AUSTIN – The city of Austin is well known for its quirky eccentricity, as reflected in its mostly official motto, “Keep Austin Weird.” And South by Southwest has a tendency to exacerbate said weirdness, particularly where the comedy scene is concerned.
Today, I have two examples for you.
Example the first: audience members on Wednesday were treated to (quite literally— that’s a pun, it’ll be funny in a moment, I promise) a live performance of cult hit The Chris Gethard Show, billed as “the most bizarre and often saddest talk show in New York City.”
This episode was a small tribute to its Texan environs, called “Remember the A La Mode.” So, ice cream. Texas style.
Gethard soon disrobed completely — SXSW Festival has had 1000% more male nudity than my previous festival experiences — and climbed into a plastic tub onstage. Audience members could then request that stage manager Bethany Hall pour various ice cream toppings and ice creams on top of the so-called “human sundae.”
The scene quickly evolved into chaos as other recurring characters from the show, like Vacation Jason, Connor Ratcliff, and the Human Fish also joined in the fun, dousing the visibly shivering host with gobs of ice cream. “You look like a baby left in a trash can at prom,” said Shannon O’Neill of the scene— a deeply accurate assessment, as you can see.
Okay. So that happened. Example the second of Austin’s perpetual weirdness: a live performance and taping of Superego, a podcast offering a slew of character-driven improvisational sketches.
Although the comedy crowds were smaller due in part to the swell of musical acts performing at every live music venue in the city, the performance nonetheless featured some notable highlights.
We met Assemblyman Karl Marx, for example, who sells beef jerky as a side business. We met Keanu Reeves, star of — as he called them — The Matrices movies. And we witnessed the production of an increasingly crass advertising jingle for “The Barbecue Truck,” a less-than-subtle homage to Texas and its stellar meaty offerings.
Although the comedy offerings continue to die down in the wake of SXSW’s Music takeover, we have a few more updates on the fest for you, including an interview or two. Stay tuned!