Local Comedy Gets New Buzz at Buzz Mill: New Seventh Street Venue Wants To Keep You Laughing All Night – Arts

Buzz Mill Events Director Mark Fagan (l) and comedian Mike Wiebe at the new Buzz Mill on East Seventh (Photo by John Anderson)

The newest Buzz Mill show aims to be an epicenter of comedy.

The original Buzz Mill cafe off Riverside, launched by Jason Sabala and his team in 2013 and still going strong, also features a comedy scene, of course. But this place is more concerned with its Lumber Society, which engages in the wilderness, with events to help the community learn more about the natural world around it and how best to interact with it. . As the Buzz Mill promo proclaims: We are a 24 hour fort, providing a place for those in need of refueling, whether it’s for a coffee to go or for a cheer with friends..

A strong, see? Kind of like a Boy Scout and Girl Scout outpost, sometimes enhanced with music and comedy, but for the adults who drink.

With the new joint staking out its clubby claim on the corner of Seventh and Attayac (formerly the Troublemaker Burrito Bar), you might call this place Fort Comedy. Because, beyond its excellent program of drinks and variously delicious Bird Brunch menu, in its simple yet elegant interior and wraparound patio, the new Buzz Mill is all about the funny ha-ha.

And why is that? Is it because we could all have more laughs as this pandemic continues to rain down on our human parade? Or because our city’s industry profile will soon be galvanized by Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, as this internationally renowned powerhouse partners with Moontower Comedy to make Austin its second location?

We recently caught up with Buzz Mill’s director of events (and former the Chronicle Staff) Mark Fagan and longtime Buzz Mill comedian / musician / actor Mike Wiebe for answers on Austin’s growing comedy scene. As Wiebe said, “We started out from a town that had bar shows and a big comedy club and the [Velveeta Room]. And now there will be what, 250 comedy clubs opening next month? “

“Excelsior! With Mike Wiebe and Doug Mellard! »In concert at Buzz Mill, January 11 (Photo by John Anderson)

Austin Chronicle: Instead of blast music, music, music every night like so many places do, this Buzz Mill is all about comedy? What is the impetus behind this?

Mike Wiebe: I think part of it is the size and shape of the room. The music gets very loud, very fast, and this piece is sort of ideal for a more low-key atmosphere. I helped program the comedy Buzz Mill at the original location years ago, and the first show was the Buzz Kill Showcase. Has it been, uh, 10 years now? It was started by Katie Pengra – I would give a lot of credit to Katie, who really groomed this show early on and built it until it was, ah, I think that’s the one of the best shows in Austin right now. It’s really good – a good mix of regulars and people drawn to it.

“We started from a town that had bar shows and a big comedy club and the [Velveeta Room]. And now there will be what, 250 comedy clubs opening next month? ” – Mike Wiebe

Marc Fagan: I just stopped at the Riverside location, and there were two – I won’t name their names, but – there were two nationally renowned comics in there, just drinking coffee. Because people know the place.

MW: But this new room is totally different: it’s indoors, so we don’t have to worry so much about the weather factor. It’s also a lot smaller, but smaller can be really really good for comedy, you know? We’re still working on the issues with the lighting and everything, but it’s really moving forward. And since we’re focused on comedy, we can just do a lot more shows.

THAT : How many of these shows are organized in advance and how many are open mics?

MF: We have one open mic per room per week, and then everything else is organized. Mike has a show on Tuesday called “Excelsior!” It’s a superhero-themed show co-hosted by Doug Mellard. Wednesday is the open mic “Hacksaw”. Thursdays it’s a rotating cast of different lineups – there’s “The Sting” with Chris Cubas and Ryan Cownie, and “Girls That Gab” hosted by Andre Ricks, and “Seventh Street Screwdown” with Raymond Cabrera, and the Sunday is our “Honey Dip” “Show [hosted by Angelina Martin and Carlton Wilcoxson]. … We don’t necessarily fill the place every time, but “Honey Dip” pretty much fills the room.

THAT : Is it mainly standing? Or do you also have sketches and improvisations?

MW: It’s mostly stand-up, but I know Angelina offers a variety of things. We’re able to do a little more multimedia stuff with the projector, and we’re trying to mix it up. I think this piece is going to be for a bit more experimentation. It’s a nice room to try out different things, because it’s still a bit of a country to discover.

THAT : OK, and one last question for all of you here, sort of an overall thing – does the Moontower Just For Laughs Festival come to mind? That the local scene is about to acquire an even greater international reputation?

MF: As a promoter and not a performer, this kind of international recognition fascinates me. While maybe our local comics – like a Martin Henn, one of our hosts here, he has a chance to be more recognized, for bigger things. We have so many great comics in Austin, they should really get this show. It will be like [South by Southwest], to the right? South By has brought a lot of recognition to many of the town’s musicians, and many people who work in the service industry are also benefiting financially.

MW: Well this city is definitely changing, but I don’t know what it’s gonna be. Sometimes there are reasons to be worried about things, but there are also reasons to be maybe excited and hopeful. There’s really nothing you can do – because if there’s something that gets you excited about it, it’s going to cause a change – but you can try to be a part of the positive part of that change, you know?

The buzz mill

Riverside location, 1505 Town Creek, open 24 hours.
East Seventh location, 1209 E. Seventh, open 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
512 / 547-9909. buzzmillcoffee.com.

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