How Do You Pick the Right Show Based Off Name Alone?

Photobomb My co-workers know that I spend a lot of time at Dallas Comedy House watching great comedy. They will ask me, “What show you seeing tonight?” And I will respond by saying Roadside Couch, .f.a.c.e., or Duck Duck Pants. Most people just nod and say, “Cool,” even though those words mean nothing to them but mean everything to me.   

When I encourage them to attend, they usually say, “That sounds fun, which show should I attend?" I will direct them to and tell them to pick. That’s when the discussions start in—“Photobomb, do I need to bring a camera” or “Age appropriate, can I bring my kids?”

Which gets me back to the question: How do you pick the right show based off name alone? My advice is always go with a name that intrigues you. The first time I saw the name Franzia appearing on a poster, I knew I had to go. Because I love Fanzia and if I could watch a show with people who obviously share my desire to drink $7 gallon of wine, I am in. Same goes for Local Honey (which I try to purchase all the time), Manick (which took me two years to realize that was a combination of Amanda and Nick), and the 1995 Chicago Bulls. Side note on that one, when I first heard the 1995 Bulls were performing, I went to my closet and broke out my Luc Longley autographed Fosters can with the hope that he would drink the 19-year-old beer with me. Boy was I let down.

Be bold, pick a name, see a show. You will not be let down.

Ghost Watcher is a regular, DCH audience member.

(Image: Jason Hensel)

Podcasting 101: Choosing Your Format

Podcasting 101 Do you want to build a podcast? C’mon let’s go and—sorry, sorry, dated joke, I’m done.

But seriously, do you want to make a podcast? You should. There are a few Dallas Comedy House (DCH) alums that have podcasts of their own and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t either. Plus, I need more podcasts to put in my feed.

However, the easiest thing to get side-tracked by is the overwhelming information of what equipment to buy, how you’re going to release it, is it possible to monetize it or at least pay for hosting, etc. One thing at a time buddy! I’m going to break down the steps of how to build your own podcast.

First, you need an idea. More importantly, you need to choose a format.

Just like what sort of format is used for shows, picking a format and sticking with it is just as important for podcasting. This would be solo or co-hosted, interviews or self-hosted conversations, informational/educational or entertainment. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on the primary curriculum of DCH—sketch and improv.

OK, starting with the sketch kids: Scripted podcasts are starting to gain a little more traction these days. The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Wormwood, and, the most popular of scripted podcasts, Welcome to Night Vale. First and foremost, all hail the glow cloud. Second of all,  it started as a solo show with weird bits and pieces, eventually extending into a fuller cast with a developed world and over-arching story. However, Night Vale still keeps to its radio show format for the most part. Quick obvious note: Scripted formats are the only time you can have one person behind the microphone. However, I still highly suggest a writing team because stress makes for bad and infrequent episodes. (Which is typically why the worst Doctor Who episodes come from the showrunners, but I digress with opinions…)

In terms of improv podcasts, I'm going to use Spontaneanation with Paul F. Tompkins as my prime example. What I enjoy about this format is that it spends the first 15 minutes as an interview piece. This is pretty typical with DCH troupes like Photobomb, Pavlov's Dogs, and Manick, who will choose an audience member and ask a few questions that will build their shows. However, the interview format is VERY popular in the podcasting world. Nerdist, Marc Maron, Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss—every one of them is interviewing somebody. So what Paul F. Tompkins does with Spontaneanation is use this interview time to build a personal rapport with his guest, and then the whole of that interview is fodder for the improvised section. Another great improv podcast is Victrola!, an Austin-based group that I interviewed for this year's Dallas Comedy Festival

Now, once you have your basic format, you can spice it up however you like. Do you watch and/or read the news too much? Use that as your platform and get a group of improvisers to discuss and then riff. Are you a nerd that likes to play D&D with your improv friends? Either record your game as it happens while inhabiting your characters, or write out your most recent campaign and have your performer buddies read the script. Have you got a better idea? Then do that! You’re an adult, I assume. I believe in you.

In two weeks time, I'll discuss recording and what equipment might suit your needs as a fledgling podcaster. And yes, that’s the post in which I will discuss how much money you might be spending. Dun dun dun!

KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

Troupe Talk: Manick

Manick The Dallas Comedy House is having a Hallmark moment, y'all—and we aren’t just talking about the extra bathroom space at the new theater. There’s a delightful duo celebrating a pretty big milestone and Troupe Talk wants to celebrate. Happy five-year anniversary Manick—we’re glad you are you.

