When the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) opened the doors for our first weekend of shows at our current space on Commerce Street, we were so excited. Really excited. And scared. Mainly because this was a new venture for us, but also because we weren't entirely permitted yet and shouldn't have really opened until a few weeks later. But we did it anyways, because we couldn't wait any longer, and because we had scheduled a big shot improviser/instructor from Chicago—Jason Chin—to come in for the weekend and teach workshops and perform with us.
"While he was here, I got to play in a mix 'em up with him, and I can still remember a scene I did with him and Laurie Reaves Barnett where he played a man on trial for not liking The Moody Blues—'THEY'RE TOO MOODY!'" said DCH teacher and performer Nick Scott, who was in DCH's first student troupe, Circus Office, named by Jason (see video below).
You always remember your firsts in life. Firsts with a new business are always fun memories, but firsts with the new relationships you form with that business are unforgettable. When we opened, I think we had like three or four posters on the wall and menus we had typed up in Pages on my Mac computer. The place felt kind of dull and bland, and we clearly had a long way to go. But Jason was so supportive of our efforts and told us not to worry, "We would grow into the space."
Five years later and we've outgrown this space. Some of us have continued to stay in contact with Jason, because he was always so encouraging, yet completely honest at the same time. This past November, a few of our staff made a quick trip to Chicago for the weekend. We sought out the advice of a few of some of our favorite people who have continued to support us along the way, one of them being Jason. He was more than gracious to give us the most amazing behind-the-scenes tour of the new iO facility in Chicago. He also sat us down and gave us so much good advice. Improv theaters are a weird business. There's only a handful of them in the nation. And no matter how weird the business is, the weirdos inside the business are what makes it thrive. Jason was one of these people in Chicago who loved all the weirdos and supported their efforts, even if they weren't great. He loved the art of improv and everyone who loved the art of improv. Jason had already made plans to come back to the grand opening of our new space in March because he said, "If I was there for the first grand opening of DCH, then I'll be there for the rest of them." That was his level of commitment, even to people he didn't work with on a regular basis.
Jason made such a huge impact on our little community here in Dallas, so we can't imagine the void he's leaving with all the students and performers in Chicago who were with him on a regular basis. Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to his family, the iO family, and everyone who was impacted by Jason during their improv journey. He was a blessing to the craft. RIP, Jason.