50 First Jokes and more events kick off Austin’s comedy scene in 2018

Each year, 50 of Austin’s most incredible up-and-coming and veteran comics come together to tell the first joke they’ve written for the new year, kicking off 2018’s comedy scene with a bang (and a buzzer) on Jan. 3 for 50 First Jokes at Spider House Ballroom.

The annual show, now in its fifth year, was created by John F. O’Donnell and is hosted by Austin comic Lisa Friedrich.

Friedrich loves hosting this playful show, she said, “because it allows for a large showcasing of Austin’s incredible comedy scene. Everyone has 1 minute for their joke, after that minute, I set off a buzzer and they have to pass the mic to another comic. It’s pretty rare that a comic doesn’t get their full joke out, but when it happens it just adds to the fun of the show.” This show sells out, so get your tickets fast.

50 First Jokes, 8 p.m. Jan. 3. $12 online; $15 at the door. 2906 & 2908 Fruth St. spiderhouse.com/event/50-first-jokes-austin.

There are more nuggets of comedy gold scattered throughout the month of January:

Jan. 6

Smile More at the Institution Theater

Time to “break the glass microphone” once and for all. Since 2016, Valerie Nies has brought solid lineups to her monthly feminist comedy show, curating the lineup from veterans and beginners on the scene. This month’s lineup is no exception and features the talents of Brett VerVoort, Rachel Hall, Norah Franklin and Sam Noorani, with Kat Combs headlining. Interested in trying stand-up? Nies also teaches an intro class for beginners.

Jan. 10-14

Raul Sanchez at Cap City Comedy Club

When Raul Sanchez was crowned Best Comic in Texas in 2014, he tossed his trophy in the backseat of his car and hurried over to his job as a dishwasher. His comedy reflects the humility and relatability of Sanchez himself. He served three tours with the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan and turned to comedy to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, crippling anxiety attacks and, at one time, a substance abuse problem. Sanchez’s comedy is honest, unassuming, vulnerable and downright hilarious.

Jan. 13

Rodney Carrington at Bass Concert Hall

The Texas city of Longview gave us Matthew McConaughey, the Hands On A Hardbody contest, and comedian Rodney Carrington. Country music traditionally has an easier time incorporating comedy and music, and Carrington, having released eight major comedy album since the late nineties, is no exception. The comedian and musician is touring the country sharing his latest album, “Here Comes The Truth.”

Jan. 19 and 20

Jake Flores with Arielle Norman at Velveeta Room

In 2016, Jake Flores wrote the Tweet heard around the world: “I’m starting to think that this is the last season of America and the writers are just going nuts.” It was retweeted over 34,000 times, giving the world a glimpse of the comic Austin had known before he relocated to New York City. He’s back with us for one weekend only with the brutally hilarious Norman opening for him.

Jan. 29

Records Roulette at ColdTowne Theater

It’s natural in Austin for comedy and music to intersect. I’m excited for this upcoming comedy show that encourages the audience to bring in their vinyl records from their own collection. Host and DJ Ms. 45s spins your records while performers make comedy magic, inspired by the records you bring in. All genres of music and novelty records are welcome, though priority will be given to 45s and 7-inch singles. Tiny records, big laughs.

Jan. 25

Joe Rogan at Bass Concert Hall

Rogan’s career as a comedian has been anything but linear. After honing his skills in the Boston comedy scene, Rogan has been a mainstay on TV with such shows as “News Radio” and “Fear Factor” and is now a UFC commentator and podcast host. His history of publicly calling out comedians for stealing material and filter-free delivery makes for an always unpredictable show.

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