If you’re looking to vary up your Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) schedule from all the wonderful improv and stand-up going on, be sure to catch The Hustle Show. This thoughtfully crafted show that usually runs in Austin, Texas, will be making a home at Dallas Comedy House for the festival, and you won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind variety show. I spoke with David Jara about the act.
Can you describe the format for The Hustle Show?
The Hustle Show is a monthly show we do at ColdTowne Theater down in Austin. We call it a "variety show," because that's an easier format to explain to people than what it really is, which is, "Oh, we're going to do whatever made us laugh in the writer's room regardless of whatever form that takes." That could be a sketch, a monologue, a video, a stand-up set, or even a game show. However, our DCF show will be primarily sketch based, so our apologies to anyone who wanted to see our game show where we tried to find out which cast member is the biggest Pearl Jam fan. (That's an actual bit we did, and it was glorious.)
With a variety of different comedy styles in the show, is it difficult to switch back and forth between them? Are there different mind-sets for each part that you have to kind of get into?
I wouldn't say it's difficult; it's more like a fun challenge. One of my favorite parts of producing the show is coming up with a run order for each segment, because then you really get a sense for how all of the individual parts would best flow together and form a solid show. It's a lot like a band creating a setlist: this would be a strong opener, this would be a fun bit to close with, and so on. Once we figure that out, then we can go out there and have fun and ride the momentum of the show wherever it takes us.
Would you rather be born with an elephant trunk or with a giraffe neck?
Oh my gosh, a giraffe neck all day. Suits would look so much better on me, I wouldn't have to worry about obstructed views at concerts. The benefits are endless. With an elephant's trunk, all it takes is one person saying it accidentally brushed up against them and I'm in Lawsuit City, and I don't need that kind of hassle.
What are some of your favorite sketch comedy shows that have influenced The Hustle Show?
Personally, I'm an Saturday Night Live fan, almost to a fault. But one neat thing about The Hustle Show's cast is that we all have different influences. Some of us grew up on older stuff like Monty Python and Kids in the Hall, and some of us saw the awesome shows Comedy Central is producing these days (Key & Peele, Broad City, etc.) and decided to take a crack at sketch comedy. It makes for a nice mix of styles and perspectives. I really love it when someone in the cast writes a script, and I think, "This is not at all how I would have written this, but thank god I didn't write this because what they wrote is wayyyy better."
Do you have any advice for young (or old) sketch writers out there?
Write a lot. Find humor in everything. Don't be afraid to break your brain open and test the limits of what you think you can do on stage. Sketch is my favorite comedy medium, because you are 100 percent in charge of the universe that gets presented on stage. Once you realize that the thing you put on stage is only limited by your imagination (and your budget), you can take sketch to some really fun, sometimes insane places. Embrace that. Most importantly, get to know other sketch groups and shows in your area. Collaborate with them. Help build the comedy scene in your city. Disabuse yourself of the notion that you're competing with other sketch groups, and amazing things can happen.
The Hustle Show performs Saturday, March 28, at 7 p.m. with Virginia Slims and Local Honey. Tickets are on sale now.
Jessica Dorrell is a graduate of the DCH improv program, and is currently enrolled in the sketch writing program. Her one wish is that some day she can have a Mogwai as a pet. You can see her perform every Thursday at 9:30 p.m. in the current Ewing show.