Austin’s comedy scene is hotter than perhaps it ever has been, and that’s despite an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that infected Dave Chappelle last month during his run of shows in the Texas capital.
The venerable Cap City Comedy Club, which had to close temporarily then permanently its longtime home anchoring a North Austin strip mall for the past 35 years, will reopen this October a few miles north in the newer fancier Domain Northside complex. Rebecca A. Trent’s The Creek and The Cave, a home for aspiring and wayward comedians for 14 years in the Long Island City neighborhood of New York City, had to close for good in November — but now is relocating and reopening in downtown Austin this April at the indoor/outdoor bar and performance space formerly known as Barracuda and Red 7. And neither of those new ventures are connected to Joe Rogan, the comedian who moved along with his hit Spotify podcast to Austin late last year. Rogan has vowed to open his own comedy workout hangout in Texas to fill the void left when he moved away from his former home club, The Comedy Store in West Hollywood.
Several comedians already have moved from Los Angeles or New York City to Austin, either directly inspired by Rogan’s move, or indirectly influenced by the political and economic climate for comedy in Texas.
Tony Hinchcliffe and Brian Redban have brought Kill Tony and Deathsquad shows there, with Big Laugh Comedy emerging as a location for multiple online and/or in-person shows on Austin’s East Sixth Street, just a block and a half from where The Creek is opening on April 1.
Last year, Colin Quinn and I only half jokingly suggested something like this might happen, with live comedy relocating to tropical or warm-weather locales where outdoor shows could take place even during the winter. Perhaps this will be like baseball’s Spring Training period? Perhaps more. We’ll find out once all those new comedians in Austin experience their first Texas summer, and realize they’re not near the ocean any longer.
I get it. Austin cast a spell on me upon my first trek to SXSW in 2011. I’ve been invited down twice by Cap City to judge the finals of the annual Funniest Person in Austin Contest. After two of my close friends (neither of them in comedy) moved from NYC to Austin in 2015, I seriously considered moving there myself. Sent resumes that way. Made inquiries. Told anyone who asked that Austin made just as much sense as L.A., because I’d get ample time away from the racket of the industry to write and work on projects, while still having plenty of festivals throughout each year to bring big-name comedians into town to meet and interview in person. But my financials back then couldn’t make it work.
Now? 2021 presents great questions and opportunities to everyone, so I’m not surprised to see anyone jumping at the chance to reinvent or reinvigorate their professional and personal lives.
In the meantime, here are the details on the relocations and reopenings of Cap City and The Creek:
Cap City will reopen in October 2021 with a partnership that includes one of the club’s original owners alongside the owners of the Helium Comedy Club brand, which opened venues in Philadelphia, Portland (Ore.), Buffalo, St. Louis and Indianapolis over the past 15 years.
“We could not be more thrilled that Cap City will be back as the center of the Austin comedy scene,” stated Colleen McGarr one of the original owners of the club. “We have known and worked with Marc (Grossman) for years and could not be happier to begin this new chapter”
“Cap City is one of the best comedy clubs in the country with an amazing reputation. We’re fortunate to have had a relationship with them for a long time,” stated Marc Grossman. “When Brad and I heard the club was closing and how upset the community was, we knew that we wanted to change that. I’m just glad that the opportunity presented itself.”
The new Cap City will still have two separate showrooms; one main room for national touring headline acts, the other for local Austin comedians, as well as podcasts and pop-up performances. The club’s press release shouts out Dave Attell, Aries Spears, Margaret Cho, Big Jay Oakerson, Rachel Feinstein, Dan Soder, Doug Benson, as well as Andrew Murphy (current title holder of The Funniest Person in Austin), Chris Tellez, Avery Moore, Matt Bearden, Lisa Friedlich, Mac Blake, Amber Bixby, Hunter Duncan, Jasmine Ellis, Danny Goodwin, Christina Parrish, Ralph Hardesty, Justin Hicks, and more.
Cap City also will continue to sponsor Austin’s annual Moontower Comedy Festival, which took 2020 off after initially hoping to postpone from its usual April calendar position to last fall. It’s currently aiming for September 2021.
The Creek & The Cave will occupy the space that was formerly Barracuda (611 E. 7th St.) with both indoor and outdoor stages.
This is what Barracuda’s outside area looked like.
Austin comedian and producer Marty Clarke reached out to Trent just three days after she closed The Creek for good in LIC.
“With our shows going so well, and there being no comedy clubs in town, I reached out to Rebecca and we found an amazing spot that we can turn into something really special for the Austin comedy scene” said Clarke. “The stars aligned for us to build something cool and supportive that the whole community can feel a part of, continuing the legacy of The Creek & The Cave.”
He and Colton Dowling of RoughCut Comedy are partnering with Trent in the new Austin Creek and Cave.
“We are excited to get the club open and show Austin and what we’ve done to the place and what we have to offer.” says Dowling.
Trent added: “The Austin comedy scene has always been a wonderful and magical place to hone the craft and, as the scene grows and becomes more robust, we want to build a true clubhouse to serve as a place all comics can call home.” Trent adds, “We will be providing a platform for the up and coming local comedians, as well as exposing them to big name headliners. Part Master Class, part Dojo, part club, and all funny.”
The Creek’s soft opening in Austin is slate for April 1, 2021.