Category: Local Arts

20th Annual Book Festival Draws All Ages


By Lucy Chen and Katherine Recatto

Thousands of people attended the 20th anniversary of the Texas Book Festival this past weekend in downtown Austin. A six-block stretch of white tents filled with a plethora of books, authors and book lovers proved that while audio books and eBooks have been on the rise, the affinity for printed books is still alive and well.

With the rapid increase in the use of technology, people have been turning to electronic books and audio books. The usage of electronic books soared up 1,260 percent between 2008 and 2010 according to a study done by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank.

The report then noted the significant slow down of the usage of e-books with a six percent increase of adults who read an e-book in the past year in between 2011 and 2012. A five percent increase occurred in the following year.

The center conducted another research that discovered the percentage of people who read a print book in the past year and compared it to the statistics of people who read an e-book in the same time frame. While the number of people who read a printed book dropped from 71 percent to 65 percent in 2012, confirming the prediction that e-books is taking away print readership, the four percent rise to 69 percent in 2014 showed that there isn’t necessarily a correlation between the two sets of statistics.

Kathryn Sickuhr, a researcher and staff writer at the Pew Research Center, said, “Most American adults read a print book in the past year, even as e-reading continues to grow.”

Marion Rocco, a children’s literature professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said that the benefit of printed books lies in their accessibility.

“A paper book is always free to borrow from the library,” Rocco said, “ While it may be free to borrow an ebook as well, it is not free if one needs to purchase an ereader or computer of some kind.”

The onset of the ebook revolution does not signal the demise of the printed book.

Before & After You Graduate

University of Texas Austin campus at sunset-dusk - aerial view

The temperature in Austin is heating up while the semester is winding down and the graduating class is becoming restless. Before graduation there are a few quintessential Austin things all graduating seniors need to do before they walk across the stage.

Exploring off campus landmarks, dining in five-star restaurants and spending all day on the lush Greenbelt are just some of the things students may or may not have done in their four years at The University of Texas.

To make sure you get everything out of Austin before graduation we compiled a list of things to do in and around Austin to get the most out of the off-campus college experience. Then after you’ve checked all of these places off your bucket list we have compiled a list of resources for you to use when starting the job search and perfecting the art of the dreaded job interview.

The Austin Spots

1. See the view from Mt. Bonnell

Mount Bonnell is a well-known point next to Lake Austin on a portion of the Colorado River. It has been a popular tourist destination since the 1850s and students have been making the hike to the top of Mt. Bonnell for the great views, romantic atmosphere and physical challenge.

Audrey Bounds is a senior in the school of music. She hopes to move to Nashville after graduation and get a job in music production. For now, she’s still on the job hunt but she has fond memories of Mt. Bonnell.

“I was really expecting a climb or a big hike to get there. I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn’t more of a workout, but the view definitely makes up for it,” said Bounds.

2. Take a picture at Castle Hill

Castle Hill graffiti park sits at the base of the historic Texas Military Institute castle which was built in the 1920s and now serves as an office for a local real estate developer. The structural ruins beneath the Victorian castle are concrete canvases for Austin graffiti artists and a special hang out for the you culture in Austin.

Jenna Rae Housson is a senior journalism major who has spend a great deal of time at Castle Hill.

“I’ve been to Castle Hill a few different times — each time to take pictures of specific photo subjects. That’s what the great thing about it is — the graffiti is different every single time, so photos will never be the same,” points out Housson. “My favorite art piece was right after Robin Williams died. There was a beautiful, huge mural of him as the genie with the “genie, you’re free” quote.”

After graduation, Jenna has a one-way ticket to Prague. She will do summer school then spend the rest of the summer traveling Europe and working on sustainable and organic farms.

3.Enjoy one last Kerbey Queso

queso-gif

If you have made it through the first four years of college without every going to Kerbey Lane you better go now. The Austin staple is the go-to late night hangout serving up the greasiest, homey food every late night studier or party-goer dreams of.

