by Mike Henneberger
The inaugural Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival kicked off in Austin, Texas yesterday, and there was no holding back on the talent. On night one of the four-night comedy festival, eight of the 11 participating venues had opening night shows from the likes of Maria Bamford, curse-happy cover band The Dan Band, and Aziz Ansari, who brought along Parks and Recreation writer Chelsea Peretti for two sold-out shows in the 1300-seat Paramount Theatre. Not a bad way for a funny festival to show they mean serious business.
At Ansari’s second performance of the night, Peretti warmed up the crowd covering topics from how to eat a banana without looking sexually suggestive, regretting that she didn’t try to sound sexier when giving a blind man directions, and how comedy would be much easier if she were a fat guy rather than a female comic. But in her defense, and as she pointed out in her set, she didn’t talk about her period once.
When Aziz took the stage for his hour-long set, he strutted out with the swagger for which he’s familiar from characters like Funny People’s Randy and Parks and Recreation’s Tom Haverford. And if you didn’t recognize the confidence, he was quick to point it out by sharing how he thinks if someone is not enjoying his show, it’s quite possibly because they are literally mentally retarded. He joked about how his intimidating good looks as a child could be the only reason he never got molested, comparing himself to the really hot girl at a bar (“Oh, that’s Aziz, he could f*ck any grown man he wants.”) He also talked about his views on marriage (“I want to hang out with you until one of us dies.”) and having children (“You can’t have a chain wallet and a baby. You can’t even keep track of your wallet, you have to chain it to your body.”) Then he went on to talk about reality TV and how the girls on 16 and Pregnant and My Super Sweet Sixteen should get struck by lightning and switch lives (“I hate the girls on My Super Sweet 16, they’re horrible. Someone should impregnate those girls and ruin their lives.”)
And what's a festival without after-parties? Every night, Esquire Magazine and Patron Tequila will host "post-show mix and mingles" at the Moontower Lounge in the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin hotel. The mixer is open to anyone with a festival badge, and last night put regular folks in the same room with Andy Kindler, Bil Dwyer, Dan Finnerty of The Dan Band, and Austin-native Brendon Walsh and other hometown comedy heroes like Ramin Nazer and Chris Cubas.
If you can get to Austin you can catch those up-and-comers and plenty of big names as The Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival continues through Saturday with performances from John Mulaney, Andy Kindler, Steven Wright, JB Smoove, Seth Meyers, Wanda Sykes and many more. Single show tickets and festival badges are still available. Follow the fest on Facebook and Twitter for updates.