Keeping the Laughs in Dallas

Aaron Aryanpur and Paul Varghese, two of North Texas' leading stand-ups, on the advantages of being based here. They kick off the Dallas Comedy Festival tonight.

published Tuesday, March 27, 2012
1 comment

The two current reigning stand-up comics in North Texas are an interesting pair: The rock-steady family man Aaron Aryanpur, who ponders the weirdness of life a lot; and touring junkie, single guy Paul Varghese, with his rapid pace and somewhat wonky take on things. They are the go-to guys to open and middle at the Improv and Hyena's, and can be found weekend nights at the Backdoor Comedy Club when not otherwise gigging. They routinely place high in the local and state best-comics contests.

They kick off the Dallas Comedy Festival at the Dallas Comedy House at 8 p.m. tonight. The festival runs through Sunday, and is heavy on sketch and improv comedy.

What makes these two guys interesting representatives of North Texas is they're both children of immigrants: Aryanpur's father is Persian and Varghese's family hails from India. This is the 21st century Metroplex, with a huge, albeit spread-out, immigrant population, as well as migrants from other areas of the country, all coming here for jobs. 

"What I find with Dallas crowds, "says Varghese, "is that there are a lot of transplants, not many people born and raised here. So it tends to be a pretty good cross section. You can see how your stuff might play everywhere else. When I go out to LA or San Francisco, it's way more PC than I'm used to here. Dallas is so laid-back, relaxed, mellow compared to there or the East Coast."

As a result, North Texas stand-up comedy doesn't have a strong general persona. Cities like Boston, San Francisco and New York have distinct styles and there is pressure for young comics to maintain the brand. Texas for many years was identified by the aggressive and skewed humor of Bill Hicks and Sam Kinison as part of the Outlaws movement from Houston in the '80s, but that scene is now faded.

"Compared to other cities I've seen," says Varghese, "there's no specific style to Dallas. No one's trying to be like someone who made it big. Because of that our voices are super unique. For us it's this mentality of you do what you do, I do what I do, and we're just trying to figure it out. Creatively I feel like I can do whatever I want."

Aryanpur agrees: "Dallas comedy is diverse. There are a lot of different voices, backgrounds and points of view."

But that amorphous diversity has its downside, says Varghese: It's no easy for marketers to pitch. "There is so much really good talent here. The only reason Dallas is not discovered here is that reps from television and larger clubs and chains don't come here. They don't know what to think of us. That's Amanda [Austin]'s idea with the Dallas Comedy Festival. If you create enough of a buzz, they eventually have to show up. All it will take is for industry to come here one time to help the whole scene out."

Not willing to wait, some North Texas comics have gone coastal. Robert Hawkins, former writer/comic for the KZPS Bo & Jim Show, now bases from the West Coast. Wild-haired Dustin Ybarra does the same and was most recently seen in We Bought a Zoo. Kurt Basa recently flew the Ad-Libs coop for California. Jamie Lee went to New York City to hone her comedy and ended up with a choice gig in Diablo Cody's (Juno) directorial debut, Lamb of God.

So why do Aryanpur and Varghese stick it out in North Texas? Stage time. In larger cities comics can wait for weeks for comedy-club slots to try out new material. The competition's not so intense here and comedy clubs are plentiful. A real boon is the Backdoor Comedy Club, which uses a showcase format of many shorter slots, rather than the opener/middler/headliner format more commonly found. "It really is a home," says Aryanpur. Varghese concurs: "That club basically made me."

While Varghese is itching to sprint, for Aryanpur it's a sweet balance. "The last several months have been as close to living the dream as I've experienced yet. I've crisscrossed the country, performed in new cities, and met tons of great people.  I have all the things that I'm most thankful for: a healthy family, a sense of purpose, and laughter."

Aryanpur and Varghese perform tonight in the stand-up showcase at the Dallas Comedy Festival. The show is nearly sold out.

Here are some video of both:


  Thanks For Reading


Pickles writes:
Tuesday, March 27 at 2:07PM

Amy, so nice to see you writing about comedy again...

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Keeping the Laughs in Dallas
Aaron Aryanpur and Paul Varghese, two of North Texas' leading stand-ups, on the advantages of being based here. They kick off the Dallas Comedy Festival tonight.
by Amy Martin

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :