Comedy is not for everyone. It takes years of work, critical thinking and a clever understanding of what’s funny and what’s funny in the moment, said Chris Sebilia, an Austin-based comedian, writer and actor.
Sebilia is the host and producer ofthe “Triple Threat — Elimination Style Comedy Show,” which takes place the first Sunday of every month. The next show is on April 6 at ColdTowne Theater.
Radio-television-film senior Olivia Doud takes part in this challenge that combines sketch, improvisation and stand-up comedy, along with her comedian friend Christina Parrish. Parrish is a member of Disco Box, a four-person improv comedy troupe in Austin.
“There are people who are really talented in two or three mediums,” Sebilia said. “I didn’t see a show out there that really showcased people who had the ability to do several different types of comedy.”
With three two-person teams participating in this comedy challenge, the winner is determined by audience voting. After every round, audience votes eliminate a participant. Not every participant gets to perform stand-up — the two people left at the end perform stand-up comedy against each other.
Doud and Parrish, who are on the same team, have written a sketch for the upcoming challenge that is inspired by their Pilates classes.
“Everybody has the capacity to be funny,” Sebilia said. “But to be really funny or to be funny on stage is a whole other skill set, and not everyone has the drive to pursue it.”
Doud, who moved to Austin in 2010 when she joined UT’s radio-television-film program, has been writing and performing sketch comedy for four years. She will perform for the second time at Sunday’s comedy challenge.
“I came to UT for film, because I always made movies with my cousins, but I realized I didn’t like making films all that much,” Doud said. “What I always liked was comedy. I want to pursue the business of comedy, work behind the scenes or maybe produce comedy in some way.”
For Doud, comedy is a way to make her feel comfortable around people.
“I always knew of comedy as a way to endear myself to people,” Doud said. “Like growing up, if I was uncomfortable with something, I knew I could make a joke of it and people would laugh. I felt more comfortable being around people that way.”
Doud, who was an intern for The New Movement Theater, an Austin improv comedy group, said she has a long way to go before she can consider herself an accomplished comedian.
“The hardest part about comedy is that it takes constant, constant practice,” Doud said. “A lot of times it won’t work, especially standing in front of a crowd that isn’t laughing at your jokes.”
While Doud takes her inspiration for comedy by reading up on world affairs and politics, Parrish looks to people around her for inspiration.
“My stand-up comedy is a little bit darker,” Parrish said. “I’m pulling from characters that are more relatable: how I feel as a woman, how I feel like a young girl. Whenever I’m writing, I talk about how overly compensating I am.”
According to Parrish, comedy is possible only when one leaves their ego aside.
“I love comedies,” Parrish said. “There is no better way to spend your time than hanging out with people who are funny and people who are trying to be funny.”