SXSW Comedy: 8 Days, 61 Comedians, 4 Intrepid Editors (LIVE BLOG)
Your friendly neighborhood HuffPost Comedy editors have arrived in Austin, TX for South By Southwest and we'll be bringing you non-stop coverage of the amazing Comedy lineup over the next 8 days.
This year, the festival has announced that 61 total comedians, about twice as many as last year, will perform in stand-up showcases, podcast recordings, panel discussions, interactive events and more, and we'll be your ears on the ground for all of it.
For regular updates, check in on our live blog below. You can also follow HuffPost Comedy on Twitter, as well as your HuffPost Comedy editors: Ross Luippold (@rossluippold), Carol Hartsell (@carolrhartsell), Katla McGlynn (@katlamcglynn) and Christine Friar (@drinkyourjuice). We'll also be putting live updates on our Tumblr, so check that out as well.
And most important of all, follow our Bill Murray Watch! Will he show up this year? Find out first here!
Let's do this!
Apparently, spending ten days at SXSW will do quite a number on the health of one's mind and body. But no matter! We've finally organized our thoughts in the form of our final SXSW Comedy Recap. Check it out to find out our favorite show and performers at the festival, and other assorted thoughts, on our final recap of SXSW Comedy 2012.
See you next year, Austin. It's been real.
SXSW photographer Cassie Wright took some great photos of the first few days of SXSW Comedy. All photos by Wright.The Super Serious Show: T.J. Miller.
The cast of the FOX animated show "Bob's Burgers": Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, Kurt Braunohler and Larry Murphy.
WTF with Marc Maron: Jeffrey Tambor and Marc Maron.
The Super Serious Show: Ron White.
Doug Loves Movies: Doug Benson, Greg Proops, James Adomian, Joe Lynch and Ti West.
The Super Serious Show: Aparna Nancherla and John Hodgman.
The Super Serious Show: Jerrod Carmichael.
Excerpt: Matt's story is about not only learning how to become the comedian he always wanted to be, but learning what he's willing to give up to get it. It also captures the rush of stand-up that compels comedians to spend months at a time on the road. When Matt bombs in front of a crowd that hates him, we feel every ounce of that humiliation. And when he first hits upon a series of jokes that work, our pulse quickens with his.
As you might have heard, in between covering comedy shows, panels and podcasts at SXSW, we also took it upon ourselves to look for South By's favorite partygoer: Bill Murray.
All week we put up flyers, collected stories and talked to people about the man, the myth and the legend, always reminding ourselves that there was a chance he wouldn't show.
When we ran into Rick Perry on our second day at SXSW, we were pretty sure that he'd be the only presidential candidate we'd meet.
Well, we were wrong.
While putting up flyers for our Bill Murray Watch on 6th Street, I saw a giant black boot walk past me attached to man who looked mildly homeless. As he stopped to talk to passers-by, I approached him and saw from his sign that he was, in fact, Democratic candidate for President Vermin Supreme.
Just to be sure, I asked, "Are you THE Vermin Supreme?" to which he replied, flatly, "Last time I checked."
Wearing several ties, no shirt and his signature boot hat, the self-described "Friendly Fascist" stopped and posed for a picture with us before moving on to greet other potential voters, solidifying our notion that you really never know what -- or who -- you're going to see at South By Southwest. Vermin 2012!
Last night I took a chance and hauled myself away from the party over at Esther's Follies near 6th Street and walked to the New Movement Theater to see DC Pierson perform, and guys, it was totally worth it.
For those of you who may not be familiar, Pierson is an LA-based comedian and novelist whose new one-man show "DC Pierson Is Bad at Girls" chronicles how rough being in love can be -- whether you're a kid or an adult who still remembers being a kid.
