South by Southwest 2012

Five years ago, Scott Aukerman, host of the comedy podcast and IFC show “Comedy Bang Bang,” flew to Austin to perform in a single unsanctioned show during SXSW. He had no badge to see live concerts or participate in any of the panels.

Contrast that with today: Now in its fifth installment, SXSW Comedy will host a vibrant, eight-day lineup in which more than 60 comics, most national headliners, will appear in a variety of intimate podcast recordings and special afternoon events. Arguably the biggest show will be a taping of “WTF With Marc Maron.”

“We have every peer leader from film, the Internet and music in town,” says Charlie Sotelo, an SXSW vet now dedicated to programming the fest’s Comedy lineup. “It’s the audience comedians want to reach. And comedy is an industry the other guys want to reach.”

Sotelo was at that first rogue show in 2007, and he approached Aukerman afterward about curating a collection of standup events during the music portion of the next year’s fest. The number of shows continued to grow, making a big leap last year when Sotelo introduced live podcasts to SXSW’s Film and Interactive schedules.

Sotelo notes that while the podcast recordings focus more on established talent, the following four days, during the music fest, provide a chance to break in a few newbies.

One of those is Cameron Esposito, a Chicago-based comic making her first trek down south. She sees SXSW as a chance to grow her fan base in a very deliberate way.

“It’s an opportunity to perform in front of my exact demographic: people that are hip and in-the-know, people with ‘haircuts’ and flannel,” she says. “I hope the hoodie-wearing industry is there.”

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