Dallas Comedy Festival

"DCH Snapshots Presents: 2017 Dallas Comedy Festival" by Shawn Mayer

DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017

DCH Snapshots is a webcomic where Shawn Mayer watches improv shows and then draws what he remembers. Please click the images to enlarge them.

DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017
DCH Snapshots DCF 2017

Shawn Mayer is a DCH graduate who performs with the troupes Wiki Tiki Tabby and Sunglow. He plays euphonium in a polka band, is an avid lover of Patrick McGoohan, and avoids social interaction by pretending to read notifications on his phone.

DCF2017: How to Prepare for the Dallas Comedy Festival

Dallas Comedy Festival
Dallas Comedy Festival

It’s Go Time! Dallas Comedy Festival 2017 is here. For those who have attended in the past, you know what this means: Jello shots, comedy from around the country, long-lost friends reconnect, every form of comedy known to man, and did I mention Jello shots!?!? For those who have never attended before and are thinking, “Wow, this looks incredible, where do I start?,” here are some tips to get you ready for #2017DCF

Make a plan. Improv comedy is always made up on the spot. At least that is what they tell me at the beginning of each show. But you will need a plan for what shows you are going to see this week. Grab a schedule and map out your week. Nerds rule at this type of festival. If you bring a highlighter and a loose leaf notebook, you will receive head nods and looks of admiration from fellow festival goers.

Always go support out-of-town performers. They drove to Dallas, or took a bus, or maybe a boat to get to the festival to show you their funny. Let them know we appreciate their effort and show them that Texans are known for three things – Hospitality, BBQ, and big cowboy hats. (Note to self: Open up a Texas BBQ place that strives to have the best hospitality and serves all of its food in plates shaped like cowboy hats. Big cowboy hats. If anyone steals that idea, please credit the Ghost Watcher.)

Add some variety to your night. One of the great things about the DCF is that it will showcase improv, stand-up, song, Shakespeare, and sketch comedy. To make any night complete, make sure and check out one of each. It is like eating the perfect meal with apps, main course, and desserts, but in a mix-and-match order. You will not be disappointed.

Three stages! You may be saying to yourself “What!?!? Three Stages?!?! How in the hell does that work? I thought there were only two stages.” The amazing crew at the Dallas Comedy House has built a new stage in the Training Center just to the west of the main entrance. It is not a secret entrance that requires a handshake with a wink-wink, tip the doorman type of Dallas thing. It is a regular, welcome to the funny, entrance. Did I mention it has a bar? Well, it does. I have heard from good authority that it will be serving the coldest beer in the history of the training center bar.

This is a special week, always one of my favorites. A week to just let loose and have fun. Enjoy the 2017 Dallas Comedy Festival and make sure you buy Jello shots for everyone. Even me.

Ghost Watcher is a regular, DCH audience member.

(Photo: Jason Hensel)

DCF2017: Matt Stofsky

Matt Stofsky
Matt Stofsky

Matt Stofsky is a Brooklyn-based writer and comedian as well as a Tufts graduate. Triple threat alert! Matt’s writing and sketch work have been featured on McSweeney's, College Humor, and MTVU. Some of Matt’s pieces include a look into what it’s like for a music critic to review his ex-wife’s new solo album and a reveal of the annoying questions Noah had to deal with before his Ark set sail.

How did you get your start in comedy?

I got my start in "comedy" giving my high school's graduation speech. I got some laughs and thought, like the delusional fool I am, "Hey, maybe I can make a career of this."

What qualities do other comedians have that you admire?

Qualities other comics have that I admire: Ability to adapt to a tough situation (e.g., a bad table/heckler) and also the ability to change your material on the fly.

How do you come up with new material?

To generate new material, sometimes I'll sit down with a pad and say, OK, today I am WRITING COMEDY, but mostly I just try to live with my eyes open and my brain on and process what's funny around me and to me.

What is your favorite event in history and why?

Favorite historical event: Big fan of the Battle of Hastings. 1066 seems like an interesting year.

Cake or pie?

Both if possible, but gun to my head, cake.

Are you looking forward to doing anything specific while you're in Dallas?

Big thing to do in Dallas: BBQ.

Matt asks himself an introspective question about life:

Why do I do this? Am I damaged? I don't THINK I'm damaged. I genuinely love making people laugh. There's no better feeling than helping someone get over a hard day by making them laugh. Also, I'm an only child.

Matt performs at the 2017 Dallas Comedy Festival on Wednesday, March 22, with Lily Callaway, Son Tran, Ashlee Voorsanger, and Cat Wagner; and Thursday, March 23, with Shahyan Jahani, Brandan Jordan, and Cat Wagner. 

Anthony Salerno is from Buffalo, New York. He is a current DCH student and performs with Ewing Troupe: Clementine. When he’s not working at Improv or his day job, he's trying to talk himself out of buying Uncrustables at the grocery store.