The show is formatted as three interconnecting essays that each cover a different relationship from a different time in his life, and Pierson performs them with painstaking attention to detail and a healthy dose of self-awareness. You'd think that a show largely anchored on the premise of "here are three of my ex-girlfriends" would be... I don't know... cruel? Or gossipy? But with Pierson at the wheel, you end up with an unassuming portrait of an earnest guy who wants to fall in love and isn't quite sure what that might mean. Not a burn book of girlfriends past. Oh, and you're laughing the whole time.
When I made the SXSW Bingo card (which you guys should TOTALLY be playing, by the way), I chuckled to myself at the prospect of encountering all of these goofy individuals in the wild. What nerds, I thought. What n00bs.
Little did I know it'd take a matter of days for me to evolve into one.
Just check out my wristband game here and I think you'll understand what I'm getting at. The problem's that I'm not sure which ones are one-night-only and which ones are good for the rest of the week, so I'm terrified to cut anything off and lose access to some awesome secret show or totally dope podcast.
Anyway, I got to check off my "seven wristbands or more" box by looking at my own arm. C'est la vie.
If you aren't reading Dan Reilly's SXSW recaps, you aren't living. He ended up on a karaoke bus late in the night with Reggie Watts, Eugene Mirman and Kurt Braunohler. Wait... where were we?
Check out Allie Compton's recap and quick interviews with Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum on the red carpet for "21 Jump Street" at SXSW.
Chris Gethard just released his first book, "A Bad Idea I'm About To Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgment and Stunningly Awkward Adventure," in January, and in the middle of a show at SXSW, he unexpectedly learned that it had gotten the attention of at least one comedy mogul and legend -- Judd Apatow.
As we noted on this liveblog, Chris was scheduled to be a guest on Pete Holmes' podcast "You Made It Weird," and shortly before they were to perform the show, another guest was added to the lineup: Apatow, who is in Austin for the premiere of the new HBO show he produced, "Girls." And it just so happened that Judd had recently picked up Chris' book, much to the amazement of the comedian and improviser.
Chris also brought a live edition of "The Chris Gethard Show," his freewheeling comedy/variety cable access show billed as "the most bizarre and often saddest talk show in New York City," to the Austin Convention Center yesterday. The well-attended show, full of a mix of devoted followers and curious bystanders, featured "The Carnival of Human Exploitation," where the show's cast played chaotic games involving hula hoops, silly string and balloons with audience members. It will likely go down in history as the first time a show on a trade room floor ended with a parade of audience members following a man in swimming trunks waving around a giant dildo, chanting "The Human Fish loves cock!" (Don't ask.)
Watch our interview with Gethard after the show (shoutout to the Austin Chronicle, who kindly let us use their space), where he recounts meeting Apatow, and reacting to the "Knocked Up" director joking (maybe) about optioning his book. So in just over a year, Gethard has found new fans in Judd Apatow and Diddy, who appeared on his show last January. Hopefully, he has a few more "bad ideas" up his sleeve.
(Oh, and Gethard was also featured in a profile of UCB on NBC's "Rock Center" this week. Not bad!)
Between doing press and Q&A's for his film "Sleepwalk With Me," which recounts the comedian's struggle with a sleep disorder, Mike Birbiglia threw caution to the wind and grabbed a quick catnap without the aid of his preventative sleeping bag and mittens. Fortunately, he made it through the incident unschathed.
I'm killing at South by Southwest.yfrog.com/esv62gxaj— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) March 14, 2012
Interviewing comedians can be a tricky thing. On one hand, nothing is more painful than a comic being forced to pump out funny lines with little preparation. On the other hand, it's what they do for a living, so it's unavoidable that interviews will head in that direction.
But when we asked John Hodgman for an interview, the Resident Expert of "The Daily Show" quickly shifted from interview subject to tour guide, and led an impromptu backstage journey of Esther's Follies (where most of the comedy shows are taking place). Comedians Kumail Nanjiani, Kyle Kinane and Todd Barry make special appearances.WATCH:
Will Ferrell's offbeat Spanish language comedy, "Casa De Mi Padre" premiered at SXSW Tuesday night. You can watch the trailer below and read HuffPost Entertainment's interview with Ferrell here, in which he talks about making the movie with minimal knowledge of Spanish, and how the story itself isn't necessarily funny on its own, but lampoons telenovelas for all their melodrama.
