Megaphone Marathons: Houston, Day 2

The second day of the Megaphone Marathons in Houston went off without a hitch. Earlier in the day, improvisers got together at the St. Arnold Brewery to try a beer or two from their wide array of selections. Little did I know this is a place where people took their lawn chairs and their kids and play skip-bo. You know, a typical Saturday for these folks. The fatigue of watching so many improv shows is always a factor, so bear with me. Anyways, here is the day two recap from this past weekend:

Starting off the night tonight was Checkbook (Austin) who recently traveled to New York for the Del Close Marathons. These five lovely young ladies start off with the suggestion of a compliment somebody received was “You remind me of Matilda from the books”. Immediately I knew this was going to be great. Everybody did a monologue of a character they would introduce throughout the set and of course it was an all-womens english boarding school. “Dildo person”, who wasn’t even a member of the school, has to take her clothes off to fix things, but Rose the Red Barton the school bully abused this fact by constantly breaking things. Not cool, Rosie.

Next up was superteam Ideal Boy (Houston) who just blew me away seeing them for the first time. These guys OPENED THEIR SET WITH A CD RELEASE. How badass is that? Scenes included stereotypes against lesbians (played by two dudes), a stellar good cop/bad cop played by both the accusers and Shyla, who denied offing her mom’s head. A bear did it instead. Also, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for endowing people to not have certain limbs. Buy their cd (don’t think it’s online yet).

Lucy (Austin) had an intriguing set highlighted by Atticus Rowe blowing everyone away by playing somebody just back from the war and singing a great impromptu “Proud to be an American.” Riding that post 4th of July power, Lucy pulled away.

The two-person Opposites (Austin) opens their sets in avant garde fashion playing trippy music and exclaiming why they are opposite of each other in every aspect. What ensued was an entertaining story wherein Patrick Knisely’s problem with oversized shirts and shoes and belts at Old Navy because they were cheap was remedied. Also, watch out for duck people and resumes.
Blink (Houston) met the Beatles, who weren’t the actual band, but something sexual. Apparently the secret service doesn’t like you instagramming the White House. Yeah for instagram for making it into a scene and yeah for blink for having a really good set.

It was getting a little late and people were a little tired, but surprise group Brown Like Me (Austin, New Orleans) came on stage and blew everybody away. Their opener made fun of the stereotypical racial scenes you might expect from two people with a much lesser level of intelligence than C.J. Hunt and Vanessa Gonzalez who help run the New Orleans and Austin theaters respectively. They both claim to be from Brown University, which is close to be being completely true. Scenes included a mailman and a woman with big popeye muscles both dreaming big dreams about moving to Hollywood. Another awesome scene involved C.J. picking up Vanessa at a coffee shop by knowing what her typical, very odd, orders were while she couldn’t make choices for the life of her.
BirkRich (Houston) were a two-girl troupe who played a couple people in a bandito gang. We also learned that people become vegan by watching the Walking Dead and that you can be traumatized by the game Mousetrap growing up.

The Bat (Austin, Houston, New Orleans) was formed during the Improv Wins conference this past January and is comprised of people from all three cities. The opening suggestion of a pleasant sounding word was “orgasm”, which is a bit dangerous if you think about it. You either have to go all the way with that suggestion or be completely clean. This was a mix of both, but always coming back to a sweet porno scene.

Abstract Rainbow (Austin) is a puppet variety show and Patrick played puppets as members of his wife Erica’s family and you know how family members can be.

Juicebox (Austin, New Orleans) were Reagan, Allen, and Chris Trew and they had a tough time painting Allen for a still painting because he wouldn’t stop opening his mouth. Don’t people understand how portraits work?

Butchershop Quartet (Austin) had one of the best sets of the night. Justin Strackany gave a great intro talking the team down, when they would actually really step it up. The four men were all rocket scientists working on a love potion, but also dealing with the realities of it being a dangerous thing you don’t want to mess with. Harsh past relationships were had to be dealt with, including a “science prom” gone completely wrong and a floozy servant of a mad scientist turning out to actually be a man.

Then the weird short one-off shows started…

DOA (Houston) must have done well considering it’s members, but I can’t read anything in my notes at this point.

Bird Dog (Houston, Austin) was an incredible group of Shyla and Megan Simon, who started off their set with a beautiful conversation talking about cute things like what their favorite movies were. Then the first scene starts with the line “Well this baby isn’t going to abort itself!” Megan also lied about wanting to fuck a cat and a broom closet conversation entailed the question “Have you ever let a guy eat you out while on your period?” by Shyla. I almost gave this set a standing ovation.

