Bak Wants to Know Your Story

January 29, 2023

Photo Credit



Valerie Lopez


Cristy Salinas


Welcome to the Debut Article by our Newest Contributing Writer - Cristy Salinas

Cristy Salinas is a writer and comedian based in Austin, Texas. After years of working as a personal finance editor, she quit her six-figure career to rekindle her joy of writing and created her blog Cristy Writes. She’s a University of Texas film school graduate, award-nominated improviser, and aspiring screenwriter passionate about telling stories inspired by her Tejano upbringing. When she’s not writing or nerding out on comedy, she enjoys indoor bouldering with her husband and lounging on the couch with her pittie puppy.

Bak feels opti­mistic about the future of Austin com­e­dy. And he should know — he’s spent the last twen­ty years deeply embed­ded in Austin’s nightlife. 

The come­di­an, blog­ger, pod­cast host and self-described Down­town Rat” has wit­nessed the local com­e­dy scene grow from a hand­ful of clubs, to a full-fledged com­mu­ni­ty attract­ing tal­ent (and peo­ple like Joe Rogan) from all over. You’d think a long-time Aus­ti­nite would begrudge the change. Instead, he’s all for it. He firm­ly believes there’s enough room for every­one because we’re all unique and have some­thing to say. It’s just a mat­ter of fig­ur­ing out what that is.

Bak Zoumanigui, known as Bak, was born in Sene­gal but spent most of his ado­les­cence just out­side of Paris in Ver­sailles. He’s been a fan of com­e­dy for as long as he can remem­ber, find­ing inspi­ra­tion from French acts such as Les Incon­nus (The Unknowns). Bak mem­o­rized and per­formed the trio’s songs and com­mer­cial par­o­dies for friends in ele­men­tary school. I would just do their sketch­es at recess by heart. To this day, I know all their sketch­es.” Anoth­er idol, Gad Elmaleh, whom Bak (and many oth­ers) describes as the French Jer­ry Sein­feld” per­formed one man shows dressed in black and on a bare stage. He was a sto­ry­teller, writ­ing jokes around mun­dane obser­va­tions, a style that Bak still loves today.

At 16, his life was uproot­ed when Bak’s fam­i­ly made the move from France to Austin, Texas. Six­teen is such a crit­i­cal age,” says Bak. I basi­cal­ly had to start over with every­thing… the lan­guage, the cul­ture, girls, every­thing.” He focused on school and saved social­iz­ing for after grad­u­a­tion. When he was final­ly ready, his love of music and danc­ing led him Down­town. It’s real­ly when I turned 18, I was like, I love music. I love to dance. Where is that at? It was down­town in the clubs. So that’s where I’ll go.

Yeah, that was kind of fun. But like, I gotta do this again? Shit.

Bak became a Sixth Street reg­u­lar. He befriend­ed bar­tenders, bounc­ers, and oth­er ser­vice work­ers and lis­tened to their sto­ries about what it’s like to work on Dirty Sixth. Peo­ple don’t under­stand what it takes to be a bar­tender on Sixth Street, what it takes to be a DJ, and have to deal with stu­pid song requests. And now I got to tell that sto­ry some­how.” So in 2010 he start­ed a blog about Austin’s nightlife which lat­er evolved into the pod­cast, The Feed­bak. Both are still going strong today.

Bak is also a long-time mem­ber of the Austin com­e­dy scene. He’s been a Cap City Com­e­dy Club patron since 2002 and a loy­al Moon­tow­er Just For Laughs Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val attendee since year two. In 2011 when he final­ly per­formed his first open mic set, he did it at Cap City. One morn­ing he decid­ed it was time and gave it a shot that night. I did­n’t know what to think when I got off. I was like, Yeah, that was kind of fun. But like, I got­ta do this again? Shit.” That again’ did­n’t hap­pen for anoth­er 8 years, but that’s prob­a­bly because he has a lot on his plate. 

Bak still does standup — and he’s also a father, tech employ­ee, MC, pod­cast host, blog­ger, event orga­niz­er, social but­ter­fly, etc. While his sched­ule is full, he makes the time to do the things he loves. As a com­ic, he’s find­ing his voice and unique point of view, lean­ing into his expe­ri­ence as a per­son with Sene­galese-French-Amer­i­can back­ground. I’ve always believed that I have some­thing to share, that I have some per­spec­tive to give to peo­ple on-stage and off-stage,” says Bak. I think every­body’s unique in a cer­tain way. It’s a mat­ter of tap­ping into what that is and express­ing it and con­vey­ing it to oth­er people.“

I think everybody's unique in a certain way. It's a matter of tapping into what that is and expressing it and conveying it to other people.

He’s also the orga­niz­er behind Next Record Play, a music triv­ia and com­e­dy show pre­vi­ous­ly known as Hip Hop Bin­go (but was forced to change the name due to Texas’ strin­gent bin­go laws). In 2019, Hip Hop pro­duc­er Just Blaze had a six-month con­tract pro­mot­ing Empire Records and need­ed help fill­ing clubs. After some brain­storm­ing, Bak designed a Bin­go game com­plete with chal­lenge rounds, like lip sync bat­tles and triv­ia, to keep peo­ple engaged. Instead of let­ters on your card, it’s a bunch of artists. So it’s like, B Mis­sy Elliott,’ or G Ja Rule’.” The event soon expand­ed to include dif­fer­ent themes, edi­tions and genres. 

On the pod­cast, Bak is no stranger to vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, shar­ing thought­ful respons­es to card game prompts and reflect­ing on his standup career so far. He’s work­ing on get­ting com­fort­able shar­ing his sto­ry on stage and look­ing for­ward to get­ting to know more of Austin’s come­di­ans and artists. So if you see him at a bar or club, don’t be a stranger. 

Fol­low Bak

Bak can be seen and heard:

  • Record Play — music triv­ia and com­e­dy show with a stank on it”. Win prizes, enjoy com­e­dy, music, and more!
    • Next show: R&B Edi­tion — 2/16/2023 at Soho House Austin, 7pm — RSVP at
  • The Feed­bak Pod­cast — week­ly episodes 
  • Bar­rel O’Fun — 3/11/2023, 9pm 
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