Moontower Comedy 2021: Lara's Picks & Recommendations

September 17, 2021

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Moontower Comedy Festival


Lara Smith


Lara Smith

With the cur­rent state of the world, a lot of us hard­ly know what time of year it is, let alone what year it is, but I’m here to tell you it’s Christ­mas time…Comedy Christ­mas time! Moon­tow­er Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val is going to hap­pen this year! We’re a lit­tle under a week away and the Fes­ti­val has tak­en many pre­cau­tions to assure you a fun and safe time. With head­lin­ers like Mar­garet Cho, Dave Attell, and Maria Bam­ford you can’t go wrong in the fun department.

Here are a few of my picks and point­ers for this year. Every year Moon­tow­er has some sta­ples that are tried and true must-see show­cas­es. Stars in Bars and The God­damn Com­e­dy Jam are two such sta­ples I would work into your fes­ti­val sched­ule. The for­mer allows you to see major head­lin­ers in a more inti­mate set­ting than their pop­u­lar­i­ty would nor­mal­ly allow, and the lat­ter allows you to see such stars rock out! 

Keep­ing in mind that Moon­tow­er is an Austin Fes­ti­val, I strong­ly advise you take in a cou­ple of Austin-cen­tric shows. Com­ing to Austin with­out check­ing out the local com­e­dy is like going to Puer­to Val­lar­ta to only eat at Chili’s and McDon­alds. To check out the local fla­vor, I sug­gest catch­ing Home Base, an ongo­ing and well-curat­ed show­case fea­tur­ing some of the best comics from Austin. Don’t ask me to name favs…I have a lim­it­ed space, but just know that the Austin-based tal­ent could fill a fes­ti­val on its own, hand­i­ly. Then there’s Dud­ley & Bob with Matt Sideshow, the not safe for ter­res­tri­al radio iter­a­tion of the Austin radio show that has been run­ning for over 30 years. While the Sideshow has been a part of the fes­ti­val many times, this year it’s been giv­en a well-earned head­lin­er sta­tus and I strong­ly advise peo­ple unfa­mil­iar with the show to check them out and then help me under­stand how this show nev­er got syndicated…it still should.

In keep­ing with region­al themes, I have always loved that Moon­tow­er fea­tures a show­case of New York comics that is always top notch. New York’s Finest is a Moon­tow­er tra­di­tion and this year Sean Don­nel­ly hosts a line­up that fea­tures acts such as Shane Tor­res, Jes­si­ca Kir­son, and Dan Soder so take my advice and put it in the plan. If you miss that par­tic­u­lar show­ing, there are two oth­er New York’s Finest show­cas­es dur­ing the festival.

I’ve been dish­ing out a lot of advice so This Might Help seems like a nat­ur­al segue. The lat­est of Matt Braunger’s pod­casts where he takes mes­sages left by lis­ten­ers seek­ing advice and he and guests play Dear Abby right there on the spot. Hav­ing seen a live ver­sion of it’s pre­vi­ous incar­na­tion Advice From a Dip­shit, I high­ly rec­om­mend it. And since I said on the spot,” don’t miss Stand-up on the Spot with Jere­mi­ah Watkins, who I’ve polite­ly dubbed King of Moon­tow­er because he does so much through­out the fes­ti­val. I’ve watched him and his sax­o­phone cram into a rideshare just to make it from one show to the next. As one of the hard­est work­ing comics in the indus­try, if you miss Stand-up on the Spot, you’ll find many oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties to catch him or one of his per­sonas through­out the festival.

Now speak­ing of the musi­cal­ly inclined, Josh Adam Mey­ers, who you may know from the afore­men­tioned The God­damn Com­e­dy Jam is bring­ing back his pod­cast, The 500 to Moon­tow­er this year. Each episode, Mey­ers and a guest take a deep dive into Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Great­est Albums list. Meyer’s ded­i­ca­tion to this 500-episode pas­sion project shows in his detailed research to each album fea­tured. Go find a favorite album from one of the already 150+ episodes avail­able to get a taste for this must-see live taping.

One thing I’m very excit­ed about this year is The Show with Two Heads, a com­e­dy duet show with Dana Gould and Bob­cat Goldth­wait. Gould has been to many pre­vi­ous Moon­tow­ers and not only has he made me laugh so hard, I hurt, he’s proven to be a very nice guy. See­ing him team up with Goldth­wait feels like a com­e­dy moment to remem­ber. I’ve nev­er seen Bob­cat Goldth­wait, so I won’t be miss­ing this chance. Be sure to catch the world pre­mière of their doc­u­men­tary Joy Ride at State­side The­ater as well.

I know it seems odd to end my rec­om­men­da­tions dis­cussing head­lin­ers (Sideshow being the excep­tion), but that’s a tes­ta­ment to Moon­tow­er Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val. There is so much tal­ent packed into show­cas­es and satel­lite shows, that even if you didn’t get in to see a head­lin­er show, you’d swear you’d been to the best com­e­dy fes­ti­val ever. My first pic has been a head­lin­er in our hearts for a long time. Leanne Mor­gan is one of the most hilar­i­ous names in the indus­try and her Insta­gram videos alone kept me going in those dark ear­ly days of the pan­dem­ic. She’s an absolute trea­sure. Sal Vul­cano was admit­ted­ly new to stand-up when he start­ed com­ing to Moon­tow­er, but obvi­ous­ly no stranger to com­e­dy as part of The Ten­der­loins and Imprac­ti­cal Jok­ers. Like Michael Jor­dan, he has prac­ticed every angle of the com­e­dy game and is becom­ing a true mas­ter. Check out his new(ish) food debate pod­cast Taste Buds with fel­low Moon­tow­er alum Joe Derosa. The chem­istry between them is rem­i­nis­cent of Click and Clack, the Tap­pet Broth­ers of the leg­endary Car Talk.

These are just some of the picks to get you start­ed, but no mat­ter who you choose to see, you’re in for the time of your life! Be safe, mask up, get your hand san­i­tiz­er, and go have fun!

Moontower Comedy Festival 2021