To close out the night was Vaudeprov (Houston), the vaudeville improv team. The mainstay in these super weird night cappers is Matt Gawloski who was born  for this role as a vaudeville improviser. Things got crazy on a blimp and he got hit by a pie. Also, pants were coming off for some reason. Couldn’t end the night better.

Houston was great. Austin and New Orleans have a high rope to jump

Megaphone Marathons 3: Day One

The first leg of the 2012 Megaphone Marathons took place July 13-14 at the Frenetic Theater in Houston, TX. The importance of this weekend is not to be understated. Houston is the newest member of the New Movement flag, which has already established themselves in Austin and New Orleans. In arguably the biggest improv festival that Houston has ever seen up to this point, Houston impressed with an array of performers looking to take their comedy to the next level. 28 troupes from all three cities. Two days. Ten hours of improv. Totally worth it. Here is my recap of day one of the marathons, which was anything but unlucky for taking place on Friday the 13th (no jokes were made about this, thank you.)To start off the night was the troupe Heroes of Milkton (Houston), which happened to be the first graduating class of TNM Houston. They started off with eight different monologues to gain information to form scenes with1. It definitely was a smart way to open a show broadcasting Houston talent. The scenes ranged from people trying to buy balls at Walmart early in the morning and Ripley himself re-thinking his “believe it or not” campaign.

Next to step it up early in the night were the Sticky Boys (Austin), who put on a montage while also trying to bring in information from the previous scene to the next. Scenes included dueling dinosaur exhibits heightened to a Live Nudes exhibit and a jump rope competition gone seriously wrong. Jump roping evolved to ribbon twirling and then to stick and hoop games. Towards the end of the show Andy DeVoe was calling Rob Gagnon from in jail. Kevin Jacobson yelled in a voice that could have been Rob’s mom, but Andy claimed it as one of the people in jail waiting to use the phone. Eventually, the voice became synonymous for both people which made for a delightful scene.

Laser Heart (Austin) had a super absurd set talking about sherbert, while also playing characters with brand names like “North Face” as their actual names. The ending scene featured two split scenes of awkward exchanges, leaving Reagan Ward to play two characters having a profoundly awkward conversation with a former sex hookup.

Rogue (Houston) did a speed Harold, which is a type of Harold more accessible to a general audience. It went smoothly with scenes about cowboys hitting on each other and Antoine trying to abduct people, which seems to be a theme recently.

Chris and Tami (New Orleans) are the dang founders of The New Movement so their shows are always a must-watch. Chris started off as an abusive grandfather that only gave his granddaughter goldfish crackers in water (eww) to eat and had a video of grandma and him doing it ready to show at any moment. The next scene was a daycare sequence where the kids sent letters cut and pasted from magazines (like serial killers do) to a wife being cheated on by a dental-obsessed person. Various love scenes occurred, the backwards N in the Nine Inch Nails was referenced. This show was definitely more fulfilling than beating Mario 2.

Up to bat next was the TNM Training Camp (Houston) and they had some solid scenes after working extremely hard on their crafts the past few days. Highlights included running dog obstacles for humans, Jim Meyers purposely mixing up “I like Predator, too” with “I like Predator 2″ (horrible movie), and Evan O’Neil wishing he wasn’t awkward or ugly just so that aliens would abduct him.

One half of Disco Box (Austin), Ariel Greenspoon and Christina Parrish, injected the crowd with a shot of adrenaline with their opener; they affected an air of badassness in front of the audience and called their other two troupe members ‘pussies’ for not showing up to the Houston marathons. These two rising stars out of TNM Austin started off with a very serious crime scene and every scene elevated leading to a lab scene chock full of sexual tension while trying to deal with evidence.

Veteran performers Handbomb (Austin) brought the craziness with an opening scene about collecting diabetes and synesthesia, so you could catch them all?? Cool. Eating coconuts and bananas? Check. There was also something about a kitten god? Got it. Oh and there was a pretty sweet good cop bad cop scene in there somewhere.

Wolf Cry (Houston) started off with a ‘Would You Rather’ game to start the scene, which is a really fun way to do it. This was actually the (soon to be) 2nd graduating class of Houston and there was a lot of energy and tumbling around during a circus scene these guys really put their body on the line for their craft.

