Step through the doors of the Dallas Comedy House and you're bound to find the funny.
That is, after all, what owner Amanda Austin was gunning for when she opened the Deep Ellum venue in 2009.
But during the last 10 years she's discovered something unexpected: Laughter isn't the only "L" word that's become infectious inside her business.
"There's a lot of roles here that I never thought would actually be something that I would play — and matchmaker is definitely one of them," Austin said. "It's crazy to see. There are so many couples here."
She's aware of at least 30 lasting couples who met within the walls of DCH — and suspects there are more that haven't made their relationships public yet.
She's been so impressed with the tear they're on that she recently put together an improv troop made up entirely of couples, who did an entire show based on how each of them met.
DCH had to stretch the performance over two nights just to ensure they got to each couple.
"I tell all of my single friends, come take a class here. We will find you someone," Austin said. "Being vulnerable, it connects you and then you're a little bit more open. But also a sense of humor is very attractive to people."
"It is better than Tinder"
The first time Emily Gee walked into DCH, she wasn't looking for love. It was St. Patrick's Day — and all she wanted was a green beer.
She'd had an interest in improv and knew DCH had a bar inside. So she walked in and went up the bar, where she proceeded to ask the bartender if they had any green beer.
That bartender, Cody Hofmockel, told her they did not — but that he could make her a green Long Island, which was good enough for her.
"And as he walked away, I remember thinking he had very cute elbows," Gee laughed.
After that night, she started spending more time at DCH, taking improv classes there — and frequently running into Hofmockel.
"I got to know her from across the bar," said Hofmockel. "And I got know how she would love to change our music to the Ghostbusters theme song on repeat and dance to it until we closed down."
They eventually started performing with each other, then went out on a few dates. They've now been together for about three years.
"With improv, you get to know people on a very intimate, personal, and hilarious level," said Gee. "And that is so cool."
"It is better than Tinder," said Hofmockel. "You should do improv. Improv will find you love for sure."
"I had the pick of the litter."
Before they came to DCH, Mano Galaviz and Becky Rentzel were both in a bit of a rut.
Each of them had just gone through divorces. And each of them was looking for something new, different and fun that could provide a spark in their lives that they felt was missing.
By coincidence — or fate — they both settled on improv classes.
"I was like, oh, I'll meet some folks and have a good time," Galaviz recalled.
The first time they interacted with each other was at the DCH building.
"I was one of two females for four levels of classes," Rentzel said with a smile. "So I had the pick of the litter."
Though neither of them were in any rush to get back into the dating scene, they instantly bonded over dealing with divorce. And, when they realized they lived near each other, they started carpooling to DCH. That's when things took off.
"I found a friend first — and she became one of my better friends," Galaviz. "And next thing you know, we're having some fun."
They initially tried to keep their relationship a secret, unsure of how the rest of their class would react.
But the reaction they got when they finally did tell everyone was admittedly underwhelming — their classmates had all put two and two together long before.
"You're in a supportive environment and you're in a funny environment," said Galaviz. "And when you're laughing and having fun, that's the best aphrodisiac."
"Nine wonderful years"
Christi Wallace and Tommy Brown are what you might call trendsetters. They were one of the first successful couples of DCH.
"I hope everybody that walks through the doors finds the kind of love that we have," said Wallace.
Wallace got on with DCH from the moment it opened — and in addition to performing, also worked there as a server.
By the time Brown went through the program and became part of the DCH family, it was Wallace's job to train him.
"I definitely respected her as a superior," said Brown.
"He still does," laughed Wallace.
The more time they spent together, the more they fell for each other. They began dating and even got a pet pig. Now, they're married and have a daughter as well.
"Nine wonderful years," said Brown.
Neither of them are suprised that they and so many others have found their soul mates at DCH.
"Improv inspires vulnerability and being genuine and honest," Brown said.
If you'd like to try improv — and possibly find love in the process — DCH would love to have you.
Classes meet weekly and no experience is required. For more information about times and pricing, visit the Dallas Comedy House website.
DCH offers a free improv class the last Wednesday of each month from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. so newcomers can learn more about the program.