Shelby Flowers is a senior history and RTF major. After graduation she is moving back home to Whittier, Calif. to take time off before finding a job. She hopes to be a historical consultant for production companies, but for now she reminisces about all of the time she has spent at Kirby Lane.

“Kerbey Queso is the best. It’s been my go-to for the past four years. Plus, it’s open late so literally anytime I have a craving, I can just walk down the Drag and get it,” said Flowers. “What makes it different is they put the guac in the queso. I’m definitely going to miss this when I graduate.”


Get The Job

Alright, fun’s over. Now that you have gotten your fill of Austin and crossed those last minute things off your bucket list it’s time to get down to business and that means job hunting.

Alexandra Heart, a graduating senior and journalism major, is taking the job hunting process one day at a time. “Anything past [graduation] isn’t even on my radar yet,” she says.

While many students are taking these last few weeks, day-by-day, the reality is time starts to fly by and before you know it everyone has a job but you. In order to avoid missing out of potential job opportunities we have compiled a list of resources, tips and tricks to help you get the job you want.

The Career Services office isn’t the only helpful resource when looking for future work and the university has an endless amount of resources for recent graduates. If you haven’t taken advantage of these yet, we suggest you flip through this slideshow to find out just post-graduation aid available to you.

Resources for Recent Grads

Now that you have done your homework and written the perfect cover letter, it is time to really get down to business. Perfecting the art of the interview is a lifelong endeavor but we took the liberty to break it down to make the process a little less nerve-wracking.

The most important thing we found when walking into a job interview is that you need to be prepared. Making sure you have done your research and have prepared a few questions for the end of the interview will make you a more memorable and shining applicant which will ultimately help you get the job. For the full list of tips watch this video to catch up on interview protocol.

Job Interview Tips

Last but not least it really comes down to how you look and act in person. You may have all of the t’s crossed and i’s dotted on your resume, but if the interviewer doesn’t feel a connection with you while you’re sitting across from him or her, than you’ve already lost.

Try to dress appropriately for the job you want. If the job is at an ultra-hip start up then come in looking that way. If it’s at a buttoned up professional firm, then come in your most tailored suit. Matching your personality with the appropriate dress and a layer of confidence will help you feel like you fit in and already have the job. “Fake it till you make it, right?”

If you are uncertain of what is and isn’t appropriate for your interview dress then check out the next two infographics for women and men to make sure you are looking sharp and are ready to tackle any question a clever interviewer might ask, because if you look good then you feel good and yes that’s a real thing.

Photography and Interviews by Colleen Nelson
Video and Resource Slider by Lazaro Hernandez
Apparel Graphic & Written by Katelyn Orlowski

Colors Paint Culture- Holi 2015

hands up in the air eight

By: Jessica Garcia, Erin Spencer, and Raisa Tillis

AUSTIN, TX – Colorful dust flooded the air while thousands gathered throwing colored powder as friends and strangers alike celebrated and danced to music on the lawn outside of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

They were there to participate in Holi,a spiritual Hindu festival to welcome the coming of spring with vibrant colors honoring Lord Krishna, the supreme god worshiped across many traditions of Hinduism.

In Hinduism, Lord Krishna is the embodiment of divine joy and love that will destroy all of someone’s sin and pain. He was born to to establish the religion of love.

The tradition of throwing colored powder at Holi originates from the Hindu tale of Lord Krishna, who complained to his mother about the color of his dark skin. He believed it was unfair that he was so dark, so his mother then took color and put it on his and her face so they could look just a like.

Holi is  now celebrated as a festival of unit symbolically eliminating the differences that can drive us apart.

The colored powder that is used during Holi is from the flowers of trees that blossomed during the spring time.

On March 29, UT’s Hindu Students Association threw the biggest Holi festival since they started the event at the university. This year, approximately 8,000 UT students and people around the Austin area attended Holi.

