Discover Austin: Esther's Follies - Episode 44

Whether you're in town for the weekend, or you've been here for years, spend an evening at the theater with Esther's Follies, a fast-paced variety show that's been a staple on 6th Street since 1977.

If you'd prefer to read about Esther's Follies, the transcript can be found below the video.

Once referred to as Austin’s answer to Saturday Night Live, Esther’s Follies has been entertaining audiences since 1977. In a nutshell, Esther’s Follies combines comedy sketches, magic, political satire, and musical numbers into a very entertaining night at the theatre. The show is face-paced and does an excellent job of mixing through the various genres. Shannon Sedwick, one of the co-founders, often describes it as contemporary vaudeville meaning that the format of short, episodic pieces is used to entertain audiences with current day topics. Indeed, the writers and cast members pitch new ideas every week based on current events so the show always has fresh and relevant material. There are, of course, classic Esther’s Follies routines such as Patsy Cline that are intertwined so the performances are a good mix of timely and timeless routines. Political satire is definitely a major part of the show so you can expect to see a mix of political characters from both sides of the aisle though the party in power usually will have more barbs thrown at it.

Ray Anderson is the resident magician who does a fabulous job combining magic, comedy, and audience participation. He has been a part of Esther’s Follies since 1983 and has a nice variety of illusions on which to draw so the show is not a recycling of the same tricks at every performance. People are often surprised to find such a talented magician in Austin, but Ray is an extremely accomplished and is well-respected in the magician world. In 2018, he was recognized with the Academy of Magical Arts Performing Fellowship award – essentially the Oscars of his industry.

If you'd like a bit before the show they've got a taco stand and you can even grab something and take it inside the theater. And of course, they've got a full bar. Shhhh, don't tell Michael I'm eating tacos without him.

One of the interesting facets is that the backdrop of the stage has windows overlooking 6th Street. Some scenes take place both inside and outside which adds a neat dimension to show. And passersby can stop to watch Esther’s Follies from the sidewalk - they may even find themselves unwitting parts of the show.

Esther’s Follies runs shows on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. You can book private shows on other nights. The theatre seats just over 250 guests so it’s a great size in which almost every seat has a fantastic view.

Esther’s Follies also has a comedy club in their Velveeta Lounge which features both local and national comedians as well as a weekly open mic night.

Esther’s Follies truly is home grown Austin entertainment that’s as unique as the city itself. If you haven’t seen the show before, or just haven’t been in a while, come downtown soon to enjoy an evening at Esther’s Follies. I’m Craig Smyser with RE/MAX Capital City, thanks for joining me for this episode of Discover Austin.

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