow shelves of the mini grocer. Proof that you can laugh anywhere.

5) Fallout Theater Announces Ownership Changes

Musical impresario Arielle LaGuette stepped down as co-owner of the theatre this year, with Lisa Friedrich joining the ownership team. Friedrich, a founding member of the Fallout-based Garage improv troupe, has helped venues in various capacities and is a natural fit to see the theatre into its future.

6) East Austin Comedy Club Opens

A new treasure in the small club space: Owners Raza Jafri and Andre Ricks offer shows nearly every night of the week (always with a surprise lineup) and their artist residency program allows comics from across the country to perform spots during their twice-nightly weekend shows. (See "East Austin Comedy Club Is a Proving Ground for Stand-Ups," July 29.)

7) The Austin Comedy Competition Launches

This inaugural competition, an alternative to FPIA backed by Big Laugh Comedy, spotlighted 100 contestants across several Downtown venues. Audience votes determined the winners of each round, and the inaugural champion was Casey Rocket – one of 2022's standout performers and someone everyone needs to watch.

8) Unconventional Comedy Is Back

Experimental comedy went away with the rest of the comedy scene in the pandemic, but it's back in full force in 2022, with such absurdist, oddball, curious offerings as Good Pollution, Exploraphoria, Laugh Laugh Revolution, Laugh Track, Face/Off, and Lip Shtick Battle, offering music-based comedy, comedy while on a treadmill, video-infused comedy, and experimental comedy beyond description.

9) Joe Rogan Changes the Landscape – Literally

Two years after his move to Austin, Rogan is set to open a new comedy club in the former Ritz. This means that between Sixth and Seventh streets, partygoers and comedy seekers can enjoy the Velveeta Room, Vulcan Gas Co., the Creek and the Cave, and Rogan's Comedy Mothership clubs.

10) Third Coast of Comedy

The 2021 influx of big-name comics like Rogan, Tony Hinchcliffe, and Christina P and her husband, Tom Segura, took a while to take root, but legions of new and upstart comics followed in their path and the impact has been felt in 2022. Between big-name festivals and Netflix's Twentysomethings shining a national spotlight on the Austin comedy scene, there is little doubt that Austin is THE definitive comedy scene between the coastal powerhouses of L.A. and NYC.

Valerie Lopez is the executive producer of the Comedy Wham podcast.

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Column by

Valerie Lopez