Michael Jastroch: Boundless Humility

November 20, 2017


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


If you’re a fan of the Austin com­e­dy scene (and you cer­tain­ly should be), you’ve almost cer­tain­ly found your­self on occa­sion at the amaz­ing Cold­Towne The­ater . This week, Valerie wel­comes Cold­Towne’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, and amaz­ing per­former in his own right, Michael Jas­troch (like Astro”, not ostrich”…or jostrich” for that mat­ter). Always busy, he’s also a co-pro­duc­er of the Austin Com­e­dy Sketch Fes­ti­val, and has done video, com­mer­cials and voice-over work.

Jas­troch is an Aus­ti­nite, via Illi­nois, Con­necti­cut, and plen­ty of oth­er stops along the way. His ear­ly inter­ests trend­ed decid­ed­ly nerdy, with a love of physics and role-play­ing. While he con­tin­ued on the path to becom­ing A Real Grown Up Sci­en­tist, he also dis­cov­ered a love of mak­ing peo­ple laugh, inspired by comedic giants like Mon­ty Python.

It was on one of those stops, in New York, that expo­sure to the Upright Cit­i­zen’s Brigade final­ly con­vinced the rapid­ly evolv­ing young Jas­troch that com­e­dy and per­form­ing were going to play the main role in his future. After mov­ing to New Orleans and find­ing lim­it­ed suc­cess (although an ardent fol­low­ing of approx­i­mate­ly 4 nau­ti­cal pro­fes­sion­als did form), the unfor­tu­nate arrival of Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na result­ed in Jas­troch and the Cold­Towne team evac­u­at­ing to their now per­ma­nent home in Austin. (Some of the team fur­ther went on to found the fab­u­lous New Move­ment The­atre as well.)

We can also thank Jas­troch for being one of the ear­ly dri­ving forces behind Austin Sketch Fest. In today’s envi­ron­ment full of oppor­tu­ni­ties like Moon­tow­er and Out of Bounds Com­e­dy, it’s hard to imag­ine a time when we did­n’t have fes­ti­vals aplen­ty. But that dark time did exist, and Sketch Fest was one of the first events to gain a big audi­ence and ros­ter, host­ing greats like Com­e­dy Death Ray (lat­er becom­ing Com­e­dy Bang Bang), and come­di­ans like Paul F Tompkins.

One of Jas­troch’s most inter­est­ing projects is the Vic­tro­la! pod­cast, a com­pendi­um of sketch com­e­dy blend­ed into wild week­ly episodes. Jas­troch and team recent­ly released their first Vic­tro­la! album with local label Sure Thing Records: Vir­tu­al Aural­i­ty.

Jas­troch is both a teacher and devot­ed stu­dent of improv (though he’ll admit that at one point he nev­er believed that would hap­pen). Valerie takes us on a jour­ney through his awak­en­ing to improv, thoughts on writ­ing for dif­fer­ent medi­ums like stand-up, and even a pos­si­bly ques­tion­able piz­za chain endorse­ment opportunity.

Whether you pre­fer being in the audi­ence, or have ambi­tions to be on stage, make it a point to hit Cold­Towne The­ater for per­for­mances or class­es. Be sure to also see the final per­for­mance from The Frank Mills improv troupe (includ­ing Michael Jas­troch) at Cold­Towne on Decem­ber 14th. Grab the Virtu­al Aural­i­ty album, and sub­scribe to the Vic­tro­la! pod­cast.

Michael Jastroch