And That’s A Wrap on Moontower Comedy 2016

MoontowerAustin isn’t exactly known for its dearth of festivals. We have a festival for everything. Want a whole festival dedicated to Hot Sauce? We got you covered. Big fan of all things Celtic? Come on down. What are your thoughts on kites? Wanna see a whole fest dedicated to them? You’re in luck.

But for my money, The Moontower Comedy Festival might be my absolute favorite. For a comedy nerd like myself, it’s four days of nirvana.

The performers run the gamut from club comics to outright variety acts, which is great because the diversity of the shows almost guarantees you won’t get burned out on one type of performance.

Moontower is also very well run. That might sound like a dumb thing to love about a festival, but let me tell you, some of the fests in Austin might as well be run by monkeys. Okay. I’m sorry. That’s insulting to monkeys. If they were run by monkeys they might go smoother. But the people behind Moontower have their shit together. The badge levels are easy to understand. The calendar tells you what you need to know without having to wade through 300 links. And when something does go awry, the people in charge are efficient and apologetic. In this town, that’s a breath of fresh air. People outside Austin are starting to notice, too.

We saw so many great acts this year: Jimmy Carr. Ari Shaffir. Kevin Smith & Jay Mewes. Erin Foley. Maria Bamford.jay and bob

But looking back on the 2016 fest, several shows really stick out in my mind. Martin Short headlined on Thursday night, and although I certainly love Short’s work in film and TV, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Martin Short live show.

What we got was an honest-to-goodness Martin Short one-man variety act. He sang. He danced. He joked and he mugged for the audience. It was like Marty was channeling the spirit of those old, Copacabana Martin and Lewis shows, except Marty was playing both the Dean and Jerry parts all by himself. He oozed energy, and when he sang the closing song, I knew we’d just seen something special.

I also adore the participants of this fest. On various podcasts and in interviews, Judd Apatow has repeatedly said how growing up a comedy nerd is a lonely affair. Lots of D&D nerds out there. Lots of computer nerds with which to commiserate. But comedy nerds? When I was growing up, we were thin on the ground.

But at Moontower, I’m positively surrounded by comedy nerds. When I’m chatting with people, I don’t have to explain my references to Dennis Wolfberg or the old HBO Young Comedian specials. Mencia’s plagiarism is common knowledge. There’s no need to ask if someone is a fan of Pete Holmes or if they’ve heard the new episode of “You Made it Weird.” We’re all comedy nerds at Moontower.

I do need to add a caveat to that last thing. There are a very small number of big donor VIPs at the fest, and they always get priority seating, which is great. That’s not the annoying bit. But this year, an old couple who had obviously donated loads of cash, angrily walked out of two shows. They were sitting up front at David Cross’s show, and apparently his political stances were just too much. The old man got up and left in a huff. They were in the second row at Jimmy Norton’s show, and as soon as Jimmy started in on a bit about have sex with transsexuals they became visibly and audibly disgusted and left. Cross even mentions it in this clip:

How the hell do you go to a David Cross show without knowing his politics? I guess they thought he was just gonna get onstage and blue himself for 90 minutes. And how do you go to a Norton show and get disgusted at his sex jokes? I mean, Jimmy calls himself a disgusting human being, and he’s got a low bar.

Don’t get me wrong. It was hilarious watching this old couple self-righteously storm out of the theater, and it was even funnier when Norton noticed and bashed the hell out of them as they left, but their anger confounds me. Why pay money for comedy and then get annoyed when there’s comedy? That’s like going to a Kevin Smith movie and going, “There’s just too much dialogue!” Very confusing.

Anyway.

The highlight of the festival had to be Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum’s Prince coverband Princess.

I know these acts are booked months and months in advance, and obviously Prince’s death was shockingly sudden to everyone. Consequently, I didn’t know how the band intended to handle the situation, but the show ended up being a moving tribute to a musician both Rudolph and Lieberum loved dearly.

