Comics will hit stages around the city from Paramount to Antone's for The Moontower Just for Laughs Austin Comedy Festival taking place April 12-23. There will be dozens of national favorites including Seth Meyers and Jenny Slate and a great sampling of local talent. We caught up with two Austinites in the lineup - Tyler Groce, ‘The Funniest Person in Austin’ according to the revered Cap City Comedy Club, and Vanessa Gonzalez, who opened for Fortune Feimster in Austin in February, fresh off a tour opening for Chelsea Handler.
You were voted Cap City Comedy Club's Funniest Person in Austin. How does it feel to hold that title? It feels good! I went to the contest for years and always looked up to those who won and now I get to be among them. It feels real special.
When did you realize you were funny? Maybe 2nd grade. I think I was funny before that, but 2nd grade was when it became something I tried to be. I tried to crack jokes and make people laugh, and it worked!
How long have you been doing stand-up? Going on eight years now
Where do you find the inspiration for your comedy? I have my heroes that I look up to. I don't want to be them, but I want to emulate certain things that they were able to achieve artistically. And I have something in me I'm trying to get out, I just want to do it as well as they have, if possible.
Do you have any pre-show rituals? Nah, not really. I think about my set a bit, drink some water, watch the comic before me. I wouldn't call that a ritual though.
Can you share a joke that translates to paper? Lol, not really
What advice would you give your younger self? You can't rush this, just enjoy it
The year 2022 was good to Vanessa Gonzalez. She was named “Best Stand Up Comic in Austin” by The Austin Chronicle and one of “Variety’s Top 10 Comics to Watch.” She opened on tour for Fortune Feimster, Chelsea Handler and more. I caught her set at Fortune's show - and she is Funny!
Where do you find the inspiration for your comedy? My family, friends, boyfriend and things that happen to me day-to-day.
Do you have any pre-show rituals? Not really but if I'm really nervous before a show I'll text my bestie, Micheal Foulk (who I have a podcast with called "I'm Not Busy"), and say "I don't wanna do this!" Then they'll encourage me to leave the show. I never leave but there's something about having a getaway plan that makes me feel better.
What was a highlight of being on tour with Chelsea Handler? It's been so fun getting to know Chelsea and traveling around the country with her. She's so inspiring on and off stage but the biggest highlights have been the private jets and endless amounts of edibles.
What advice would you give your younger self? Don't worry. You'll be high on a private jet one day.
Learn more about the festival and lineup at: austintheatre.org/moontower-comedy