One of Dallas’s newest comedy venues opened its doors in Deep Ellum at the start of the New Year -- and they've already seen their resolution come true. Only six months into their business, Dallas Comedy House owners Amanda Austin and Clay Barton have already seen a tremendous amount of growth and success in their brand new start-up business.
What started out as a studio that was only open a couple nights a week, turned into a fully operational improv school and performance venue that runs five days a week. They offer a consistent weekly schedule of open mic nights, jam sessions, comedy shows, and improv classes. They also offer corporate training for companies who wish to increase communication and promote a more comfortable working environment between their employees.
“[Clay] and I took an improv class together five and a half years ago and we just fell in love with it. When we finished the program at our school we realized that there is nothing here; like Chicago and New York have all kinds of theatres and shows, and we just wanted to offer that in Dallas. So we started saving up and here we are. We do this full time now,” Austin said.
To some people, the terms “improv” and “ stand-up” are one in the same. Although they exist in a common realm, Austin says that they are fundamentally two different styles.
“Stand-up is one person, like what you would see on 'Last Comic Standing', Chris Rock, Ellen Degeneres, or on HBO specials. They prepare material and perform it. And improv is a group of people; its anything from two to ten people, depending on the group, and it's all made up. So we just get a suggestion from the audience like ‘potato’ and then we do a whole show with that word. Or sometimes we just go out there and start making something up,” Austin said.
So why, you may ask, would someone take an improv class?
“Most people who do this here want to either pursue it full-time, do sketch comedy, have their own show, go write for somebody else, or you know, be on Saturday Night Live. A lot of them start out doing it for fun, they join level one because they want to get out of their shell, and they end up getting hooked to it,“ Austin said.
Barton says that he is a living testimonial of how improv has brought him out of his shell.
“I was very introverted, for sure -- not a very confident person, had trouble in front of people. And now I trust myself more. Everyone has someone more extroverted inside of them; they just haven’t recognized that it's ok to be that person,” Barton said.
Once the Dallas Comedy House plants its roots firmly in this location, Austin and Barton plan to expand and add more locations around Texas and the U.S.
“It really changed the way that we thought about life. We listen better, and learned to access what’s going on and add to it. We loved what it was doing for our personal lives so we wanted to teach other people about it,” Austin said.
For more information about shows and classes, click here.