Dallas — The cult of improv is alive and well in Deep Ellum, as the Dallas Comedy House christened its new digs with jam-packed shows Friday and Saturday night by some of the funniest troupes in Dallas and Lady Town, one of funniest in the country.
DCH closed its old theater at 2645 Commerce St. with the most recent installment of its annual week-long comedy festival at the end of March. With almost 7,000-square-foot of space in the new venue at 3025 Main St., there are now two theaters, in addition to a larger bar and kitchen—not to mention much bigger bathrooms.
Amanda Austin along with her brother, Kyle, and a slew of regular performers has cultivated an atmosphere of unconditional support that has brought out the best in a lot of Dallas comedians. The standing-room-only shows during the grand opening weekend were a testament to the decision to seek a larger space and grow the business.
LYLAS is an all-female house troupe at DCH. They take a suggestion from the crowd regarding “where you might find a gathering of women.” Baby shower is an oft refrain. The five ladies on stage Saturday night delved into the scene with enthusiasm and support, scoring big laughs on quips about fertility and infertility.
They transitioned into a funny scene about two daughters trying to explain transgressions to their mother while she kept fielding phone calls from various clinics, and ultimately the quintet was bouncing around the stage after one member implored the others to join her in one more hip hop dance.
Maggie Rieth was especially funny all night Saturday, delivering hilarious scene-ending lines time and again. She returned to the stage later with Cupcake, which includes some of the most gifted improvisers on the DCH roster.
Nick Scott’s droll monotone is chock full of wit and an acute perception. He is one of the first graduates of the DCH training center and has been teaching classes for a few years. In addition to Cupcake, Scott is in Atlantic Pacific Billy, which followed LYLAS. APB takes a movie suggestion from the audience and improvises a re-enactment. It’s usually hilarious.
Saturday night’s suggestion ended up being “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” even though troupe member Terry Catlett admitted he’d never seen the 30-year-old Mel Gibson post-apocalyptic thriller.
Still, Catlett, Scott and their cohorts, Alicia Sherrod and Noa Gavin, cobbled together enough funny scenes to make it entertaining and funny. Gavin’s Tina Turner didn’t want to be known just for her greatest hits as Scott as Master-Blaster and Catlett as “some dude wandering the desert looking for something,” as he dubbed himself kept prodding her to sing “Proud Mary” or “Private Dancer.”
Catlett eventually found what he was looking for: an autographed Ike Turner headshot, and, well, you can imagine how Tina felt about that.
Cupcake solicited a text message from an audience member and spun comedic gold out of it. Of course, the jokes for a text containing “new phone. who dis?” kinda write themselves. But these five skilled improvisers knew exactly what those jokes were and went about hitting each one out of the park to big laughs.
Confusion over who was talking to whom within group texts was a riot, with Scott acting as if he was a not-too-tech-savvy Aunt hitting reply all with bizarre double entendres and too many emojis. Again Rieth ended a few scenes with funny lines reimaging the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “Allentown.”
Then, Lady Town’s Jamie Moyer and Maribeth Monroe blew the doors of the new place with their non-stop hilarity. The two are bona fide television stars and master improvisers.
They barely missed a beat during their set, with Moyer often asking Monroe just WTF? she was doing or saying as a handful Monroe’s tangential conversation points were so funny that even she couldn’t help but laugh.
Moyer adeptly brought her back to the scene each time and they kept everyone howling with riffs about confusion of what Moyer meant when she used acronyms instead of words.
Their set started with an audience suggestion of “jigsaw puzzle” for something you’d find in every household in America. Monroe set off explaining how her daughter Matilda so loved Easter that her mother decided to make Christmas all about Easter one year by filling 4,000 eggs with one puzzle piece and scattering them all over the house. Moyer then explained how that was the worst Christmas ever because it took her eight months to put her present together only to find out it was a puzzle of a photo of her on the toilet.
Monroe probably scored the biggest laughs of the night when she explained in another scene that she was “just trying to maneuver through this world like a toddler on LSD.”
And with that, the next era for the Dallas Comedy House begins.
» Read our feature on the new Dallas Comedy House here
» To see more of Jason Hensel's photos from opening weekend at Dallas Comedy House, visit his Flickr page here