After 10 years, comedy has become a packed track at South by Southwest.
John Hodgman (remember before he had a persona and was simply a man with an onion in his pocket?), Wanda Sykes (currently being awesome on “black-ish”) and tiny, stand-up lifer Janeane Garofalo are all part of SXSW’s Comedy Festival, which celebrates its 10th edition in 2017.
This year’s festival kicks off March 10 at ACL Live with Comedy Central’s “@midnight with Chris Hardwick Live,” a SXSW edition of the Emmy-award winning interactive late night game show. Tom Lennon, Whitney Cummings and Nick Swardson will be contestants.
NBCUniversal’s comedy streaming service Seeso will sponsor a slate of shows, including Dan Harmon’s live fantasy role-playing show, “HarmonQuest,” an improvised Dungeons & Dragons game that takes a cast of characters (Harmontown mainstays Jeff B Davis, Erin McGathy, and Dungeon Master Spencer Crittenden, and a special guest) on a dragon-slaying journey. Also returning is Big Jay Oakerson’s What’s Your F@%king Deal? a show in which comedians will rely solely on crowd work, mining the audience for their material.
Another Seeso program, Wyatt Cenac’s “Night Train” showcase, is here for the first time, with the musical stylings of Night Train regular DJ Donwill. Seeso will also record back-to-back performances of “Doug Stanhope and Friends,” featuring a lineup of some of his favorite comedians, hosted by Stanhope. All SXSW attendees are invited to be part of the live audience for two shows at 10 p.m. and midnight March 14 at Esther’s Follies.
Other comics attending (with more expected to announced) include Al Madrigal, Andrew Santino, Bob Odenkirk, Bonnie McFarlane, Brendon Walsh, Dave Hill, Doug Benson, Dulce Sloan, Glenn Wool, Eddie Pepitone, Guy Branum, Horatio Sanz, Jason Mantzoukas, Jessica McKenna, Joe DeRosa, Joel Kim Booster, Jon Gabrus, Liza Treyger, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, Matteo Lane, Michael Ian Black, Morgan Murphy, Nate Bargatze, Nick Thune, Nicole Byer, Phoebe Robinson, Rich Vos, Robert Kelly, Sasheer Zamata, Scott Aukerman, Scott Thompson, Sean Patton, Shane Mauss, Shaun Diston and Tim Dillon.
Other shows include:
• TruTV’s ‘Talk Show the Game Show” a mash-up of both formats with creator Guy Branum and judges Casey Schreiner and Wanda Sykes.
• The Laugh Button Live! featuring some of New York City’s sharpest comics.
• The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre will host events all week, including their flagship improvised show and “420 with Matt Besser,” which is a whole mess of stoner jokes.
• “Lorne Michaels’ Above Average,” whose showcases have attracted SNL alumni and UCB regulars in years past.
• “Good Trip with Shane Mauss,” which explores the comedian’s lifelong relationship with psychedelics. Expect stand-up, a one-man show and, hey, maybe some useful information.
Podcast recordings include”Comedy Bang! Bang! and “improv4humans,” as well as live episodes of “Harmontown,” “My Wife Hates Me” and “Doug Loves Movies.”
The SXSW Comedy Festival is open to all SXSW badges as well as music festival and film festival wristband holders, and there’s plenty of crossover between the film and comedy fests.
The movie “The Big Sick” is a collaboration between producer Judd Apatow and writer Kumail Nanjiani, who first met on a podcast recording at SXSW in 2012.
Night Train host Wyatt Cenac stars in “Fits and Starts,” the story of a writer who can’t seem to escape his wife’s literary success. Austin’s own SNL alumna Noel Wells directed “Mr. Roosevelt” to the fest, in which she stars alongside comedian Nick Thune and “Doug Loves Movies” host Doug Benson.
If you need even more comedy, know that the cast of “Veep” will be in attendance, Gillian Jacobs and Phoebe Robinson will host a panel on the body positivity movement in comedy, and actor/comedian Bob Odenkirk will hold “A Conversation with Bob Odenkirk.”