It’s not a mischaracterization, nor is it hyperbolic piffle, to say that 2018 was a banner year for comedy in Dallas. “Expansion” is the watchword. We have seen Stomping Ground Comedy Theater open in the Design District and Four Day Weekend expand to Dallas in 2018.
That brings the number of comedy theaters and training centers in the Metroplex to no less than five: Stomping Ground, Four Day Weekend, Comedy Arena, The Alternative Comedy Theater, and Dallas Comedy House.
What’s more, all show signs of thriving. The Alternative Comedy Theater and Dallas Comedy House both put out their annual comedy festivals (Big Weekend of Improv and Dallas Comedy Festival, respectively) to rave reviews. The Comedy Arena’s one year anniversary has come and gone and they show every indication of being around for many years to come. Stomping Ground has landed big names like Kevin McDonald and Jamie Campbell. Four Day Weekend’s expansion efforts seem to be a success.
Most crucially, however, none of them seem to be failing to attract audiences. I personally have seen packed houses in all of these venues. Knock on wood, they will all be around for years and decades to come.
Want some drama with your comedy? Then the biggest story of the year, without question, was Dallas Comedy House’s new landlord, Black Market Investments, undertaking spurious legal tactics—to put it mildly—in an effort to kick DCH out.
It the end, it was a happy ending for DCH. In April, they will relocate to a space essentially across the street, and will retain two theaters, add a patio, and see a return to (rubs stomach) a full kitchen. Nonetheless, Black Market Investments retains the embers of bad juju enough that you won’t see this writer patronize the new business (likely a barbecue joint) at DCH’s old place.
Of course, the comedy scene in DFW is made up of so much more than comedy theaters. Jacqueline Novak, Amy Sedaris, Michelle Wolf, and countless other bigwigs have victoriously graced Metroplex stages. The Amphibian Stage Productions comedy residency has given us some of the year’s biggest laughs (as in SNL vets Sasheer Zamata, who was also at this year's Dallas Comedy Fest; and Melissa Villaseñor). And Backdoor Comedy Club is setting all kinds of records for longevity.
All in all, it would be hard to trade the Dallas comedy scene with any other cities (yes, that includes New York and LA) thanks to the financial problems even the most heralded institutions have run up against. In DFW, comedy is a growth industry. May it stay that way forevermore.
2018 YEAR IN REVIEW
Friday, December 28
- The Year in Comedy by Chief Comedy Critic Kevin Beane
- Danielle Georgiou's Sixth Position: A Year of Movement
Saturday, December 29
- The Year in Dance by Chief Dance Critic Cheryl Callon
- The Year in New Dance Works by Katie Dravenstott
- The Year in Dance by Emily Sese
Sunday, December 30
- The Year in Music and Opera by Chief Music and Opera Critic Gregory Sullivan Isaacs
- The Year in Music and Opera by Robin Coffelt
- The Year in Music and Opera by Wayne Lee Gay
Monday, December 31
- The Year in Performing Arts Books by Cathy Ritchie
- The Year in Classical Music Recordings by Andrew Anderson
- The Year in Theatrical Recordings by Jay Gardner
- The Year in Film by Bart Weiss
- The Year in Performing Arts News by Mark Lowry
Tuesday, January 1
- The Year in Theater by Frank Garrett
- The Year in Theater by Jan Farrington
- The Year in Theater by Janice L. Franklin
- The Year in Theater by Martha Heimberg
- The Year in Theater by Jill Sweeney
Wednesday, January 2
- The Year in Theater by Mark Lowry
Thursday, January 3
- A challenge for our readers
Friday, January 4
- Looking ahead to 2019