There’s never any shortage of belly laughs at Austin’s Esther’s Follies, and this election season’s no exception. In fact, the 2016 crop of political candidates is like striking gold for SNL’s slightly younger Texas cousin.
As the candidates hurtle recklessly forward, tripping over each other (and sometimes themselves!) on the road to the White House, there are gaffes and goofs galore to give the comedy troupe’s writers a Texas-size serving of topical political fodder.
Yes, Esther’s has its fair share of Austin weird to brag about: where else do you see the performers run into the street, enlist a homeless guy, and perform from the other side of the window?
However, they’re also a savvy bunch of writers over on Sixth Street. After 38 years Shannon Sedwick and her cohorts know their audience wears blue and red, and have great fun skewering both sides of the political divide. Everyone from Bill and Hil to Ted Cruz, Jeb and The Donald are spoofed: this fall, look out for the Trump piñata.
Of course, it’s not all politics in the Esther’s pool (named and decorated in honor of 1940s Olympic hopeful swimmer turned movie star Esther Williams). There’s music–it is Austin, after all–in the show, which is emceed by Sedwick’s husband and co-founder Michael Shelton.
Then there’s the magic, brought to a rapt audience by Esther’s mainstay Ray Anderson: nationally renowned, Anderson has been binding his spells at Esther’s for 15 years. Part magician, part comedian, part tease, Anderson’s always a showstopper.
Catch Esther’s Follies weekly, 8pm Thursdays, 8pm and 10pm Friday and Saturdays.
Tip: if you buy general admission tickets, get there 30 to 45 minutes ahead of show time for the best seats. And don’t forget that general admission seats are released to the standby line 20 minutes before curtain up.
By Julie Tereshchuk