The Year in Comedy

Photo: Phillip Allen
The Naughty Bits, an offspring of Pegasus Theatre


Amy Martin wraps up the changing and growing local comedy and variety scene in North Texas in 2015, from stand-up to improv to sketch to circus.

published Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dallas — As spotty as my comedy attendance was this year, one thing is clear: Dallas is undergoing a circus renaissance. The monthly Hopped Up on Goofballs show from veteran clowns Slappy and Monday of NY Goofs, joins upstart Circus Freaks’ dinner show Salmagundi and theater offerings, making their first appearance in the Festival of Independent Theatres this year.

Relieved of their home in the Lakewood Theater, Viva Dallas Burlesque opened a club in the Design District for circus and burlesque acts. And it’s bound to continue with annual circus training called Maymester offered at University of North Texas’ and all year long by Lone Star Circus, who just enjoyed a successful run of their annual big show.

Photo: Robert Hart/TheaterJones
Tiffany Riley and Dick Monday



Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie continues to be a less than optimal venue for comedy, as the Wayne Brady show in February did attest. Worked better for Bob Newhart in July, who came with a big jazz band. North Texas needs a less sprawling, more focus, mega venue for comedy. The upcoming Live Nation complex in Irving may oblige.

Dallas City Performance Hall, on the other hand, worked great for Paula Poundstone in January and Maz Jobrani — modern acts in a modern hall. Remarkable to think of senior comedy star Jeanne Robertson having started at the now defunct Lakewood Theater and not that any years later headlining at the Winspear in March.

Barely making it before the end of 2015, Hyena’s Comedy Nightclub opened up a third location in Plano. The new club hosts the highly unusual Sklar Brothers in March.


Festival Scene

Jason Philyaw raved about his time at Dallas Comedy Festival, now in the Dallas Comedy House’s new location on Main.

Alternative Comedy Theater came out of their slumber, kicked butt at Out of the Loop Fringe Festival in March. Big Sexy Weekend of Improv was a fun success. The fest is comfortable at the Magnolia Theater in Fair Park.

The Oddball Comedy & Oddity Festival concluded its 2015 tour at Gexa Energy Pavilion in Fair Park—on the last day of the Texas State Fair. Parking and traffic was a congested mess. Of all the performers, took the audience to unexpected places right up to the edge.



Photo: Jason Hensel
Law and Order: The SVUsical

Dallas Comedy House continued to deepen its sketch comedy offerings with Law and Order: The SVUsical in the summer, and a few more throughout the fall.

Pegasus Theatre auteur Kurt Kleinmann merged with talent orbiting the Nouveau 47 world, including talented theater funny man Chad Cline and humorous wordsmith Jim Kuenzer. The Naughty Bits Players were the witty offspring of this unholy union, debuting in August at the Bath House Cultural Center.

The Band, an improv-sketch-musical comedy troupe, pulled off some sweet shows this spring at the Richardson Theatre Centre.


Stand-Up Situation

Photo: Anya Garrett
Baron Vaughn

Amphibian Stage Productions in Fort Worth, known for its thoughtful theater, hosted stand-up Baron Vaughan and packed the house. He’ll return next September for a residency. A planned comedy series in 2016 includes the man of voices Kyle Kinane (February 23), the wonderfully weird Ryan Singer (May 20-21), Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre mainstay Emily Maya Mills (June 2-3), geek goddess Jackie Kashian (June 10 -11).

The creation of North Texas comedy beyond the urban comedy club continued. Denton Comedy Collective, LoL at HoB, monthly stand-up series Brew-HaHa, Behind the Screen at Texas Theater, and Blackbox Comedy at Sunshine Bar and other locations — all good things. Ditto with On the Spot at The Sanctuary and Four Funny Females in McKinney.