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Austin, Texas Comedy Journey

Updated: May 11, 2023

Recently, I travelled to Austin, Texas for the largest record convention in the United States. Going to the Austin Record Convention is something I’ve dreamed about doing since before I opened our downtown Springfield, MO Heavy Heads Records location. I have a video and blog about that coming soon, but please enjoy my story about comedy while I'm editing!

If you know me, you know that I’ve always loved stand up comedy, and although I’ve gotten up at several open mics over the years, I’ve only recently begun to really dive in, and see what I’m able to do with the art form. I’ll also let you know right up front that I am aware that I am not good at comedy. Up to this point, I’ve earned some groans, chuckles, and even gut busting laughter at some of the open mics I’ve been a part of, but when I say good, I mean consistently good, captivating, you get it. I have an enormous amount of respect for comedy, and those who have refined their material, and crafted lengthy sets. I think it’s responsible to be responsible with the word good. I’d like to say I know just how hard good comics work, but I don’t, because I haven’t experienced what they have. The best I can do at this point is imagine how hard it is for them, and let them tell you about it in their interviews.

I arrived in Austin on May 5th, just shy of midnight, and lucked right into a great Mexican restaurant called Las Cazuelas, for a Cinco De Mayo feast. I’m not trying to talk badly about our local Mexican restaurants, and I’ve yet to try them all, but this was absolutely the best Mexican food that I’ve ever had in my life! After the meal, I made my way downtown to scope things out, and quickly realized I’d also lucked into being there the weekend of the Pecan Festival. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know drunk people liked pecans that much, because I didn’t see a single pecan the whole time I was there; they must have eaten them all before I arrived. My GPS was set to take me directly to the Comedy Mothership, which just recently opened on March 7th of this year. If you’re not aware, the Comedy Mothership is Joe Rogan’s new comedy club that has taken over the old Ritz theatre on 6th street. When I got close, I realized the pecan lovers had blocked off the streets for the festival. At that point, I made an executive decision to head to my Air BnB and call it a night. The Mothership would be there tomorrow.



After the record convention on day 2, I went back to the Air BnB to clean up and change, then I grabbed a Lyft and headed back to 6th street. As soon as I was dropped off next to the barricade, I headed straight back toward the mothership. I don’t usually fanboy too hard, but I was absolutely enthralled by it, and so were a lot of other folks. We were all hovering around the club, like insects hover around a porch light on a hot summer night. That particular night, Ian Edwards was playing, but the show was sold out. The club did offer an overflow line around the corner of the building, for those who were willing to wait for seats that may come available. I’d done some Googling by this point, and I was also aware of the newer comedy club Sunset Strip, just a few doors down from the Mothership, so I had a tough choice to make. After a couple minutes of going back and forth with myself, I decided that the move was to hit Sunset Strip, and I’m very glad I did.



At Sunset Strip, the cover was $30, but you got 50% off with a coupon code at the door. I know it’s a hustle, and promoters do what they have to do to get people in the doors, and I’m so glad they do! I was very happy to pay $15 with a 2 drink minimum, to see authentic Austin comedy on the legendary 6th street! The lineup for the evening was great, and all of the comedians were funny, but I’ll be honest, I don’t remember all of their names. There were two comics that absolutely made my night though. The first was a surprise spot by Tony Hinchcliffe, of the YouTube series Kill Tony. If you like dark comedy, this guy is an absolute beast, so much so he might actually have hooves. On top of Tony’s disgustingly funny humor, I watched him absolutely crush a heckler’s soul. It was so satisfying because the heckler dared to tell one of the most savage comedians in the world that he didn’t know what he was doing up on stage. I wish I could have captured it on video, but nobody did, because they made us lock up our phones! I assure you, it was every bit as gruesome as I’m making it out to be, and I’m holding back a lot to keep this article Springfield friendly. I’m actually glad they made me ditch my phone, it’s nice (and sad) to be forced to focus my complete attention on the performer, for the entirety of the show. It felt like when you get grounded as a kid, but then realize your parents were right, and were just looking out for your best interest.



We’re ramping up now, and if you stick with me, you won’t regret it. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the comedy stylings of Tony Hinchcliffe, but Casey Rocket was the standout of the night for me. I’m not saying I’ve seen every comic and every special out there, but I’ve absorbed a lot of comedy in my life, and I’ve NEVER seen someone with an act quite like this, wow. He was physical, had props, roasted, riffed, and did not stop moving the entire time. One thing I love about these random adventures is that I don’t do a whole lot of research, I just land somewhere and go. I find this method to be much more fun, and if I’m going to look every detail up online, what’s the point of experiencing it in the physical world? My point is that I had no clue that Casey had won Austin’s best comic in 2022, and I was seeing him for the first time, without knowing a thing about him. I’m grateful to have experienced his act for the first time, completely raw and unfiltered. I’ve dropped a link to a video from when he performed on Kill Tony, and I highly recommend going down the Grimace hole on all of Casey's socials.


WARNING EXPLICIT CONTENT


Sunset Strip offered karaoke after the show, and I had good intentions of belting out a song, but I was too impatient to wait for them to set up the equipment for it, even though they were working quickly to get it going. I did, however, jump up on stage for a quick picture. If you saw the picture on my social media, I never said I performed at Sunset Strip, but I never said I didn’t either. I’ll know you actually read this, if you know that I DID NOT get to to do stand up at Sunset Strip. However, I left the comedy club that night, absolutely sure that I was going to find at least one open mic, where I could run a set the next day.


