Two surprise acts made for an even better than expected night at 800 Congress on Saturday night for the Moontower Comedy Festival’s final Stars in Bars event.
The first of those surprise acts was Patton Oswalt, dropping in ahead of his headline set across the road immediately following the Stars in Bars event. Oswalt was the top billed comedian of the whole festival, and to have him at a club show, which was easier for fans to get in to than his headline show, set the fans cheering, Oswalt barely made it down two stairs to the stage before he was taking in the adulation of the crowd.
It was a very different set from Oswalt at 800 Congress to what he would perform across the road in the Paramount. He made a number of local jokes to connect to the crowd, and gave a really tight and hilarious club set. The crowd was easy to please but he could easily have turned them, such was the quality of his jokes, he set up the night perfectly with a strong warm up for his main show afterwards, that didn’t feel like a warm up at all.
Somebody had to follow Oswalt, who had a standing ovation coming and going from the stage, and that task fell to Orny Adams. Adams was the perfect act to follow Oswalt and he used the scenario to his advantage, complaining of the crowd’s “less enthusiastic response” to his introduction than Oswalt’s.
Adams came out in his customary style, rarely using the microphone, which didn’t always work in such a big venue with a crowd that sometimes forgot it was a comedy venue. Even with that barrier Adams killed, keeping the crowd energy up, and even increasing it, getting bigger laughs at times than Oswalt.
Brad Williams followed with a perfectly self-deprecating set, he also had the best local material, describing Austin perfectly to get a great laugh from the mostly local crowd.DJ Dougpoundd was next up after a quick set up, producing some of the funniest moments of the show with his unique blend of a DJ set and stand up that fit the room perfectly, unfortunately, the audience didn’t always get the concept but DJ Dougpoundd was one of the best comedians of the whole festival.
Wendy Liebman had the right composition for a short club showcase as she sucked you in quickly with some of the smartest jokes of the night, that carried throughout her whole set, timing it out perfectly with perfect jokes.
Brian Posehn managed to have the most thoughtful set of the night, all driving toward one point about word choice. Posehn’s set was topical but not too focussed on Donald Trump specifically but rather the political climate as a whole.
The first-ever Hispanic woman to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live, Melissa Villasenor but together a phenomenal set about family. That was followed quickly by Dan Soder who did a similar set, talking about his Grandmother and about celebrating April 20th.
The final two comedians had the toughest ask as it seemed the length of the show was getting to the crowd as they became louder. Sal Vulcano spoke about Masterchef Junior but it was difficult to hear through the crowd and Michelle Collins seemed to struggle with the crowd.
There was one final surprise as after all the advertised comedians performed, Ralphie May came out to perform and close out the show.