“Analysis of an Inappropriate Story” By Meili Chao

“I see the arts in general and storytelling in particular as extensions of animal play. Play helps animals refine key behavior that they can try out in relatively safe circumstances before they try it out in the wild. Because it’s an advantage to do this, to try these things out in safe circumstances, over time evolution has selected to make it more and more pleasurable, more and more compulsive, and I think that’s what storytelling is like for us. Its compulsive. 

-University of Aukland Professor Brian Boyd

Spotlight On Storytelling: Ellen Fultz

Spotlight On Storytelling: Ellen Fultz

We sit down and speak with Dallas Comedy House's Storytelling student and part of the new "Gettin' It" cast Ellen Fultz. Ellen talks about how storytelling opened her up to the strength in vulnerability and guesses the backstory of a fellow coffee shop dweller. Along with storytelling, she can predict your future and foretells that in eight months I will encounter a "nice guy" who will creep his way into my facebook, heart and a seat at my thanksgiving dinner table. This message is for you blondie - if you can't eat jell-o with chopsticks, don't bother. Ellen, we wish you a lot of fun, laughter and frustrating transaction scenes in your upcoming Improv One class. 

"Spotlight On Storytelling" By Meili Chao

 "Spotlight On Storytelling" By Meili Chao

We sit down with instructors, Julia Cotton and Devon Kodzis, to discuss Dallas Comedy House's new course Storytelling. A breathe of fresh air in a world of monotonous anecdotes and suffocating moments when you find yourself trapped listening to words fall out of a face hole that relay a story so horrifically dull that it contains no beginning, middle, end, plot, twist, sneeze, character, snack break or even a remnant of any act that could be mistaken for something significant or better yet something worth retelling. Storytelling is a course that breaks down the structure of what makes a good story and the transformative process that we all undergo in the day to day stories that make up our lives.

"Comedy Debut: How to Get Started in the Funny Business" by Shashana Pearson-Hormillosa

So you want to try your hand at comedy, but don’t know where to start? Here are five steps to take to get you to the laughs.

1) Go see shows.To find the style of comedy that suits you the most—improv, stand-up, sketch, or a combination—you first have to see the varying types and styles. Fortunately for you, Dallas Comedy House (DCH) has all three types on rotation from Tuesday through Saturday each week. Check out the DCH monthly calendar to find something you’d like to see.

Bonus: Free shows happen weekly, too! Check out the free King of the Mountain show on Wednesday nights and the free Improv Playground on Thursday nights.

2) Go to a free Jam or Open Mic.Now that you’ve seen a few shows, you’re probably thinking, “Hey! I can do that! That looks easy and oh-so fun!” Well give it a go at a Tuesday night Jam. Improv Jams are come as you are, do as you do. They require no sign up and everyone can participate, from the passerby off the street to the seasoned performer. Open Mics require a bit more forethought: You must sign up by midnight the Sunday before and you must have three-to-five minutes of prepared material. Both are a great way to practice what you’ve got.

3) Take a free class.What, more free stuff? Yes! (We don’t want you to be held back from your dreams.) DCH offers a free improv class on the last Wednesday of each month. You don’t have to sign up, and you don’t have to know what you’re doing. You just have to show up and be willing to have fun.

4) Take more classes and learn to write your own material.After you’ve narrowed your focus to the style of comedy that you prefer, it’s time to get really focused and dedicate yourself to learning the craft. New courses begin monthly, including the upcoming Summer Improv Intensive for adults and Summer Camp for Kids. Classes meet weekly and culminate in a showcase of student work. Internships and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Courses include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

Improv: Learn how to get out of your head, think at the height of your intelligence, to listen, and to trust. Improv is a great way to improve your performance, your relationships, and your life.

Stand-up & Storytelling: Everyone has a story to tell. These classes will help you fine-tune your story in an easy-to-relay format fit for performance. Stand-up classes will help you write and polish a five-to-10 minute set, while storytelling helps you write and perform your personal narrative.

Sketch writing: These courses will show you how to take a character and build a story around them. Courses start with crafting for the stage and then, ultimately, for the screen. Prerequisites are required for all classes.

5) Perform, perform, perform! Each course culminates in a performance of some kind. These performances are gentle introductions in a safe environment to being on stage and putting your material out there. Take advantage of these opportunities to challenge yourself to be bolder each time you step out. Beyond the class showcases, DCH also offers several other opportunities to perform, from submitting a show to auditioning for King of the Mountain or being in an Ewing Troupe (DCH’s own improv method).

There are plenty of ways to hone your comedy skills, in and outside of the classroom. The very first step for all of them: Just show up.

Shashana Pearson-Hormillosa is a current student at DCH. She spends her days wrangling children, avoiding housework, and hustling for acting or writing gigs. One day she’ll make her life easier by changing her name to Shashana O’Shanahan.

(Top photo credit: David Allison. Bottom photo credit: Ryan Robins)