Every year around this time, the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival brings hundreds of performers -- from around the world -- to Austin. Over the course of a week, 130 comedic acts will perform, including sketch troupes, improv troupes, standup comedians, and performers who don't quite fit any of those categories.
The festival welcomes performers from across the globe, but also serves as a showcase for many of Austin's own favorite funny people. One of those local acts is the improv show Missed Connections ATX, which will take the stage on the fest's opening night, August 29.
"We have curated a list of Austin Craigslist 'missed connection' ads, and we use those to inspire a completely improvised show," says producer/director Chelsea Bunn. As the keeper of the list, Bunn has to spend a lot of time perusing Craigslist. "Every day I would go on and read every single new ad and pull any that were interesting," she says, adding that they try to include in every show "diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and different circumstances in which people met."
While Bunn reads all the missed connections ads every day while the show is running, the cast does not. "They were forbidden," Bunn says. Once Bunn selects her favorite ads, they form the basis for that night's show.
"The show has different acts, and each act has its own flavor... you get a lot of variety," says performer Sanjay Rao, adding "and we end with a very nice big musical number."
"It's a blast," says performer Ronnita Miller. "It definitely put me out of my comfort zone in so many different ways, but it's been so much fun to work on. It's so romantic, just listening to all those hopeful love stories out there. It's beautiful."
Rao agress. "A lot of it's sweet, a lot of it's weird," he says. "And we all have sweet and weird inside of us."
The Missed Connections ATX crew is excited to be performing as part or the Out of Bounds fest. "You get to meet people from all over the world," says Miller. "Sometimes they're big names that you recognize from television, sometimes it's just like your impov crushes."
Rao also enjoys discovering new perfomers at the fest. "You'll find an act or a group that you've never heard of, from wherever, and you see them and they're fantastic," he says. "And it just sort of opens up a whole new world to you."
As is common in the improv world, many of the Missed Connections ATX crew will be performing in multiple acts during the fest. Bunn will also be performing with her trouple Loverboy, and Rao is performing with so many troupes that he can't quite remember them all. "I'm in a few other groups -- Empty Promises, Kinkade, Midnight Society, and I think there's one more," he says. "I'll be busy."