"Trend Alert: Ulcer Naming Parties!" by Emily Ball

These days, it seems like you can’t open up Facebook or Instagram without being flooded with the announcement that more of your friends are becoming parents and throwing parties to celebrate. From gender reveals to full-fledged baby showers, preparing to parent seems like a non-stop whirlwind of excitement and cake. While parenthood may not be for you right now – or ever – you can get in on the fun by throwing a party to pick a name for the stress ulcer you’re currently carrying inside you!

Giving your ulcer a name will help you feel more connected to it and help your friends and family adjust to seeing you in this new role, as the proud carrier of a gastric ulcer. Although it may seem fun at the time, I don’t recommend naming your ulcer after someone you hate, as just thinking about the person may create added stress and grow your little bundle of pain even larger. Personally, I recommend the “Military Title/Cutesy Nonsense Name” combo, i.e. “Lieutenant Limlam." But remember, only YOU can decide the best name for your ulcer.

Ulcer naming parties are mainly being held at home, but are gaining a surprising foothold in the office environment, as well. Bonus points to you if your coworkers are battling their own stress ulcers while celebrating yours! Church potlucks and family dinners are another wonderful time to add an ulcer naming celebration into the mix. Build on the joy at the table by reminding everyone there that neither you nor “Captain Clunkers” will be able to partake in the majority of the food sitting in front of you.

If you are expecting an ulcer, congratulations! We here at Dallas Comedy House wish you all the best.

Emily Ball is an improviser, bartender, and stand-up comedian based out of Dallas, Texas. In her free time, she likes to moderate arguments between her cat, Debbie, and her dog, Tucker.

(Image: Rory McHarg/Creative Commons)

"Humor on the Brain: The Funniest Words in English" by Jason Hensel

Go ahead, think of the funniest word you can, the one that makes you laugh every time you hear it. Got it? Was it one of these: Nitwit? Waddle? Bebop? Egghead? Twerp?

According to a study published in Behaviour Research, those are just a few of the funniest words in the English language. 

"A number of studies have taken to rating and creating databases of jokes in an effort to allow researchers disaggregate the various mechanisms that make them work," the researchers wrote. "A few studies have looked at single non-words, suggesting the absurdness of a non-word results in associated humor. None, to our knowledge, have focused on single English words."

The study consisted of 821 participants (average age 35, 58 percent female) who rated for humor 200 random words sampled from a collection of 5,000 words. Some of the words males rated as humorous included brand, corn, and weld, while some of the words females rated as humorous included giggle, humbug, and sweat. Both genders agreed that such words as fluff, prance, and tinker were humorous. 

"The aim of providing this data is to help enrich the resources available for understanding the cognitive, developmental, and applied aspects of humor," the researchers wrote.

To find out all the rest of the humorous words (and the not humorous ones), read "Humor norms for 4,997 English words."

Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program and performs with .f.a.c.e. and the ’95 Bulls.

(Image: Jack Lyons/Creative Commons)


“Real Life Situations in Which You Should Improvise: Yes, and When” by Meili Chao


Ordering from the stressed-out Hooters waitress five minutes before close. 

Being handed the mic at your ex-boyfriend’s screamo concert.

Raiding your evil mother-in-law’s closet. Call this character work. Maroon lipstick goes great with a black-and-callous soul.

Cooking for couples “allergic” to gluten.

Every time you’re under anesthesia, be sure to bring the mother-in-law.

At 4 p.m. on a Friday at the DPS. 

Asked if there’s a doctor on the plane.

Consequently, when diagnosing the patient with a new and rare disease.

Then, when a real doctor comes along, proclaiming that somehow the turbulence made you guys switch bodies. WHOAH! Freaky Flight-day!!

You’re a mechanic listing every part you learned in “car school” as being an immediate life-threatening hazard despite it being a routine oil change and you just witnessing the romper fashionista of a customer shove an indecent amount of granola bars and free waters into a suitcase so you now they AIN’T. GON. FIX. NU-TING.

Bringing a suitcase to an oil change because you ran out of groceries.

Your improv troupe asks your vocation, and you throw your cloak over your face and slink away to the cubbies.

Editing a best friend’s interaction with a hot guy at a bar. 

Tapping your friend out of their own wedding with said hot guy. 

Giving side support to their first kiss as a married couple despite all your advances.

Bitterly reserving a “table for one” on any day that people misconstrue to be related to the pairing of people in the context of something that should be celebrated. This situation is ideal for musical improv, see Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” and give them a show they’ll never forget. 

Announcing your troupes’ name (ALL of them) when entering your local Taco Bell, thrift store, or Dollar General, because improv pays. 

Taking the stand: Your 10-minute, one-man show should begin with, “Yeah, I did it.”

Picking your life mate at a Blink 182 Concert. On second thought, this scene was better without you. Go ahead and make that a quick walk on/off. Just make sure you take the rug from underneath the scene players and label it something lame…like a Blink 182 Concert. 

Meili Chao is an improviser, stand-up comedian, and musician who lives in Denton with her cat, Miles Voldemort. She spends her spare time wearing off-the-shoulder tops in coffee shops "waiting to be discovered."


"Great TED Talks About Comedy and Improv" by Jason Hensel

Raise your hand if you love a good TED Talk. Alright, nice, a lot of you do so this post is worth it. And since this is a venue focused on comedy, that's what these TED Talks are all about. Of course, this is a sampling. There are many TED (or TEDx) talks about these subjects, which you can find online via your preferred search site. 