The turnout was so successful that there were times throughout the festival that they would have to take 20 minute breaks just to get more colored powder.

Senior UT student, Crystal Nunez, has attended the Holi festival for the past two years. She says that every year she experiences an atmosphere filled with good people, good music, and good vibes.

“Music, dancing, and color,” Nunez said.

“Why wouldn’t you want to come out?”

However, it takes more than just colored powder packets and music to showcase the annual Holi festival.

Holi Co-Chair Aparna Datta, says that they start planning the event a year in advance, because they needed a lot of time to get all the materials in order for the big day.

At Holi, everyone comes together to have fun as they celebrate the traditional festival in the Hindu culture.

Holi celebrator Anshumala Gupta says that Holi isn’t just a time to get together and have fun, but a time to wash off all the hatred.

“You are meant to forget all of the past and and actually hug people with a pure heart again,” said Gupta.

The Hindu Students Association, the organization behind the event, meets weekly to discuss the concepts a practices of  their shared religion. Every week a different pair of officers lead a discussions based on Hinduism topics suggested by the members.

HSA President Aneesh Angirekula, says that being a part of the organization is all about the people he is surrounded with.

“No one is an expert, we can all learn from each other,” said Angirekula. “So I really enjoy that aspect of HSA, I feel like I learn a lot more from my peers around me oppose from the two people who did research.”

 

 



Raw Jeans

An example of what raw jeans look like when worn for over a year with minimal washing.

 

 

By Rocio Tueme

 

Austin is a city of eccentric taste and eclectic flair, known worldwide for it’s local attitude highlighted with worldly mentality. Austinites take oddity as a point of pride, pushing the limits of the norm as if the very existence of their lifestyle depends on it. Arguably, it does, as the real attraction of the city is its sense of individuality.

 

A local startup that never intended to gain the traction they now have, Traveller was started with one goal: provide the purest and most individual experience available for their customers. They are tackling an old stable in Texas: jeans. Each pair of jeans blends perfectly with the lifestyle of the individual, molding to their day to day activities; good and bad.

 

The raw material shapes along with the choices of the wearer: cell phones leave long last imprints, keys wear holes, creases create a “feathering effect”.

 

A pair will cost anywhere from $350-500. The company stands by their longevity and versatility, with jeans being easily repaired and sturdy in equal measure. It’s great to see an austin based company doing what austin does best: their own thing. The company uses high quality Japanese denim and vintage machines that were commonly used when the original raw jeans were being made.

 

 

Ironically, the company was started by a man who only owned one pair of jeans but now all of the new prototypes are made to Erik Untersee’s size. While they are not “his” he can use the jeans while he is working.

 

Untersee started making jeans out of his home but he eventually got together with Seth Mitch. Mitch had some sewing machines and an interest in making jeans. Together they were able to produce more and slowly but surely more people willingly joined their team and the company has become what it is today.

 

While the company has been popular among locals, a lot of their customers are international. They come from countries like Germany, South Africa and Japan to Austin to get their own pair of customized raw jeans.

 

It is safe to say that Austin’s authentic vintage style is still alive and vibrant and thanks to companies like traveller these trends will stand the test of time.

 

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Yard Art

By Tessa Meriwether, Chrissy Dickerson, Samantha Badgen, Shannon Price & Taylor Smith

Figurine atop a bird bath in Bobby's Sculpture Stories Garden (Photo/ Tessa Meriwether)

Figurine atop a bird bath in Bobby’s Sculpture Stories Garden (Photo/ Tessa Meriwether)

Yards that incorporate artwork in Austin are trending. Some homes are decked out with colorful bottles, mannequins and even realistic sculptures.

In 2010, Scott Stevens and Robert Mace founded the Austin Art Yard Tour, which was created to showcase yard art enthusiasts, commonly referred to as yardists, in the community. Participants could look at the tour website, which was created primarily by Mace, and discover over 30 properties around Austin that had viewable yard art.

