This weekend marks Austin’s first Individuals of Shade Comedy Competition. However whereas the fest is model new, it’s been a dream for founder Leng Wong for a number of years now. “I imply, I actually did wish to do a pageant,” she says. “I’ve been researching the leisure enterprise in Austin, particularly comedy, [for the] final twelve or fifteen years, and that is the primary time I’ve seen the comedy scene the place the troupes of coloration, the comedians of coloration — there are such a lot of on the market [of high] high quality. So it’s, to me, the proper time. That is the perfect I’ve seen in just like the final fifteen years.”
This primary installment of the pageant (Wong hopes it’ll grow to be an annual occasion) will function improv, sketch, and extra, all carried out by comedians of coloration. The purpose is to showcase the nice and humorous work these performers are creating in Austin and likewise to bolster and strengthen the sentiments of group and household which can be already in place in our numerous comedy scene.
Kim Tran, of the all-Asian sketch troupe Scorching Pot Comedy, says that her troupe is as a lot a surrogate household as a comedy staff. “For us, it’s for positive a comedy group, however like greater than that, it’s a group for us and like household for us – outdoors of our actual household – as a result of for lots of us, I feel that is our first time having a group of Asian-American creatives, comedians, collectively,” she says. “Lots of [our comedy] touches on our Asian-American identification in fashionable instances, but in addition a few of it’s simply… us as humorous folks. And I feel everybody can hopefully relate to it.”
¡Escándalo!, which is an improvised bilingual telenovela, can even be part of the fest. “We now have all of the tropes you’ll count on, like evil twins and homicide and love triangles,” says troupe member Laura Galan Wells. “So we now have plenty of enjoyable onstage. For us, it was actually a really private expertise. There have been actually plenty of tears after we first began rehearsing, as a result of plenty of us had been made to really feel ashamed of our heritage.” ¡Escándalo! is a parody of the kind of Spanish-language telenovelas that many within the troupe grew up watching with household, nevertheless it’s a loving parody. “One thing we’ve actually treasured is folks bringing their grandparents,” Galan Wells says. “We now have lots of people who convey their abuela or their abuelo. And one time after a present, somebody introduced us pan dulce – like a field filled with all types of little delicacies, they usually had been like ‘It’s like roses!’ However it was just like the Hispanic model. And, you recognize, that’s who we’re performing for. It simply means a lot to us to have the ability to carry out for the group and provides them one thing they actually love. We principally converse in English, nevertheless it’s such a present to have the ability to converse in Spanish and for them to see that onstage.”
Kenah Benefield describes his troupe, Sugar Water Purple as “Austin’s most unconventionally enticing improv troupe,” earlier than including “simply kidding. We’re Black. We’re virtually to the purpose of being unapologetically Black. And we’re very… political within the sense the place we cope with a lot out in our world that we’re simply so type of sick of it, let’s make enjoyable of it. And we wish to create an area for folks to come back in and watch and have a superb time.”
Wong and the performers hope to encourage different folks of coloration to really feel that they will begin performing, too.
“I really feel like the perfect comedy is the comedy that makes use of your private expertise and your identification,” says Tran.
“And that’s the opposite a part of the pageant, is for the viewers,” says Wong. “Who sooner or later hopefully will grow to be a performer as nicely. However at the very least they know that they will now be included within the viewers of comedy. That for me is large, too.”
The Individuals of Shade Comedy Competition is Friday, Might 24 and Saturday, Might 25 on the AISD Performing Arts Heart