Cat Swantner: Rebel with Applause

January 1, 2023

Photo Credit

Dulce Mac


Valerie Lopez


Holly Johnston


Happy New Year from Comedy Wham

We chose to feature Cat Swantner as our New Year episode release because she represents the new face of Austin comedy. In her third year, we got to know her when she reached out to us for our Comedy Wham Showcase during 2021-2022. We knew we could always count on her to step in if we needed a spot filled. We loved her dark comedy and wanted to make sure the Austin comedy scene got to know this quiet, yet strong voice in comedy. Enjoy getting to know Cat and Happy New Year to all! And enjoy reading one of our newest feature writers, Holly Johnston as she kicks off her comedy writing for us!

A rebel child and nat­ur­al-born class clown, Cat Swant­ner loves noth­ing more than per­form­ing and mak­ing peo­ple laugh. In only two years as a standup come­di­an, she’s already made the semi­fi­nals at Cap City Com­e­dy Club’s Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin con­test, co-pro­duced her own show Truth or Dare and became a co-host of the Grim­by Half-Hour Pow­er Hour Pod­cast with Casey Rocket.

When asked one word to describe her past, Swant­ner respond­ed: sto­ried. There’s a mix of things that made me who I am today,” she shared. 

At first glance, Swantner’s life path is Tra­di­tion­al Amer­i­cana”. She grew up in Beau­mont where she was a débu­tante then attend­ed The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas in Austin and even joined a soror­i­ty. She recalls being a devout Chris­t­ian until age 17. I was even more Chris­t­ian than my par­ents,” she admits. 

Despite appear­ing straight and nar­row, Swant­ner has always been a bit of a wild child — an anom­aly — a girl who went from lov­ing Jesus to lov­ing drugs. A girl who was in a soror­i­ty but wore Doc Martens, ban­danas, and band t‑shirts.

I did all those things [college, sorority, church, etc.] but there was always a part of me that wanted to act out.
Cat Swantner

Swant­ner describes being a sassy kid with an atti­tude.” She liked to push the bound­aries and felt like she was always get­ting in trou­ble. At eight years old dur­ing a class pre­sen­ta­tion she quot­ed Austin Pow­ers, I’m foxy Cleopa­tra and I’m a whole lot­ta woman.” The school coun­selors were try­ing hard not to laugh. But with Cat…that’s impossible.

Com­e­dy has a deep foun­da­tion in Swantner’s life. In high school, she and her grand­fa­ther bond­ed over their love for Mitch Hed­berg. They would quote their favorite Hed­berg jokes togeth­er. Swant­ner looks back fond­ly on those days: That was so fun. I love that I have those memories.” 

She has always been a per­former. It start­ed with dance, and then about five years after col­lege, com­e­dy took on a new role in her life. She attrib­ut­es com­e­dy for help­ing her over­come sub­stance abuse. With­out a ful­fill­ing cre­ative out­let, drugs were the source of excite­ment in her ear­ly 20s. Thank­ful­ly, writ­ing and per­form­ing gave her the cre­ative ful­fill­ment that was miss­ing from her life. 

Once you have some­thing that you’re like I real­ly don’t wan­na mess this up … I real­ly take this seri­ous­ly and I real­ly care about it’ … you’ll do any­thing to keep your head straight.” In fact, her deci­sion to do her first open mic came after a brush with death. The night she antic­i­pat­ed sign­ing up for the first time, she was admit­ted to the ER for emer­gency surgery. After that expe­ri­ence, there was no more delay­ing her dream. I’m def­i­nite­ly doing it now,” she said.

Once you have something that you’re like 'I really don’t wanna mess this up…I really take this seriously and I really care about it'…you'll do anything to keep your head straight.
Cat Swantner

The first time she got onstage (at The Creek and the Cave), it all made sense to her. This was it. There’s noth­ing like the first time,” she remarks. Receiv­ing just one laugh at an open mic on Thurs­day night was enough to ignite that spark. When asked what her favorite thing about being a per­former is, Swant­ner answered how scary it is.”

Evo­lu­tion is a con­tin­u­al process for Swant­ner. She aims to be more her­self on stage. There are sto­ries she hopes to share about her life and top­ics she wants to cov­er. For instance, some of her mate­r­i­al includes jokes that address men­tal ill­ness. Swant­ner explains I recent­ly wrote a joke about hav­ing OCD…that’s some­thing I’ve strug­gled with for a long time. And there’s a lot of mis­con­cep­tions about what it actu­al­ly is.” She recalls an expe­ri­ence where after a show two peo­ple approached her and said how they love the OCD joke. They told her it was so relat­able and so true.” She wants to shed light on OCD. I think it’s some­thing that’s real­ly misunderstood.” 

But for the most part, Swant­ner just wants to be sil­ly. She just wants to be her­self onstage and wants to con­nect to the audi­ence through her own life expe­ri­ence, even the dark parts. 

In her time as a come­di­an, she’s has already expe­ri­enced pro­duc­ing her own show, mak­ing the semi­fi­nals in FPIA, and has formed a mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ship with fel­low Austin come­di­an: Casey Rock­et. It’s nice to have some­one who cares so much about you … who you can run things by … who under­stands so much about the indus­try.” Awww. 

In the future, Swant­ner aspires to con­tin­ue to find her voice as a come­di­an, to cre­ate enjoy­able expe­ri­ences for audi­ences and hone her craft. She also real­ly wants to write a com­e­dy sketch. We assume it will be a sil­ly one if she gets her wish.

We can’t wait to see where her pas­sions take her in the New Year. 

Listen to the podcast episode to hear these words and more from Cat

Fol­low Cat

Cat can be seen and heard:

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Cat Swantner