But what separates an art display from a collection of mere junk?

Click here to continue reading.

Austin likes to Laugh

Theater

Jennifer Dorsey (far left) and Tyler Bryce (far right) announce the winner of The Monologue Jam on March 7. The winner, Amanda Smith (center) won a jar of Amish Jam. Photo by: Andie Rogers

 

How comedy clubs have taken off in the city that keeps things weird.

There is something naturally contagious about laughter, but what is it? It could be the product of a sly comment from a friend or a punchy joke by a comedian. Whether it’s inane, heartfelt or cheerful people simply love laughing and Austinites are no exception. There are more than a dozen comedy clubs and improv theaters in and around Austin. The thriving community of comedians and aspiring comedians are provoking roars of laughter all over.

Austin likes to laugh so much that at one point it even boasted its own comedy radio station 102.7 FM which broadcasted old and new comedians 24/7. Instead of songs, listeners would tune their dials to 102.7 for short sets of jokes. Despite the fact ratings were strong the comedy radio station made little revenue. In 2013 the owners, Emmis Austin Radio, turned the station into a Latino Pop channel.

Comedy and Its Forms

Comedy Central and YouTube have made accessing good comedy easier in recent years and now anyone can watch comedy from the comfort of their home. In Austin however, the comedic audience likes to go out to get their comedy fix. Going into a comedy club or improv theater can be intimidating at first but there are a few things to know before you go in to get the most out of your experience.

Austin has a wide selection of comedy venues which serve up everything from ridged stand-up to funny sketches and even zany improv. Stand up consists of one comedian standing on stage telling stories with jokes sprinkled throughout that can end up going in any direction based on the comedians response from the audience. Sketches are planned and rehearsed lines or skits by one or more comedian while improv is completly random comedy made by the comedian in the moment based on suggestions from the audience. While all comedy, these three are extremely different and may not appeal to everyone.

Unlike live music performances, comedy shows involve a little more engagement from the audience. Timid audience members may feel weary under the dim lights or even targeted by aggressive comedic tactics. For improv studios like the Institution Theater, brainstorm some suggestions beforehand so you are fumbling for funny places or fake band names to shout out to inspire the comedian. Stand up comedy is always rehearsed so going in blind is okay.

Comedy clubs or improv theaters are a place to engage in great bouts of laughter and comedians aren’t afraid to push the boundaries to get the laughs. Comedian Cynthia Oelkers regards the improv act as a bond between the comedian and the audience. “Everybody’s got different boundaries,” she says. You usually talk about them with your troupe.” The comedic boundaries may not always be clear to the audience but even comedians have limits on what the feel comfortable with.

A Look Inside the Institution Theater

Comedy Infographic

Test Your Comedic Abilities

Austin holds plenty of opportunities for those itching to get on stage. Almost all of the improve clubs offer courses for all skill levels. Aspiring stand-up comedians can participate in open mic nights almost every night of the week. “My advice would be to take classes. Everywhere has superb teachers,” said Cynthia Oelkers, an improviser with 14 years of experience. Oelkers credits the classes she took with introducing her to several new people and opening doors for auditions.

It all comes down to the laugh and if you are looking to have a good time, one of Austin’s many comedy clubs and improv theaters are just the right place to go. Hear crude or silly jokes, interact with quick-witted improv comedians or just go to laugh your a$$ off. Find out what is funny in the city that keeps things weird in this interactive quiz that will help you find out which type of comedy and Austin theater is right for you.

Powered by Interact

UT Landmarks Draws Stare, Knowledge

UT Set to Unveil New Landmark

Story by Kate Orlowski and Bobby Blanchard. Video by Claire Hogan

 

Monochrome_Austin

There is something about a well-worn, aluminum canoe that invokes feelings of nostalgia or of one’s childhood, but dozens of canoes is a different story. That is exactly what Nancy Rubins’ ‘Monochrome for Austin,’ the latest addition to the Landmarks program, is.

