We all gravitate to improv for different reasons. Some of us are “the funny one” in our friend group. Some of us need an alternative to Toastmasters. Some of us just like the positive atmosphere. Whatever your motivation for getting involved with improv, the sense of acceptance and community imbued in the art form encourages most people to continue.
I learned about long-form improvised comedy in college. I spectated for a couple years and eventually began performing myself. I loved the support and silliness that accompanied every show and hang out. Improv became a major part of my identity and the primary recipient of my time and effort.
When I moved to Dallas last summer, I was acquainted with exactly zero people. It was just my girlfriend and me. I had no job, no friends, and no vehicle. I couldn’t speak to my credit score, but I felt like the target audience for a used car radio commercial. Despite a lack of professional direction, I knew my tribe. I sought out an improv venue within the first two weeks of transplantation: Dallas Comedy House (DCH).
After attending a couple of jams and while awaiting the start of the next class term, I found myself asking, “How can I get more of this sweet, sweet juice?” A kindly instructor pointed me to the intern program. By working at the theater once a week, you can get your class tuition comped. As a then-practicing “stay at home dude,” I found that arrangement ideal. However, after starting the internship, I discovered the benefits extended well beyond monetary savings.
Interning requires you spend an additional night of the week at DCH. Finding availability in your schedule is difficult, sure, but if you love improv, giving your time to it is the best way to learn. As an intern, you’ll get to seat the theaters and watch veteran troupes put on a show as part of your job. You’ll get to know the performers, and they’ll get to know you. You may even meet future teammates and coaches while at work.
Plus — and this is going to sound corny — you develop a sense of ownership while working at the theater. I take pride in ensuring that the night runs smoothly. It’s part of my responsibility. That’s what makes DCH feel like a community and not just a comedy club. You know the owners. You know the performers. That’s rare. That’s cool.
I’m starting my third term as a night intern, and the first as a house manager. I’ve met so many awesome people as part of this program that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to know. I don’t claim that interning is all sunshine and lollipops. Yes, sometimes you have to clean a bathroom or tell someone to be quiet, but there’s also a Fight Club-y, blue collar, greaser sort of understanding among the interns. We didn’t just buy our way through classes, we worked.
Whether it’s the fraternity, the social benefits, or the free class, there are a host of reasons to intern at DCH. As a newcomer to Dallas, the program has helped me feel at home.
Internship Applications for Term 2 are due on Sunday, January 31, and can be found online at http://dchbackstage.com.
Danny Neely is currently a Level 3 student at DCH. He works part time at a bakery and another part of the time as a freelance writer. You can see him at the theater as one-fifth of the troupe Coiffelganger or as one-oneth of the Wednesday night house manager.