Why I Opened DCH by Amanda Austin

Amanda during the move from the Commerce location to Main St.

Amanda during the move from the Commerce location to Main St.

Hope you like trees, because here comes the sap. 

We're celebrating 9 years of fun next week at Dallas Comedy House. Even after 9 years, I often get asked "Why did you open DCH?" 

You know the feeling when you've been traveling and away from your home for awhile and all you can think about is getting back to your own place in your own bed? And when you finally make it there, you walk in the door and you breathe a sigh of relief and whisper to yourself "I'm home." That's why Dallas Comedy House is here. I knew I wanted to a place that was more than just a comedy venue, but was truly a second home to others. A place where budding comedians could all hang out together. Where newbies could get stage time early on to further their skill sets. Where a student or performer could walk into the building by themselves, not knowing if they were going to know anyone there that night, but instantly feel welcomed by everyone else. Where people could grow professionally, and flourish personally. 

I remember in 2008 traveling to Chicago for a week. I was there for comedy, but traveling alone. I was still very new to comedy, and knew no one there. For a few days, I watched from afar the already existing comedy community and how everyone was having fun, everyone liked each other, and everyone respected each other. People were quick to include me and make me feel welcome. The same thing happened when I traveled to LA. Everyone was so different, but comedy was the common bond that brought everyone together. I believed there was a need for such a place in Dallas. 

My parents used to say something a lot to us growing up. "We loved you before we met you." I never truly understood it, in part because it usually came at a time when I was being grounded for something, and I didn't want to hear why the loved me so much when I wouldn't be able to go the movies or the mall that weekend with my friends.  But when I began to put together the business plan of DCH, I kept thinking about all the people I didn't know, but how I wanted to provide something great for them. My former business partner also understood the importance of the community and all the people who we had yet to meet. 

When I think about being open for 9 years, it feels like it's been forever but also has gone by in the blink of an eye. I'm sometimes reminded of it during times like our Birthaversary celebration or the Dallas Comedy Festival. But it's little moments that hit me hard when I least expect it. Watching a nervous level one students walk up to a performer after their show to tell them "good show" and then see them hang out at the bar and nerd out together about improv, hearing about a house team who traveled to another city for a stellar festival show, watching organic dance parties form in the theater (on Commerce) and now the lobby (on Main). Or seeing my friends who met at DCH now date, get engaged, married, and even have babies. 

What we do at DCH and how we do it will always evolve. The continued growth of the comedy scene in Dallas as well as the unbelievable growth of the City of Dallas are influential in a lot of our decisions. Because so many of our performers are a direct product of our training center, it's important for us to continue to provide top notch education so everyone in Dallas can see a really great, innovative, and unique show each time they walk in the door.  

Formally, our WHY is reflected in our mission statement: 

To grow and foster a creative community while igniting a passion for the comedic arts by providing high quality entertainment and training in a supportive, innovative and welcoming environment.

But I know why I keep doing it: When I think about all the people I've met because of DCH and how different my life would have been if we all hadn't found each other. I love them all now and love the ones I haven't met yet.  They've made me a better person and I honestly can't imagine another life. 

Come celebrate 9 years with us next week and I'll show you how to properly eat a cupcake. 

Amanda Austin is the Owner and Artistic Director of Dallas Comedy House. Dallas Comedy House celebrates its 9th Birthaversary the week of January 24-27, 2018 with $9 shows and free cupcakes!