"Casa" hits theaters this Friday. Will you be seeing it? Will this clever GIF we made at a Funny Or Die party change your mind? Change your life? Enjoy:
Tuesday evening at Esther's Follies, the live podcast "You Made It Weird" lived up to the promise of its name in the best way possible. It was announced on Monday night that Judd Apatow would be a guest on a live edition of Pete Holmes' relatively new podcast, along with comedians Chris Gethard, Kumail Nanjiani and Todd Barry.
With some exceptions, live podcasts aren't really my thing. To me, they can often have a forced tone, as the transition from intimate chat to riff-y, crowd-pleasing comedy show can be jarring, and the results often disappointing. But Holmes and company hit the sweet spot between playing to the crowd and genuinely enjoying talking to each other, and the result was a complete joy to watch. If Holmes' chumminess with his guests can occasionally get a bit overwhelming on his podcast, his eager, friendly manner was the key ingredient that made the live edition of "You Made It Weird" run smoothly.
One of the reasons SXSW can be such a fun, energetic festival is because shows like last night's "You Made It Weird" can happen. Apatow was in town for the premiere of HBO's "Girls," and Pete's manager, and old friend of Judd's, asked him if he'd be willing to appear on the podcast. And so he did, even though he had never met Holmes and was unfamiliar with his comedy. It's hard to imagine such a loose, relaxed show taking place in New York or Los Angeles, where choreographed industry and career concerns could suck the fun out of such a chat.
But before Apatow came out, Holmes chatted with his pal, comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who revealed that he recently auditioned for "Saturday Night Live" and is waiting to hear back. Nanjiani would make an interesting hire, as he's straight stand-up (and a very funny one) when most current "SNL" cast members come from the world of improv and sketch. Of course, Nanjiani would also make the first Pakistani-American cast member on the show.
Then Apatow entered the stage, and Pete's palpable disbelief that he was sitting next to the "40-Year-Old Virgin" director carried the show. In fact, Holmes revealed that Apatow had been kind to him when he worked as a warm-up comic on "The Daily Show" years ago. (HUFFPOST SCOOP: Judd Apatow is nice.)
They casually and entertainingly covered a wide variety of topics: losing their virginity (and how many pumps were involved), the underperformance of Apatow's recent "Wanderlust" (he felt it was hard to market the premise), and the time Apatow interviewed Daniel Day-Lewis and asked him if he liked "Superbad" or "Knocked Up" more (Day-Lewis had no idea what Apatow was talking about).
A highlight of the show was Apatow telling Gethard that he had just bought his book, "A Bad Idea I'm About To Do," simply because he liked the cover. Gethard was understandably taken aback by what was transpiring, especially when Apatow jokingly (?) told him he could option the book and attach Channing Tatum to play Chris. "I could buy it even if I didn't want to buy it," Apatow told him in his best mock bigshot producer tone. Kumail got one of the best jokes of the night, quipping that the book's title could double for Judd's thoughts if he optioned it.
A tuxedo-clad Doug Benson (he was on his way to host SXSW's film awards) crashed the show for a few minutes to tell them to bring on the next guest, Todd Barry, who was waiting backstage. While up, he and Judd reminisced about coming up as comedians together -- so long ago, "it was before Doug smoked pot," Apatow noted. They also figured out that Benson was most likely behind the camera somewhere in Adam Sandler's '80s prank call video at the beginning of "Funny People."
After Todd explained his fear of lightning and he joined Pete in performing dueling Aziz Ansari impressions, the show came to a "You Made It Weird" worthy end, when Kumail jetted offstage to get to another show, and Judd went ahead and joined him.
