DCH Remix is blog series will explores the diversity of Dallas Comedy House. It consists of interviews of students and performers who identifiy as a persons of color to learn about their creative journey here at DCH.
This week I met with Kirstie Carrizales. She’s a November Scorpio who lives with girlfriend Hannah in Lower Greenville, and loves improv.
Kirstie: I started doing improv in New York at Upright Citizens Brigade, but I only took a level one class because that’s what I could fit in. Before that I had tried out for my college improv troupe that they had, and I got rejected. I was like I guess I’ll go somewhere else. So then I went to UCB and then I moved back home to Dallas and then I found Dallas Comedy House.
Tyla: How did you find DCH and what were your first impressions of it?
K: I used to pass by it a lot when I came home in the summers. I would eat at Angry Dog a lot and I was always super curious. I wanted so badly to take a class, but I was so nervous. Then one day in 2016, I was like you know I should just treat myself for Christmas. So, I signed up to take a class in 2017.
T: What are the main differences environment-wise between here and NYC?
K: DCH is way less competitive and way more like a community because everyone is so supportive and respectful of each other. In NYC, it would be like why are you taking this class and half of would be like “I’m an actor" or "People tell me I’m funny.” Nobody would ever say they wanted to do it for themselves. I feel like a lot more people here do it for themselves and to have fun, which makes it way more relaxed here.
T: Being a WOC, have you faced any adversity while pursuing comedy here or in NYC?
K: I think it's the same across the board. Some people kind of expect you to have a different background because they know you as just one aspect. Sometimes I'm surprised that people can be a little ignorant still. One of my friends thought that me and another POC guy were brother and sister. And I was like, "Really because we were the only 2 Hispanic people in my class?" But I totally made fun of her for saying that and she never brought it up again. I don’t really act differently. I like surprising people because they expect me to rely on jokes on my racial background or my skin color. I hope I answered that right.
T: I feel you. I’ve been there, like not wanting to the angry black woman, because its expected. I’m sure you don’t want to get stuck playing a stereotype either.
K: Yea or just to be the Hispanic person in the scene or just going for that low hanging fruit, if that makes sense. Also, say you’re on a team and you’re the only POC on the team, it kinda raises the stakes for all of your team members. They’ll look at you and say “Oh, I can’t do that.” And I’m like, "That's right, you can’t! You cannot!" I also think that's a fun part part of being on a team with different people.
T: How many troupes are you in?
K: Right now I’m in 6 improv troupes and Walker Mall, the sketch troupe.
T: Oh wow! So, how are you able to balance all the troupes and being so busy?
K: Well, it’s really hard. Because I enjoy it so much, I don’t care how hard it is. I think I’m here almost every day and every other weekend. Every Sunday I have practice with Walker Mall and if I have a show on Saturday, I would be here. I really focus on different parts of my life like making sure I’m physically fit. I’ll create time for that. Recently, I’ve been saying no a lot more, and its pretty hard for me. I’ve been stepping back when I knew I have too much for the week. It sucks because, for me, I want to do everything and be able to put my hands in everything. We all have limitations. It’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself, so that’s what I’m really learning especially from saying yes to all these things. But I really enjoy it and that’s why I do so much.
T: I can tell when you’re performing that you are meant to do it. What was your mindset like before improv?
K: Thank you! I was pretty sad actually because I knew this was a part that I was missing. Improv is one thing that makes my heart beat faster. I know that this is what I’m meant to do so like having a calling. It’s something that I’ve always loved since I was young. I remember my mom bought me a summer course at SMU for a reading thing, but we played improv games. It was the first time I’d ever played improv games and I was like, "What is this!?!" For awhile, I was shy and I guess I didn’t feel like I was ready to go do the stuff that I wanted to do. After being depressed for a really long time, I was kind of over it and I was thinking why am I not letting myself be happy? I’m going to take a freaking improv class again. Now I’m planning on moving to Chicago next year to go to Second City and go as far as I can with improv and sketch.
T: Oh dope! So, I saw your sketch showcase. What are the big differences between improv and sketch?
K: It’s so weird to answer this question. Learning the two are completely different because you're learning how to become a writer. Yeah, we use an improv mindset because if you have to scratch an idea you have to let it go. The formats are totally different. When you are performing sketch on stage, it literally like a baby of both. The material is all there. Cody has said this to me before, when performing sketch, it's 10% material and 90% performance, which could be all improv. With sketch you have this house that you can play in with your character.
T: Cool. What would you say to someone to encourage them to try taking an improv class here at DCH, especially a person of color?
K: I would say improv helps you to grow as a person. DCH is such a cool place to start. It’s such a special and small community. We bond over this one unique thing. It’s something that helps everybody in their own unique way. .If you really want to grow, this is the place to do it. Whether you want to be a better version of yourself, if you want to learn how be loosey goosey, or if you want to pursue a career in comedy, start locally. DCH is the perfect welcoming community to do it in, no matter how you feel about yourself. You should come into it and welcome all of the opportunities.
Kirstie is currently performs with Full Body Cast, Left on Read, Browie Troupe 3025, Midnight Society, Boyoiyoing, Let’s Get Busy Tonight, and Walker Hall.
Tyla Gibson is a student and performer at DCH. She performs with the all-women improv group Sapphire to keep herself sane from being yelled at by soccer moms all day.