By Sarah Deering
Gabe Cortez, a graduate from Texas State University, has been enjoying comedy since his early days in San Marcos. “It is a great thing to make people laugh and it’s a great thing to showcase yourself and show a vulnerable side,” Cortez says. “There is stuff I say in jokes that I would never tell anyone. It is almost like a form of therapy.”
The comedy community is a niche and growing scene throughout San Marcos and surrounding areas that is open to anyone who is interested in becoming a comic or even just being in the audience.
Comics have found their best friends within the community and even troubleshot through hard times. Comedy can be an outlet used for many things, not just creating laughs.
There are a number of open mics around San Marcos that take place weekly. Many of the same people attend each week but newcomers are always welcome.
“There is a small scene but there is a scene in San Marcos of about ten comics that perform regularly and people come from a lot of surrounding areas,” says Cortez.
Cortez has been a part of the San Marcos and Austin comedy scene for a little over six years now and even hosts a few different open mics. One in particular is The Laughing Dead open mic.
The Laughing Dead takes place at Wake the Dead Coffee House every Tuesday at 7:30 pm. The comics gather at 7 pm to sign up and not long after, the show begins.
- Gabe Cortez hosts The Laughing Dead open mic every Tuesday.
Cortez started hosting regularly about a year and a half ago at the Lazy Daze open mic before COVID-19 hit. Being a part of the comedy community for this amount of time, Cortez has seen many fluctuations and ups and downs.
“With lazy daze I was looking to host an open mic because someone had told me if I host an open mic I get booked more and then I could start hosting a showcase so I thought I would go down that linear path of progressing as a comic,” Cortez says.
However, once COVID-19 started to affect the daily lives of everyone, the comedy scene was also affected. Open mics were cancelled and many comics wanted to give up.
The old host of The Laughing Dead, James Torres, now hosts mics in Austin which left an opportunity for Cortez to host again both during and post COVID-19.
“This wake the dead open mic has been happening for about 11 years now, and has gone through multiple hosts, I would rather host this than a mic that I started myself because there’s a legacy here,” says Cortez.
Cortez began his journey in the comedy community with the Comedy Association at Texas State University. It was the beginning of his comedy career and where he found a home away from home.
“I ran into them the first week of school. I felt very out of place, I was thinking about leaving, going back home, and I ran into them and thought they seemed like the fun people,” says Cortez.
According to Think Impact, 30% of students drop out within their first year of college. There are many reasons for this but feeling a sense of homesickness seems to be among the top.
“They weren’t the ones trying to get people into their club, they were really off to themselves and that intrigued me,” says Cortez.
More than just Cortez have found a home with the Comedy Association at the university. Throughout COVID-19 the association stayed together and met on Zoom.
Many of the upperclassmen in the association now joined during the ‘Zoom Era,’ therefore, they have been able to see the community and association grow as COVID-19 allows for more activities to open back up.
KJ Moreno, the president of the Comedy Association, stresses that doors are open to anyone who is interested in the club. It is not just about comedy but also finding yourself.
“The comedy scene in San Marcos absolutely took a dive with COVID-19. A lot of open mics shut down but finally last year they started to open up again,” says Moreno.
Many aspects of comedy suffered once COVID-19 hit but slowly things are looking up.
“Comedy is meant to be in front of people so covid was tough but we would do specials on the club’s YouTube channel and have zoom meetings,” says Moreno.
Moreno has been a part of the association for the last two years and has become the president for this year. He encourages anyone to show up even for one meeting.
“You don’t have to be funny to show up its more of a good place to meet people and learn things about comedy and yourself,” Says Moreno.
More officers from the association share the same feelings of finding belonging within the association and learning more about different aspects of comedy as well as themselves.
“Before college if you asked me if I thought I would ever do standup comedy, on a stage, in front of people, the answer would be absolutely not,” says Jill Maxwell. “That sounds like so much pressure and I have anxiety. Meeting actual comedians who run the circuit and now do comedy in Austin, professionally, I realized this is a lot more open to everyone than I thought.”
Maxwell is an officer in the comedy association and shares that she has met some of her best friends throughout her time in the club and gained confidence in herself.
“Self-confidence is the biggest thing I have gained from this. There is something to be said about learning comedy and meeting people that support you and teach you and finding your favorite parts. Branching out like this has helped me find confidence in myself that I am an interesting person,” says Maxwell.
Lucas Bradinini specializes in improvisation at the Comedy Association and helps to teach his peers about the art. Improvisation is what got Bradinini into the comedy club but he soon learned there was so much more.
“I have met all of my best friends in this organization it really helped me to figure out other avenues of comedy that I really enjoy and it’s how I found my roommates,” says Bradinini.
- Texas State students gather to enjoy some laughs despite busy schedules and studying.
- One of the two improvisation leaders from the Texas State Comedy association, Sam, acted as host for a Monday showcase at Alkek Library.
- Mark, Lucas, Sam, and KJ all take part in an improvisation exercise at the comedy association show on Monday.
Texas State students gather to enjoy some laughs despite busy schedules and studying.
As students graduate or venture out to open mics in the community, many carry on their love for comedy and meet even more comics at open mics.
Many comedians that frequent certain open mics in the area have become close friends making the community even more tightknit and welcoming.
- Family is what it is about. The comics always gather at open mics to catch up and talk about upcoming events.
- Lazy Daze is one of the local open mics in San Marcos. The mic is hosted outside through heat or chilly weather. Jack Neil hosted on a cold day in November.
- Gabe Cortez kept warm at the Lazy Daze open mic and created laughs despite the cold weather and dwindling audience.
- Even in the cold these comics bundle up to share their jokes with the audience and each other.
Lazy Daze is one of the local open mics in San Marcos. The mic is hosted outside through heat or chilly weather. Jack Neil hosted on a cold day in November.
Neil frequents The Laughing Dead open mic while occasionally hosting at Lazy Daze.
Local comedy is growing and the people that take part in it are always open to new faces and jokes.