All in all, the show was kept crispy. ("YMIW" fans know what I'm talking about.)
Last night, Judd Apatow confirmed that he would be guesting on "You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes," the Nerdist podcast wherein the affable Holmes (who's best known as the voice behind the eTrade baby) talks to other comedians about sex, God and other matters typically avoided in polite conversation. The show is scheduled to be at 7 p.m. at Esther's Follies, although it will likely start late. Even if Apatow wasn't on the bill, we'd recommend this show.
By the way, if you haven't read SXSW Comedy blogger Samantha Pitchel's Day 3 recap, read it in full here. A highlight from one of the Super Serious Show, the strongest show of SXSW so far:
...Next up, The Super Serious Show took over for two rounds of its T.J. Miller-hosted stand-up showcase, featuring Kyle Kinane, John Hodgman, Kumail Nanjiani, Jonah Ray, Aparna Nancherla, Jerrod Carmichael, Reggie Watts, Gabe Liedman and Jenny Slate, and a video from Billy Eichner. The lineup was seriously stacked, with Esther's more packed than I've ever seen it and backstage bro downs so heartwarming it made the evening feel a little like comedy summer camp. The huge crowd was electric all night, punctuating every line of Gabe and Jenny's performance (of a steamy screenplay culminating: "Finally, they fall on the floor in a heap of Jewish cum") with raucous laughter, and almost breathlessly silent as Carmichael paused to deliver the punchline of a particularly brilliant Beyonce bit. Eichner premiered a clip from his game show, Billy on the Street, in which he gives cash prizes to strangers who agree with his pop culture preferences (the clip's best Q: "Which makes more sense, Tori Spelling or a crop circle?" I'll let you guess the correct answer.)
Read the rest of Samantha's recap here. And here's a tweet picture of Reggie Watts with newcomer Jerrod Carmichael, a standout on a lineup full of professional standouts.
Right before he was to appear on the live Comedy Bang! Bang! Podcast at Esther's Follies on Sunday, we were surprised to see Tim Heidecker tweet that Newt Gingrich had passed away. Within minutes the fake news and hashtag #RIPNewt was spreading on Twitter, with many of Heidecker's followers playing along. He later tweeted (and reiterated during the live podcast) that he'd be holding a memorial service for the GOP candidate at Stubb's BBQ down the street:
Interested to see if anyone would show up to hear a fake eulogy, we followed Tim to Stubb's to see if the online rouse had legs. While we didn't see any mourners outside the crowded restaurant, we did catch Heidecker chatting up some curious Austinites, asking if they "had heard the news." As you can imagine, the reactions were pretty hilarious:
After three days of nonstop comedy at SXSW, on Monday night we came back to Esther's Follies for Funny Or Die's Super Serious Showcase featuring some of our favorite comedians.
In addition to sets by T.J. Miller, John Hodgman, Jerrod Carmichael, Kumail Nanjiani, Reggie Watts, Jonah Ray, Kyle Kinane and Aparna Nancherla, "Besties" Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman dropped in to do a surprise set, and Billy Eichner showed another hilarious clip from his pop culture game show, "Billy On The Street."
We were able to catch up Billy after the show at The Velveeta Room and hear what he thinks of Austin vs. New York City, how he picks people to "quiz in the face" and which clips DON'T make it into the show. Check out our interview with him below:
SXSW Comedy's own Samantha Pitchel has been on the scene at just about every comedy event at the festival and she's recapping the days' events HuffPost. Check out her posts about days 1 & 2 below and check back regularly for more:
The festival has hit full swing, and today (Monday), there's quite a bit going on that will be of interest to comedy fans. A rundown:PANEL - Podcasting: Breeding a New Class of Comedy Nerd Scott Aukerman ("Comedy Bang! Bang!"), Kevin Pollak ("Kevin Pollak's Chat Show"), and Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon ("The Indoor Kids") will discuss how comedy podcasting is changing how people participate in comedy in the era of podcasting.
