There’s this trope in movies. A guy stands on a street corner in the perfect view as the world progresses around him flashes within a blur. He’s staring at the camera. The city never sleeps. There is constant noise. Some days, this is how I feel trying to keep up with the Austin comedy scene. The mics, the headliners crushing within walking distance of one another, the shows popping up everywhere, in all corners of the city – it can be a lot. There’s an era of Austin lore, when Willie Nelson headed up the house band for the Armadillo Headquarters, a time in the history of Austin that helped define the culture where the hippies partied with the cowboys, today feels like that, but with more dick jokes.
The Capital City moves at Mach Five with Speed Racer making the tight corners with Racer-X deep on his heels. Native Hostel, Green Jay, Vulcan Gas Company, Sunset Strip, Creek, and the Cave all have regular gigs, but then there’s every little hovel and garage, too; what’s wild seeing people develop at lightspeed. They say in comedy, like writing, it takes ten years to become a realized comedic voice.
What happens when the city acts as an incubator to push talent harder and faster than expected?
If you’re a comic in Austin, you can get up seven days a week and, in some cases, have more than one chance to get five minutes to work jokes out. If you want it, it’s here. The City of Rogan has opened the floodgates with opportunities to see people work to become those who get that minute on Kill Tony and eventually make it to Redban’s Secret Show at Vulcan. If you put in the work, there is reward in the streets.
This week, I’ve been running around dropping off copies of the first issue of Hussy Magazine, which features a piece I did on the legendary comic Brian Holtzman. I’ve seen two comics specifically – Britney Ledesma and James Garibay defy what I experienced months ago. These two comics have grown by leaps and bounds, and that’s not clichéd conjecture. Garibay, I saw at the Green Jay in December and barely got A laugh. To say he bombed, I’d show you a photo of London after the Germans went HAAM on that shit and it would have looked better. Last night, Garibay opened for Holtzman at the Green Jay and murdered with his focused non-sequitur ala Mitch Hedberg. It was like seeing two different comics. You can tell he’s gotten up constantly and put in the time. You don’t get put up on the same bill as David Lucas and Holtzman without being able to land a punch. Britney, just the same, has worked every mic and show in Texas, and it’s obvious. She was also at last night’s Green Jay gig. Going from seating people at Big Laugh Shows, Britney earned her way onto the Kill Tony show and, after dropping heat on the crowd, was asked to take the stage at Secret Show.
You can’t just be OK to get the nod from Redban.
These two aren’t outliers, either. If you put in the time, lick your wounds when bombing, and get back up and attack the microphone, you can make a name in Austin. It might be dizzying, but this is a particular time in the footnotes of the city, the shows, the experience and the hype is there. There are no signs of slowing down. And I think that’s hilarious.