When Rudolph opened the show, with the opening sounds of “Let’s Go Crazy” hanging in the air, she told the crowd “This is gonna be hard, and we’ll probably cry. He was our hero, and we love him. And he has completely shaped our world. But we’re gonna do this together. Alright?” And from that moment until the very end of the show, Rudolph and Lieberum shaped our world.

For the next 90 minutes, the entire audience at the Paramount Theater sang and danced as Princess, bathed in soft purple light, grooved onstage. At the end of the show, a visibly shaken and crying Rudolph stood alone at the front of the stage, illuminated with a single spotlight, and told the audience she wasn’t sure if they’d ever perform as Princess again. “But,” she said, she wanted to keep singing songs because “that’s what Prince would do.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a more emotional show. It was raw and real, and Rudolph and Lieberum’s love for Prince was palpable. I left the theater completely drained from dancing and singing and crying. It was unforgettable, and I feel lucky to have been there.

In a city full of festivals, The Moontower Comedy festival is truly something special. I’m already pumped for next year.

Categories: Austin Life | Comments

The Adventures of Heroman “Too Many Supermen”

 

Heroman E4 Cover

Today’s the day! The Adventures of Heroman Episode Four “Too Many Supermen” is ready for you to enjoy!

You can listen to the episode using the player at the bottom of this page, or you can download the podcast from the iTunes store or any other podcast app (just search for “Hyperliterature Presents”) and you can also use our direct podcast feed: http://www.hyperliterature.com/feed/podcast/.

No matter which podcast app you use, please hit the Subscribe Button. That’s really the only way we can see how many people are interested in what we do.

It’s all been leading up to this episode, Hero-Fans! Heroman and Betterman have finally decided to confront the super-villain Boomerang, and we guarantee their confrontation and the fallout from it will impact Heroman’s life in ways he couldn’t possibly imagine!

We hope you’ve enjoyed listening to this series as much as we enjoyed making it. We’re currently planning season 2 of The Adventures of Heroman, so subscribe to our Facebook page and we’ll keep you updated on our progress.

If you enjoyed this series, please tell your friends about it, and if you feel like sharing your thoughts with us, go ahead and use the comments section at the bottom of this post or on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you.

A special thank you goes out to everyone who shared us on Facebook, told their friends about us, and generally helped us get the word out about this series. Thank you for your support. It means the world to me and Todd.

And finally, thank you to all our voice actors. You all did an amazing job, and we’re eternally grateful for all your hard work. Todd and I can’t wait to start working with you again on season 2. Here’s a list of all the fine folks who contributed to this project.

 

Written, Directed, & Recorded

by

Mark Gifford & Todd Wright

Original Score and Sound Effects

by

Richard Hall

Voice Over & Betterman

Voiced by

Todd Wright

Heroman, The Red Ruin, ‘Lil Timmy, & The Badge

Voiced by

Mark Gifford

Rosenbaum, Madman, The Boomerang, & Frank

Voiced by

Santiago Longoria III

Amy

Voiced by

Leigh Romero

Lightning

Voiced by

Brooke Ehrhardt Lopez

Captain Peepers

Voiced by

The Young One

Play
Categories: podcast | Comments

The Adventures of Heroman “A Better Man”

 

Heroman E3 Cover

I hope you’re ready, Heromaniacs! The Adventures of Heroman Episode Three “A Better Man” is ready to download and stream!

You can listen to the episode using the player at the bottom of this page, or you can download the podcast from the iTunes store or any other podcast app (just search for “Hyperliterature Presents”) and you can also use our direct podcast feed: http://www.hyperliterature.com/feed/podcast/.

No matter which podcast app you use, please hit the Subscribe Button. That’s really the only way we can see how many people are interested in what we do.

If you haven’t listened to episode one, “The Nest of Honesty,” then click here, and after you’re finished, click here to listen to episode two, “Repeated Recalcitrance.”

