People We Love: Interview with John Aielli

For 50 years, John Aielli has been supporting Austin arts communities on Austin airwaves. A long-time fan of Esther’s Follies, we sat down to talk at the KUT studio in the Belo Center for New Media. This is an excerpt from our spirited conversation.

Laura: How were you first introduced to Esther’s?

John: Well, there used to be this place called Liberty Lunch, and Shannon was down there from the very beginning, and she would be cooking or doing whatever else she was doing to run the restaurant, and the next thing you know they’ve got this outfit called Esther’s Follies going on, and I couldn’t figure out what it was about. They were just marvelous, just bare bones.

They are just so on top of it politically, and their wit is always so well honed, they’re up to date on every subject. I’ve been a huge fan of them from the beginning because their heart’s in the right place. They say all the right things. I’m totally with them. They’re still just as alive and vibrant as ever.

Laura: Tell me about your interactions with Esther’s over the years.

John: Well, I’ve been a fan. I’ve been down to see them. They would be in touch and say, “Could we be on your show and do a little skit”, and they’d be in Studio 1A and they’d be singing and dancing. They’ve always had terrific people. Quite a line-up from the beginning. And new ones coming up all the time.

Laura: What do you think makes Esther’s such an Austin institution? They’ve been around for 40 years.

John: I think it’s because they have their finger right on the heart of the community. There is something about Austin that has always been a community oriented, communal feel of commitment to what is not just right morally, but that absolutely is part of it, and just what is good for the community and the wider community, a sense of human rights, and our interconnectedness with each other.  

It’s a sense that they keep cultivating over time and applying it to whatever situation comes up nationally, locally, state, they will always have sort of an address to that subject. The implication always is that you know what is right, and everybody does, it’s just they needed to reminded of it by Esther’s. It works for people on both sides of the political fences.  We all need a nudge here and there and Esther’s provides it.


You can tune into John’s show Eklektikos on KUTX 98.9 from 6 am- 9 am.


And for your Esther’s nudge in 2017, get your tickets here.

About the Author:

Laura Mathis is a past Esther’s Follies performer who graced the stage from 2003- 2006 with her Canadian charms and willingness to wear any type of costume to get a laugh. Follow Laura on Twitter @thelauramathis

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