Fematoma (Houston) was the first team to win a Main Event in Houston. Lisa Friedrich was a child medium that drew very creepy pictures that were all true. There was also the most disgusting scene I’ve seen that has taken place at a catering business. I’ve worked in catering before, so this hit lose to home. Awesome all-girl troupe.

Spirit Desire (Austin) is on their last month farewell tour after being one of Austin’s premiere troupes for years. These guys just have fun on stage. The opening took place all over the stage and space available in the theater. This set included: shadow puppets, penguin slides, ninja turtles slides and ninja turtle weapon use. Being one step past meta about scenes and actually entering the audience at one point, Spirit Desire continues to push the envelope of what improv can be every time you see them.

Three groups at the end had about 10 minutes each closed out the night.

Tin Hats (Houston) opened their scenes with musical sequences, which I found amazing. Great set.

Dress (Houston, Austin) dressed their scenes, calling out the environment before starting, every scene. Matt Graham was using some fancy words in odd ways and Brady James chimed in with the best line of the night: “Did you get that from the word of the day calendar you got at the Denny’s Christmas party?”

Jousting Bieber (Houston) closed out the night2 in fashion wearing fancy jackets and hats and talking in British accents. I had no idea what was going on at this point of the night, but it really worked.

Overall, it was about as solid as of a night as you could have had to start the 3rd annual Megaphone Marathons.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. ed note: Heroes of Milkton performs The Eric Hungerford
  2. Nearly 2:00 in the morning

Dallas Comedy Festival 2012: The Recap

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve returned from the 2012 Dallas Comedy Festival and after processing and assimilating everything I saw and did, I can safely say this is a festival not to be missed any time it comes around.

The festival brought in superstar acts from around the country, including Los Angeles titans FrankenMatt and Dasariski, but featured a healthy dose of homegrown talent to send the message that Dallas is a breeding ground for great comedy.

Due to a rampant illness that struck the Dallas Comedy House the week before the festival, the organizers had to be quick on their feet to fill canceled slots in each night. From my vantage point, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it forced them to fill the stage with the hungrier talent they have at their disposal and truly represent the broad variety that improv and sketch allows.

My favorite show of the festival remains DCH’s fledgling puppet improv troupe Commerce Street. Filling the roster with improvisers of every experience level, each a newcomer to puppets, Commerce Street mastermind Sarah Nolen has created a solid show that I can easily see touring the country to great success. A seduction scene involving a human male and a horned purple puppet in a hoodie had me rolling when I suddenly realized the puppet had somehow succeeded in gazing at the human with bedroom eyes.

The touring acts were pretty enjoyable as well. I have spent the majority of this past week rocking out to the songs of the Shock T’s, a Chicago three-person acoustic rock act full of brutally hilarious honesty. Their song “Dude, Come On,” in which they lament the closeted lifestyle of one of their friends, is the coming out anthem of century.

Aforementioned headliners FrankenMatt and Dasariski were quite possibly the best combination of acts I’ve seen in traveling festivals. The benefit of these festivals, in my mind, is the opportunity to learn from seeing how others practice the craft. I don’t think I’ve benefitted more from seeing two shows than I have from seeing these acts. Each one was a clinic in yes and, slow play, trust and fun.

With the benefit of these tours came the opportunity for workshops. The writing workshop I took with Matt Craig was a huge piece in the puzzle of sketch comedy for me, speaking to the principles of my own writing background and getting me thinking along the lines of what clicks for my sense of humor. The initiations workshop I took with Kyle Austin and Chad Haught was a wonderful refresher on one of the most important basics of improvisation.

Not to lag in other departments, comedy veteran Landon Kirksey succeeded in assembling two nights of top shelf stand-up to start the festival off in great fashion. Witty and enjoyable acts like Shane Estep, Paul Varghese and Michele Benson were well balanced with explosive characters like Fonzo Crow, Brad LaCour and Nic Pozderac. According to Kirksey, the majority of the lineup was comprised of comics that regularly attend DCH’s weekly open mic, which goes to show the kind of talent that Dallas is currently working with.

An unpretentious event, the Dallas Comedy Festival holds its own with some of the better festivals I’ve seen so far. It was a friendly atmosphere that drew healthy and supportive crowds every evening and epitomized all that improv, sketch and stand-up can be. In the words of Craig Cackowski during Sunday’s Q&A panel, “If we’re ever going back to any six letter city starting with D, it’s Dallas.”