UT Landmarks is a public art program at UT-Austin. The program is responsible for decorating the entire campus with visuals — many of which are sculpture, but some are more abstract. It is funded by a small percentage of the capital cost of new construction and major renovations.

Rubins, a Texas native, has always experimented when it came to art and feels comfortable making things out of anything from household appliances to airplane parts. The newly completed work of art is continually on display but a special opening party will take place on Thursday, March 5. Scholars say her art can be described as conceptual with a striking balance in both presence and grace.

Students have been inquisitively watching Rubins work come to life on the corner of Speedway and 24th Street in front of the Norman Hackerman Building. The artwork draws stares, pictures and contemplative head tilts as students and faculty scurry by on their way to and from class.

Monochrome For Austin: Thoughts and Observations from Claire Hogan on Vimeo.

A subliminal message, many may not be aware of, is the striking resemblance of the steel foliage to period warplanes. In fact many of the cantilevered canoes were manufactured by Grumman Corporation, a military producer of the jet planes and ammunition. It is that kind of thinking which Rubins seeks to instill in her viewers as they study a piece of her work.

Stainless steel lines and hardware hold the aluminum canoes together. ‘Monochrome for Austin’ seems to defy the laws of gravity as they are taught on the very campus it resides. The Lankmark piece ended up costing approximately $1.4 million to complete and install.

Andree Bober, the director of UT Landmarks, says the program does not just provide great sights on campus, but it also provides an educational value to students.

“The principal function that it serves is a resource for students and scholars of visual art, much the same way that laborite equipment is used by scientists,” Bober said. “What makes it very different from other type of resources is it isn’t locked around in classrooms or tucked away in libraries, it’s out in the public to be seen.”


 
Organizations like the Landmark Program rely heavily on funding to fuel their creative endeavors but volunteers are the real driving force behind the organization. Many patrons of the arts also like to give back by donating to support the causes they care about but volunteering takes patronage to the next level.

There are two primary volunteer opportunities: the Landmarks Docents and the Landmarks Preservation Guild. Volunteers are primarily students, especially of the Preservation Guild Program where they receive academic credit for completing the academic, yearlong program.

Docents contribute time, energy and ideas to make the program accessible to the university and visitors of campus. Docents contribute two to three hours per month to lead tours of the various Landmarks on campus for the public and private events as well as and attend meetings.

Members of the Preservation Guild are volunteer interns who spend their time keeping a watchful eye of the Landmarks in order to maintain the works in the collection. They devote time and energy to preserve works of public art so they may be enjoyed by future generations. They attend training sessions led by a conservator and create condition reports on the status of the art.

Nick Nobel, the Landmark’s External Affairs Coordinator, describes the art in the collection.

“Works in the Landmarks collection come via a long-term loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and commissions and purchases from world-renowned contemporary artists,” Nobel said. “[Volunteers can] see the artist’s work process, and attend special events with the artists.”

Monochrome_Austin

Some of the perks of being a volunteer are that in addition to being surrounded by beautiful and intriguing art all the time, you also have the opportunity to visit sites during the installation process. This is an exceptional opportunity for students interested in the arts and want to gain real world experience and connections in the art world.

If seeing the art in more than just passing by for class is something you are interested in, there are regular public docent tours on the first Sunday of every month as well as for special parties or individual class sessions. This is also where you can see the volunteers in action and find out if it is something you would be interested in as well.

Bober said the Landmarks program plans to continue to grow on campus.
 

“We’ll continue to engage students and the public in those works,” Bober said.

The Nancy Rubins Monochrome for Austin Celebration and Q&A will kick off at 5:30pm with a public Q&A with artist Nancy Rubins and scholar Nancy Princenthal in the Norman Hackerman Building Auditorium and conclude with a celebratory reception on the Norman Hackerman Building Patio beginning at 6:30pm.