Five years of Manick existence! That’s a long time! Name five other things that you’ve each done for at least five years. Nick: Hmm. Been alive? Done improv? Waited for the next Game of Thrones book? I was in school for like 17 years of my life. Does that count? Honestly, there isn’t much else I’ve done consistently for five years. This is the longest committed relationship of any kind I’ve ever had. Amanda: I’ve been married twice. I have four kids now. And I’m still scared of standard poodles. I’m kidding about the poodles. Like Nick, this is by far the longest committed relationship of any kind I’ve ever had.

How does five years of doing a two-man show with someone feel? Nick: Doing a two-man show with someone is weirdly intimate yet somehow also not intimate at all. Doing it for five years doesn’t change that. I think it was Joe Bill that told us one time that there are multiple stages in the evolution and growth of a two-man show, one of which is where the two improvisers have played together so long and know each other’s tendencies so well that they just start trying to surprise one another. It’s nice to be at that point with someone and know that you can do that and still put on a good show. Amanda: It’s fun. And challenging. We are really different people off stage, but we really get along on stage. At least we do now. Someone asked a couple of years ago after a show (I think it was Terry Catlett) if we were friends. That sounded so ridiculous to me. Of COURSE we were friends. But he said it didn’t seem like we were on stage. I think that changed our show quite a bit when we made a conscious effort to remember we are friends off stage, so we can be friends on stage, too.

manickWhat do you appreciate about each other as improvisers? Nick: As an improviser, I feel I’m much better at playing with other people’s ideas than I am at coming up with my own. Amanda is constantly feeding me fun stuff to play with. She also puts up with me trying to be more dramatic on stage or trying non-comedic ideas and is willing to go along with them. And, she’s always willing to have fun. Also, she’s really good at staying on her side of the stage. Amanda: I think Nick and I often play the straight man in our other troupes. I think that’s why our shows were shaky the first year. Neither of us were used to being the “move makers” in a show, because we were always there to ground others and set them up for the laughs. But I know Nick very well now, and I trust him 110 percent with whatever move he makes on stage. I love seeing him play absurd and getting to support those characters he plays that you wouldn’t normally see him play in another troupe. And I’m always so thankful when he supports me playing absurd roles. I think I get to play the most absurd, f’d up characters when I’m with Nick. If you’re reading this from space, Nick...THANK YOU!

What famous duo do you most relate to? Why? Amanda: Option A: The Cat in the Hat. Cats and hats don’t really make sense together, but people still tolerate them and celebrate their weirdness. Also, once we’re about halfway through those bottles of champagne during our shows this weekend, we might wreak havoc on stage like Thing One and Thing Two. Option 2: The Good Guys with Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks. Great show, it just never really got the credit it deserved. Nick: This is a tough one. Maybe the raccoon and the alligator from that picture of a raccoon riding an alligator that was going around the Internet like a week ago? Because whatever fame they had was fleeting, and ultimately they will only be remembered in the backs of the minds of a very few. But people enjoyed seeing them in that moment.

Thank each other for five years of awesomeness in only song lyrics. Nick: I think 2 Chainz said it best:

Mustard on the beat, ho! I'm different, yeah I'm different I'm different, yeah I'm different I'm different, yeah I'm different Pull up to the scene with my ceiling missing Pull up to the scene with my ceiling missing Pull up to the scene with my ceiling missing Pull up to the scene with my ceiling missing Middle finger up to my competition I'm different, yeah I'm different I'm different, yeah I'm different I'm different, yeah I'm different Pull up to the scene with my ceiling missing

Amanda: To the tune of “Salute Your Shorts”

We sit. We talk. We laugh and play. We go on make believe trips. We play the same five characters without any real scripts. I'm so thankful that on stage you never did really fart, But if you did you hid it well and that really warms my heart.

Now all of a sudden we have five years of fun show memories, And we've made them in three or four different cities. (IDK, you do the math) Nick it's okay if you have gas and you think you have to fart, I'll just make it part of the show somehow and now a rhyming word let's try TART!


Come celebrate Manick's fifth anniversary on Saturday, June 27. Also see them perform July 3, July 10, and August 22. All shows at the Dallas Comedy House.

Tori Oman is a Level Four student at DCH. She’s trained and performed with the Second City and iO in L.A. and Chicago. Favorite pastimes include being irrationally competitive at Monopoly, eating an apple in every country she’s traveled to, and being the sole person on this planet that thinks Necco Wafers are a delicious candy choice.