From student to performer to teacher, David Allison has been a stalwart of the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) community since 2010. Now he's ready to contribute even more as he recently accepted the position of DCH's first ever theater director. His official start date is July 18; however, I was able to snag a quick campfire conversation with him on a Maldives beach to learn more about his thoughts on his new job. What drove you to apply for the theater director position?
David Allison: It's my dream job. It's exciting to be able to put 40 hours a week into the place that I love. I take my work very seriously, and I'm passionate about anything I do.
What are your top priorities for the job?
DA: The first priority is to learn the business and everything that makes this theater function. We've grown so much over the last couple of years, so to maintain that is important. In order to do that, I need to understand fully what lead to that growth and where we are right now.
My second priority is to be a resource for people to come to. People may have ideas that could potentially help the theater, and I can be there for any questions or concerns. I'm here to help.
How do other theaters across the country inspire you?
DA: I'm a gym rat when it comes to this sort of thing. I think it's important for anyone who creates in any capacity to be as aware of as many different things as you possibly can. I look at other theaters' shows and think, "Why isn't that addressed here in Dallas?" Now that I have a title behind me, I think that'll empower me to approach people and say, "This is a cool show, how are you doing it?" I look forward to forging new relationships with other theaters.
I also like just getting out and seeing shows. I've made it a priority to take the money I make from coaching and teaching and set some aside so I can take a yearly trip to see shows and be aware of what's working at other places. For example, I've gone to Chicago and this year I went to UCB in Los Angeles. Just to see the passion of those communities is inspiring.
What are positive qualities you look for in assessing acts?
DA: The show-watching committee will continue to view shows so it's not as if only my opinion of groups will be considered. With that said, when I'm watching acts, I look to see if they're having fun, if there is basic agreement among the players, and consistency, both within a show and show-to-show.
What kind of role will you have in partnerships with other area theaters?
DA: I think the biggest thing is communication and networking. It's something that Amanda [Austin, DCH owner] has made significant inroads in over the years. I want to put up good content, and if there's something that we can do to help another theater or get assistance from another theater, that would be fantastic.
Finally, what's your lowball bribe to get on the schedule?
DA: It's very low. Go with whatever you like. Surprise me.