7 Year Comedy Wham Anniversary with Brendan K O'Grady and Duncan Carson

January 22, 2023

Photo Credit

Garrett Buss


Valerie Lopez


Holly Johnston


In this very spe­cial Com­e­dy Wham anniver­sary episode, Valerie Lopez sits down with Dun­can Car­son and Bren­dan K. O’Grady, co-pro­duc­ers of the infa­mous Austin com­e­dy show: Sure Thing and cre­ators of Sure Thing Records. Car­son and O’Grady were Com­e­dy Wham Presents’ first-ever guests, and (almost) every year, they cel­e­brate the anniver­sary by rem­i­nisc­ing, reflect­ing and recap­ping the pre­vi­ous year.

While the pod­cast began in 2016, Lopez notes that Com­e­dy Wham, Has evolved into this dif­fer­ent beast” since then. Record­ing 39 episodes in 2022, near­ly pre-pan­dem­ic out­put, Lopez is awed by all the dif­fer­ent peo­ple she’s had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk to. For Lopez, pro­vid­ing a plat­form for come­di­ans and artists from a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent races, gen­ders and sex­u­al­i­ties is the mis­sion she’s most proud of. That and the projects she’s been able to help pro­mote, Dave Buck­man on reopen­ing Cold­Towne The­ater, JT Haber­saat and his Alter­ca­tion Fes­ti­val, Andre Ricks with East Austin Com­e­dy Club, and Mon­na of Claws Out Com­e­dy in DFW” to name a few. This past year, Com­e­dy Wham also got to par­tic­i­pate in its first com­e­dy fes­ti­val, tak­ing the pod­cast in front of a live audi­ence at Lysis­tra­ta Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val. And final­ly, Lopez excit­ed­ly announces that Com­e­dy Wham has a new team of writ­ers. Speak­ing of writ­ing, Lopez has been active­ly con­tribut­ing writ­ing pieces about Austin com­e­dy to The Austin Chron­i­cle with more expect­ed in 2023.

Sure Thing enters its 11th year in 2023 and will also have its 500th show. Called a near-leg­endary standup show­case” by The Austin Chron­i­cle, Sure Thing is one of the longest run­ning shows in Austin, with a stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion of show­cas­ing the best standup come­di­ans from Austin and all over the coun­try. The show takes place every Fri­day at 9:30pm at Fall­out The­ater and rou­tine­ly sells out.

Car­son and O’Grady rem­i­nisce with Lopez on Sure Thing’s hum­ble begin­nings. Orig­i­nal­ly named the Laugh Lounge as part of a radio sta­tion’s pro­mo­tion­al effort, Car­son and O’Grady took con­trol of the show and set out to cre­ate some­thing much big­ger. They want­ed peo­ple to take it seri­ous­ly, and that start­ed with giv­ing it a new name. 

2022 just felt like the year that things started trucking again, in terms of getting the show back up to kind of full speed.
Brendan K. O'Grady

Sure Thing’s rep­u­ta­tion was no joke. Over time, eager atten­dees lined up hours ear­ly out­side the show’s orig­i­nal loca­tion at Austin Java’s now shut­tered Lamar loca­tion. See­ing those lines made Car­son and O’Grady aware that they were cre­at­ing some­thing that stood out (and quick­ly filled out the back room per­for­mance area). Audi­ences knew they were get­ting a bar­gain with free admission.

Sure Thing took a hia­tus after Austin Java closed its loca­tion and even­tu­al­ly found a new home at Fall­out The­ater. For Car­son and Grady, this was an adjust­ment. It was hard leav­ing behind the space that gave them a sense of own­er­ship” where they had great cama­raderie with the staff, but Car­son and Grady have set­tled into Fall­out The­ater and learned to embrace the change, includ­ing the one that allows them to sell tickets. 

2022 was an impor­tant year for Sure Thing in terms of regain­ing momen­tum after the pan­dem­ic. O’Grady says that for him, 2022 just felt like the year that things start­ed truck­ing again, in terms of get­ting the show back up to kind of full speed.” 

Car­son and O’Grady also share some of their per­son­al 2022 high­lights. Car­son became some­thing of a Tik­Tok star, amass­ing a large fol­low­ing from his dai­ly news jokes titled, Yes­ter­day in a Minute.” For Car­son, Tik­Tok reignit­ed the spark of com­e­dy writ­ing and breathed new life into his 16 year com­e­dy career. Car­son also announced that he cre­at­ed a Patreon.

For O’Grady, 2022 involved a bit of soul search­ing.” O’Grady expe­ri­enced his own break­throughs. Ten years into his com­e­dy career, he reached a point of accep­tance of who he is as a per­former. So much of ear­ly stand up com­e­dy is just try­ing to learn how to write a joke, just try­ing to learn how to stand on stage…the next 5 – 10 years is just bat­tling to get some sense of your own voice…and I def­i­nite­ly feel like I’m more con­fi­dent than I’ve ever been as a comic.” 

Turn­ing 40 grant­ed O’Grady a new­found sense of self-aware­ness and self-accep­tance. Refer­ring to life, O’Grady says you only get one of these, and I’m almost halfway through it.” 

If we’re going to do this, let’s just have fun with it.
Duncan Carson

Car­son and O’Grady’s per­son­al break­throughs gave them a refresh­ing new atti­tude toward Sure Thing. Their new phi­los­o­phy: If we’re going to do this, let’s just have fun with it.”

Car­son and O’Grady share the best advice they’ve ever received for pro­duc­ing a show. It’s the advice they received from Matt Bear­den, the pio­neer who brought alter­na­tive standup com­e­dy to Austin through his show, Punch, at the orig­i­nal Cap City Com­e­dy Club. The advice: Hold your­self and your show to a high­er stan­dard than every­body else. Care about who you book and be judi­cious about that because that’s what’s going to let you [estab­lish] your­self in the minds of people…and make your show free and week­ly. If you do that, peo­ple will find you.” 

Per­haps what Car­son and O’Grady are most proud of are all the lives who have been touched by Sure Thing. O’Grady says, The way I feel reward­ed by it now is that, because we have done so many shows, there are so many indi­vid­ual peo­ple who have had a mem­o­ry with us.” They go on to share sto­ries of cou­ples who met at the show, peo­ple who pro­posed onstage, and even a divorce. 

When asked what they hope for in 2023, Car­son and O’Grady announce some excit­ing news. On Feb­ru­ary 24th, Mac Blake will be record­ing a new album and head­lin­ing at Sure Thing: two shows in one night. Blake’s debut album Bird Drugs (avail­able on Sure Thing Records) is on heavy rota­tion in the Com­e­dy Wham head­phones (if you haven’t heard it yet, what are you wait­ing for?)

Car­son and O’Grady express their grat­i­tude for the show they’ve cre­at­ed and the lives it’s touched; their biggest hope for the future, “ To keep doing Sure Thing for as long as we get to do it.” 

Fol­low Brendan

Fol­low Duncan

Fol­low Sure Thing

See Bren­dan, Dun­can, and Sure Thing

  • Every Fri­day Night at Fall­out Theater!
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Duncan Carson
Brendan K. O'Grady