Meet the Team

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Valerie Nies

Instructor & Co-Founder
Valerie is a comedian, writer, and gluten enthusiast who spends a fair amount of time obsessively scanning WebMD. She’s written for humor sites Reductress and McSweeney’s and performed all over the U.S. and at the Out of Bounds, Big Little Comedy, and Frontera Fringe Festivals. For four years, she hosted the monthly all-women standup showcase Smile More! at Austin’s The Institution Theater, a consistently sold out comedy show. In 2020, she transformed her in-person show into a Zoom experience called Smile More (but with your eyes), which attracts performers from around the world. She also produced and performed a comedic one-woman show “How to Say You’re Afraid of Commitment in 140 Characters or Less,” and for two years hosted and produced the popular self-help podcast Help Wanted. She’s been on storytelling shows in Austin and LA, and her sketches have been featured on Bitch, Jezebel, Salon, and Huffington Post. She’s won awards for television scripts that never aired and lives in Austin with a gray tabby and too many poetry books. Valerie has taught comedy and coached since 2017 and is especially passionate about supporting women in comedy.

“The only thing more satisfying to me than cracking open a new joke, is helping beginning standups find their authentic comedic voices.”


Ali Thompson

Instructor & Co-Founder
Ali got started in stand-up through a class much like the one we offer at Ether Comedy. Two years later he was a Funniest Person in Austin Finalist. He’s performed in festivals across the country including San Francisco SketchFest, Beast Village, Out of Bounds, and the Cleveland Comedy Festival. He’s written for numerous local sketch comedy shows including his own show “Terrible People”. He excels at one-liners because he knows how to get the most punch out of every word. He loves breaking down jokes, analyzing what makes them tick, and is excited to share what he’s learned. He started teaching stand-up comedy classes at the Institution Theater and is happy to continue doing it at Ether.
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