Keeping Austin Laughing: The Moontower Comedy Festival

by Jennifer Simonson on May 2, 2018 in Living Texas, Austin, Theatre,
Mike Birbiglia9 Courtesy of Bells and Whistles Productions e1525239074270

In a town known for its live music festivals, the Moontower Comedy Festival mixes it up by bringing four days of nonstop comedy to the capitol city.

Every April, the festival draws America’s funniest comics to downtown Austin to perform in over 12 venues. Single show tickets are available, but true comedy lovers buy a weekend badge that allows them to watch their favorite comics in the more than 100 performances, podcast performances and special events.

Over the course of the 2018 festival, established comics such as “Weird Al” Yankovic, David Cross, Tig Notaro, Mike Birbiglia and Tiffany Haddish graced the Paramount Theatre main stage as the festival’s headliners.

Weird Al” Yankovic was one of the 2018 Moontower Comedy Festival headliners.
Photo courtesy Bells and Whistles Productions

Next door at the Stateside, headliner Preacher Lawson started the laughfest with his high energy comedy on April 19. The 27-year-old comic who is funny enough to make Simon Cowell laugh, blew through jokes ranging from what it was like to lose ‘America’s Got Talent’ to a 12-year-old, how he deals with crackheads in his Los Angeles neighborhood and impressions of his devoutly religious grandmother. His goofy, high energy style kept the audience laughing, while also wondering how one man can have so much energy.  At one point Lawson ripped off his t-shirt and threw it into the crowd before heading off stage for a new shirt.

Early Bird passes are already on sale for next year’s Moontower Comedy Festival that runs April 24-27, 2019

The big names might perform on the main stages, but there are plenty of laughs to be had in the smaller clubs with up-and-comers like Alonzo Bodden from NBC’s ‘Last Comic Standing,’ Jackie Kashian who hosts the podcast ‘The Dork Forest’ and Felicia Michaels who won the American Comedy Award for Funniest Female.

Nikki Glaser, star of the hit Comedy Central series ‘Not Safe w/ Nikki Glaser,’ on stage at the Stateside during the 2018 Moontower Comedy Festival. Photo courtesy Bells and Whistles Productions

The festival makes sure to pay homage to local talent. Austin’s own Devon Walker opened for Lawson. During his 20 minutes, Walker noted the differences in Austin since his childhood days while explaining what he called the upside of gentrification. “When I went to summer camp in East Austin, I got punched in the face. Now I go to that same area and I can learn how to perform circus stunts on a trapeze.”

Austin Towers, a lineup of the most talented Austin-based comics, is one of the hidden gems of the Moontower Comedy Festival. Photo courtesy Bells and Whistles Productions

Each year organizers assemble Austin Towers, a lineup of the most talented Austin-based comics. Matt Sadler, Chris Tellez, Justin Hicks and Vanessa Gonzalez—to name a few—joked about traffic in Austin, dating on Tinder in a town full of singles and the differences between Texas and the East Coast.

Cover photo courtesy Bells and Whistles Productions