Dave Buckman: Back for the Future

November 13, 2022

Photo Credit

Steve Rogers


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


As duti­ful Aus­tinites (or per­haps due to just being par­tic­u­lar­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to peer pres­sure), we at CW con­sid­er recy­cling impor­tant. To show our ded­i­ca­tion, Valerie opens this week’s episode, with return­ing guest Dave Buck­man, by repur­pos­ing many of the cred­its and acco­lades we used last time. 

Giv­en the four year delta since Buck­man last sat down with us, you’d be for­giv­en for think­ing that sure­ly there must be more new with him than gen­tly-upcy­cled” con­tent. This is where I must qui­et­ly pull you aside and remind you of the glob­al pan­dem­ic that hit…well, every­one, but cer­tain­ly the com­e­dy indus­try. Standup comics suf­fered the loss of stage time (and often, you know, actu­al COVID) for nigh unto 2 years. Cold­towne The­ater — of which Buck­man is (still) co-own­er and exec­u­tive pro­duc­er — being a phys­i­cal space ded­i­cat­ed to comedic train­ing, got hit, as they say, com­ing and going. 

Stu­dents and class­es are some­what inex­tri­ca­bly tied; one with­out the oth­er just doesn’t get the job done. And cer­tain­ly no one pays for a class they can’t take, or gets paid for the one they can’t teach. Class­es being the bet­ter part of Coldtowne’s bread-and-but­ter meant that COVID not only halt­ed growth but effec­tive­ly shut­tered the enterprise.

Not that pan­demics have a good time” to rear their heads, but for Buck­man and Cold­towne it was espe­cial­ly painful. We were so poised to launch into a stratos­phere,” he says of the days before COVID land­ed in full force. In Feb­ru­ary 2020 they had actu­al­ly put down a deposit on a new space to absorb their growth, and found them­selves in a fight to get the mon­ey back when the world went side­ways (so, so sideways).

We [Coldtowne Theater] were so poised to launch into a stratosphere.
Dave Buckman

So, like so many of us, Buck­man and co-own­er Tau­ri Laws-Phillip turned to the [online space] to try and keep the lights on and laughs going while every­thing else stood still. (“If Tau­ri had­n’t joined Cold­towne own­er­ship, I don’t know that Cold­towne would still be here,” Buck­man says of her join­ing the part­ner­ship). Befit­ting a school that puts their all into teach­ing com­e­dy, the pro­duc­tions weren’t your aver­age web­cam fod­der either, with shows like The Emma Dilem­ma and Strange­town, pro­duced as actu­al three cam­era shoots. The shows con­tin­ue today, so fol­low them (for free!) on their [Twitch channel].

It’s con­ve­nient and has a great reach, but the online shows only scratch a tiny por­tion of what Cold­towne itch­es for: teach­ing stand-up, sketch, and improv to peo­ple, and host­ing shows that show­case them (and the Austin com­e­dy scene in gen­er­al). It’s no secret we’ve had a recent influx of of per­form­ers post-COVID, and Cold­towne wants to sup­port them all, whether Austin is a per­ma­nent home for them or just a train­ing ground. 

[We know we’re] a step­ping stone to LA, Chica­go and New York, and I’m proud to be that,” Buck­man says, and I think the more peo­ple that we get out there, the bet­ter Austin is, the bet­ter Cold­towne is.” To that end, and because the show must always go on, Cold­towne has moved to a fan­tas­tic new loca­tion that — while not _​their_​for­ev­er home, either — pro­vides the space and ameni­ties need­ed to keep their com­mu­ni­ty going (and grow­ing). The doors opened Novem­ber 3rd at 1700 East 2nd St, and the return has begun. Buck­man notes that class­es and audi­ences are still at about 50% of nor­mal, but there’s every indi­ca­tion that will only con­tin­ue to increase through the next 14 months they plan to be at the loca­tion. It’s not only the results that keep peo­ple com­ing back, but the Cold­towne team’s pas­sion for their stu­dents and audi­ences. I love teach­ing improv and sketch… [get­ting peo­ple] in touch with their sens­es of humor,” Buck­man beams. I love watch­ing peo­ple blossom.”

[We know we’re] a stepping stone to LA, Chicago and New York, and I'm proud to be that.
Dave Buckman

And when the 14 months are up? The plans are well into the works (real­ly resum­ing) to build their dream home (or find a spec­tac­u­lar exist­ing offer­ing). As with all things, Cold­towne wants to do it prop­er­ly, and that means sound­proof rooms, a hang­out space/​patio, and a 70 seat the­ater. It also means mon­ey, and Buck­man notes they’re only about halfway to their goal.

Clos­ing the gap means get­ting addi­tion­al sup­port to the tune of $350K; not a small sum, but giv­en the impact the the­ater has for the peo­ple of Austin (per­form­ers & audi­ence, offline and on), it seems a pit­tance. Buck­man jokes that he’s con­stant­ly work­ing his con­tact list for sup­port­ers, say­ing I’m gonna hit every email address…what else am I hold­ing on to them for?”

If you haven’t been lucky enough to make it onto Buckman’s (checks notes) Yahoo email address book, you can reach out and sup­port them (in any denom­i­na­tion, right up to the whole amount, one wagers) at cold​townethe​ater​.com/​s​u​pport. Of course you can (and should) also fre­quent the shows Cold­towne hosts (see the shows at cold​townethe​ater​.com), and Buck­man con­firmed that the week­end tri­fec­ta (Fri­day, Sat­ur­day, Sun­day shows) is back, rang­ing from improv to standup to the long-time favorite Sun­day night open mic. 

For comics and com­e­dy fans, it’s hard­er to think of a cause that more direct­ly gives div­i­dends back to the com­mu­ni­ty: new faces, expe­ri­enc­ing the growth of oth­er per­form­ers (or work­ing on your own), and shows to high­light that and more. So get out your wal­lets (or bring them to a show or three), and help build the next gen­er­a­tion of Cold­towne The­ater. Dave Buck­man, and a host of com­e­dy scenes, will be for­ev­er thank­ful for it. 

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

Fol­low Dave

Fol­low Cold­towne Theater

Fol­low ATX Sketch Fest

Dave can be seen and heard:

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Dave Buckman