Anatomy of a New Yorker Cartoon
"The New Yorker receives around 1,000 cartoons each week; it only publishes about 17 of them. In this hilarious, fast-paced, and insightful talk, the magazine's longstanding cartoon editor and self-proclaimed 'humor analyst' Bob Mankoff dissects the comedy within just some of the 'idea drawings' featured in the magazine, explaining what works, what doesn't, and why."

Comedy is Translation
"Every act of communication is, in some way, an act of translation. Writer Chris Bliss talks about the way that great comedy can translate deep truths for a mass audience."

Don’t Do Your Best
"How to lead an improvised life by the inventor of Theatresports and world-renowned improvisational theatre instructor Keith Johnstone."

Learning Lessons Through Improv
"After decades of working with comedian greats such as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Keegan Michael Key, and Steve Carell, Kelly Leonard shares the lessons he learned through improv."

Make 'Em Laugh: Common Ground in Comic Characters
"Are some things always funny? While most jokes rely on cultural context, comic performers throughout history have found common sources of amusement that transcend linguistic or national boundaries. Actor and historian Matthew R. Wilson finds the funny in character types from Greco-Roman comedy, Commedia dell'Arte, Kyōgen, and contemporary film and television."

Silicon-based Comedy
"In this first-of-its-kind demo, Heather Knight introduces Data, a robotic stand-up comedian that does much more than rattle off one-liners -- it gathers audience feedback through advanced sensors and tunes its act as the crowd responds. Is this thing on?"

Your Brain on Improv
"Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation -- so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds."

The Way of Improvisation
"Improviser and storyteller Dave Morris teaches you seven steps to improvising and how they apply to life in 'The Way of Improvisation.'"

What Makes Things Funny
"Pete McGraw is a leading researcher at the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In this talk, he not only discusses what is funny but what makes something funny, as well."

Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program and performs with .f.a.c.e. and the ’95 Bulls.

"How to Tell a Friend That She’s Mad at You" by Emily Ball

Uh oh! Your friend posted a vague message that could have meant anything, but you KNOW that it means she’s upset with you. Now the two of you are in a fight, and the worst part of it is, she doesn’t even know! Here are a few tips to let your friend know that she’s mad at you:

  1. Give her a taste of her own medicine. Post a status referencing her post that starts out with “I guess some people think”, but don’t tag her in it or draw her attention to it in any way. She’ll see your post and realize that her status actually WAS about you, not about a rude stranger in the grocery store!

  2. Fight fire with fire. Message her directly and say “If you were upset with me, you should have just come to me about it.” This will open her eyes to the fact that she actually is upset about your choices, and definitely not about an illness in the family.

  3. Bring up old arguments. Statements like, “So I guess you’re still not over the Arby’s incident,” will remind her that she has plenty of reasons to be angry with you already, so this newest argument is just adding fuel to a fire she didn’t even know she was burning!

  4. Tell all of your mutual friends. Just because she doesn’t know she’s mad at you doesn’t mean that everyone else shouldn’t! This is the time for screenshots. Get everyone on your side so that by the time she realizes she’s upset with you, your allies are already set.

  5. Hire a skywriter. Nothing says “You’re mad at me” quite like expensive cloud calligraphy that literally says “YOU’RE MAD AT ME”.

I hope these tips have been helpful and informative. Please feel free to tag a friend who’s upset with you – happy fighting!

Emily Ball is an improviser, bartender, and stand-up comedian based out of Dallas, Texas. In her free time, she likes to moderate arguments between her cat, Debbie, and her dog, Tucker.

(Photo: Reyner Media/Creative Commons)

"Comedy and Imagination" by Jason Hensel

The Imagination Institute is a Philadelphia-based non-profit dedicated to exploring imagination across society. One of its specific, yearly meetings is the "Comedy Imagination Retreat," and the organization recently released a video (below) featuring an interesting panel discussion from its August 2016 meeting. 

The panel consisted of comedy professionals such as Aisha Alfa (actress and comedian), Cindy Caponera (actress, writer, and producer), Scott Dikkers (founder of The Onion), Kelly Leonard (executive director, insights and applied improvisation, Second City Works), Anne Libera (director of comedy studies, The Second City), and Bob Mankoff (cartoonist and former cartoon editor of The New Yorker), among others. 

The participants discussed a wide variety of topics relating to comedy and imagination, such as "Does being funny lead to happiness?," "Is laughter a necessary component of comedy?," and "Where does comedy come from?"

Dikkers, for example, believes comedy comes from practice and the desire to put in the work for it.

“It’s not magic,” Dikkers said. “It didn't come out of nowhere. [Comedians] developed it and they practiced it, and they became masters. When you do something…if you do it for 10
years obsessively, you're going to be a master. I’ve seen that over and over with people.” 

Dikkers' philosophy is that "consistent practice can create talent," and there are two myths about comedy.

"The first myth of comedy is that the genius sits down and writes brilliant comedy without (first writing) 19 jokes that failed," Dikkers said. "The second myth is completion, that the people who succeed in comedy are the ones with the talent. Not true. The people who succeed in comedy are the ones who complete it.”

Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program and performs with .f.a.c.e. and the ’95 Bulls.