Dallas — Saturday evening marked not only the last day of the festival, but the last day of any Dallas Comedy House shows at 3025 Main Street before they move across the street. Thankfully, the contents of the day lived up to the importance of it.
The first event on my docket was a 4:30 standup show, with a surfeit of out-of-towners. The first three were all NYC-based. First up was Ashlee Voorsanger, whose frenetic mannerisms and faux-embarrassed laughter was reminiscent of Amy Sedaris. Dan Pyatetsky was a slower, complementary counterpoint to Voorsanger, and he won me over with “I heard a Dad tell his son, ‘this is a blessing in the skies.’ Close, but no guitar.”
Third was Jackson Fisher, the best of the three NYCers for my money. He makes a not a good man, he says, but a very good boy. He traces his problems to the fact that his Dad never called him “thicc.” His confident, showman style is similar to Dallas’ own Wes Corwin.
Next up was Katie Johantgen from LA. I liked her joke about a new dating app called Mansplain, where men write first and women simply aren’t allowed to respond, but she struggled to win over the audience or me, and her joke (I assume this is parallel thinking and not plagiarism) “I don’t have any kids…that I know of” is one I heard Elayne Boosler do 30 years ago.
Ky Krebs of Austin was the best of the 4:30 bunch. He knew he was gay at an early age, and so did his cruel classmates. But young Ky knew the conventional wisdom of kids picking on the ones they have crushes on, so he was downright excited to get beaten up. He also had this pure joke: “Here’s my impression of Mario breaking up with somebody. ‘It’s not you. It’s-a me, Mario.”
LA’s Peter Moses is getting older and settling down, and now finds the same satisfaction that he used to get out of scoring enough drugs for three days at Coachella in making enough breakfast potatoes for him and his wife.
Quinton Hardy was probably the crowd favorite. He considers his aunt to be very brave coming out as a lesbian in the face of their tiny, close-minded, incestuous town, especially considering she’s eight.
Rachel Manson was the headliner, all manic pixie dream girl. She wants you to know she’s so horny these days she gets off to compilation videos of the Jim looking at Pam from The Office.
Next up, a trio of improv troupes. First was Houston’s Can’t Tell Us Nothing, an all-black troupe from Houston. Fast-paced and laffaminit, their greatest strengths were their sense of timing and heightening.
The best of this improv bunch for me was DCH born-and-raised The Rift, who support one another so well with silly sound works and great chemistry. I particularly liked their opening bit involving an impromptu climbing stairs and opening a door sound effect
Last was STAN, another DCH troupe that had been on hiatus for months since a big chunk of their troupe moved to LA. The intro applause was the biggest I heard all week. They lived up to the hype, letting scenes marinate exquisitely, being ridiculous, and calling out their own ridiculousness.
Rounding third and heading home, I checked into a sketch showcase. First was 301 Views, from New York, and they were a swing and a miss for the most part. I wanted to like them, and they had one great premise, where scientists discover a way to make penises monstrously bigger, only to be unable to communicate this to the outside world thanks to everyone’s spam settings.
Beyond that, however, they didn’t really connect with the audience, and one joke, a guy nervously doing a monologue about the ten best kinds of pizza (10. Pepperoni. 9. Mushroom. 8. Pepperoni and mushroom…1. Free) struck me as a failed tryhard attempt to channel Andy Kaufman.
On their way out, they implored the audience to “come check us in Baltimore in May if you can, when we’ll be at the Charm City Comedy Festival!” perhaps somewhat overestimating how many traveling comedy festival lifers there were in the audience.
They were followed by One Of Us Is Carol, who in September put together no less than the best live sketch show I’ve ever seen. Alas (for me), they simply did a condensed version of the same show again, although I think I detected a couple clever tweaks. It was still great seeing the sketches again, and if anyone deserves to rest on their laurels, it’s them.
My night closed with a doubleheader of improv put on entirely by LGBTIA+ folk. First was DCH’s own Let’s Get Busy Tonight. Award yourself 5 points if you’ve figured out how their name is LGBT relevant. They had a strong show of Elvis impersonators, demanding bosses, musical chairs, and love triangles.
They were followed by the Austin-based Hail to the Queen, an all-drag improv troupe (with, I understand, strong sketch bonafides as well, but tonight was improv). Besides just being really damn funny, their energy was just captivating. They lit up the room. They closed the show by lip-syncing and dancing to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” with the audience.
I’ve always considered myself an ally, but this is the closest approximation to a drag show I have yet attended, and dear reader, it was so goddamn fun. I feel kidlike, wanting to yell, “Again! Again!”
Which, come to think of it, sums up my feelings about the 2019 Dallas Comedy Festival too.
» Tickets and schedules are available at the Festival website. Look for periodic reports of the festival on TheaterJones.com.