5 Year Anniversary with Brendan K O'Grady and Gabi Montemayor

February 4, 2021

Photo Credit

Brendan K O'Grady, Gabi Montemayor

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Richard Goodwin

Article by

Scott Sticker


Comedy Wham Presents (the podcast) has officially been here for five years! To celebrate, we sat down (virtually) with a long-time staple of the scene and a younger performer who has been heartily carving out her niche to discuss the state of Austin comedy and so much more.

Brendan K. O’Grady, along with his comedy partner, Duncan Carson, was our first guest ever, so it’s only fitting to invite him back for this anniversary episode. Gabi Montemayor is a young comic who – even in the face of Covid – is running a mic and grinding away to experience the stage as often as possible.

The turbulence of our current virus-dominated world made for an interesting time to talk about where comedy stands in Austin. In this last year the changes in the scene have been astronomical: we’ve lost a staple club with the shuttering of Cap City Comedy Club, shows and venues have moved entirely online, a household-name comedian now calls Austin home, and so much more. The age-old question of “is Austin the next big comedy city?” is rapidly turning to “can comedy survive this?”

"I don’t know if [comedy] is going to be 100 people in a basement [again],” Brendan said. “If Cap [City Comedy Club]can go down, anyone can go down... I’m afraid people will have a hard time finding those venues to start their own shows and build their own things. That’s the stuff that long-term can have a really rough impact on [standup comedy].”

There’s a magic of live shows. Covid infringes on comedy more than any other artform.
Gabi Montemayor

“There’s a magic of live shows,” Gabi said, “You feel other people’s laughs as much as you feel your own laughs in your heart.” Since standup relies on the experience of having an audience in the room with you, she said, “Covid infringes on comedy more than any other artform.”

Right from the start of the pandemic, Comedy Wham worked hard to put on entertaining comedy shows online, pulling comics from around the country and the world to do sets into their webcam. Those episodes are available on our Twitch, Youtube, and FB Video channels.

Gabi said she has loved online shows, while Brendan’s purist mentality made him steer clear. They both agreed that online shows are “not standup”. Gabi said she had fun with it by thinking of it as a different beast, though. "It's not valid to call it standup comedy. People needed to stop thinking of it as setup/punchline,” she said, “it has to be weird and different.” (You can check out some of Gabi’s weird and different online shows on our YouTube channel!)

Brendan said he saw the value in online shows, they just weren’t for him. “[Standup is] the only performing art that doesn't exist without an audience in the room with you,” he said. “The dynamics of playing off of the live crowd in real-time...the dynamics at play are what define the experience for the person performing and that necessarily defines the performance. So, it’s not standup comedy, but you can still have fun on the fucking internet, right?”

They both agreed that comedy doesn’t necessarily require a hot basement with low ceilings, but it definitely helps draw the crowd together. Which in a time of social distancing, drawing a crowd together is the last thing people really want.

[Standup is] the only performing art that doesn't exist without an audience in the room with you.
Brendan K. O'Grady

Anytime someone on the internet asks where they should move to do comedy, Austin is almost always at the top of the list of answers – even during a pandemic! Since Gabi currently runs an open mic, she is seeing first-hand that people are still flocking to Austin for comedy. Having a big name like Joe Rogan in Austin has also changed the conversation, elevating our status to some people. Even after Cap City closed, people were hopeful that Rogan would open a club of his own. Brendan said that famous people moving to our scene shouldn’t really have an impact.

“Joe Rogan does not do what we do, which is maintain a comedy scene,” Brendan said. “We’re the ones who are the comedy scene – the people who run mics, the people who run local showcases...Famous people are going to come and famous people are going to go … The Austin comedy scene is the comics who come up here; it’s the comics who maintain the infrastructure that allows people to do comedy in Austin.”

The scene is still thriving and existing. It’s like double-Dutch, you have to join into what’s already happening, you can’t start a new tempo.
Gabi Montemayor

Whatever comes after the pandemic, Gabi and Brendan are both excited to ride it out and get back to producing shows (and kicking unruly audience-members out of them!). And we're happy to continue to support the Austin comedy scene for years to come.

Brendan and Gabi can be seen and heard:

  • Gabi hosts the weekly open mic Wanderlust Wine Co. on Thursdays at 7:30pm
  • Brendan and Duncan Carson are founders of Sure Thing Records

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Brendan K. O'Grady
Gabi Montemayor