300: Former improv performer serves up coffee, comedy

Chase Karacostas

Editor’s note: In 300 words or fewer, this series spotlights people in our community whose stories typically go untold.

Switching between the cash register and the espresso machine, Amy McCurdy whips out lattes in the Belo Center for New Media as fast as she can so students aren’t late for class. But along with getting their order right, she tries her best to make them laugh.

Long before she worked as a barista, McCurdy was an improv comedian.

She joined the comedy troupe “Well Hung Jury,” which specializes in improvisation, in high school and performed with them for eight years.

“There’s a feeling of unity [within the troupe] right before the show,” McCurdy said. “I love audience suggestions, except ‘proctologist.’ There’s always some jackass.”

After high school, she followed the rest of the troupe to study theater at UT. 

In 2000, the troupe met Shawn Hill, who planned to build an improv comedy theatre downtown called the Hideout. In exchange for helping construct the building, McCurdy and her troupe got to perform inside for free. 

But McCurdy didn’t just perform — she also worked behind the bar making coffee part-time.

Leaving Austin behind after graduation, McCurdy moved to South Dakota, working at a Subway at Mount Rushmore and caring for her mom before returning to Austin. 

Two years later, she found herself once again at a coffee shop: Cappy’s Café, located on the first floor of the BMC. As an alumna, she was thrilled to be back on campus. 

“I love this building, and there’s so many jokes to be made about movies and radio here,” McCurdy said.

Even though she misses improv, she knows she’ll return to it someday. For now, she enjoys making coffee for students and faculty every morning. 

“You meet people. You may not know their name, but you know their face, and you know their drink,” McCurdy said. “I love that — just doing that little extra something that makes people smile.”