Shifting Focus: Stand Up, Austin! A Civic Comedy Show

Stand, Up, Austin! A Civic Comedy Show Stand Up, Austin! exists to bring laughter and civic inspiration to Austinites. Laughing and listening are essential to our lives as active citizens where we all stand up for the community we want to be. We’re non-profit and non-partisan.

Nikita - Instagram Photo@3x

To test our concept, we’ve identified our magic moment as the intersection of comedy and civic life. It’s taking something viewed as boring and an obligation, and making it fun and entertaining. Ultimately that’s what our customers are paying us to do: to laugh and learn about the local community and political life.

Our minimum viable product (MVP) is Stand Up, Austin! A Civic Comedy Show. The show will take place Wednesday, April 11, at Spider House Ballroom. We are promoting the show across Austin, and our goal is 75-100 attendees. The show is recommended in the Chronicle, a top pick on Do512, there is a brief write-up in The Villager, and posters on 130+ bulletin boards (typical public event boards where live shows usually promote and East Austin recreation and community centers). We’re on a diverse mix of 15+ local event calendars such as Soulciti, 365 Austin, and Austin 360.


Our team set out this week with the goal to design interactions within our pilot that would get customers to interface with our informational booths and use our interactive concepts. Our assumption was that by inspiring actions in civic activities in the moment rather than for a later time, our customers would gain more value and behavioral change.

By actually performing some civic action (registering to vote, signing up for volunteering, signing up for email updates) during the show, they would take that first step needed in becoming more civically engaged. We set out to create artifacts that would help us test this assumption in our pilot.

Specific Tasks For This Sprint:

  • Create a digital map of the ballroom area to visualize what touchpoints customers would interact within various scenarios
  • Finish designing and testing our interactive concepts so we can understand what is needed to iterate for our new strategy
  • Craft customer survey for before and after show to measure the success of the pilot
  • Iterate customer journey map and expand on experience post show
  • Bring on customers to make contextual inquiries before, during, and after the pilot for measuring success and iterating future experience designs

Mapping it Out

Our team mapped out the layout of the show from pictures and video we’ve taken throughout the past several weeks. High-level insights that we found were that the booths needed to spaced throughout the space to accurately reach all customers during the night. We also found that we needed to set up our chairs differently than previously anticipated due to our recent ticket sales (32 pre-sale) higher than expected. This new seating change, rows instead of cocktail tables, caused us to iterate our conversation card interactive concept from a simple card deck to seat placeholder card.

Conversation Cards

Initially, the idea was to have cards at each cocktail table that prompted users to interact with strangers, promoting community and engagement, and thereby actionably engage customers in civic participation. With the recent insight that we couldn’t have cocktail tables since our ticket sales were much higher than we anticipated at this point, we needed to switch chairs in a row format.

Now that customers wouldn’t be able to sit around a table and discuss these cards our thought was that they should be placed on the chairs. However, we assumed that people wouldn’t use them with other members of the audience pre-show in fear that they would love their spot. Based on this assumption our team decided to redesign the cards to include a seat number on the back. The idea is that when audience members arrive they can go over and find seats, take the card to reserve their spot, and then they are free to walk about before the show. By taking the card with them, they are more likely to use it to interact with new people.

We plan on testing these assumptions by doing a dry run in the next couple of days. Our findings from that test with determine whether we include this redesign in our pilot.

Measuring Success

One way that we plan to measure whether we were able to increase the likelihood of civic participation in future interaction is a pre and post-show survey. We plan that around 50% of the people there would take a survey at the beginning and the other 50% would consider a post-survey. The pre-show would measure their political efficacy, community efficacy, and civic life intentions, and the post-show survey would ask for the same feedback as well as their evaluation of the show.

We received help on this concept from Ori Tanuimbam: a journalism Ph.D. from the University of Texas who has performed research in civic events similar to ours. The idea is that by splitting the room and gathering data before and after we can tell if the event affected political intentions and knowledge.

We’ve started designing the survey but still have questions as to how we can incentivize customers to participate in the study. We are asking ourselves how we can have it remain thorough while remaining light, easy to understand, and fun.

Customer Journey Map

About halfway into our sprint we received feedback that we needed to think more about the customer experience after the show. At that point, we didn’t have a plan for follow up or continued interactions. We realize that it is paramount that our journey maps and design strategy account for these follow up actions. Our new design journey map accounts for this post show experiences, as well as has been iterated to include our updated interactive concepts.

At this point, we plan to take the emails we receive from our booths, our website, and ticket sales to create a follow-up email that prompts customers to further their interaction with civic resources. We plan to design a digital component to our concept that allows them to reach numerous resources to get involved in civic activities.

Contextual Inquiries During Pilot Experience

We are currently reaching out to people that have bought tickets to see if they will allow us to perform contextual inquiries with them during the night to observe and understand their behavior during the event. We’ve confirmed two participants, and we are awaiting a response from a woman that, in the early stages of testing our concept, we performed a research session with.

Next Steps

In the next few days, our team will be in overdrive mode finalizing our concepts and making any last minute iterations for our pilot. Our event is set for this Wednesday, April 11th at Spider House Ballroom. If you are curious about the work we’ve been doing and want to see it in action, please stop by, we would love the chance for you to experience it and give us feedback. To buy tickets click here. See you there!