Although Esther's Follies' variety show of music, magic, and comedy recalls the vaudevillian entertainment of yesteryear (albeit with a more acerbic modern bent), the nostalgia goes beyond just the performances. The longstanding venue and comedy troupe was named after Esther Williams, the Golden Age starlet whose career as a professional swimmer led to numerous iconic MGM films. Posters for several of these pictures are plastered throughout the space, and an undersea mural bustling with brightly-hued coral, kaleidoscopic marine life, and even a Loch Ness monster further contributes to Esther's otherworldly, aquatic theme. The magical environment, along with the shows themselves, have wowed audiences and Austin Chronicle critics alike.
On the production end, Esther's Follies busts guts in record speed with satirical quips on current events; relevant parodies; and high-stepping, fast-paced comedy sketches. Resident magician Ray Anderson keeps things light with levitation illusions known to dazzle crowds. As the Follies cast ignites into choral skewerings of front-page newsmakers, audiences will laugh so hard that giggles come out their noses.
Dubbed a “powerhouse of comedy” by the Austin Chronicle, The New Movement unleashes a dizzying number of comedy shows that belie the institution’s young age. Founded in 2009 by improvisers Chris Trew and Tami Nelson, the theater and conservatory has already established itself in two cities, training fledgling performers in the art of the extemporaneous by inspiring them to take comedic risks on stage, whether it’s connecting emotionally with a character or performing actual surgery. Whether or not the performers are costumed or bearing props, they aim to create a fully realized world on stage through grounded situations and elegant but always creative transitions between scenes.
ComedySportz’s troupe of all-star laughletes is considered to be not only comedic, but also to have good sportsmanship, since there’s no swearing allowed, the subject matter is suited for all ages, and the show is monitored by a referee who calls offense fouls and hides unfunny heads in a shameful brown bag. Take a friend, relative, significant other, or the relative of a friend’s significant other to see two teams of expert improvisers fight for laughs through an average of 7– 12 scenes, games, and songs based on audience suggestions. At the end, the crowd votes to decide which team wins the honor of dumping life-size cardboard cutouts of the other team into an active volcano.
Since it first flung open its double doors in 1900, The Beltonian's patchwork brick façade has housed a church, an antique store, and a billiard hall. But its theatrical pedigree proved too strong, and today, the venue has transformed back into a performance space. The Beltonian aims to bring top-notch comedy to the community by booking nationally touring rib-ticklers three nights a week. A menu keeps appetites and thirst at bay while showgoers lean back in plush seats, which are arranged stadium-style to facilitate easy viewing of every clever quip.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club corrals both burgeoning and established comedic acts to light up the stage inside its comfy confines. September 12¬–16 ushers in Mike Britt , who has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, Def Comedy Jam, and Comedy Central. Britt traverses the stage confidently , expounding on greeting cards, marriage, and the differences between men and women to hilarious effect. Ali Wong closes out the month with sets on September 27–30. The San Francisco native, dubbed by Comedy Central as one of seven “Comics to Watch,” uses acting chops honed from stints on Fox’s Breaking In and in Oliver Stone’s Savages to deliver zingers about receiving gifts from a significant other. Gary DeLena takes over October 24–28 with sets accented by his booming singing voice . DeLena, a veteran comic and musician , intermixes parodies of songs, such as Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” with self-deprecating jokes about being a soccer dad.