In this thrilling third episode, we join Heroman as he has to deal with the fallout of the massive explosion that occurred at the end of episode two. Our Hero is almost at the end of this rope, and we’re about to see Heroman at his very best!

This is the third episode in a 4-part series. We’re going to release these in two week intervals, which means the last episode of this series, “Too Many Supermen,” will drop in exactly two weeks.

Subscribe to our Facebook page for all the latest Heroman news (Seriously, please “like” the page. Doing so will help us get more exposure on Facebook). And if you liked the episodes, please share us with your friends, and if you feel so inclined, leave us a message on the Facebook page or in the comments section on this page. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode specifically and the series in general.

Todd and I didn’t do this one all by ourselves. We had a lot of help, and I want to make sure everyone gets all the credit they deserve.

Written, Directed, & Recorded

by

Mark Gifford & Todd Wright

Original Score and Sound Effects

by

Richard Hall

Voice Over & Betterman

Voiced by

Todd Wright

Heroman, The Red Ruin, ‘Lil Timmy, & The Badge

Voiced by

Mark Gifford

Rosenbaum, Madman, The Boomerang, & Frank

Voiced by

Santiago Longoria III

Amy

Voiced by

Leigh Romero

Lightning

Voiced by

Brooke Ehrhardt Lopez

Captain Peepers

Voiced by

The Young One

Play
Categories: podcast | Comments

The Adventures of Heroman “Repeated Recalcitrance”

 

Heroman E2 Cover

 

Today’s the day, Hero-Fanatics!  The Adventures of Heroman Episode Two: “Repeated Recalcitrance.”

You can listen to the episode using the player at the bottom of this page, or you can download the podcast from the iTunes store or any other podcast app (just search for “Hyperliterature Presents”) and you can also use our direct podcast feed: http://www.hyperliterature.com/feed/podcast/.

No matter which podcast app you use, please hit the Subscribe Button. That’s really the only way we can see how many people are interested in what we do.

If you haven’t listened to episode one, “The Nest of Honesty,” then click here immediately!

In this second episode, we join Heroman and Betterman as they are leaving Heroman’s duplex to ascertain the plans of the villainous Boomerang!

This is the second episode in a 4-part series. We’re going to release these in two week intervals, which means the last episode of this series will drop at the end of February. Join us in two weeks for Episode Three: “A Better Man.”

Subscribe to our Facebook page for all the latest Heroman news. And if you liked the episodes, please share us with your friends, and if you feel so inclined, leave us a message on the Facebook page or in the comments section on this page.

Todd and I didn’t do this one all by ourselves. We had a lot of help, and I want to make sure everyone gets all the credit they deserve.

Written, Directed, & Recorded

by

Mark Gifford & Todd Wright

Original Score and Sound Effects

by

Richard Hall

Voice Over & Betterman

Voiced by

Todd Wright

Heroman, The Red Ruin, ‘Lil Timmy, & The Badge

Voiced by

Mark Gifford

Rosenbaum, Madman, The Boomerang, & Frank

Voiced by

Santiago Longoria III

Amy

Voiced by

Leigh Romero

Lightning

Voiced by

Brooke Ehrhardt Lopez

Captain Peepers

Voiced by

The Young One

 

 

Play
Categories: podcast | Comments

The Adventures of Heroman “The Nest of Honesty”

 

Nest of Honesty

Today’s the day, Herocolytes!  The Adventures of Heroman Episode One: “The Nest of Honesty.”

You can listen to the episode using the player at the bottom of this page, or you can download the podcast from the iTunes store or any other podcast app (just search for “Hyperliterature Presents”) and you can use our direct podcast feed: http://www.hyperliterature.com/feed/podcast/.

No matter which podcast app you use, please hit the Subscribe Button. That’s really the only way we can see how many people are interested in what we do.

