Austin sketch-comedy group Comedy Bazaar premieres latest act

Emily Gibson

It all started with the word murder scribbled on a dry-erase board during a pitch meeting. That concept of homicide evolved into Comedy Bazaar’s new stage show, “A Brief History of Murder.” 

Producer and director Alejandro Garcia and Matt Needles, theatre and dance alumnus, founded Comedy Bazaar, an Austin-based sketch-comedy troupe that performs at ColdTowne Theater.

The members of Comedy Bazaar come from different backgrounds and motivations, but they all agree on one thing: They love making people laugh. 

For cast member Nicole Beckley, jokes are one way of finding happiness. 

 “Oh geez — I love jokes,” Beckley said. “I think it’s a real gift to be able to laugh at ourselves. The world can be a dispiriting place sometimes, and I think there’s a great solace that can be found in figuring out a way to laugh about things.” 

Finding a way to laugh about dark topics motivated the group to base its newest show around the macabre topic of murder. 

“[Comedy Bazaar] is not afraid of the smart joke or going for the joke that might not be obvious,” Garcia said. “I like that our sketches cover everything from science to relationships and, now, even murder.” 

The Comedy Bazaar writers get together once a week with scripts they have written or ideas for future sketches, such as “Underwear Dispenser” or “Polite Dung Beetle.” From there, the group collaborates to rewrite the sketches in order to make them as funny as possible. 

Needles, one of the co-founders, said the collaboration among writers benefits the group because it allows them to support and provide feedback to each other.

“Sometimes, an idea isn’t all there when it’s first pitched, but the writer knows there is a kernel of something really funny in there that needs a little more to work,” Needles said. “Having a team to bounce ideas around with gives us an easy ability to create quickly and with a wide variety of perspectives.” 

Needles said Austin is “blowing up in a big way.” Last year, former Esther’s Follies performer, Nöel Wells, was hired on “Saturday Night Live.” 

“The first Austin-based comedian was cast on ‘SNL’ last year, and I highly doubt she will be the last of the very funny people from our scene to make their way up to 30 Rock,” Needles said, 

Garcia thinks Austin deserves to be nationally recognized as a hub for funny people.

“[Austin] is ready to be noticed more,” Garcia said. “There are a lot of hardworking people doing a lot of funny stuff. Come on, Hollywood or NYC — give us your money; we can do funny stuff here.” 

“A Brief History of Murder” opens Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at ColdTowne Theater and runs through the end of February. Garcia said people going to see the show can expect surprises.

 “We have taken an idea and turned it on its head,” Garcia said. 

Beckley has a different goal for the performance. 

“Personally, I’m just trying to wear as many wigs as possible,” Beckley said. “I think the show is a little subversive — a little unexpected.”