I Moved, I Grooved, and I Didn’t Say a Word

Ithamar Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) 2016: A week of full of improv shenanigans, comedy tomfoolery, and enough alcohol-infused gelatin to knock out a herd of elephants. But all that aside, by far the highlight of my DCF 2016 experience was getting the opportunity to take a workshop on the art of physical comedy from the man, the myth, and possibly Mr. Bean’s long lost cousin (the DNA test results are still pending), Ithamar Enriquez.

If last Friday, you didn’t get a chance to check out his one-man show, Ithamar Has Nothing To Say, allow me to briefly summarize. Funny, funny, music, serious feels, and more funny. You’re welcome.

Ithamar Has Nothing To Say takes you on a silent, hilarious journey through a menagerie of wonderfully wacky characters. From a cop lost in conducting his own traffic symphony to a bumbling magician and even a couple of weirdos at a jazz club, Ithamar breathes life into a long list of zany sketches using Chaplinesque or Harpo Marxian style physicality. He had me in stitches during his bit in which, using only his fingers, he reenacted scenes from Dirty Dancing, Jurassic Park, Jaws, and a slew of other great movies. Through the course of the show, you find yourself laughing hysterically and reaching out for tissues as your eyes get a little misty. It’s heartfelt, and funny, and full of mind-blowing movement.

At Saturday’s workshop, aptly named “Shut Up and Move,” a group of us had the pleasure to learn from the master himself. We got a two-hour crash course on object work, emotion, and music-inspired physical comedy. Ithamar explained that as improvisers we tend to get too wrapped up in the words we’re saying and forget that our bodies and faces have the ability to tell a story just as well. We paid a quick homage to and briefly discussed the work of physical comedy OGs like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and Ithamar gave us several tips for how we too could express a whole lot while saying very little.

Lesson 1: Familiarity. Familiarity is the key to really grounded and clean object work. All too often I’ve succumbed to the fate of envisioning the annoying amorphous , grey improv object, hoping that an audience will somehow magically identify that it’s actually a coffee cup or a laptop or a bowl of soup. Ithamar suggests picturing yourself in a real-life location that you know very well. For example, imagine your bedroom. You know where the bed is, where the dresser is, what’s in said dresser, where the lamp is, where your diary is hidden, what junk’s been shoved in the back of your closet for ages (OK, maybe not that one), and so on and so forth.

When you picture yourself in a real location with a familiar object, it’s easier to connect to the object and give it life. The interaction is made simpler, and it feels and looks a whole lot more natural. Nobody knows your own stuff like you do. Suddenly the amorphous coffee cup becomes the blue mug with the chip in the handle that you got on a trip to Cabo, the laptop becomes a red Dell notebook with a sticky “ctrl” key, and the bowl of soup is now clearly a Panera bread bowl full of delicious French onion—yummy.

Mr. BeanLesson 2: Your Body Knows What’s Up. If there was one thing that Ithamar really wanted us to take away from the workshop, it’s that every suggestion can and should come with a physical reaction. Even if your mind has no idea what to do with a suggestion, allow your body to react to it. It’s crazy, but sometimes your body actually knows what’s up before your brain has fully processed what’s been suggested. So, let yo body lead the way man! Seriously, don’t think. Just do.

For an exercise, Ithamar had us walk around the room and he would randomly call out a word. Without thinking about it, and just letting our bodies do their body thang, we used the word to inspire a new style of walking. Ithamar says “Bologna!” and suddenly I’m prancing around the room like a third grader carrying a Flash Gordon lunchbox. Ithamar says “Green!” and I’m hopping like a little tree frog on a log. Ithamar says “First Date!” and I’m tripping over a rug in Tharp because, well, I’m actually tripping over a rug in the theater. You get the idea, though.

Lesson 3: Music Is Love, Music Is Life. One unique thing about Ithamar Has Nothing To Say is that many of his sketches are paired to music, making viewing those scenes much like watching a silent film with a soundtrack that’s crazy good. Dare I say, stupid good. Louis Armstrong’s cover of "La Vie En Rose," Jefferson Airplane’s "White Rabbit," and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, are just a few of the many tunes Ithamar’s show treats your ears to. Ithamar’s reasoning for using music is that it helps trigger the emotional and memory centers of the brain. Playing music pushes you to unlock emotional creativity and can help direct the point of view in a scene.

During our workshop, it was so much fun to see how our physicality and point of views changed as soon as a song played. For example, say you’re in a scene where you’re peacefully gardening your prized begonias. But suddenly, Metallica’s "Enter Sandman" starts playing in the background. This changes everything. Now if those begonias don’t grow dammit, you’re going to freakin’ lose it and you can bet your sweet ass that heads are gonna roll! And weeds in your flowerbed, oh, don’t even go there. Gosh darn it, you rip those mothertruckin’ weeds right out of the ground because they don’t deserve to live. It’s full on garden rage time now! ...And that’s how music can easily shape a scene. It’s a fun tool to use to get your body moving and grooving.

