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  • Writer's pictureJeff Kerr

Life's Knuckleballs

Everyone knows that life throws curveballs at you, but there is also the occasional knuckleball. What is a life knuckleball? I see it as surprise twist in your own life that you never saw coming. It can be good or bad; the key is its utter unpredictability. Not only were you not planning on heading in that direction, but you also hadn’t ever even thought about it. It’s as if you yourself are the ball, floating toward home plate, darting in one random direction after another to suddenly find yourself in the catcher’s mitt. Or, if you’re lucky, sailing over the fence for a home run. How did you get here? Lord only knows.

My most recent knuckleball experience involves an invitation from Texas Comedies, a theater troupe bringing “irreverent musical comedies” based on local history to towns across Texas. The show is called “Murders & Moontowers” and will run September 8-10 and 15-17, 2022 at the Dougherty Arts Center in Austin. The plot is loosely based on the murders by the “Servant Girl Annihilator” in 1880’s Austin and the erection of what we now call the “moonlight towers” a few years later. Will it be fun? You bet. Is it historically accurate? Well…

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by John Cecil, director of Texas Comedies, to see if I would be interested in introducing the show. He went on to explain that, for every show, they invite someone with knowledge about the historical event upon which the show is based to give a short presentation before the curtain rises. Think of it as a warmup act. Did I accept? In the immortal words of Matthew McConaughey, “All right, all right, all right!”

How did John find me? In 2016 I co-produced a documentary, The Last of the Moonlight Towers, that presents the history of Austin’s iconic structures. I also am the author of Austin, Texas: Then and Now – A Photography Scrapbook, a book with a brief section about the towers. Now, at no time during my involvement with these projects did I suspect they would lead me to my live theater debut. That’s the knuckleball effect.

My appearances are scheduled for September 8th and 9th. The show will somehow go on without me on the other dates. So come on out for an evening of music and fun. I’d love to see you there. To quote Matthew McConaughey one more time, “Party at the moontower!”

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