I joined a few Facebook groups, which led me to the @austintexascomedy Instagram page, where some beautiful soul posts about all of the open mics that are going on throughout the week. There were two afternoon mics, but one had been rained out. Madrone Coffee Company was the only afternoon choice, and I was ready. I practiced my material at the BnB, and made my way over to the coffee shop. The vibe of the shop was super chill, and it was a mixed mic that was heavy on the comedy side, hosted by Derek Dimpfl. There were several comics there, and Derek was kind enough to put the list out early for everyone. All of the performers were very welcoming, even to an out-of-towner like myself. The room was adorned with an upright piano, and Derek played for about 15 or so minutes before the show started. When Derek opened the show, he informed everyone that he’d be playing the piano softly in the background while the comics performed, similar to Mitch Hedberg’s special “Strategic Grill Locations”, in which an upright bass was played. Derek’s playing provided a cool vibe for the afternoon, and some comics even incorporated it into their acts. One comic asked Derek to play a certain piece of music after every punchline, then scolded him when he would forget, they played well off each other. At this mic, I got a few laughs, and some fist bumps from other comics. I left feeling great, and ready to tackle another mic later on in the evening.


My options for the evening were trying to get randomly picked for a 3 minute open mic slot at the Comedy Mothership, and another open mic at San Jac Saloon. If I was in Austin, and didn’t do everything I could to get myself into the mothership, I would have never been able to forgive myself. It was now Sunday, downtown was less busy, and street parking was free. The only way to sign up for a potential spot at the mothership is to physically show up in front of the club, on time, and write your name down. After you’ve signed the paper, your fate is up to the comedy gods. I’m not sure how they pick people, but the best theory I came up, while I was waiting, is that they have a team of folks checking everyone’s Instagram followings, while simultaneously looking out the one way tinted glass on the windows above, riffing on everyone who clearly doesn’t have a chance. If I’m honest, that’s probably what I would do too. The guy with the sign up sheet came back outside with the final list, and around 100 comics surrounded him like they were carp at a feeding dock, and he was throwing food. He taped the list to the wall, and it didn’t take me very long to notice his mistake, I was NOT on the list! I had zero expectations, but I was just happy to be there, so I wasn’t actually disappointed. As I stepped back away from the list, I noticed all of the other comics form a herd, and start heading down the sidewalk, over to the San Jac Saloon.


At the Saloon, I ran into a couple of the guys I’d seen at the afternoon mic, including the host. This mic was run in a lottery style, where you pick a number, and that’s where they put you on the list. Out of over twenty comics, I picked number 3. At this mic, each performer got 4 minutes. After being there for a short time, I quickly noticed that the vibe of this room was wildly different from the room earlier in the afternoon. There was a much more serious vibe, with a dash of disappointment in the air from the rejection at the mothership. I don’t think serious is a bad thing though, I think it’s 100% necessary. The people I met in Austin are living and breathing their dreams, and have even moved to Austin specifically to pursue comedy, so they deserve every minute of stage time they get, and would be doing themselves disservices if they weren’t taking it seriously. I think now is just as good of a time as any, to admit that I bombed this set. The only joke that worked was when I asked if anyone had dropped a pin, because that’s how incredibly quiet the room was. Okay, I’m lying to you, I didn’t even tell that joke during my set, but I did write it because of my set.


I know I’ve made it sound terrible up to now, but let’s turn it around. As bad as I’m making things seem, my set still at the San Jac Saloon managed to capture a couple of laughs. In retrospect, those laughs are huge to me, and those jokes are keepers. If they made people in that room laugh, I think they’ll work anywhere. Just to be clear, the room got better as the comedians got better. I think there are always external reasons why jokes don’t work, but I also think that truly funny and talented comedians can break through almost any barrier. I left this mic inspired to revise the material I have, and to write a lot more.

There was one more mic that was happening that night, at The Creek and the Cave but I decided to skip it because I was wiped out. The concept was great though, each comedian got to do one minute of comedy, followed by 3 minutes of heckling from the crowd. The comedians were allowed to fire back at the audience members who were daring enough to heckle them. As I sit here, I wish I would have stuck around to see it, maybe next time. It was time to get some rest for the trip home the next day.


I’ve said a whole lot about the Austin comedy scene, and myself, but I haven’t said anything yet about the comedy scene in Springfield, MO. After going to Austin, I’ve realized even more that what we have in Springfield is very special. Thanks to several folks in town over the past few years, Springfield has arguably surpassed its former glory, and continues to rise, when it comes to comedy and its future. Springfield hosts a lot of big name comics, but there’s a great underground open mic scene too, and Springfield has some incredible homegrown talent. We also have some great comics who have moved here from other cities, who bring a whole other element to the Springfield scene. If you’re reading this, and you’re not up on Springfield’s comedy scene, you’re missing out. It’s raw, hilarious, awkward, entertaining, hilarious, exciting, embarrassing, and hilarious. Do yourself a favor and check out one of these open mics ASAP.

Springfield, MO Comedy Open Mic Schedule

Monday - Bugsy Malones

Tuesday - Paddlewheel (Branson)

Wednesday - N/A

Thursday - Corner Pocket Comedy (Inside Billiards)

Friday - N/A

Saturday - N/A

Sunday - Blue Room Comedy Club



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