For those of you who keep stumbling upon this improv blog after Googling the phrase “live nude performance,” let me be clear: There are no naked photos on this site. There’s only naked emotion.
But seriously, my dear horny friends, next week marks the beginning of two very important Austin institutions: (1) my 34th year on Earth, when I celebrate my birthday on Tuesday, August 27, and (2) the OUT OF BOUNDS COMEDY FESTIVAL.
Out of Bounds—-OOB, for short—is in its 12th year of featuring some of the best improv and sketch acts from around the country. It’s the Austin improv equivalent of Burning Man—seven days of improv, sketch, stand-up, and more, spread out across about a dozen venues. 150 acts. More than 500 performers. It’s the, as the kids might say, shit.
And this is my first year to really perform in OOB. Last year, my beloved Manhattan Stories: Improvised Woody Allen had a 40-minute set at the Scottish Rite Theater. And as thrilling as that was, I didn’t really play much of a role in that show, and it was about half the time we were used to doing. This year is different, and I’m humbled and honored to be able to play some small role in this behemoth of an improv festival.
I’m performing every night, Tuesday through Saturday. The festival continues through Monday, which is when I’ll actually get to see some of the shows I’m most excited to see. If you’re curious, you can see my full OOB schedule here.
But what do I intend to see? Well, this is the tentative plan for now. But it may change as shows sell out or buzz about a particular act appears…
I’m performing for the last time with my beloved experimental troupe, Array. We’re doing a legendary improv format from Chicago’s late 1990s called the “JTS Brown.” But I intend to get to The Hideout early that night and watch Simply D-Vine and The Available Cupholders at their 8:00 p.m. slot. These two troupes feature some of the best improv talent in Austin. Simply D-Vine does high-paced, big-character duo work. The Available Cupholders, meanwhile, just … just … I can’t even. They’re just so damn funny and compelling and good. Plus, The Cupholders feature OOB Head Honcho, Mr. Jeremy Sweetlamb. Go see this show.
I’m performing in the CAGEMATCH FINALS! with my improv wife, Mia, as our duo Mandinka! We’re doing a format that is guaranteed to delight. Come out. Vote for us. But before you do that, my recommendation is to see the 8:00 pm show at The Hideout upstrairs theater, where you’ll get three very different shows packed into one: Cheap Date (a Harold team), Big Beautiful Warlock (a big giant long-standing improv bumrush of funny), and Squirrel Buddies (a duo who manage to do hilarious improv that’s also positive and not all arguey and nasty).
This is the night Mandinka performs in our first ever improv festival at 10 pm at The New Movement Theater (downtown at 7th and Lavaca). And this is also the night the festival expands into more venues and shows, so the competition is fierce. But why not go see Girls Girls Girls Improvised Musicals and Glaundor (Houston)? GGG has never put on a bad show, ever. And they’re talented and beautiful and color-coordinated. Glaundor, meanwhile, is a nice testosterone answer to GGG: a bunch of dudes doing straight-up balls-to-the-wall improv.
Yay! I get to revise my role as Anthony Poblano, one-half of the BBQ-loving, hard-partying brothers, The Poblano Twins, at the BBQ-inspired improv show, Braised In Texas. But later that night, I’m intending to (a) jet down to The Insitution Theater to watch Ranger Danger and the Danger Ranger, Zarzamora, and Mount Rushmore, and (b) get drunk at one of the nightly after parties.
A bittersweet night for me. My first improv troupe, The Seven Eight Sevens, are performing their last show. Now, I haven’t been in the troupe in about a year, but the troupe has continued (somehow) without me. But thanks to the ever-changing vagaries of improv, the troupe is calling it quits after their OOB performance. They’ve graciously asked ex-members, like myself, to sit in—so come see us go out with a bang at 8:00 p.m. at The New Movement. And later that night, I’m hoping to make it into the Stool Pigeon show, with guest monologist Richard Garriott. Did I mention that Richard Garriott has been to GODDAMN OUTER SPACE?!?
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Fantasy Football draft. Then sneak on over to The Paramount for the festival headliners, Hill Jones and Doubtful Guests. I’m most excited about the Doubtful Guests, who do a sort of Victorian-era horror musical gothic brouhaha thing. It looks fantastic. Don’t miss it if you can help yourself.
Sleep. Sleep. Another Fantasy Football draft. Sleep. Pizza.