Hello there, I’m Danny Neely. I’ll be occupying this blog space for Term 3 at Dallas Comedy House (DCH). (What an attention-getting lead!) Oh the places we’ll go in the next eight weeks. We’ll explore the peaks and valleys of improv, and all the lands in between.
I’ve written a couple blogs for the DCH site before — one about interning and one about not trying to be original. If you liked those posts, then I’m flattered. If you didn’t, I don’t know why you got on board with this one. Perhaps you thought, “Third time’s a charm,” or maybe you’re a DCH blog completist. (If the second one is true, I’d love to interview you for this blog.) Whatever your reason for starting in on this gem, I thank you for reading. For this inaugural intern post, I want to give you a little background about myself to help inform where my interests and opinions come from in future blogs.
My introduction to improvised comedy (outside of Who’s Line) was as a member of the Kansas State University troupe my junior year of college. I loved it immediately. It became my gateway into stand-up and sketch. Everything was peer-led. We taught each other, gave each other notes, and teched shows for each other. It was fun but also stressful. When a 21-year-old who doesn’t know what he's doing critiques a 20-year-old who doesn’t know what he's doing, egos and feelings get involved quickly.
I didn’t know anything about the Dallas improv scene when I moved here in July — only that I would be a part of it. As I walked into my first Tuesday night Jam at DCH, I kept muttering the mantra, “Please not short form.” The immediate reception from fellow improvisers nullified any preconceptions I had. That’s been a theme throughout my experience. Before starting them, classes felt like a barrier to performing. I’m in Level 5 now, and I’ve enjoyed every single term.
I appreciate the structure at DCH. Even more than that, I appreciate the infrastructure at DCH. We’ve got a wealth of talented performers, teachers, coaches, and staff that have made my time here thus far amazing. Everyone is working on a project all the time. It inspires me and jostles me from my semi-frequent stints of lethargy. When improv bleeds into the rest of your life, that’s the sweet spot.
Improvising has unlocked a lot of doors for me mentally: Adapting in real time while holding on to what I believe in; positive thinking is always more constructive than negative thinking; giving up control as part of the creative process is liberating and fruitful.
While improv culture can be masturbatory (see previous two paragraphs), the people are genuinely nice. They’re also curious. My own curiosity and affinity for details led me to study journalism in college. That, combined with a love for storytelling, has shaped the way I approach comedy and writing about comedy. But hey, rather than telling you about my comedic makeup, why don’t I show it to you? (By telling you a list of my influences.)
Obviously, we’re influenced by everything around us all the time, but I tried to come up with the things and people that either shaped my taste when I was younger, wholly captured my attention at one point, or became the subject of my emulation.
Major influences on my comedic sensibility: My Dad, Matt Groening, my Aunt Joy, Weird Al, Dan Harmon, my friend Alex, The Fairly OddParents, Looney Toons, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, my friend Cameron, Mad Libs, Banjo-Kazooie, Paul F. Tompkins, The Office, Regular Show, Bo Burnham, my friend Josh.
Major influences on my storytelling sensibility: Ocean’s Eleven, James Bond movies, Bill Simmons, Pokemon, Deltora Quest, Dan Harmon, playoff baseball, Harry Potter, Gauntlet Legends, Mike Birbiglia, The Legend of Zelda, the animated Robin Hood, The Coen Brothers, Dungeons and Dragons, Mike Tirico, playing with LEGOs, Donkey Kong 64, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Modest Mouse.
In summation, I love cool guys and epics, video games where you collect stuff, parody, cartoons, and feeling sad sometimes. This is going to be a fun term. See you next week.
Danny Neely is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. He works part time at a bakery and another part of the time as a freelance writer. You can see him perform as a member of Big Turtle, Clover, Coiffelganger, Empty Inside, and Warm Milk.