Phoenix Improv Festival: To Make Them Stay

I think it would be super cool to make my living improvising and teaching others to do it.

This is really hard. This is really simple.

To make a career out of improv you have to

1.       Be a good improviser.
2.       Find LOTS of people who want to watch improv and learn how to do it.
3.       Make those people stay.

Last night, I’m sitting in the balcony of the beautiful (and BIG) Herberger Theatre in downtown Phoenix. I’m delighting in the improvisation of some wonderful local troupes at what was the opening of the 11th Phoenix Improv Festival.

I see this theatre full of people who want to watch improv. I see The Foundation take the stage. They are the teaching faculty from The Torch Theatre (Phoenix). They are 10 people strong.

I’ve got to know how they’ve got so many people teaching – possibly making their living doing this thing we love. They must have lots of people taking classes and coming to shows!

The national improv community loves to stand around, talk about improv and be friends just as much as our local improv communities.

I’m chatting with one of The Torch instructors, Sam Haldiman. I point out that their faculty is large. The crowd at the festival is large. I asked why he thought improv students continue to take classes. What makes people keep doing it.

Fittingly surrounded by the sights and sounds of people genuinely enjoying one another, Sam told me he thought most people were initially attracted by the chance to learn how to do something cool, but being a part of a community is what makes them stay.

I look around at all these people being open to one another and laughing together. I know this is true.

– Matt Graham

Dallas Comedy Festival 2012: Day Six

The final night of the 2012 Dallas Comedy Festival was a relaxed evening of performances that was a simple thesis of all that had been celebrated over the week of improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy presented at the Dallas Comedy House.

[pullquote_left] The Sunday atmosphere lent a sense of camaraderie to the audience, comprised mostly of people who performed and regularly attended the previous festival days. Many were tired but content, dropping all pretension to have a fun time on the stage.[/pullquote_left]

The evening got off to an early start with a live Q&A panel with the festival’s headliners, Los Angeles groups FrankenMatt and Dasariski. The five veterans espoused on playing philosophy, their goals in the workshops that they taught during the festival and personal reasons for doing improv.

The night then moved to improv with two short sets with FrankenMatt and Dasariski and then a jam of the two playing together. Sitting in the audience, I learned tricks that I can’t wait to try out in my own play.[pullquote_right] Once again, as with the Dasariski set on Saturday and the FrankenMatt sketch show on Friday, it played out like an improv clinic. Choices that younger improvisers wouldn’t dream of making were the norm on stage, effortlessly executing their artform to the highest of its fun and sense of play.  [/pullquote_right]

In all, it was a great end to an overall solid festival. Stay tuned to this website for a recap article and interviews with performers coming later this week. Follow @ImprovWins on Twitter for live updates from around the improv world and always remember that Improv Wins.

Dallas Comedy Festival 2012: Day Five

Saturday night’s lineup at the 2012 Dallas Comedy Festival packed a variety of sketch and improv troupes from Dallas, New Orleans, Phoenix and Chicago into the Dallas Comedy House for dynamic shows that kept the 75 seat theater in Deep Ellum buzzing with energy.

Due to technical difficulties, the planned screening of Bryan Hickey’s winning submission in the festival’s short film contest was canceled. He received special recognition before the final show and his film is currently available for viewing on the Dallas Comedy House YouTube page.

The night kicked off with Kyle Austin and Andrew Hamer’s two man show Kyle and Drew, a Dallas Comedy House mainstay. They came out playing with hula hoops to set the tone for a playful show that was high on physical comedy, with Austin precariously balanced on Hamer’s back to simulate skydiving at one point. As amazing as this was, however, their character choices were unremarkable and they did not seem to be pushing themselves to the height of their potential.

Phoenix based two man troupe Galapagos appeared next with a show that suffered from some improv pitfalls. It was a series of strangely strung together 80’s pop culture references that, while some were wonderfully inventive, failed to adequately ground the show.

[pullquote_right]The first timeslot closed with touring Chicago sketch show The Union. The husband and wife duo put together a playful and punchy experience centered on relationships. It was a tongue and cheek sitcom brought to life on stage.[/pullquote_right]

The night finally saw the festival debut of founder and organizer Amanda Austin, who was the latest victim in a flu epidemic that kept her absent all week. Her three woman group, Local Honey, opened the second timeslot of the evening with solid, balanced character pieces that were quite enjoyable to watch.

