The 7th annual ATX Sketch Fest wrapped up its week-long festival last weekend with acts from Austin, Dallas, and New York City.
The event took place at the Spiderhouse Ballroom in central Austin. The show featured acts from Abby Rosenquist, Vanessa Gonzalez, and Nephew.
Vanessa Gonzalez nearly brought me to tears with her routine. She showed the audience pictures of her and her family throughout the routine and it made her jokes that much more relatable. She told the crowd about her unconventional nightly entertainment watching Def Comedy Jam in the fifth grade. She did impressions of her mother and told us about growing up in Laredo. Don’t worry if you missed her Friday night, she is local so you’ll have more chances!
Nephew is a sketch comedy group from LA. They perform regularly at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. As the headliner, however, I expected more. For the most part, their sketch fell flat for me. Improv is about saying “yes,” but once the sketches started predictably transitioning into dark sexual humor, I started wishing someone would say “no.” Better luck next time.
Bonus: I stayed for the 10 p.m. show with no plan to cover it for this article, but I have to say, New York’s One Idiot far exceeded my expectations. Their timing was spot on and they were definitely my favorite group by far. I sincerely hope they will be invited back next year.
We started the night with Austin local Daniel Webb. High energy is an understatement with this comic. As he flew around the stage, his set ranged from the artist formerly known as Prince to pussy cats. This proud fifth-generation Texan kicked off the night in fabulous and flamboyant fashion and left us wanting more. He has toured all over the country performing his set in comedy festivals including Hell Yes Fest (New Orleans) and Jester Jester (London). No need to travel abroad to catch this comedian because he is a regular at Cap City Comedy Club.
From New York City, Evan Ford Barden, Bryan Berlin, Christina Cola, Liz Haag, Lane Kwederis, Megan Meadows, Ari Miller, Charlie Nicholson and Elena Skopetos make up the troupe known as The Executives. The ladies in this group really carry the show for me. My favorite sketch of the night featured three young girls having a slumber party talking about the things their boyfriends did to get head, but with Skopetos performing as a girl obsessed with Williams Sonoma. Their physical comedy escalated with each round of stories resulting in a boisterous response from the audience. Skopetos dominated every sketch she was a part of. Her talent was obvious from the beginning and remained strong throughout the act. If I am ever in NYC, I must see them in their home theater.
Girls with Brown Hair
Girls with Brown Hair headlined Saturday night. Samantha Schector and Becky Chicoine perform with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. These ladies are known for their outrageous characters and their endless supply of wigs. They did not disappoint Saturday night. Famous Male Duo is a boy band of Samantha and Becky’s creation and it was expertly executed. They parodied the commercialization of the music industry by a stream of sponsor shout outs. They pumped up their “single” by doing hilarious commercials for their sponsors like Chiquita Bananas (where they ate what seemed like 14 bananas on stage) and Wine for Boys “For when you want to party, but you still have homework to do.” Their sketch was unique and creative. I am 100 percent positive I didn’t stop laughing the entire time.
Brooks got his start in St. Louis before relocating to Austin where he is thriving. During his travels as a comedian he definitely saw a thing or two. Getting kicked out of a Cici’s for smuggling pizza out in his cargo shorts was a crowd favorite. From what I can tell, his day job includes spending a decent amount of time on Yelp. I am sure there is no shortage of material there. Do yourself a favor and check out his podcast “Stay Wonderful,” the official podcast of Cap City Comedy Club.
Master Pancake Theater
Austin staple, Master Pancake Theater, donated their time to Austin Sketch Fest as the final show of the fest. The courtyard of the Spiderhouse Ballroom was packed 30 minutes before the show began, a true testament to their talent and popularity. Master Pancake Theater leader John Erler, along with Kath Barbadoro and Mac Blake, led the crowd through the rules.
- Every time the characters said a rapper’s name or we heard the cosmic gavel sound we needed to yell the crowd sourced drinking game phrase “Dick Tracy” and drink.
- Silence your phones.
- Seriously, silence your damn phones!
They chose one of the most ridiculous episodes of “Law & Order: SVU” to the sheer delight of the audience. Throughout the episode they added credits for fictitious roles on set like “pussy wrangler” and held a running commentary on the episode. The pulled no punches when the cast used cheesy puns or received their DNA results within an hour of submitting them.
Before the show’s conclusion, Erler, Barbadoro, and Blake reenacted the most nonsensical scenes. Barbadoro’s “fancy southern prostitute” and Blake’s “Russian mobster” put a cherry on the performance.
From the Shuffle Online Writers
We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to ATX Sketch Fest for allowing us the opportunity to cover this event. Every staff member I encountered over the weekend was kind and helpful. ATX Sketch Fest put together a solid festival that we here at Shuffle Online feel privileged to attend. We look forward to what 2017 will bring!