Hi there! I’m Jason Hackett. You may or may not know me. You may have seen me perform with Funny Scenez or the Blacklyst (Blacklist? I’m in the troupe, and I barely know how I’m supposed to spell it), or perhaps you’ve noticed me lurking around the tech booth during Big Shots and the weekly jam. If you can’t place me, I’m the tall, white guy around the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) that isn’t Rob. Maybe that will help. The reason I feel the need to introduce myself is because I’ll be your new host for the monthly Block Party show. Yay!
Now, if you haven’t been to a Block Party show, allow me to briefly explain it to you. The core concept of the show is that anyone can do (almost) anything they want within a 10-minute time slot. The show is an hour, and those acts that submit prior to the show get placed on the list to perform. You’re able to submit to do stand-up, a troupe to do improv, or some sort of sketch. It’s great!
However, I feel it’s being a bit underutilized, and I’d like to change that. Brace yourself for extensive pontificating.
I’d like for Block Party to be seen, not only as an opportunity for students to try their hand at performing in a non-jam environment and for performers experiment and try something new, but also as a show that people want to come see. It seems like a lot of people will come to the Block Party, do the one thing they came to try out, maybe stick around if their friends are going up next, and then get out of there while the show is still going on. I’d be hypocritical to not note that I’m guilty of this, too.
I’ve seen some great, weird stuff at Block Party shows that I’ll never see again, and they are some of the more vivid memories I have of being at DCH. Whether it’s Tyler Simpson dancing in an awful blonde, curly wig (I have a picture of this somewhere, hopefully I can find it), or David Allison bringing me on stage to do an interview for his “one-man improv show” based on my life, ending with a beautifully established punchline (punchscene? (I feel like I’m using way too many parentheticals)), they stick out to me because they’re so unique. So why aren’t people sticking around?
I think part of the issue is that Block Party in its current iteration is less of a show and more of a rotating showcase of random performers with little-to-nothing tying them together. Part of that is because acts have been self-hosting and introducing the next act once they’re done. I’m here to fix that aspect! I want to use the host position to give the show some sort of arc, or have running bits tying the show together between acts, or some mixture of both. I want it to be a show.
One way I think we can accomplish that is by opening up Block Party to more than just the standard 10-minute sets that we’ve grown accustomed to. I know personally that I have had bits or characters I’ve wanted to do at Block Party, but knew I didn’t have 10 minutes worth of material, or the joke wouldn’t sustain itself that long, and so I’d drop the idea to the wayside and never actually go through with it. I want that to change.
If you’ve got a character or bit you’ve been wanting to try out, but don’t want to commit to a full set, let me know. Talk to me in person, or email me, or creep me on socialmedia.com and send a friend request. Whatever. However you want to get a hold of me, let me know, and I’ll be more than happy to help you stage whatever sort of experiment you want to do. Do you need someone to play a straight man to your crazy cat-lady character, or wacky bus driver, or tasteless Bill Cosby impression? I’m here to help! We can plan something where your character comes out and interrupts me during my hosting duties, and then you get out of there before the joke tires! I’ll be the one on stage doing the heavy lifting after the bit is done so you won’t have to.
I am really excited about this, because I think having little-to-no risk opportunities for performers to try out even their thinnest premises and bits gives those performers incentive to come out, to participate, and to stick around for the show. I still want to have the same sort of variety of improv and stand-up that you currently see at Block Party, but I want to open it up to as much weirdness as we can find.
So, I’m putting this out there to let you know that I want to be as involved in this process as I can be. If you want to be a part of a Block Party show, I’m pledging right now that I’ll do whatever I can to make that a possibility. If you need something in particular from the tech booth, let me know. If you want a grand, over-the-top introduction before you get up to do your particular brand of offbeat observational humor, I’ll be more than happy to do that for you. I’m here as a resource for you to do whatever you need for your performance, because I want this to be something great.
Like I said, I want to give people a show, and I want them to want to stick around for it. Most of all, when someone walks out of a Block Party show, I’d like it if they thought, “Wow, I just saw something I couldn’t see anywhere else.” Those moments are special, and I’d like to be a part of them, if you’ll let me.
If you have any questions, concerns, or if you want to submit for the next Block Party show, email me at blockpartyDCH@gmail.com.