Apollo 12, the second group from Phoenix, received laughs from their amazing physicality but ultimately failed to captivate due to a lack of strong choices.

The second show was headed up by Stupid Time Machine from The New Movement New Orleans. Their set was consistent, relaxed and heavy on play, a showing that has come to be expected from the four person powerhouse of the NOLA comedy scene.

The third slot of the night opened with an energetic performance from Dallas Comedy House staple Victory Point. It was a bittersweet show for the group as it marked the final performance of Dallas Comedy House co-founder Clay Barton, who is moving to California. They made sure his send-off was an appropriately strong appearance, having fun like they have for years and keeping the packed house enthralled.

The final show of the evening was three man Chicago powerhouse Dasariski, who proceeded to run what sports fans would call a clinic in masterful improvisation. There were a few times in their hour long set that I thought there could be no way for them to continue raising the stakes, but they blasted through my perceptions to create avenues I couldn’t believe existed. I walked away from that show having learned something about this amazing craft and how to make myself better at it.[pullquote_left] After the show ended, the scene degenerated into a raucous flip cup tournament that proved to be some of the most fun I’ve had since joining the improv world. As an even more fitting end, the team with Clay Barton on it took home the trophy. [/pullquote_left]

Saturday night contained a few sour notes in the lineup, but maintained the overall level of fun and play that I’ve come to associate with this festival at this point. Tonight starts off with a panel discussion, followed by FrankenMatt and Dasariski playing in an all-star show. For more info, visit and follow @ImprovWins for updates from the floor.

Dallas Comedy Festival 2012: Day Four

Friday night was a great mix of improv and sketch from around the country as a packed and supportive house cheered the performers at the 2012 Dallas Comedy Festival.

The night kicked off with Opposites, a two man group from The New Movement Austin. They played a slow and patient set, routinely switching characters and creating scenes with heavy use of the straight/absurd dynamic.

Ape Rally followed with a fun set full of unexpected choices, leading to several flips and parodies of accepted social norms that garnered big laughs from the healthy crowd.

The first slot closed out with Villain: The Musical, a four person musical improv group from Oklahoma City that explored the journey of a man down the path of evil. They played tight and kept their universe cohesive, creating an epic story that earned them a standing ovation.

The second timeslot, due to an illness that caused billed opener Manick to cancel, was opened up by Atlantic/Pacific Billy. They played with all the exuberance of a younger troupe, having a lot of fun on stage and pushing themselves to make strong choices.

[pullquote_left] Shock T’s, a three person music show from Chicago, barely gave the audience time to breathe before attacking the stage with a hilarious set of songs. There show is what I imagine Dashboard Confessional would sound like with a sense of humor. They sold merch after the show and I left that night with some of their songs on a USB drive. I’m actually listening to it while I’m writing this. [/pullquote_left]

Pavlov’s Dogs headlined with a comfortable, professional set that is to be expected of a group with ten-plus years of experience playing together. They transitioned scenes and time dashed almost effortlessly for a seamless performance that kept me hooked.

The final slot of the night started with Dallas Comedy House Friday night regulars Roadside Couch. If I ever find myself in Dallas on a Friday, this is a must see for sure.

[pullquote_right] The night closed out with FrankenMatt, a Los Angeles based two man group consisting of Frank Caeti and Matt Craig, performing their sketch show American Imperil. The show was a send-up of American political hypocrisy and public ennui that had the audience whistling and cheering. The show was one of the tightest I’ve ever seen and I would watch it again in a heartbeat if given the chance.[/pullquote_right]

This festival shows no sign of slowing down as we move into Saturday night’s shows. For more info, visit and follow @ImprovWins on Twitter for live updates from the audience.

Dallas Comedy Festival 2012: Day Three

Thursday night kicked off the improv and sketch portion of the 2012 Dallas Comedy Festival with solid performances from teams that ran the full spectrum of improv styles and formats.

Every troupe was at the top of its game, performing to an energetic and supportive crowd that packed the Dallas Comedy House in Deep Ellum for all three shows. The night featured acts from Dallas/Ft. Worth, Oklahoma City, and Chicago.

I misremembered the start time of the shows and made it into the theater just in time to see all-female short form group Heroine Addiction take the stage. They executed their games with a nice pace that kept me interested and their wordplay was suitably clever. A few sour notes came from a lack of listening, but they covered admirably and had a great time on stage.

