Comedy Beat: Sketch comedy on the rise, new improv, comic contests, stand-ups

From time to time through the year, we catch up on the local comedy beat. Here’s a look at summer and fall of 2014.

published Friday, December 5, 2014

Amy Martin catches up on the local comedy beat:



The gap between stand-up and improv is a big one, so the best development in North Texas comedy this year has been the rise of the sketch revue. Pocket Sandwich Theater has kept it alive in their late-night slot with musical comedy acts like Lollie Bombs, and Dysfunctional Divas, and the sketch antics of Lugo & Long. Now there are three more sketch comedy acts, including a youth group by Matt Lyle.

Dallas Comedy House unleashed sketch comedy classes upon their immense comedy pool. The result was the summer run of Charles Dicken’s Great! Expectations sketch revue and followed up by !Cambio, Cambio!

Also emerged this summer was The Band, drawing from the ranks of Fourth Wall Comedy, Ad-Libs, and Card 53, and produced by Jamey Whitley of the East Texas Comedy Festival. The spread of sketches, music, games and improvisation kicked off at Ozona this fall. Members include Chad Cline, Jason Folks, Dan Glaser, Bryan Hardy and Steve Hargrave, with Austin Day as musical director.

Debuting up this month is Matt Lyle’s House Party, a sketch comedy group arising from the Fun House Theatre pool of young actors, many of them also members of Unicorn Clearance, the youth improv troupe covered by TheaterJones earlier this year. Newly returned from a stint in Chicago, Lyle’s had deep training at The Second City. They plan on shows every 3 months. The first one, Adulthood, or How I Learned to Love Ken Burns, runs December 18 to 21 at Plano Children’s Theater. Look for a feature on House Party later this month.


Scoring Points in Stand-up  

The live show for the resurrected Last Comic Standing pulled through town, but without Nick Guerra, formerly of Dallas, who was cut during the semi-finals. Local comedian Dave Little hosted the tour’s pre-show meet-and-greet for high-dollar ticket buyers. TheaterJones review here. Guerra, “the little long-hared comic,” is now based in Los Angeles and has been a regular on several television shows.

The stealth version of Funniest Comic in Texas 2014 occurs throughout December at the Addison Improv. Contestants included Brandon Davidson and Saffron Herndon. Who else? Who knows!


Stand-up Round Up

Former Dallasites Done Good: Former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac, raised in Dallas and schooled at Jesuit College Preparatory, released his second video, Wyatt Cenac: Brooklyn. . . ABC renewed Cristela for a second season. McAllen native Cristela Alonzo cut her comedy teeth in Dallas. TheaterJones review. . .  Wild haired Dustin Ybarra, who also launched his comedy path here, has picked up yet another television gig, a role on Battle Creek on CBS.

Comedy Clubbing: Unique stand-ups that appeared at Dallas Comedy House included the musical Rachel Bloom of Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury, and skewed storyteller Chris Tellez, now based in Austin. . . The New Year’s Eve Backdoor Comedy Club will be headlined by Paul Varghese, with Aaron Aryanpur. and Linda Stogner also on the bill. . . The very successful Dallas Observer Comedy Crawl completed its second year. . . New for 2014 was Brew-HaHa, a comedy series at local breweries. . . Amsterdam Stand Up Comedy Revolt continues monthly at the Amsterdam Bar.

Stepping Out: Local comics at the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival included Christopher Darden, Josh Johnson and Clint Werth. TheaterJones review. . . Aaron Aryanpur performed in Dallas Screenwriters Association’s ScriptsLIVE! at the Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson. The event featured various folks participating in a live reading of the Back to the Future film script. . . North Texas stand-ups Aaron Aryanpur and Josh Johnson were included on the Fox series Laughs.



LockedOUT Comedy was accepted into the ComedySportz franchise and is now ComedySportz Dallas. Still based in Plano and family friendly, with classes at Addison Improv.

Now one year on the scene is Improv Dallas, headed up by Wendy Pennington, who trained with the Groundlings. Improv classes are offered, and the troupe features television, film and stage actors.

Dallas Comedy House presented the fun Big Shots, wherein comics and celebrities tell stories and improvisers bring them to life.

Recently unleashed is the all-woman LYLAS improv comedy group with Sarah Adams, Sarah Baston, Lauren Davis, Lindsay Goldapp, Tabitha Muhn, Maggie Rieth and Alicia Sherrod.

The new Frisco Improv Players present family-safe, game-based improv at the Frisco Discovery Center. . . Dallas Comedy House  has also ventured into early-hour, family-friendly improv based on elimination-style games and audience voting.


Festive Comedy 

Deadline for Dallas Comedy Festival improv, stand up, and sketch submissions is January 4, 2015. Lineup should be announced in late January. The festival happens March 25 to 28 at the Dallas Comedy HouseThanks For Reading