3:30 p.m. - Austin Convention Center Room 12ABSHOW - Stag Comedy Austin-based comedy show that blends sketch and video.
4:00 p.m. - Austin Convention Center Exhibit Hall 3/4SCREENING - "Girls" The Judd Apatow-produced, Lena Dunham-created HBO show about underemployed Millennials in New York City will make its debut with a screening of the first three episodes.
4:30 p.m. - Paramount TheatreSHOW/PARTY - Stuff You Should Know Variety Show Not a comedy show per se, but the mega popular and informative podcast will feature performances from Eugene Mirman and John Hodgman, and will show a sneak peek of their pilot. This show is free to all -- no badge required.
5:00 p.m. - Fado Irish PubPODCAST - Kevin Pollak's Chat Show The actor brings his acclaimed Internet chat show to Austin to have a candid talk with surprise guests.
6:00 p.m. - Esther’s FolliesSHOW - This Is A Comedy Show CNN Grill is hosting an all-female lineup, presented by CollegeHumor, UCB, Funny Or Die and more.
6:30 p.m. - Beer Garden at the CNN GrillSCREENING - "21 Jump Street" The Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum comedy makes its world premiere.
7:30 p.m. - Paramount TheatreSHOW - "Comedy Bang! Bang!" Live TV Show Preview Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts (and more?) will give a live preview of their upcoming IFC talk show, "Comedy Bang! Bang!" This year, the IFC house is open to the public through Wednesday, so no badge is required for this show.
8:00 p.m. - IFC Crossroads HouseSHOWCASE - Funny or Die & Caviar present The Super Serious Show A stand-up showcase hosted by T.J. Miller, Kyle Kinane, John Hodgman, Kumail Nanjiani, Jonah Ray, Aparna Nancherla, Jerrod Carmichael, Reggie Watts, Billy Eichner. There will be two shows.
8:00 and 10:30 p.m. - Esther’s Follies
I know we've been going on about all the great comedy shows, insightful comedy panels and live podcasts that make up South By Southwest's official comedy lineup, but as we stumble around downtown Austin we've also seen some hilariously offbeat comedy that deserves to be recognized.
For example, HuffPost's Allie Compton observed this guy was doing stand-up on a mostly empty yellow school bus:
Outside of Esther's Follies we saw this duo putting on a funny puppet show for passers-by on Red River Street:
And also outside of Esther's, we saw this man in a big Sumo wrestler's costume. While he delighted us, one woman who walked by seemed strangely depressed by his presence:
At the Vimeo Theater inside the Austin Convention Center on Sunday morning, "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane sat down for a wide-ranging discussion about his career -- from the hit Fox animated series and his Grammy-nominated standards album to his upcoming feature film, "Ted," with Mark Wahlberg -- and told SXSW attendees a bit more about his upcoming television reboot of "The Flintstones." In short: It's happening, and -- according to MacFarlane -- it has "been fun" to bring Fred and Wilma back to life.
"We're kind of shooting for the level of edge in mid-'90s 'Simpsons.' You're not going to see abortion jokes," MacFarlane said with a laugh."
Is MacFarlane worried about sullying "The Flintstones" reputation?
"My thought was, I can't [screw] it up any worse than 'Viva Rock Vegas,'" he said.
-Christopher Rosen, Moviefone
What kind of festival features Jay-Z and world renowned champion eater Takeru Kobayashi? South By Southwest. Surprise celebrity guests are scattered all around Austin for the media festival (you might even meet the Governor of Texas), and Kobayashi not only showed up, but broke a world record while in town.
On Sunday night at Esther's Follies, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, Dan Mintz and Larry Murphy of Fox's "Bob's Burgers" performed a stand-up showcase with fellow comedian Kurt Braunholer.
