From Leslie Jones to Ben Schwartz, the Funniest Week in Comedy Wraps at Moontower Just For Laughs
It’s All Funny Business in Austin
By Deven Wilson
Photos by Rachel Parker and Roger Ho
You can finally relax your abs as Moontower Just For Laughs, the weeklong-ish laugh fest, has come to a close. Austin hosted the annual comedy extravaganza from April 12 to April 23.
The classic conundrum of the event was how to enjoy as many shows as possible without busting a gut.
But with the final punchline delivered and the bellyaches subsiding, it’s time to recover and reflect.
Comedic Talent of Local Stars and Industry Giants
A spectacular array of comedic talent, from local up-and-comers to industry icons, dazzled audiences across multiple stages around town.
Beloved headliner Jenny Slate introduced hometown rising star Clara Blackstone to set the tone.
Andrew Dismukes, a sketch writer and Texas native, made a triumphant return to his roots alongside fellow Saturday Night Live alumni. They gathered to celebrate the comedic talents of New York’s finest jokesters.
The Little Gay Shop, a treasured community builder within Austin’s queer scene, hosted vibrant nights of comedy that infused more color into a traditionally blue art form.
With so many side-splitting performances, it’s almost unfair to choose highlights. But a few particular gems stole the show.
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Leslie Jones Wants You To Fail
Uproarious former Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones dominated Paramount Stage. With her unapologetically bold performance, Jones left the audience gasping for air.
She also inspired a newfound appreciation for the value of failure.
As she wrapped her set, Jones delivered a powerful message to the audience. She encouraged them to embrace mistakes, make a fool of themselves and “be stupid” regardless of intelligence.
Her inspiring words left a lasting impression to end a deliriously entertaining performance.
Moses Storm Starts a Cult
Satirist Moses Storm created a captivating, cult-like atmosphere at Cap City Comedy for an intimate evening with eager converts.
In a memorable spectacle, each audience member donned a white robe. The crowd symbolically joined Storm in his quest to ignite the next viral religious movement while he probed the audience for inspiration.
Although attendees were unable to take to the streets, Storm united them as a collective. He used the power of groupthink to create absurd chants like, “Every Mormon influencer has a picture of hot Jesus,” “Be Brad Pitt, “Politically nice!” and “Thank you, Austin.”
The rallying cries echoed throughout the venue, cultivating a zany sense of unity and camaraderie among guests.
The First Time for Live Nude Girls
The Live Nude Girls tour made its debut with a hysterical performance by funny women Patti Harrison, Megan Stalter and Sarah Sherman.
The trio began by poking fun at latecomers from the orchestra aisles, calling them out and questioning their tardiness. The audience delighted in its proximity to the performers.
After having their fill of teasing tardy guests, they split up to perform individual sets that maintained an ensemble spirit.
Stalter opened with a reading from her fictional book from a fictional book series. Harrison and Sherman distributed pre-written questions to audience members to optimize the author’s Q&A session.
Hot on Stalter’s heels, Harrison read the pilot script for her original rom-com, featuring a scatterbrained heroine struggling to balance the chaos of life. She made it clear that her work bore no resemblance to Emily in Paris, despite the uncanny and comical parallels.
Sherman closed out the set by sharing her thoughts on why anyone who invites her to “Barton Spring (the “Springs” part was a point of hilarious contention between Sherman and the audience)” was a pervert.
Revealing more of their secret sauce is an injustice to the show. You’ll have to catch The Live Nude Girls tour for yourself.
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Audience Improv With Ben Schwartz and Friends
Parks and Recreation’s Ben Schwartz, along with Superstore‘s Colton Dunn, stand-up artist Jessica McKenna and laugh maker Drew Tarver, electrified the room with a long-form improv performance.
Drawing inspiration from audience members, Schwartz and the crew crafted an all-encompassing, spontaneous piece.
Little did they know, the suggestion they received from an audience member would turn out to be a gold mine.
During the show, a female audience member volunteered her story of living in an RV for four years while renovating her home with her husband.
On top of construction setbacks, their exploding Jeep sent shrapnel flying, their almost-completed home didn’t have a front door and they were forced to live inside their RV while it was being repaired at an auto shop.
With this treasure trove of content, Schwartz, Dunn, McKenna and Tarver delivered a phenomenal performance that culminated in an unexpected twist. The gang made a Space X joke, only to learn that the woman’s son was an engineer of the rocket that exploded.
The audience member’s final detail was a fitting finale that a comedian could only dream of.
These highlights represent a fraction of the stories emerging from Moontower Just for Laughs. Attendees will be regaling their experiences for months.
However, the true challenge of Moontower Just For Laughs isn’t in trying to see every show. It’s in catching the ones everyone will be talking about.
Remember that for next year.
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