I'll let you argue with me about whether another festival is more like summer camp, has better industry opportunities for younger comics, or is just plain bigger or "more important" but I will never, ever back down in my assertion that Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival is hands-down, the best all around comedy festival. Period. It draws in many locals from Austin, but also plenty of attendees from all around Texas & the country and it's well worth the drive or flight.
1. The Lineups
I mean, that's the real purpose of a comedy festival - to bring a wide range of top notch comedians to a city in one fell swoop. Now, Austin doesn't suffer for a lack of comedy, with Cap City bringing in a great roster of headliners throughout the year, sxsw's comedy programming, and like two other smaller comedy festivals throughout the summer.
But Moontower shines rather than shrinks because of this, bringing in many folks from both coasts that range from great to really, really great. This isn't a contest style festival full of young bucks gunning for exposure, these are club and indie heavyweights who could just as easily be headlining Cap City (and many do come back later in the year) or working out at the Comedy Cellar or The Comedy Store on a Saturday night.
The big headliner shows in the Paramount Theater and smaller Stateside get a run for their money from the showcases put on at smaller venues just around the corner. In fact, the "I Love NY" showcase was arguably the BEST show at Moontower 2014.
2. The Organization
Take a look at this map! All the venues are in easy walking distance, even by my lazy Angeleno standards. And showtime starts are staggered so if one show runs out of space before you get to the front of the line, you can just hop over to another (equally awesome) show and you haven't missed a minute. Lines, badges and tickets are all handled efficiently and politely and I never had any trouble getting a friendly, timely drink before the show started at any venue.
3. They Treat The Performers VERY Well
There's a reason top tier performers like Andy Kindler, Dom Irrera and Kurt Metzger come back year after year. They're well taken care of. And that's not only reflected in the strength of the lineups, but the crowd just gets a better show from people who aren't pissed off about being stranded at the airport before having to go stay in a fleabag motel and live off beef jerky for a week.
BBQ, beer, food trucks, tattoos, a nearby lake, great music and that weird progressive Texas oasis charm all combine to make this a great vacation during the hours you aren't watching great comedy.