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Austin's favorite comedy festival, Moontower Just for Laughs Austin, is coming back in 2023 with even more big names than the 2022 lineup. The formerly four-day festival became a two-week festival in 2022 after Austin's Moontower Comedy teamed up with Montreal's Just for Laughs. Taking place over more than 10 venues around the city, the hilarious fortnight manages to balance big names and rising stars alike every year and 2023 looks no different.

According to an initial lineup release, next year's installment will bring everyone from Trevor Noah to local favorites to the stage, from April 12-23, 2023. The festival coincides with Noah's Off the Record tour, which he brings to Austin's Bass Concert Hall for four nights. Along with Noah, the release lists more than 20 Paramount and Stateside headlining shows, with more still to come.

A few returning faces include Seth Meyers, Felipe Esparza, and Vir Das, along with Brad Williams, Maria Bamford, Robert Kelly, and Preacher Lawson. Among the festival debuts are Kenny Sebastian, who rose to prominence on YouTube before releasing specials on Amazon Prime and Netflix, as well as Chris Distefano, whose Brooklyn-born edge and nice-guy charm won over fans of MTV’s Girl Code/Guy Code series before releasing specials on both Comedy Central and Netflix

Saturday Night Live cast members, past and present, tend to make a good showing at the festival, with legends Dana Carvey and David Spade bringing their podcast to the stage in 2022 with new cast member James Austin Johnson as their special guest. 2023's lineup will feature some of the show's newest cast members, including Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow, and Devon Walker, who cut his teeth in the Austin comedy scene before moving to New York.

“As we continue our quest of building the ultimate comedy event in Austin, our partnership with Just For Laughs adds more diversity, variety and fun for our comedy fans,” says Lietza Brass, Moontower Just For Laughs Austin festival director, in a release. “Together we bring a large and exciting roster centered on the brightest comedy stars of today from the U.S., Texas, and abroad. We’re proud to expand our program of presenting shows in Spanish in 2023. We truly have something to please everyone’s taste.”

Christine Melko-Ross, a vice president of Just For Laughs added, “We are excited to continue to expand the Moontower Just For Laughs Austin brand and footprint by curating a diverse line-up of international and U.S. stars and headliners while shining a spotlight on some of the best comedians and podcasts from around the world.”

Badges for the 2023 festival are already available for purchase, with new bundles and packages available this year. For more information, and to stay up to date with new lineup releases over the coming months, head to moontowercomedyfest.com.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

2 local booming 'burbs rank as top destination for movers, plus, why Houston isn't a great place to visit

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. 2 Houston suburbs roll onto top-15 spots on U-Haul’s list of growing cities. They're the 13th and 19th most popular destinations for movers.

2. 2 smokin' Houston-area barbecue names fire up new restaurants in bustling 'burbs. Both restaurants are ranked among the state's 50 best barbecue joints by Texas Monthly.

3. Ken Hoffman chides New York Times' Houston travel guide and explains why our city isn't a great place to visit. Our columnist explains why 36 hours doesn't do Houston justice.

4. 10 Houston restaurants score coveted James Beard Award nominations. Perhaps one of them will follow up Julep's big win last year.

5. Houston Olympic superstar Simone Biles shares new Wheaties box cover with her legion of fans. It's the second time Biles has been featured on the cereal box.

Wildly popular Nashville hot chicken chain cancels plans for first Houston location

No Hattie B's for now

Looks like Houstonians will have to wait a little longer than expected to try one of the most famous suppliers of Nashville hot chicken. Hattie B’s has canceled its plans to open a location in the Heights, a representative tells CultureMap.

The representative cited “construction costs for the ground-up build and other issues with this particular site” as reasons for the decision not to move forward. An eagle-eyed user on the Houston Architecture Info forum spotted a leasing notice for the property at 1808 N. Shepherd Dr. that had been scheduled for Hattie B’s.

In response to CultureMap’s request for comment about the property being for lease, Hattie B’s supplied a statement from co-founder Nick Bishop, Jr.

“While we have made the very difficult decision not to move forward with the project in the Heights, our commitment to finding a home in Houston remains strong. We love this city and have always imagined a Hattie B's here.”

First announced in 2021, Hattie B’s intended to open a 3,800-square-foot restaurant designed by Texas’s acclaimed Michael Hsu Office of Architecture that would have had seating for 175 people. Potentially, the design could be utilized for a new location.

Founded in Nashville in 2012, Hattie B’s serves tenders, sandwiches, and bone-in chicken at five different spice levels: Southern (no heat), mild, medium, hot, and the signature Shut the Cluck Up. The restaurant has four locations in Nashville along with locations in Atlanta, Birmingham, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Memphis. It has plans to open in Austin next year.

Texas-based Cinemark theater chain hosts Oscars-themed movie marathon

big-screen moves

The Cinemark movie chain is giving movie buffs an opportunity to brush up on the Oscars.

Plano-based Cinemark Holdings, Inc. will host its annual Oscar Movie Week festival, this year running from Monday, March 6 through Sunday, March 12, in anticipation of the 95th Oscars ceremony, which airs on March 12 on ABC.

The theater chain will air all of this year’s Best Picture and Best Live Action and Animated Short Film nominees, at more than 120 participating Cinemark theaters nationwide.

According to a release, passes are now on sale now at Cinemark.com/movieweek.

A full Digital Festival Pass is $40 and includes showings for all Best Picture and Best Live Action and Animated Short Film nominees. There's a perk! If you purchase a festival pass, you get 50 percent off any size popcorn during Oscar Movie Week.

Individual showtime tickets will be available starting January 27 at standard pricing, with showtimes beginning March 6.

All Best Live Action and Animated Short Film nominees are bundled into one viewing for just $10 from March 10-12.

For other brushing up, take a look back at what CultureMap’s film critic, Alex Bentley, had to say about each of the nominees (listed in alphabetical order) when they were originally released.

Cinemark has been hosting other similar marathon events such its collaboration with ESPN to bring college football games to the big screen.

The event takes place at these theaters across the U.S., including the following locations in Texas:

  • Houston: Cinemark Memorial City
  • The Woodlands: Cinemark 17
  • Austin: Cinemark Southpark Meadows
  • Denton: Cinemark 14
  • Fort Worth: Ridgmar Mall
  • Grapevine: Cinemark Tinseltown
  • Plano: Cinemark Legacy
  • Plano: Cinemark West Plano
  • San Antonio: Cinemark San Antonio 16