Nancy_Rubins_Invite Invite By Katelyn Orlowski

Inside 6th Street

6th Street, formerly named Pecan Street, is a historic street and entertainment district in Austin, TX. (Photo/Rocio Tueme)

6th Street, formerly named Pecan Street, is a historic street and entertainment district in Austin, TX. (Photo/Rocio Tueme)

 

By Jessica Garcia, Erin Spencer, Raisa Tillis and Rocio Tueme

Austin, TX – With almost no traffic coming in from Lavaca or Interstate-35 early in the day, Austin’s own 6th street is unrecognizable to its night dwellers. Blaring bars become quiet oases and day drinkers, nomads and homeless occupy the street sparingly.

6th street is a historic entertainment district widely known for it’s live music, weird culture and variety of bars. College students, locals and tourists invade the street at night to celebrate a variety of occasions, the end of the work week included, and to simply get drunk.

Many may think of 6th as a place for fast paced drink guzzling at night, but during the day there are people who like to go to 6th street and drink at their own speed.

Glen Ford, a tourist from New Orleans, enjoys a brief moment of alone time drinking a beer at the Chuggin’ Monkey Thursday afternoon. “I like the day time, because if I’m by myself you know, in the daytime, you do whatever you want to do,” he said.

Chupacabra's

As opposed to its busy Thursday nights, Chupacabra Cantina is deserted on a Thursday afternoon. ( Photo/Jessica Garcia)

The Blind Pig Pub, a sixth street favorite among college students, is practically deserted on a Thursday afternoon compared to the business it gets at night. However there are some customers that come during the day who plan to stay until the busy street closes.

“It’s a longer period of time that we’re drinking for. It’s a marathon,” said day drinker, Nicole Resnick, a Blind Pig patron.

Although some day drinkers stop before sunset, others continue drinking throughout the night, consuming more alcohol than the recommended amount.

The businesses of 6th street receive more money during the nighttime, and some of its clientele struggles with controlling their alcohol intake levels. No matter the time of day the repercussions of overconsumption are the same.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “low risk” drinking levels for men are no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 for women. Research shows that moderate drinking is usually defined as no more than two drinks in a given day.

Regardless of the statistics many who come to drink on sixth street aim to drink as much as they can before the night ends. It can be especially easy to get carried away during the day without a larger crowd blocking access to the bar area.

“It’s easier to get drinks. You just go up to the bartender and get the drink immediately you don’t have to wait around. It’s pretty easy. I like the daytime,” added Ford.

However, the crowds at night do not stop drinkers from packing the bars and pubs to indulge in drinking as much alcohol as they can.

UT exchange student from Spain, Paloma Rey-stolle, prefers to visit the street at night. “The thing I want to do when I’m at night here is like party. I don’t even care about the quality of alcohol or anything I just want to party. I mean for example, Thursdays are one-dollar drinks. It’s like let’s have fun tonight,” said Rey-stolle.

Regardless of the time of day, the people of Austin and its visitors all have the same goal when venturing to Historic 6th and that’s to come out and have a good time.

Landmarks unveils most daring sculpture yet

boats3
By: Cooper Haynie, Mikhaela Locklear, Jonathan Garza and Melanie Price

AUSTIN – As students flooded back to the 40 acres for Spring semester many were shocked to see over 70 small boats and canoes on campus. This was no prank or mistake. In fact, it was very intentional. The boats made up a 50 ft structure that teeters over a busy campus intersection.

What is now known to many students as the “boat sculpture” is actually named Monochrome for Austin, and was designed by artist Nancy Rubins specifically for the UT campus. The structure is located at 24th Street and Speedway.

This project represents the first large-scale sculpture by a female artist for the UT Austin campus, according to Landmarks, the campus public art program.

The $1.4 million in funding for Monochrome for Austin came from capital improvement funds provided by the construction of the neighboring Norman Hackerman Building (NHB). Although students have been quick to assume, no tuition money went to fund this piece of public art.

