This weekly blog series features interviews taking place at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) open mic with me and some of the funniest stand-up comedians in the area, most of whom just happen to be my best friends! Read to learn about your favorite local funny people and about the curious emotional makeup of people who like to go onstage alone every night to get laughed at.
Amanda Austin: The Uniter
Tuesday marked several firsts--it was not only the first ever open mic at Dallas Comedy House (DCH) on 3025 Main Street and the first improv jam in that new space. It was also the first ever combined open mic/jam in DCH history. From now on, Tuesday at 8 p.m. kicks off DCH's night of free comedy, a buffet of performance options with participation open to everyone. I sat down with owner Amanda Austin, drinking some well-deserved alcohol, and discussed her vision for what the amalgamation of these disparate events will mean for the future of the Dallas comedy community. We also discussed Austin's hopes for her own future of becoming a more regular stand-up comic despite having a few things on her plate right now.
Amanda! You opened the new theater. I did.
It's so big and beautiful! It is big, and it's on it's way to being beautiful. It's still very bare bones, but y'know, it takes awhile.
We're here on Tuesday night for the open mic and jam. Seein' a lot more open micers than I am jammers so far. This is the first time we've ever done a jam on a Tuesday, so I think it'll be a bit of an adjustment period. (Grant Redmond interrupts) I'm sorry, but the doors are unlocked right now. I don't know if you want to lock them-- Go to Shiloh and get the keys.
So why did you move the jam from Wednesdays to Tuesdays? Well, it's kind of hard to advertise the free comedy thing, because when people are trying to figure things out, if they don't really know a lot about improv or stand-up, they're just curious. They think they want to come to an open mic when really they want to do improv, or they think they need to go to a jam to do stand-up. It's easier from an advertising standpoint to just say, "Everything is free on Tuesday night!" But the other thing is, I've always had this dream that everybody gets along.
Never! Rather would we die! That's how I feel like some people think. Like if you start with stand-up, you're like, "I don't really like improvisers," or improvisers don't like stand-ups, but I want everyone to be happy, and I think it makes you a stronger comedian if you are at least familiar with that other stuff. I'm excited for improvisers to walk in and see the people that they know and respect like you guys that do both and think, "Oh, that's actually really hard, I wanna give it a shot." Because even if you're not into it, I think that having a working knowledge of it makes you a better comedian.
More well-rounded. Yeah, I mean you don't have to be a triple threat, like improv, sketch, and stand-up. And if you are, good for you. But I think at least being exposed to it more and everybody meeting. Because I know everybody.
I think the misconception is, improvisers think stand-ups are mean, but most of the stand-ups in Dallas are actually really nice. And then stand-ups think improvisers are dorks, which they are, but stand-ups are just as dorky. They make assumptions, because they're never really together. So I'm forcing the Sharks and Jets together.
To become the Sharts! Or the Jerks! That's kind of my thing. I want everybody to get along and mingle, and-- (Abe interrupts) The metal AC unit panel just came off, and it's gonna rain--I do air-conditioning and I just saw-- I'll get with you in like five minutes.
Well you're leading the charge--you've started doing stand-up as well. I'm really just talking to people with a microphone.
That's probably good advice for an improviser who wants to try stand-up. You've been successful doing crowd work thus far. I enjoy crowd work. My favorite thing is right before our Manick show starts we talk to someone in the audience, and we just talk to them for about five minutes and that crowd work is super fun for me, and that's why I feel happy and relaxed doing it. The hard part for me is writing material, because at the end of the day like I need to go to bed at some point or watch Scandal. I really love it, it's just been on the back burner for awhile. I just need somebody to push me.
The more you do it, the more you're going to want to do it and think about it. I know! Something else will have to be cut to make room.
Just shut this theater down. Alright. I'll shut this place down and go do theater someplace else.
Lauren Davis is an improviser and stand-up comedian from Dallas, Texas. Currently a student at the DCH Training Center, she can be seen weekly performing improv with her troupes LYLAS: Girl on Girl Comedy and Please Like Us, as well as doing her stand-up act at clubs around the area.