Austin is playing host to a bounty of improv groups this week for Out of Bound Comedy Festival. Having attended the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival earlier this year, I had high hopes for this festival, but I have to be honest, I was skeptical. I am an avid standup fan and I didn’t know how I would take to improv. I can’t say I’m a convert, but I am definitely a new fan.
Out of Bounds Comedy Festival is held in several venues across Austin, including The Hideout, Coldtowne Theater, Velveeta Room, The State, Austin Java, Spiderhouse, and New Movement. Their shows include local talent as well as groups from elsewhere. Here are some of my favorites.
Manchaka Khans (Austin, TX)
This group recently came together, but you wouldn’t know it. They won the Coldtowne Theater’s 2016 Improv Fantasy League Tournament. They asked the audience to tell them something they loved about Austin and their prompt was “rescue dogs.” This group took that prompt to some oddly hilarious places. There was a character that would appear if you said “rescue dogs” three times, but she expected reimbursement for her efforts. Their timing and physical comedy was impressive given that this is a group that has came together a relatively short time ago. Definitely a group to watch.
SheSheSheShe (Austin, TX)
Thank goodness they are from here! I would have been very disappointed if I had to travel out of state to see these ladies perform again. They take the most ridiculous of circumstances and throw in something ordinary to amp up the comedy. In one scene, a panicked wife is on the line with 911 asking the dispatcher for marital advice while her husband, writhes in pain on the ground. In the midst of the chaos, the husband of another couple peeks through a mimed window to ask them to keep it down so he and his wife can enjoy their afternoon. To which his wife adds that she has noticed their recycling bins are still located at the end of the drive. WHAT? It was great.
Noelle Hoffman (Chicago, IL)
My initial reaction when I see someone carrying a guitar on stage at a comedy show is to grumble and hope it ends before too long. Noelle Hoffman may have changed my mind. After introducing herself, she launched into original songs about turning 30, dating nerds, rebounding after a break up and having daddy issues. My favorite was a short song about how her boyfriend loves her for her Adderall. She isn’t local so if you missed her this time around, better luck next time!
Rufio (Atlanta, GA)
This duo was my absolute favorite. Cassidy Russell and Vincent Migliore make up the group. Their prompt was “gargantuan.” What followed can only be described as phenomenal. The chemistry between these two comedians is evident. They play off of each other’s energy effortlessly. I am new to the improv scene, but I recognize talent when I see it. In one sketch, Russell had started a fire in a grocery store aisle and Migliore was a security guard. As the plot progressed and more characters were added, they began transitioning back and forth between not only the characters they had conjured, but also characters their partner had created. Magical. I was disappointed only when the light went out to signal the end of their time. They are not from around here, but you can follow them on Facebook. Go and say hello!
I hope you are heading out tonight to enjoy a show or two. Today and Labor Day are the last days to get your comedy fix at Out of Bounds Comedy Festival!
About Holly Philips
Holly is a newcomer to Shuffle Online. She resides in the robust neighborhood of Canyon Creek. Her cat is better than yours. East Coast transplant. Travel enthusiast. College educated with the debt to prove it. When she is not writing you can find her volunteering with the community’s disadvantaged youth or catching some rays at Barton Springs.