A round-up of comedy venue news.
Hyena’s Now in Triplicate
The brothers Butler — Randy and Jim — of Hyena’s Comedy Nightclub are way too busy these days. At the Fort Worth location, the chain’s original spot, they closed the adjacent Queen City Music Hall and integrated that space into an enlarged, renovated, and rather colorful Hyena’s. There is a genuine lounge for waiting, rather than the usual holding pen, and the showroom is sleek and expansive. More bells and whistles all around, including a karaoke lounge, which is odd since stand-up is that rare performance form in which covering others material is forbidden. Re-opening was in early July.
In Dallas, the Mockingbird Station Hyena’s location continues to be cramped and uncomfortable. But a third location is scheduled to open in mid-September in Plano at Preston and Park Blvd. Because of Plano regulations, the location must be operated as a restaurant with an equal or more emphasis on food compared to alcohol. So the Hyena’s menu for Plano gets an upgrade, which is good news to hear.
So far the usual roster of stand-ups is scheduled to rotate through all three locations, often consequentially. Yes, you can see April Maycie, again and again and again. Here’s a tip: If you’re short on money, Thursday Shows are always free at Hyena’s and the Wednesday open mic at the Dallas location is often quite good.
Plano, Arlington and Fort Worth now have shiny, stand-up nightclubs. So why are the Dallas Improv and Hyena’s so stuck in the old musty, comedy-club style where patrons are fit into shoeboxes like sardines? Shouldn’t the Dallas clubs be showplaces? Or at least free of old-beer aroma?
Improving Improv: Dallas Comedy House moves and expands
Dallas Comedy House has expanded as well, moving in April from its Deep Ellum home of six years on Commerce to a larger location at 3025 Main near Hall. A second theater is being added, which grants greater flexibility to both the club and its annual festival. And more bathrooms! Very good news for us women.
The bar and longue area is larger and an upgrade in food is offered. A genuine side patio gives shape to the club’s gregarious insider scene that spilled out to the sidewalk at the last location. Classroom space for club expanded from two to four rooms to encompass their growing improv training program and increased emphasis on sketch comedy.
Having two theaters and more room for classes will be a boon to the Dallas Comedy Festival. “It definitely opens up opportunities for more programming,” says founder and director Amanda Austin, noting that all-access pass holders can now float between two theaters.
Prepping a five-day festival while relocating a club and school was daunting. “My mother insisted I up my vitamin C and B12,” said Austin. “So I did. I don’t want to get in trouble with mom!”
“More importantly,” said Austin, “there is an amazing team of people who work at DCH and help support from behind the scenes. It’s truly a community effort made up of so many great people who really embody the philosophy of support and group mind we teach in our curriculum.”
MidCities, Fort Worth on the Move & Eclectic Comedy Places in Dallas
Bringing greater variety to mid-cities and Fort Worth stand-up comedy is Blackbox Comedy, a production outfit run by Brian Breckenridge. Black Box presents shows in various venues, often at the Sunshine Bar in Arlington, but also Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios in Denton. Headliners range from local to national and even included punk comedy. The tour of Austin comics headlined by Mac Blake was epic. Keep up with Blackbox at their Facebook page.
Magnolia Comedy in Fort Worth has arisen to offer stand-up shows, sometimes in conjunction with Black Box. A recent show was at the eclectic and community minded Grotto. Also in Cowtown, Amphibian Stage Productions, a well-respected theater, offered two sold-out shows of stand-up by Baron Vaughn.
Also working Fort Worth and the mid-cities is Zingerz, a mobile operation. Their first event was a New Years Eve Laff Party at Fox & Hound in north Arlington with blind comedian Patrick DeGuire. They aim to fill the family-friendly niche.
In Dallas, Twilite Lounge in Deep Ellum continues to be a part-time comedy hotspot, as is the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff series called Behind the Screen, which really does happen behind the film screen. But the Amsterdam Bar closed, reducing the number of part-time comedy venues.
A good source of local comedy new is the DFW Comedians page at Facebook.