2017, you have been … challenging, with your real scandals, fake news and terrible tweets. But we still have a full and thrilling month of Austin comedy before we relegate another year into the cosmic dustbin.
One of the brightest moments of this year has been the return of Austin’s legendary Latino Comedy Project. The initial run of “Barrio Daze,” the solo show from LCP’s artistic director Adrian Villegas, sold out quickly. Set against the backdrop of a tumultuous national election (sound familiar?) the show returns for one final week at December 7-16 at the Institution Theater. I sat down with Villegas to talk about the Latino Comedy Project legacy and the solo show’s revival.
Why do you think this show is relevant right now?
“Barrio Daze” is actually more relevant now than when I first wrote it. It deals with race relations, history’s uncomfortable truths, the role of Latinos in this country, and the way immigrants have been a convenient economic boon and scapegoat for America — often simultaneously. The ignorance and ugliness we’re living through right now has happened before and doesn’t exist in a historical vacuum. “Barrio Daze” puts both that history and this particular moment in their proper context. Which is to say, “with jokes.”
How does this build on the previous work of the LCP?
“Barrio Daze” continues the LCP’s mission of speaking for and to groups whose voices aren’t heard often enough in a way that’s accessible to everyone. The audiences we’ve seen for our shows this year have been diverse, made up of all ages, races and backgrounds, from the NPR tote-bagger crowd to college students to elderly migrant workers. Just like with “Gentrif*cked,” the show allows an audience to laugh across lines that might normally divide us at our shared human experience.
I’ve found that this show speaks very strongly for audiences who want to feel a sense of community and to be reminded that, yes, there is still sanity and decency in the world and, no, they’re not alone. The ultimate message of the show — that good people are not helpless and that, if we work for it, goodness can prevail — seems to resonate very powerfully.
What’s next for you and the LCP?
We recognize the void that exists for the kind of work we do and realize that we have a duty to help fill that void. It’s a real sense of responsibility, but, luckily, this is something I love to do. And even after so many years, all of us in the LCP still love working and creating together, too. We have some big and surprising multimedia projects that we’re really excited about that we’ll unveil in early 2018, ideas whose ambition dwarf anything we’ve done in over a decade. We have every intention next year of making jaws drop.
Here are some more comedy events hitting Austin in December to keep you laughing until next year, literally.
“A John Waters Christmas” presented by Moontower Comedy the Paramount Theater. There is not enough available space in this roundup to gush about the “Pope of Trash” Waters (“Pink Flamingos,” “Hairspray,” “A Dirty Shame”), but I’m beyond excited to see him perform an unforgettable night of holiday mischief with his critically acclaimed one-man show. Waters pokes fun at the holiday season with adult-appropriate humor, effectively “putting the X in Xmas,” developing a rapid-fire monologue show for the open-minded and slightly left-of-center audience.
Teacher’s Only Comedy Tour with Eddie B. at Bass Concert Hall.Texas comics have a reputation for creating their own moment instead of waiting for the opportunity to arrive. Enter comedian and real-life teacher Eddie B. He originally created a series of videos entitled “What Teachers Really Say” to say what teachers everywhere are thinking but couldn’t quite say out loud. Educators from America to Africa, Dallas to Dubai, New York to New Delhi (and beyond) are getting a lesson in the funniest ways to express their worst frustrations, and they are loving every second of Eddie B’s uncensored, raw, and hysterically realistic portrayal of a teacher’s hectic life.
Rich Vos with Joe Hafkey at the Velveeta Room. Raised in New Jersey, Vos is a no-holds-barred performer who destroys in comedy clubs around the country. A comedian’s comedian, he can be heard regularly as a guest on the most popular podcasts including “WTF with Marc Maron” and “The Joe Rogan Experience.” He’s also been a comedy writer for the Oscars and Comedy Central roasts. Opening for Vos is affable Austin comic Joe Hafkey.
“Slimetime” with Christina Parrish at ColdTowne Theater. “Slimetime” is the monthly stand-up comedy show at Coldtowne Theater feature some of the best of Austin’s alternative comics. Parrish is delightfully weird and one of my favorite comics on the scene. She’s also an incredibly gifted filmmaker who made “Call Me Brother” in 2017. I can’t tell you what to expect from this show, but hint hint, there will be slime.
“Laugh Out Proud” at the Institution Theater. “Laugh Out Proud” is a monthly stand-up showcase hosted by Luke Wallens and featuring the comedy stylings of the queer community. Nobody is excluded, and this is always one of the funniest and consistent shows in town. Wallens is one of the nicest people around and a master in curating incredible talent. Queer, straight, ally or otherwise, time to “Laugh Out Proud.”
Rebecca Havermeyer at North Door. Austin performer and musician Paul Soileau has made a name for himself with his alter-ego drag personalities Christeene and Rebecca Havermeyer. While Christeene is a lover of the beloved gutter, Havermeyer is all glitz, glamour and Zsa Zsa. Naturally, it’s the perfect character to host a Christmas show. Soileau is just a whirlwind of a performer with endless amounts of energy and charisma.
Same Year’s Eve at Hideout Theatre. It’s ridiculous and absurd, and it’s a complete blast. Every improviser in Austin (yep, this could number in the hundreds) is invited to perform in this one show. They are split into just three groups and take turns performing games, scenes and a full-blown improvised musical right before your very eyes. It’s part party, part show, and uniquely Austin.
Ron Funches at Cap City Comedy Club.Funches is seemingly everywhere these days. He’s a regular on the comedy circuit and has been featured in movies like “Get Hard” and TV’s “Blackish,” “Eric Andre Show,” “Transparent” and the late great “@midnight,” to name just a few of his extensive credits. This year has been … tough. So I suggest heading to Cap City Comedy Club on New Year’s Eve and laughing in 2018. With an early and late show, bring in the new year with a champagne toast and party favors.
Brently Heilbron is a writer, emo puppet and host of the PBS series “Stand Up Empire.” Got a show to recommend? Reach out @Brently on Twitter.