Andre Ricks: The Best Plan is Not Having One

August 7, 2022

Photo Credit

Andre Ricks


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


Among the many, many actions one might con­sid­er risky dur­ing a pan­dem­ic, mak­ing a major loca­tion change cer­tain­ly rates high­ly. (See also: lick­ing a door­knob, hotboxing.)

Per­haps, then, it is fit­ting that we return to our reg­u­lar pod­cast cadence with an episode where 100% of the par­tic­i­pants (man, woman, and beast) chose that risky path. Mind you, Valerie hopped a few mere miles from her pre­vi­ous roost, while guest Andre Ricks winged it all the way to New York. 

Yes, the very same New York where COVID decid­ed to make its name, and Ricks arrived in March of 2020 with the very same hopes, albeit in com­e­dy and not in the dai­ly news. Per­for­mance requires not only an audi­ence, but a place to per­form; the city in 2020 offered very lit­tle in the way of either. 

I've been so free my whole life. That's why it's been fulfilling.
Andre Ricks

So it tran­spired that Austin wel­comed back Ricks in 2021 —already a pre­vi­ous res­i­dent of 15 years — at what admit­ted­ly was almost the exact oppo­site kind of tran­si­tion moment. Old favorite clubs re-opened, and it feels like not a day goes that a new venue or show is announced, mak­ing an already fruit­ful scene all the more bountiful.

Ricks, orig­i­nal­ly of Lub­bock, made his first move to Austin in a fash­ion seem­ing­ly endem­ic to his over­all life phi­los­o­phy. While attend­ing UTSA, and plan­ning to trans­fer to UT, an admin­is­tra­tive ker­fuf­fle (and gen­er­al lack of sat­is­fac­tion) result­ed in Ricks drop­ping the school track. I’ve been so free my whole life. That’s why it’s been ful­fill­ing”, he says, describ­ing the change, going on to rat­tle off a (par­tial) list of the places he’s spon­ta­neous­ly trav­eled: Turkey, Lon­don, Mex­i­co, Cana­da, Cuba. Oh, and the time he up and moved to Puer­to Rico for five months, as one does.

It was just like, alright…we're on a path now...take what comes with the good, bad, whatever.
Andre Ricks

Puer­to Rico pro­vid­ed more than a tem­po­rary home, as dur­ing this time Ricks had a bit of a eure­ka moment. Watch­ing an old Mitch Hed­berg spe­cial, it hit him that what he was see­ing — while cer­tain­ly mag­ic — was in fact a path he could fol­low himself.

I was like, man, he’s just telling one lin­ers … I can write 10 one lin­ers every night,” Ricks thought. He, of course, imme­di­ate­ly decid­ed to go on stage twice in one night, with mixed suc­cess (includ­ing get­ting pulled off stage at the sec­ond attempt).

But Ricks got right back up and kept at it, a mere … (checks notes) … 4 years lat­er. Even with­out a plan, his plan found a way of com­ing back togeth­er, this time back in Austin. While work­ing as a city bus dri­ver, an upcom­ing FPIA sea­son caught Ricks’s eye, and he once again changed gears and put a focus on mak­ing it into the contest.

If focus” sug­gests plan­ning, in a life where that seems rarely found, you’re right. Most­ly. For Ricks, liv­ing free” is not so much a choice to nev­er plan ahead, as it is to feel unfet­tered to spon­ta­neous­ly iden­ti­fy a desire, then pur­sue it with sin­gle-mind­ed deter­mi­na­tion. It was just like, alright … we’re on a path now,” he says of the deci­sion, just take what comes with the good, bad, whatever.”

Ricks didn’t take the crown that year, but com­e­dy was now his career, and that meant tak­ing steps to find the best oppor­tu­ni­ties. Austin (at the time) was rich with options, but ulti­mate­ly sim­ply couldn’t pro­vide the same band­width for per­form­ers of a place like the Big Apple.

Thus the move, and thus came lock­down, and thus also the end of a rela­tion­ship (again, in lock­down). Enter an out­fit­ted van, and Ricks cruis­ing the beach­es of Los Ange­les, and the hulk­ing silent shut­down casi­nos of Las Vegas, all the while with Austin gen­tly call­ing to him. I’ve been here. I’ve tried to leave a cou­ple times. And I keep com­ing back,” Ricks says.

It proved a warm home­com­ing, with Austin ready to share the wealth in the form of the rapid­ly expand­ing scene oppor­tu­ni­ties. Beyond the geo­graph­i­cal serendip­i­ty, Ricks also found him­self in the midst of a boun­ty of new part­ner­ships, both on the per­son­al side, and with pro­duc­tion part­ner Mar­tin Henn, with whom Ricks co-hosts sev­er­al shows.

This spring, yet anoth­er Austin sur­prise made its way into Ricks’s path. The East Austin Com­e­dy Club, found­ed by Ricks and Raza Jafri, was found­ed thanks to an amaz­ing lease oppor­tu­ni­ty, adding yet anoth­er venue to the city ros­ter. The scene has a rich his­to­ry of comics start­ing up shows from cir­cum­stances like these, and no short­age of the most estab­lished names had their ori­gins in such stories.

It’s often the case that it took care­ful plan­ning and exten­sive prepa­ra­tion to cul­ti­vate such suc­cess­es. For Andre Ricks, we’re bet­ting that he’ll make it hap­pen with nary a spread­sheet or mis­sion state­ment in sight.

Fol­low Andre

Fol­low East Austin Com­e­dy Club 

Andre can be seen and heard:

  • High­bal­l’s Top Shelf Com­e­dy Show (co-host with Mar­tin Henn) — Tues­days 7:30 at Alamo Draft­house S. Lamar
  • The Last Standup Com­e­dy Show (co-host with Mar­tin Henn) — Wednes­days at 8pm at Last Stand Brewery
  • The Cheese­cake Com­e­dy Show (co-host with Mar­tin Henn) — Thurs­days at 7:30 pm at Suds Mon­key Brewery 
  • East Austin Com­e­dy Club — Thurs­days 7pm & 9pm, Fri­days & Sat­ur­days, 8pm & 10pm
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Andre Ricks