First and foremost, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed and injured in the tragic drunk driving accident at SXSW. Sadly, I feel everyone knows someone or may have even been personally affected by drunk driving. We should all strive to be more responsible and make the effort to call a cab, designate a driver, whatever it takes to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. Our lives are so fragile and precious; in a split second nearly everything you hold dear can be ripped away. That being said, I’d like to stress the importance of having fun and keeping a positive outlook on life, live each day to its fullest! And SXSW is a GREAT place to do so. Nearly every corner you turn something magical is happening. Just by walking down the street chance could find you, like our listeners we pulled off the street for our secret show with none other than Jim Breuer! Magic happens y’all, and it happens at SXSW.
Ben Kronberg and Todd Barry
One of my favorite things about SXSW is the discovery of new talent and seeing those talents showcased in different fashions, case in point Paul Provenza’s Set List where I was introduced to Ben Kronberg. Nothing captures my attention more than a quick-witted oddball like Ben, he also looks strikingly like Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws. Ben was on-stage as I entered the celebrated Esther’s Follies showroom and could already tell he had the audience in the palm of his hand. Ben likes to make the audience, at least from the two times I saw him perform over the course of the festival, a little on edge and even uncomfortable. That way he can twist and turn you any way he pleases. I respect that. When I caught his set a couple of nights later at an un-official show, Funniest Person in Austin and former Guest Host Mac Blake’s Jazz Cigarette, he closed the show down with a riotous rap as he unconventionally plugged his iPhone in and riffed over what I’m assuming are self-made beats. I then stalked him on the Internet and found several hilarious sketches featuring him on YouTube. Comedy Central named him one of their top comics to watch and I would whole-heartedly agree with that. Check out his half hour special on Comedy Central as well as John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show.
Let’s revert back for a second to Paul Provenza’s Set List. It is HARD, random funny topics are thrown onto a projection screen and the comedian has to pull a joke or ten out of their ass. Even some of the most masterful comedians have difficulty w this, so I was greatly impressed when Karen Kilgraff, dressed in some serious Star Trek tights, absolutely crushed it. I never had the opportunity to see her do actual stand up, but off the cuff she had me rolling.
Rooftop Records put together a striking lineup at the Hideout on Congress Avenue featuring Adam Cayton-Holland, Byron Bowers, Drennon Davis, Iliza Shlesinger, Maggie Maye, and Nick Rutherford. Unfortunately missed Nick Rutherford and Maggie Maye because I somehow shaved off the top of my thumb and was bleeding all over the place, but heard they crushed. A couple of tightly wrapped paper towels later and I found myself situated in the front row of the completely packed show. Rooftop knows how to put together a lineup, let me tell you! Drennon Davis is like a white Reggie Watts in that he incorporates jokes over phat beats (but a lot sillier), he had me in stitches and this was not due to the bleeding thumb. I LOVED Byron Bowers and had never seen him before, then came the fabulous Iliza Schlesinger. You can tell she has a lot of fun on stage and really puts forth the effort to get every. single. thing. right. I also respect that. Not to mention, the audience didn’t want her to leave the stage! She has a new album out called War Paint, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Another set of talent I had heard of but never seen were The Grawlix; Adam Cayton-Holland, Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl. It’s like the Three Stooges with tattoos. Will Ben Roy ever pop a blood vessel on stage? Only time will tell. Hopefully though not before he Guest Hosts on 24/7 Comedy ;)
My only complaint is that there is SO much going on you are barely able to keep up! So many shows I would have loved to see but with such a plethora of talent available, you are bound to miss something. Thanks to Charlie Sotelo and his staff for their efforts and for always putting together a stellar festival, to Esther’s Follies and The Velv for having us, to Lietza Brass and the staff at the Paramount for giving us a home during the festival, to the comedians for making our jobs easy and to YOU for listening to 24/7 Comedy! Toodles.