The year was 2012. I had just watched my friends' band play at Liquid Lounge or Curtain Club or somewhere in Deep Ellum. I did that a lot: support my friends and their artistic endeavors. I wasn't sure how I wanted to wring out my own artistic point of view yet. After their show, we walked over to Buzz Brew's to get some late night grub. On our way out, I grabbed a little rack card for a Black Friday sale at Dallas Comedy House. I had never heard of the place. I put the card in my purse and carried on.
I was, as always, nervous before a sketch show, standing backstage in the P-Dogs theater. But then, I heard it. One very loud, “a-ha!” You see, I know that laugh. This laugh belonged to Houston Hardaway, my former improv classmate and troupemate. Hearing it immediately calmed my nerves.
That’s the weird thing about Dallas Comedy House. You get to know people’s laughs, which feels like a very intimate thing! You can hear Mike Ruckus chortle from the front row, Amanda’s laugh from the back, Jade laughing at a pun and saying “what.” It becomes a secret language across the theater, a warm blanket when you’re having a rough show or you’re trying a new thing.
So, I asked some of my favorite laughers around the theater about laughter. Melanie Gotz, warm laugh, the aforementioned Houston Hardaway, Emily Gee’s bubbling laugh, Cesar Villa’s truly tickled laugh, John Sprigg’s giggle.
What’s guaranteed to make you laugh in an improv show?
Houston Hardaway: Physical Comedy
Emily Gee: When anyone just leaves a scene and slams the door (sorry door), it kills me. Raye Maddox once circled around the Tharp door, over and over again and I lost my shiz.
Cesar Villa: Because I'm so challenged by accents, when someone starts a scene with an accent and then realize they can't sustain it or get called out on it when it changes. "Wait, why are you Australian now?"
Melanie Gotz: When I get to see people out of character because they made a real life oopsie and had a real life reaction to their oopsie - it's usually when you get to see someone's true self and it's beautiful and I love it.
John Spriggs: Hands down, I laugh anytime it looks like they're having fun on stage. I love when I can tell teams have real love for each other. Also, whenever Mike Maiella suppresses a smile during a scene, it hits me deep in my soul and I can't help but laugh.
What’s guaranteed to make you laugh in regular life?
HH: People trying not to laugh and failing
EG: Anyone tripping, slipping or falling will always make me laugh. I️ know it’s not really the POLITE thing, but My mom tripped a lot when I️ was growing up on purpose and sometimes (mostly) accidentally just to make us laugh.
CV: When I trip or bump into something and I try to play it off like absolutely nothing happened I laugh at how ridiculous it is to hide it. Sometimes I'll laugh with whoever saw me and sometimes just at myself
MG: The work frick makes me laugh. Uhhh people dancing where there's not supposed to be dancing and then other people joining in.
JS: Probably something someone does unintentionally. For instance, I worked with a guy who would shake his foot anytime we drove around together. He would shake it so much it would build up momnetum and cause rhe whole truck to rock back and forth.
Do you have a favorite DCH laugh?
HH: If I had to name one, it would be Raye’s. So warm and full of personality.
EG: This is cliche, but I️ love Cody’s laugh. I’d recognize it in a stadium crowd.
CV: Chad Haught. If I here him laugh I automatically picture him standing in the back of the room elbowing the person next to him and motioning to the stage, "you see that?"
MG: Jade Smith and Danielle Seright's laughs always give me hope and joy
JS: My favorite DCH laugh is Tyler Simpson. It's so infectious. It reminds me of my Dad's laugh, actually. Make of that what you will.
Darcy Armstrong is a graduate of the Dallas Comedy House Improv and Sketch programs. You can find her performing with Walker Herschel, Serious Robots, and Glistlefoot, as well as the upcoming sketch show Stand by She. Otherwise you can find her at the DCH bar drinking Chardonnay and showing people pictures of her dog.
You know who kicks butt? Night Interns! Do you know specifically which two Night Interns kick butt? Michelle Domb and Jami Nesbitt! Every week our kick butt House Managers nominate Night Interns who kick butt. These kick butt interns net themselves kick butt rewards, like a DCH bar tab, comp tickets, AND A FEATURE ON THE BLOG. Hey, it’s Raye Maddox checking in, and I’m here to interview last week’s Intern of the Week, Michelle Domb, and this week’s Intern of the Week, Jami Nesbit!
A deep dive into the DCH house improv teams!
I dabbled in improv several years ago at Second City in Chicago. I took a few classes here and there, but never really understood what improv could do for my life until I had to write a blues song for a diversity class I was auditing. The lyrics shocked me. It was called the “She Look Fine Blues” and it was about how I looked fine on the outside, but was drinking bottles of wine by the twos. This song made me realize that I needed to get help for alcohol dependency. Having the avenue to express myself revealed a truth that I desperately needed to accept.
I’ve been watching and covering improv troupes for many a long day, but AH, OK, is the first one I’ve known to use a morning show as their angle (a show called Good Morning Tonight), and that’s awesome. I also knew going in that the duo of AH, OK, Adam Fullerton and Heather McKinney are also awesome having covered them as part of Watermelon.
Speaking of awesome, I got Enyclopedia Moronica on the virtual horn to answer AH, OK’s questions. They also have a one-of-a-kind to them format, which you might recall from my piece on them. It was one of the most enjoyable practices I’ve crashed so far.
Here’s what they had to say.
AH, OK: How did you settle on your format? Did you try different ones first?