Dallas — Now in its eighth year, the annual Dallas Comedy Festival is becoming a sort of homecoming for many comedians with ties to the Metroplex.
Ashlee Voorsanger started doing stand-up in Los Angeles and now lives in New York. The Dallas native will be performing in her hometown for the first time on opening night Wednesday, March 22.
“I have people from as far back as elementary school coming to the show,” she says. “I am planning half my trip around restaurants and am fully prepared to go home in ill-fitting sweat pants with my soul full of chicken fried steak and Tex-Mex.”
This year, there will be three performance areas at the Dallas Comedy House, as some shows will take place in the DCH training center adjacent to 3025 Main St., which houses two theaters that seat roughly 75 and 120. The new stage has its own bar and seats about 50 in a smaller, more intimate space.
There are about 40 improv troupes set to perform, including some that only sing, others that mostly dance, some that are all-female, others just two dudes and a chair, one with puppets and one that promises a full-access comedy event.
Clifton Hall, a DCH alum now living in Asheville, N.C., will deliver two stand-up sets and rejoin Atlantic Pacific Billy for an improv show Saturday night after a nearly two-year hiatus. APB asks for an audience member’s favorite movie and then reinterprets it to hilarious effect.
“Worst-case scenario is I’m just on stage improvising with some of my favorite humans, and we just do OK,” Hall says. “Best-case scenario, we win the world championship belt for movie-based improv.”
Maggie Rieth Austin, executive director of the festival, said there were an enormous amount of stand-up submissions this year, resulting in each show being stacked with the funniest local and out-of-town comedians on the circuit.
James Adomian is a fantastic comedian and impressionist who accurately portrayed President George W. Bush on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and Bernie Sanders for “Comedy Bang! Bang!.” He will perform at 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
“Each year this event grows, just as year-round our audiences have continued to grow and the talent that performs on our stages rises,” DCH founder and owner Amanda Austin says. “It’s why top-line comedy talent and prominent touring acts like The Improvised Shakespeare Company keep coming to Dallas Comedy House, because local audiences are increasingly looking to us as the home for comedy here in North Texas.”
The Improvised Shakespeare Company brings some serious bona fides to Deep Ellum Friday at 11 and Saturday at 10:30. This Chicago-based ensemble has been turning audience suggestions into “a play that has yet to be written” for a dozen years now.
The troupe explores Shakespearean themes in language specific to The Bard. The show routinely sells out the Del Close Theater at iO Chicago, has won numerous awards and now tours across the U.S.
Hall fondly recalls a set a few years ago when some members of ISC performed at one of the free improv jams DCH holds each Tuesday night.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to grab a ticket before they sold out,” Hall says. “I’ll be spending some time looking up the blue prints for DCH so I can just crawl through some of the air ducts and watch from there.”
Shaping up to be an interesting week in Deep Ellum.
The complete schedule is below:
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
6:30-7:30 | Crafthouse Stage | Encyclopedia Moronica, Queso Queens, Wiki Tiki Tabby (IMPROV)
7:00-8:00 | Dallas Stage | Lily Callaway, Matt Stofsky, Cat Alvarado, Son Tran, Ashlee Voorsanger (STAND-UP)
8:00-9:00 | Crafthouse Stage | STAN, The Rift, Photobomb (IMPROV)
9:00-10:00 | Dallas Stage | FCC: The Wrong Party, Bulls on Parade (SKETCH)
10:00-11:00 | Crafthouse Stage | Jason: A Campy Musical (SKETCH)
10:30-11:30 | Dallas Stage | Gretchen Young, Brandan Jordan, Marc-Anthony Sinagoga (STAND-UP)
11:30-2:00 | Dallas Comedy House | The Wrong Party Presents: 90’s Hip Hop Dance Party (FREE)
Thursday, March 23, 2017
6:30-7:30 | Indigo Stage | Cat Alvarado, Brandan Jordan, Shahyan Jahani, Matt Stofsky (STAND-UP)
7:00-8:00 | Crafthouse Stage | Duck Duck Pants, Warm Milk, David & Terry (IMPROV)
7:30-8:30 | Dallas Stage | Victoria Hoffman, Tom Devenport, Katy Evans, Son Tran (STAND-UP)
8:00-9:00 | Indigo Stage | Friends University, Empty Inside, Franzia (IMPROV)
8:30-9:30 | Crafthouse Stage | Local Honey, Damn Gina, Bit Sing (IMPROV
9:00-10:00 | Dallas Stage | Marc-Anthony Sinagoga, Ashlee Voorsanger, Tyler Simpson, Paul Varghese (STAND-UP)
9:30-10:30 | Indigo Stage | Small Town, CLR, Primary Colours (IMPROV)
10:00-11:00| Crafthouse Stage | Paulos Feerow, Grant Redmond, James Adomian (STAND-UP)
11:00-2:00 | Crafthouse Stage | Musical Improv Jam hosted by BitSing (FREE)
Friday, March 24, 2017
6:30-7:30 | Crafthouse Stage | Why It Brite, Midnight Passion, Rook (IMPROV)
7:00-8:00 | Dallas Stage | Serious Robots, Blacklist Improv, .f.a.c.e. (IMPROV)
7:30-8:30 | Indigo Stage | Tom Delgado, Ray Connolly, Christian Hughes, Erica Dawson, Julian Fernandez (STAND-UP)
8:00-9:00 | Crafthouse Stage | Tabooze, Roadside, Late 90s (IMPROV)
8:30-9:30 | Dallas Stage | Gettin It Storytelling, For the Birds (SKETCH)
9:00-10:00 | Indigo Stage | The Midnight Society, Partners in Time, Pavlov's Dogs (IMPROV)
9:30-10:30 | Crafthouse Stage | Victoria Hoffman, Clifton Hall, Tom Devenport, Radu Bondar, Alycia Cooper (STAND-UP)
10:00-11:00 | Dallas Stage | The ‘95 Chicago Bulls, James Adomian (IMPROV/STAND-UP)
11:00-12:00 | Crafthouse Stage | The Improvised Shakespeare Company (IMPROV)
12:00-2:00 | Crafthouse Stage | Improv Jam (FREE)
Saturday, March 25, 2017
5:30-6:30 | Indigo Stage | Heel Turn, Family Dinner, Sun Glow (IMPROV)
6:00-7:00 | Crafthouse Stage | Jimmy Nelson, Radu Bondar, Tom Delgado, Vance Sanders (STAND-UP)
6:30-7:30 | Dallas Stage | The Monthly Junk, Just the Funny, APB (IMPROV)
7:00-8:00 | Indigo Stage | Andrew Woods, Charmz, Ray Connolly, Erica Dawson, Clifton Hall (STAND-UP)
7:30-8:30 | Crafthouse Stage | CUPCAKE, Late 90s (IMPROV)
8:00-9:00 | Dallas Stage | Julian Fernandez, Saffron Herndon, Alycia Cooper, Aaron Aryunpur (STAND-UP)
8:30-9:30 | Indigo Stage | Barry Whitewater, Tim Edwards, Susie Falcone, Hogan Allcorn (STAND-UP)
9:00-10:00 | Crafthouse Stage | Denver, Manick, Movie Riot (IMPROV)
9:30-10:30 | Dallas Stage | We are Thomasse (SKETCH)
10:30-11:30 | Crafthouse Stage | The Improvised Shakespeare Company (IMPROV)
11:30-2:00 | Dallas Stage | Bearded Buddies Karaoke (FREE)