Landmarks invites the public to attend the official unveiling of Monochrome for Austin on March 5 at 5:30 p.m. The celebration will take place at the Norman Hackerman Building where the sculpture now stands. A Q-and-A with Rubins will be followed by a celebratory reception on the NHB patio.

Landmarks projects are scattered throughout campus. The campus public art project launched in 2008 to “develop a cohesive collection of public art from a curatorial perspective.” The displays have beautified the campus ever since.

Monochrome for Austin simply contributes to a long list of unique campus art.

 

More unique campus art displays

 

towers2
Circle With Towers 

Sol LeWitt’s Circle with Towers was introduced to the UT campus in 2011 and stands at the entrance to the Gates Dell Complex on Speedway.

This piece of work can be enjoyed not only as an abstract art form, but also as a social gathering place.

 

 

 

The Color Insideskyspace2

Located on top of the Student Activity Center a unique and little known piece of art invites students to participate by enjoying the peace and quiet.

James Turrell’s skyspace, The Color Inside, can be experienced throughout the day but Landmarks recommends sunrise and sunset. Pictures just can’t do it justice.

 

 

  And That’s The Way It IsProjection1

Located in the Walter Cronkite Plaza of the Moody College of Communication is another unique piece of art. And That’s The Way It Is by Ben Rubin was dedicated to Cronkite in 2012 when it was added to the UT campus.

This display features broadcast news text from the Cronkite era and modern day being projected in a grid on the communications building. This piece of artwork can be viewed every night on the UT campus.

 

Clock Knot1 Clock Knot

Introduced by artist Mark di Suvero to the UT campus in 2007, Clock Knot stands outside the chemical and mechanical engineering buildings.

The sculpture represents a giant clock face “knotted” in the middle. When moving around Clock Knot the views constantly change.

“Historically, a sculpture was an object to be looked at, usually on a pedestal, not something one viewed from underneath,” according to Landmarks.

However, by walking around this particular structure the viewers experience drastically changes.

 

Improv on the Rise at UT

By: Jacob Kerr, Judy Hong, Becca Gamache & Carola Guerrero De León

(Austin, Texas) – It’s a Friday night on the UT campus, and a group of students are huddled up together outside a class auditorium. With an audience already building up inside, the group heads to the front of the room. They are ready to perform and entertain.

They look at each other before announcing the show has started. They have no scripts or any idea of what they will do next. This is UT’s growing improv scene, which has developed over the past 12 years in a city that has become a live comedy stronghold.
Known for being the “live music capital of the world,” Austin is also home to a thriving comedy scene. Venues such as Esther’s Follies, the Hideout Theatre, the Capitol City Comedy Club, Coldtowne Theater, the New Movement and the Velveeta Room hold shows and classes every week.

The UT campus is also home to two student troupes: Gigglepants and SNAFU.

While the groups both perform on Friday nights, they specialize in different types of improv – Gigglepants does short form and SNAFU does long form.

Taylor Wingfield shocks the audience and Gigglepants team by taking a skit to a surprising turn.  Photo by Becca Gamache

Taylor Wingfield shocks the audience and Gigglepants team by taking a skit to a surprising turn.
Photo by Becca Gamache

Short form is made up of a series of games in which a referee outlines the rules and chooses a winner.

“Short form improv is very digestible for an audience to just come in and laugh at,” says Gigglepants member Jon Cozart, who is also known for his popular YouTube channel.“Kids who grew up watching ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ – that’s perfect for what we do.”

Long form is more open and broad. Starting with a suggestion from the audience, the group develops an improv scenario that builds as it happens.

“In long form, what you’re trying to do is find the game in the scene,” says Daniel Abramson, SNAFU member and radio-television-film senior. “You’re given a blank canvas.”

Regardless of the format, Abramson claims that the secret to any successful improv show is for the performers to keep their minds blank. “You shouldn’t have anything in your mind,” Abramson says. “The moment you have anything in your mind, you’re already ruined.”


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