Nice Astronaut is an improv troupe in Austin, TX that creates and performs Chicago-style longform improv forms. Their monthly show is on the second Saturdays at 11:30pm at ColdTowne Theater. The format of their monthly show is "Nice Astronaut Presents Improv Roulette", in which they and an opening team (usually from ColdTowne Conservatory's Level 5-6 classes) spin a wheel of improv formats and perform whichever one the wheel decides.
Nice Astronaut was the first permanent, self-formed troupe from ColdTowne Theater which debuted in a ColdTowne Theater Cagematch on October 11, 2008, under the name HJ Compromise. They were originally coached by Tom Booker (2008-2009) and were later coached by Dave Buckman (2009-2011, 2013) and then Cody Dearing (2013-).
In 2011, Nicole McCracken and Tim Honker formed a separate troupe named Townsville to write and perform scripted comedy. In late 2013, Townsville was folded back into Nice Astronaut as the scripted comedy arm in order to create the second Townsville show: Back in Townsville: Townsville Community Center for the April-May 2014 ColdTowne Theater run.
Nice Astronaut taught improv and sketch workshops in Austin, Phoenix, and Houston in 2013-2014.
Custom Created Longform Improv Forms
Nice Astronaut has specialized in creating and preforming custom improv forms, but has also performed montages, living rooms, narratives, Armandos, and the Deconstruction.
The Small Universe format is the combination of a loose Close Quarters and a loose Harold. The format consists of describing an object and collectively storytelling about that object from a plural first person point of view. Long rabbit holes are traveled down to generate 2-3 rules of the universe which eventually cause the characters, locations, relationships and rules to intertwine in the end of the show. Nice Astronaut created this format in the summer of 2012.
The Improvaoke is similar to an Armando, but replaces the monologues with the interview of an audience member about their life and then an improvised song based about that person. The improvised lyrics are sung to an existing and well known karaoke backing track, such as Sweet Caroline. Nice Astronaut created this form in early 2010 and performs it on their second Saturday shows.
28 Minutes Later
28 Minutes Later (named after the approximate length of the show) is a mono-scene form that follows the third act of a zombie survival movie. Nice Astronaut takes a suggestion of a non-geographic location where "humanity may make its last stand" against the zombies. Each improviser enters a dark stage with a flashlight and delivers a character monologue until the last character locates the lights in the location and the show starts.
It's A Tolerable Existence
Performed as a run at ColdTowne Theater in December 2011, this narrative format improvises an alternate version of "It's A Wonderful Life" based off the real life and childhood dreams of an audience member from an interview. The show was presented as if it was a hosted Christmas movie from the 1940's showing similar to Masterpiece Theater. This run of shows would also end with some a Christmas themed Improvaoke set.
White Elephant was a format performed as a December 2012 run at ColdTowne Theater. Audience members were instructed to write down previous good and bad gifts they had given and received in the past onto pieces of paper. Nice Astronaut, dressed in festive attire, then randomly drew these piece of paper and used them as suggestions to inspire real life monologues which inspired a run of scenes.
Save These Dates
A semi-narrative improv format that follows the potential dates and long term lives and "what-if's" of a game show contestant and their 3 suitors. Nice Astronaut performed this format in February and March 2012.
Back In Townsville: Townsville Community Center
See full article: Back In Townsville: Townsville Community Center
After Midnight was Nice Astronaut's monthly improv/sketchprov show during 2009-2010. Each show as themed and often had sketches "re-improvised" in the same style of Second City revues. The show titles and themes included:
- You are NOT the father
- Improvised Bosom Buddies
- Air'ee body gettin' married up in hurr
- The Roast of Santa Claus
Nice Astronaut has performed at the following festivals
- Chicago Improv Festival 2013
- Del Close Marathon - 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014
- Out of Bounds - 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
- Trill Comedy Fest - 2014
- Improv Festival Oklahoma - 2014
- Video by Brian Boyko of a 2009 show.
- Video by Lisa Jackson of their 3/12/11 "Improvioke" show.
- December 2011 "It's a Tolerable Existence" show.
- 8/11/12 show: "Mattress Cover".
- Photoset by Michael Yew which includes their 12/27/12 performance in The Threefer.
- Photoset by Michael Yew that includes their 6/5/14 performance in The Threefer.
- Photoset by Steve Rogers which includes their 9/2/15 performance in The 2015 Out of Bounds Comedy Festival.
Nice Astronaut also hosted the short lived "Nomad Comedy Nights" on Wednesdays at Nomad Bar during the summer of 2009.