AUSTIN– The penultimate night of SXSW festivities began with a one-two-three punch: three comedy shows, one venue, one night. It was also the first evening of comedy shows for the music segment of the festival, the interactive segment having shut down last Tuesday. So, instead of talking about Twitter and sexual inadequacy, the comics talked about skinny jeans and sexual inadequacy.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first show was Doug Benson’s “The Benson Interruption,” a stand-up showcase punctuated by Doug’s onstage comments and additions to jokes. The show has seen various formats – live show, podcast, Comedy Central series – but the live experience was well-suited to this crowd of discriminating Austinites and young music buffs.
Taking the stage were comics Doug Mellard, Chris Fairbanks – who barely made it to the stage after sprinting from a bar nearly a mile away – Tig Notaro, Brody Stevens – whose intense auctioneer -WWE yelling style put Benson’s interruptions to a halt – and crowd favorite Aziz Ansari. And, even though AT&T’s service issues slowed the comics’ Tweet-Offs, the audience really dug the show.
Almost immediately after Benson’s show was another stand-up showcase, minus interruptions. Hampton Yount MCed the show, and featured comics included Brody Stevens, Tig Notaro, Kurt Braunohler, Jena Friedman, Alex Koll, and Eugene Mirman.
With so many comics, the show offered a diverse group of styles and topics, some of which honed in on the weird and wonderful SXSW scene. Or, more specifically, hipsters.
Kurt Braunohler mentioned that his SXSW Music experience thus far involved sitting on a hill and counting the rat tails. Oh, you hipsters, when will you learn that an ironic hairstyle doesn’t make it look any better?
Alex Koll followed with the most direct commentary on the festival attendees, asking, “Seen any hipsters lately?” before launching into some impressions of various hipster types. So let it be known that Koll did hipster impressions before they were mainstream.
Eugene Mirman closed the first showcase with most of the same material from earlier in the week, but in a new bit he invited an audience member onstage to participate in an improvised performance piece. It was absurd, but somehow, it was hilarious, even though he closed with, “I’m sorry, that was shameful.”
And the late show began almost immediately after that! Doug Mellard returned to MC, and the packed show featured Amy Schumer, Ben Kronberg, Bryson Turner, Chelsea Peretti, Chris Cubas, Glenn Wool, Joe Derosa, and Rob Cantrell.
Once again, several comics took the opportunity to comment on the strange atmosphere that is SXSW Music. Chelsea Peretti, for example, lamented the prevalence of weak men in tiny black jeans, which described most of the men in attendance.
And then there was Glenn Wool, whose scruffy appearance meshed well with the SXSW Music crowd: “I feel like a hobbit that’s come back to the Shire,” he said.
Others joked about the lack of diversity of the festival. Amy Schumer was the only comic to comment directly onstage about the critiques of SXSW Comedy’s decidedly male-dominated lineup. And Ben Kronberg asked, perhaps unironically, “Are there any black people at SXSW?”
Though the crowd at Esther’s Follies had thinned drastically by the end of the night – the final show ended past 1:00am – they remained enthusiastic for each comic.
Tonight is the final evening of comedy! Stay tuned for our coverage.