Hello again, internet! Looks like it’s that time of year again, when Austinites are treated to some of the best in the comedy game today, and we get to knock back expensive beers and laugh four days straight til our cheeks ache and funny bones get tickl… Okay, enough cheese. But I am really excited for Moontower’s return. Last year was wonderful, from getting to see some comedy titans doing their thing in person (and chilling at pretty relaxed after-parties) to catching up and comers right before they broke into the “Big Time” (Pete Holmes). Basic cable is “Big Time” right? Anyways, here are our most anticipated acts this year – James Pound
Hannibal Buress is the only headlining comic in this year’s Moontower lineup to arrive with a Jeselnik/Schumer/Holmes-esque, just-now-emerging-on-the-national-stage level of fame. The other big names are good, but they’re either known quantities who have made the leap already (Mike Birbiglia, Demetri Martin, Marc Maron, Maria Bamford) or curious misfits that could end up as a pleasant surprise or a mild bummer (Kids in the Hall, Dennis Miller, Fred Armisen). Among the big names, at least, Buress is the only can’t-miss performer.
I only know Buress from the few episodes I’ve seen of The Eric Andre Show and his appearance in the High Maintenance web series, so I’m coming into this show relatively unspoiled on his actual standup material. The only joke of his I’ve heard all the way through is his New Laptop bit, which immediately clued me in as to what this Chicago Magazine feature meant when it said vaguely that he has “a style all his own.” Buress is hot right now, and he knows it, and there’s no reason to expect anything other than a peak performance from him at this year’s festival. – John Bender
Moontower has historically been great about shining a light on Austin’s best comedians and this year’s line-up is no different, as hometown favorites like Matt Bearden, Mac Blake, and Brendan K. O’Grady are all on the roster. But I’m pretty sure Noel Wells is the first former Austinite to not only make it on to SNL, but to also return to Austin for a victory lap at Moontower. While I’m still not quite sold on SNL’s current cast, Wells’ background at UCB and the self-made videos that first got her attention have enabled her to stand out from the pack. Last year’s Moontower featured an interesting Bill Hader set where the SNL star performed as several of his characters and I’m curious to see if Wells’ performances at the She-Bang and Comedy Jackpot showcases will be more character or monologue driven. Like a lot of UCB vets, Wells is particularly great at fully inhabiting the characters and personas she creates and she has an impressive comedic range. – Morgan Davis
I’ve been enjoying Mike Birbiglia’s work for a good while. I love the stuff he does on NPR, and I thought his movie Sleepwalk With Me did a great job adapting his storytelling standup into a nice narrative without straying much at all from its original style. I’m intrigued with what he’ll do in adapting his My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend (both available on Netflix Instant) special into a film. He’s been quoted as saying it’s going to be more “inspired by” than a direct take like the previous film. Birbigs has this great knack for just seeming like a great college friend you haven’t seen in awhile and is telling you quirky things that’ve happened in the years apart. There’s a comfort in his storytelling style, and it’s typically very relatable. Seriously, who doesn’t want a pizza pillow? – James Pound
This is for sure a risky pick, but what can I say? I have a soft spot for Colin Quinn, who manned the Weekend Update desk right around the time that I got old enough to understand the jokes on SNL. Since his time on that show, he’s found work on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn (didn’t watch), Twitter (don’t get what he’s doing there), Girls (love it), and a bunch of one-man shows (color me skeptical).
He’s been touring Unconstitutional, his show at this year’s Moontower, for some time now to mostly positive reviews. I’m definitely put off by the description, though: “On May 25th, 1787, fifty-five delegates in wigs and tights sat down to create a country from scratch. In 2013, Colin Quinn offers his unique comedic perspective on our national character. From predator drones to the Kardashians, he pulls no punches in asking if this is what the founding fathers planned.”
That sounds horrible, right? But I’m willing to give Quinn a chance, even if it’s solely out of nostalgia and the fact that other comedians seem to have a lot of respect for the guy. – John Bender
Kids in the Hall
I basically grew up on Kids in the Hall, so realistically, Moontower could have been a few straights days of Kids shows and I would have been happy. My parents would quote classic SNL sketches constantly in our house while I was a kid, but Kids in the Hall were a group I felt I owned; they were far weirder than SNL and by the time their show was wrapping up in 1995, I was just discovering them through nonstop reruns on Comedy Central. For me, Kids in the Hall’s outsider strangeness and devotion to weirder pockets of domesticity was immensely appealing, their comedy was like a funhouse mirror take on homes and families I knew. Even when I didn’t quite understand the surreal philosophies hidden within their sketches or the camp culture they loved to saturate everything with, I was drawn in by the wackiness and personality. Obviously I never had a chance to see Monty Python live, and with this year’s Moontower, I feel like I’m getting to catch my generation’s Monty Python. – Morgan Davis
A great comic we all seemed to fall in love with last year was Michael Che, and Moontower was wise to bring him back. He opened for Anthony Jeselnik last year and nearly stole the show in my opinion. His calm, cool demeanor and eyes always at half mast might give a sense of kind of a slacker/stoner kind of guy, but Che’s wit is piercing and can easily catch you off guard. One thing I enjoyed last year in his stage presence was his pauses and letting the audience sink into the jokes. He’d get a big laugh, and then a small chuckle or a slight grin from him would garner another big reaction. I definitely wanted to mention him here because Moontower kind of served him a double edged sword. He’s a headlining act three nights in a row! …at the furthest out of the way venue, Cap City Comedy Club. I never made it out there for any sets last year, and it seems rather hard to if you wanted to see something downtown and then have to rush up there in time for the late show or vice versa. I’m sure it’s possible, it’s just a bit of a challenge. So I bring up Michael Che now because I want you to know, he’s worth the journey and deserves some great, big audiences.
Also, in case no one else mentions him, Bobcat Fucking Goldthwait is gonna be there! I know he was a late addition, but it blows my mind he hasn’t been more featured on their advertising. He’s seemingly been out of the stand up game for a bit, making crazy/offensive/hilarious/
I’m looking forward to seeing Bobcat Goldthwait the most of all. I grew up loving him in the Police Academy movies and One Crazy Summer. I’ve been a fan of the movies he has directed, which have a decidedly dark tint to them, World’s Greatest Dad is particularly fucked up. I saw a couple of his stand up bits on tv when I was younger and remember them being frantic and crazy. I can’t help but wonder what his current stuff is like since I’m fairly unfamiliar with it.
I used to do that voice of his all the time as a kid. I’m kind of hoping he won’t do it here, because if he does I’m going to walk around talking like him for a few days at least. I doubt he’ll pull a shower out on stage to do his bit this time like he did in the 80’s. This will be one of the few acts that I quite literally grew up with and seeing how different he is now from how he was then fascinates me. – Dylan Tano