In this first episode, we join Heroman as he begins a new chapter in his life. Still stinging from a tragedy that occurred sometime in the not too distant past, our Hero has been forced to contend with people and situations heretofore unheard of in the life of a Hero!

This is the first episode in a 4-part series. We’re going to release these in two week intervals, which means the last episode of this series will drop at the end of February. Join us in two weeks for Episode Two: “Repeated Recalcitrance.”

Todd and I didn’t do this one all by ourselves. We had a lot of help, and I want to make sure everyone gets all the credit they deserve.

Written, Directed, & Recorded

by

Mark Gifford & Todd Wright

Original Score and Sound Effects

by

Richard Hall

Voice Over & Betterman

Voiced by

Todd Wright

Heroman, The Red Ruin, ‘Lil Timmy, & The Badge

Voiced by

Mark Gifford

Rosenbaum, Madman, The Boomerang, & Frank

Voiced by

Santiago Longoria III

Amy

Voiced by

Leigh Romero

Lightning

Voiced by

Brooke Ehrhardt Lopez

Captain Peepers

Voiced by

The Young One

 

 

Play
Categories: podcast | Comments

Heroman Cometh Next Week (Jan. 18th)

I’ve already updated “The Adventures of Heroman” Facebook page (please “like” our page if you haven’t already), but I wanted to make sure I have all my bases covered. Next Monday (1/18), we will release the first episode of “The Adventures of Heroman,” titled “The Nest of Honesty.” We’re going to release a new episode every two weeks. This first series is four episodes long, so you’ll get an entire two months of Heroman!

city

This podcast has been in progress since this time last year. The podcast is kinda like those old-school superhero radio dramas like “The Shadow” or “The Green Hornet.” There’s also a bit of a “Superfriends” vibe as well, but the characters themselves are thoroughly modern. They also swear a lot. Sorry. We tried to get them to stop, but they wouldn’t listen.

Todd and I started writing at the beginning of 2015, we finished principle recording in the summer, and Ricky and I have been editing fast and furious to get this things into your ears. And let me just say that Ricky has outdone himself on this one. I mean, our original trilogy was awesome (the score for “Wade” still gives me goosebumps), but Ricky’s work on “Heroman” is nothing short of amazing.

You can always listen to our latest podcasts on this page, and you can also download them from the iTunes store. Android podcast apps will find us too. Just search for “Hyperliterature Presents” and you should be good to go.

To tide you over until next week, here’s our newest Heroman-related video. You can hear a bit of the score at the beginning and at the end.

Categories: podcast | Comments

Heroman Cometh

Thanks to everyone who has liked “The Adventures of Heroman” Facebook page. I’ve gotten some great responses to the first teaser trailer, and don’t worry, we have more fun stuff coming in the next few months, but I promise not to spam the heck out of you. And if you haven’t seen it, and even if you already have, here’s the trailer:

“The Adventures of Heroman” is a throwback to the old school superhero radio shows from the 30s and 40s, but we’re tweaking the concept quite a bit. I’m not going to give anything away, but needless to say, things in Heroman’s world aren’t as easy as he’d like them to be.

Todd and I have been working diligently on the scripts, and we should begin recording in earnest next week. The writing process has been a ton of fun, and I know the recording process is going to be a blast, too. Hopefully it will be as fun to listen to as it’s been to create.

In the meantime, please check out the previous series we created to get an idea of our work. We’ve taken to calling it the “When We Tried to Trilogy” Trilogy, primarily because we couldn’t think of a better name. The first episode is called “When Thomas Tired to be a Graverobber,” the second is called “When Ronald Tried to be a Private Investigator,” and the third and final episode is called “When Wade Tried to Save the World.” All three episodes are related, so listen to them in order.

You can listen to them on the Hyperliterature page I’ve linked, via iTunes, or through any other podcast app you’d like to use. Just search for “Hyperliterature Presents.”

