'Where everyone's brains went': 'Deep in the Heartless Texas' is a comedy revue about modern Austin
All throughout April, Coldtowne Theatre has been presenting Deep in the Heartless Texas, a sketch comedy revue about how difficult it can be to live in Austin in 2023. The performers of the show say that theme came about naturally during the creation process.
“I mean, you get a bunch of people together who live in Austin and you just ask about their experiences and… stuff is going to come out,” says performer Juliana Cohen.
“When we started this, we were just improvising,” says performer Rebecca East. “And we, I think without even really planning it too much, we wrote a lot of content that was centered around Austin. But that wasn't necessarily our plan – to lead up with this show that is so dark and is so specifically themed around Austin. But that's just kind of where everyone's brains went and that was our funniest content. So that is what we ended up keeping. We didn't ever have a conversation that was like, we need to make our show more political or more on the nose or we need to be saying something REAL about Austin and talk about all of these things. It just happened really organically.”
That organic process is built into the way Coldtowne devises their works; this show, like others before it at the theater, is based on improvisation. “We spent about three months improvising it, re-improvising it and re-improvising these scenes, with a kind of a focus towards what it's like to live in Austin right now with it just changing rapidly before our eyes.” says Dave Buckman, who’s the director of Deep in the Heartless Texas and the executive producer of Coldtowne. “So we kind of wrote from that perspective.”
Buckman says they’re covering a lot of aspects of the city, including some sketches built around some of our more famous residents. “Elon Musk and Alex Jones are characters in our show,” he says. “We definitely explore the personalities that live in Austin, real and imagined as well. [We talk about] what it's like to not have good health insurance in the city.”
“We talk about housing issues, in the form of cats and dogs to represent tenants,” Cohen adds.
“Yep,” says Buckman. “Cats and dogs usurping their owners to take over their apartments. Teachers not being allowed to teach actual history in the schools. What the teachers have to go through to be able to get through to the students and just to have the basics. And then of course, there's this lovely Sex in the City parody that kind of takes place in Austin where Austin is the Mr. Big character.”