So to recap—1. Set space work in familiar locations using familiar objects because that’s what you know best. 2. Let your body guide you and react physically to suggestions that come your way. 3. Music is a fun way to change point of view and inspire creative play.

Well, there you have it. What are you waiting for? Go shut up and move!

My Body

Lauren Levine is currently a Level 4 student at DCH. When she is not trying to come up with witty things for this blog, she is a freelance writer and editor, an amateur photographer, a Zumba-enthusiast, a dog lover, and an 80s movie nerd. In addition, she enjoys all things Muppet-related, the smell after a rainstorm, and people with soft hands.

(Top image: Nkechi Chibueze)

DCF2016: Love Me Tinder

It’s almost that time again! Obviously, the most wonderful time of the year, Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) kicks off on Tuesday, March 22. To help you put together your festival schedule, we want to make sure you get to know as many of the fabulous out-of-town acts as possible that will be dropping into Dallas Comedy House. Love Me Tinder

Heckle Her, an Austin-based production company, creates not only comedic (and sometimes musical), but also bold works for both stage and screen. Adrienne Dawes, director, producer, and badass lady behind it all, told me all about Love Me Tinder, the sketch revue she, along a troupe of talented performers, is bringing to Dallas for DCF!

Describe what your show, Love Me Tinder, will be like.

Love Me Tinder is a fast-paced, musical sketch comedy revue about dating and relationships in the digital age. We have a deep dish Chicago influence but are all Austin-based performers, writers, and musicians. We aren't affiliated with any specific theater or training center (WE BELONG TO NO ONE). I put together this ensemble because I wanted to see great comedy and great music in the same sketch show . . . with a diverse ensemble. There was nothing like it in Austin at the time, so I made it myself!

OK, because of the nature of your show, I have to ask – any fun (maybe fun isn’t the right word?) Tinder/online/digital dating stories you’d be willing to share?

I'm only on Tinder for the trollin' and celebrity sightings. It amazes me the level of misogyny and racism that men believe will attract women. It's pretty rare that I swipe right . . . even rarer that I've actually messaged with someone . . . the rarest, I've met someone in person. There's just too much opportunity, I think, for the crazy, racist, misogynist sh*t to reveal itself . . . and I can't with that. I don't care how often you Crossfit or pose in tuxedos at your friend's wedding or hold tiny teacup puppies next to a rainfall. You can't be a dumb a**hole. End of story.

Please visit the Dallas Comedy Festival blog to learn more about Love Me Tinder and to purchase tickets.

Megan Radke is currently a Level 3 student at DCH. She is a copywriter and social media manager by day and an essayist and mediocre musician by night. She is a constant consumer of books, music, film, and all things comedy. She is also great at racking up copious amounts of credit card debt with spur-of-the-moment travel.

(Image: Shelley Hiam)

DCF2016: Adam Burke

It’s almost that time again! Obviously, the most wonderful time of the year, Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) kicks off on Tuesday, March 22. To help you put together your festival schedule, we want to make sure you get to know as many of the fabulous out-of-town acts as possible that will be dropping into Dallas Comedy House. Adam Burke

Let's first get this settled: Yes, I'm friends with Adam. Known him for a while now. More than decade known him. But you know what? I've never seen his stand-up in person. That's a knowing shame. (OK, I'll stop with all the "knows.")

Adam didn't start performing stand-up until he moved to Chicago after he wrote an article about comedy for a local magazine. After that, it was nothing but a slingshot to the stars with appearances on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, Doug Loves Movies, and The Bob & Tom Show...heck, you can read Adam's bio on his website, where you can also watch videos and download his album. In the meantime, let's get to know (sorry) him a little bit more.

You're from the U.K. How does being from another country influence the type of comedy you perform in the U.S.?

I think it's different for everybody, obviously. I guess there's this idea that you notice things that are so ingrained in the native culture of the country that you've moved to that the locals kind of take them for granted. I have a story that might be a little different from other people's. I actually have tended to downplay that but I'm addressing it more onstage. Some people demand that you talk about it. My accent is pretty muddled but there have definitely been instances where I didn't address it and people have yelled out, "Where the hell are you from?" Some people say my style is different but I don't know if that's true.

How did you get involved with Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!?

They tape the bulk of their shows in downtown Chicago, so I guess it's convenient for them to have a local. There was a local guy, a very funny man named Brian Babylon, and he moved on to L.A. so they were looking for a replacement. Some of the producers (including the house producer, Tyler Greene) had seen me skulking around stages in Chicago and I guess they thought I'd be a good fit. What's crazy is: in the early days of my doing comedy, I didn't have a lot of goals for myself but the one thing I thought I might be OK at is that, so, so far so good.

Please visit the Dallas Comedy Festival blog to learn more about Adam Burke and to purchase tickets.

Jason Hensel is a DCH graduate who regularly performs in the troupes The '95 Bulls, .f.a.c.e., and the DCH Book Club. He also has perfect kneecaps.