Categories: podcast | Comments

Beneath the Stains of Time…

Me and Mom 83 or 84My wife and I were jogging along the Embarcadero in San Francisco when we received the news that my mom was dying. We’d booked a ferry to see Alcatraz, and a malfunctioning bus had put us way behind schedule, so we were legging it.

I was out of breath and the blood pumping in my ears made it hard to hear, but I immediately knew that something was wrong because mom was using her “don’t panic Mark” tone of voice that she reserved for bad news.

I remember her saying, “I’m going to be okay.”

I remember her saying, “I feel fine.”

I remember her saying, “renal cell carcinoma.”

I remember her saying, “immediate nephrectomy.”

Then I remember my knees buckling and nearly falling down on the sidewalk amidst the swarms of tourists. I remember people staring at me as I cried hysterically. I remember Leigh taking the phone from me.

And that’s about all I remember.

They removed the cancerous kidney, which, according to the surgeon, was nearly the size of a basketball. Unfortunately, the surgeon was unable to get clear margins, and the pathology report and subsequent scans showed the cancer had already metastasized and was present in the lungs.

There are very clear advantages in having been with Leigh throughout medical school, residency, fellowship, and into her medical practice. Free healthcare & medical advice. Trigger point injections when my muscles hurt. Fantastic company Christmas parties.

But the downside in being well-informed about medicine is that I immediately knew there would be no cure. No amount of chemo or radiation would be able to cure my mom’s cancer. I knew that even hoping for a cure was energy best spend elsewhere. From the moment I took my mother’s call on San Francisco’s bustling Embarcadero on the way to Alcatraz, I knew we were simply playing a waiting game with Death.

For nearly two years the chemo held the metastases at bay. But during the summer of 2014, we got the news I’d been dreading since the first day mom started treatment: The metastases were no longer responding to the meds, and they’d begun to aggressively grow and multiply.

Mom has only been gone a little over a week now, but it seems like years since we last spoke. I miss her hands. They were so soft. I miss her smile. It could light up a room. I miss her laugh. It was so infectious.

I just miss her. I miss her so much.

A good friend of mine lost his mother several years ago, and during this whole process, I’ve leaned on him pretty heavily for support and advice.

A month or so ago, as mom’s health started to really nose-dive, my friend told me that the pain of losing your mom never really goes away. The pain, he explained, will change everything about you. It will change who you are and how you see the world.

And, goddammit Todd, you were right.IMG_0008

Sometimes I feel guilty if I laugh too much. Maybe I’m not supposed to be having fun yet. Is it too soon for me to laugh?

Sometimes I’m so anxious I run on the treadmill for miles and miles.

Sometimes I feel so sad I don’t have the energy to get out of bed.

Sometimes I’m so angry I could punch holes in the walls.

Sometimes I wake up crying.

Sometimes I can’t sleep.

I know these dramatic emotional episodes will probably pass with time, but I have a feeling the emptiness I feel will always be there, just waiting for me when my mind gets quiet and the world falls away.

But the thing that’s amazed me most about this whole ordeal is the stunning generosity and comfort folks have offered to me and my family. Sympathy cards. Emails. Facebook messages. Hugs. Tears. Flowers and food. So many people have done such wonderful things for me.

It’s been overwhelming, the things folks have done, but the generosity of others has really been the only thing that’s kept me from falling into a deep depression and retreating into a self-imposed isolation. Intellectually I know that path only ends in despair, but emotionally, retreating feels the most compelling. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by people who won’t let me do that, and I can’t imagine what I would do without such a wonderful and lovely support group. I’ll thank them all individually and privately, but I couldn’t have made it through this without all of them.