For an animated series starring so many SXSW regulars, the 8:00 show was packed with fans eager to see their favorite voices IRL. In the lobby of Esther's, some nifty cardboard cut-outs of the "Bob's Burgers" characters served as backdrop for almost every photo opportunity of the night:
Check out our Twitter feed for more tweets from the show:
There's a Taiwanese animation (you know -- the short dramatizations that serve as the most crucial digest of current events known to man) for SXSW. "The ticket prices are exclusionary. This ensures that only the raddest bloggers and industry bigwigs get to attend."
Although we must admit that we have yet to see a literal "bandwagon" and unexplained trampolines, as the video depicts. But we're certainly not ruling them out.
"Comedy Bang! Bang!" opened with Reggie Watts playing an extended version of the podcast's theme song, and then chatting for a while with Scott Aukerman, reminiscent of a more traditional talk show format seen in the promo for the upcoming IFC adaptation.
Scott said that the first guest was supposed to be Nick Offerman, but he got held up doing press. Instead we were treated to Tim Heidecker in a too-small cowboy hat, in town to promote his new film "The Comedy," an official entry into SXSW Film. Heidecker insists that Newt Gingrich passed away today, "after having a heart attack while driving his car and crashing into a tree," but that the liberal media is ignoring the story. (Sorry about that, Tim.) He plans to lead the audience to Stubb's BBQ after the show to have a memorial service for Gingrich. We'll let you know whether Tim follows through.
In another note, here's a photo that seems to sum up SXSW on Day 3:
Jeffrey Tambor is currently onstage at WTF with Marc Maron. I believe that this is the first live edition of WTF that's devoted to one guest instead of a panel of comics playing to the audience, as opposed to the in-depth discussions that mark the typical Cat Ranch talks.
Also, Austin is absolutely beautiful today. High 70s, breeze and sunny. Yesterday, the shows were sold out, but today, the standby line for WTF was stretched around the block. Was it the weather, or a reflection of WTF's popularity? Little from column A, little from column B, probably.
During his "Smartest Man In The World" Proopcast on Saturday, comedian Greg Proops broke out into an impromptu impression of CNN's Wolf Blitzer that had us howling with laughter. We loved it so much, in fact, that we found Proops after and insisted he do it for us on camera. What can we say? We're pushy.
Walk Off the Earth, the band that went viral for covering Gotye and Kimbra's "Somebody That I Used to Know," performed live at the CNN Grill last night.
A lot of naysayers on the Internet said the video was probably fake, but we can attest to the fact that five people can, in fact, play one guitar at once and have it sound awesome.
Comedy Bang! Bang! just started, the third show of the night. A brief history on its association with SXSW (try and keep up):
Comedy Bang! Bang! is mega-popular weekly stand-up showcase at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles that attracts audiences by charging cheap prices with the promise of seeing the funniest comics in the country work out new material. It used to be called Comedy Death-Ray, but changed its name to Comedy Bang! Bang! (likely for some behind-the-scenes legal reasons) in May 2011. The showcase first came to Austin in 2008, before SXSW had paid much attention at all to its Comedy programming and turned it into the 60-comic powerhouse we see today.
In 2009, Aukerman launched "Comedy Death-Ray Radio," a weekly podcast where Aukerman interviews comedians and plays straight man to a rotating cast of interrupting characters played mostly by members of the L.A. stand-up comedy and improv community. The radio show also has changed its name to "Comedy Bang! Bang!" when the showcase changed names.
The podcast is currently being adapted into an IFC program, a 10-minute teaser of which came out today. Previously, IFC has used interstitial segments of Comedy Death-Ray during commercial breaks, wherein Aukerman interviewed comedians.WATCH: The sneak peek of the new "Comedy Bang! Bang!" TV show on IFC.
At SXSW, Aukerman is hosting two shows of the stand-up showcase Comedy Bang! Bang! (in fact, the first one is happening as we type, and James Adomian is slaying), as well as a live recording of "Comedy Bang! Bang!" the podcast.