On March 26th, we laid my mother to rest in Gholson Cemetery. I gave the eulogy at the funeral (click here to read it), and I think it was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to write. There’s no doubt in my mind that it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to read in front of an audience. But I simply could not let someone else speak at her funeral. For one thing, she wasn’t religious and neither am I, so a lot of talk about God, Heaven, and the afterlife would have dishonored and been an affront to her epistemological and theological views. Even more importantly, I wanted the funeral to highlight the beauty of her life, and there was no way someone who didn’t know her could have accomplished that.

I don’t believe in fate. I don’t believe in destiny, and I sure as hell don’t believe that everything happens for a reason.

I think things happen, and we use reason to explain them. Mom’s death is easy to explain. Cancer. She drew the genetic short straw, and it killed her. But as I said in my eulogy, she left an indelible mark on the world. Her visitation and funeral was absolutely packed. All of those people are a testament to the woman she was.

I’ll miss you mom.

Categories: Blogging | Comments

When Wade Tried to Save the World

And finally, Hyperliterature Presents “When Wade Tried to Save the World.” This podcast is the third and final part of the “When We Tried to Trilogy Trilogy.” The first part of the trilogy is “When Thomas Tried to be a Graverobber,” and the second is “When Ronald Tried to be a Private Investigator.” Please make sure you listen to the first two episodes before you listen to this one.

The other two parts have all been leading up to this episode, and things get apocalyptically bonkers pretty quick.

The “When We Tried to Trilogy Trilogy” is a collaboration between me, my wife Leigh, my good friend Todd Wright, and musician Richard Hall. Todd and I are writing the stories and providing narration, Leigh voices the female character, and Ricky is scoring and adding the FX to our narration.

I apologize for the delay in getting this one out, but let me tell you, it’s been worth the wait. Out of all the creative projects of which I’ve been a part, this is the most proud I’ve ever been about something I helped to create. I couldn’t have designed a better writing partner than Todd. I love the story, and it’s been a load of fun to write, and I owe all of that enjoyment to Todd. Thanks, man. It was a blast.

I also want to publicly thank Leigh for recording the female character. Leigh’s character didn’t have a lot to do in part II, but she was pivotal in part III, and my girl knocked it outta the park. Thanks, babe.

And finally, I need to thank Ricky. In the interest of full disclosure, Ricky and I have yet to meet face-to-face, but he’s become such an integral part of this podcast that I feel as if we’ve become fast friends. His music and sound FX have rocketed our little story into a completely different universe. The music is so good that even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, I was still moved emotionally. So thanks, Ricky. We couldn’t have done it without you.

So sit down, crank up the volume, and prepare yourself for “When Wade Tried to Save the World.” It’s gonna be one helluva ride. And if you enjoy this podcast, and honestly, even if you didn’t, do me a favor and share it on Facebook and Twitter. We all worked super hard on this project, and I want to get as many people to hear it as we can.

If you have an iOS device, you can download the podcast from iTunes here. Please subscribe to the podcast to automatically receive updates of new episodes.

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Categories: podcast | Comments

When Ronald Tried To Be A Private Investigator

And now, Hyperliterature Presents “When Ronald Tried To Be A Private Investigator.” This is the second part of a three part series, so if you haven’t listened to “When Thomas Tried To Be A Graverobber,” you should really do that now.

This series is a collaboration between me, my wife Leigh, my good friend Todd Wright, and musician Richard Hall. Todd and I are writing the stories and providing narration, and Ricky is scoring and adding the FX to them.

I’m really proud of this series. The story Todd and I wrote is really fun, and I recorded this one (Todd did the last one). And just like last time, Richard’s score and sound effects really take this whole thing to another level. I got chill bumps the first time I heard the final mixdown, and I knew what was coming because I helped write the damn thing.

Like last time, this one ends on a cliffhanger just as everything is going sideways. We’ll wrap up this story in part three.

I hope you enjoy this one, and if you do, please share it all over the web. I wanna see this thing trending on Twitter and Facebook.

If you have an iOS device, you can download the podcast from iTunes here. Please subscribe to receive updates of new episodes.

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Categories: podcast | Comments

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