MiDolls, a self-described “Old Lady Improv Troupe” from Oklahoma City, took the stage next and passed out candy to the audience members. They based their show at a high school reunion and each character exemplified one of the seven deadly sins. They had some enjoyable moments and clever lines that kept the crowd rolling, but got a little bogged down by their respective sins which kept them from deepening their characters’ dimensions.

[pullquote_left] The closer of the first show was Franzia, a four person monoscene troupe based out of the Dallas Comedy House. Their show at a dentist’s office was stacked with great character choices and ended with a flip that left my mouth wide open.[/pullquote_left]

Due to an illness, the sketch show Call Waiting had to be canceled, so their slot was filled by three tremendous groups with unique styles that had me spitting up in my Deep Ellum Cherry Chocolate Double Brown Stout (which is a local craft beer you need to try).

Gangs of Recess performed an experimental Harold with the finesse of a team that knows each other well. Their organics and group games were some of the best I’ve seen and their connections were top rate. I particularly enjoyed a callback involving a pair of 33 year old brothers put in time out by an overbearing and omniscient father.

Samurai Drunk showcased an aggressive energy and played it to ultimate satisfaction. A situation involving a talking carrier pigeon relaying messages between rival tailgate parties was one of the night’s most inventive scenes.

Commerce Street closed out the second timeslot with a puppet improv show that had me in stitches. I have never seen puppet improv before and heard a great deal about it, but it blew away all my expectations. My favorite scene of the night came from a saucy French puppet wooing a coy man by comparing him to wheat bread.

[pullquote_right]Following the improv rule of heightening, the third show of the night pulled out all the stops and tore the roof off the Dallas Comedy House, proving again that improv wins. [/pullquote_right]

Li’l Mister Dallas kicked things off with a living room opening that set them up nicely to create a fun and connected show.

Oklahoma City’s Twinprov came next with a hip-hop show about physics that, as they promised, blew my mind. They freestyled at a breakneck pace and covered every small detail of the subject matter, leading to an act that was nearly impossible to follow up.

Luckily, they were being followed by The Outfit, a five person group from Chicago that exemplified a tight and punchy show. The Outfit has two members from Dallas who helped start the Dallas Comedy House, so it was partially a homecoming for them and they nailed it.

If Thursday night is any indicator, there is a lot to look forward to for the rest of the festival. Today starts with afternoon workshops (of which I will be taking one) before three more shows starting at 7pm. For more info, visit and follow @ImprovWins on Twitter for live updates from the audience.

Dallas Comedy Festival 2012: Day Two

Wednesday night was a subdued and relaxed affair as a mix of younger stand-up comedians and older guys trying out new material packed the stage of the Dallas Comedy House to a healthy crowd at the 2012 Dallas Comedy Festival.

The audience was quieter than Tuesday night’s sold out room of exuberant guests. Momentum was hard to come by as the comics hustled to earn their laughs, a trial by fire that separated the experienced from the inexperienced.

If I was to name the theme of Wednesday’s subject matter, it would be marriage. Almost every comic seemed to have a bit about marriage or long term relationships. [pullquote_right] Josh Johnson in particular had an interesting take, tackling the unique perspective of being a 22 year old divorcee and launching into a rant about nitpicking that was one of my favorites of the night.[/pullquote_right]

Andrew Hamer kicked the night off nicely with a warm and enjoyable set that had the relaxed group cheering. Nic Pozderac followed and won me over quickly as a representative of absurdist humor, heavy on puns and playing up a wacky lumberjack persona. If I had to name someone in Dallas I’d want to hang out at a bar with the most, it would be this guy.

The raunchier comics had a bit more trouble getting the audience on their side but powered through nicely and earned their share of appreciation. Brad LaCour compared to “shopping on the clearance aisle of life.” Chris Darden, after losing the crowd with a muddled and confusing masturbation innuendo, deftly won them back when he mournfully intoned that he was “sick of J-Date.”[pullquote_left] Linda Stogner was an interesting departure from the general lineup of jaded young people with a decidedly traditional routine that showcased her decades in comedy. Her quaint naiveté and “gosh darn” delivery made me think of what would happen if Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire had a goofy niece. [/pullquote_left]

Tom Devenport, a Dallas native currently living in California, had a strong set that played on cultural differences and practical world outlooks that I enjoyed watching.

Chelsea Hood keenly keyed into the core of her personality to create a likeable set that felt like hanging out with your funniest high school friends.

The headliner of the evening, Dave Little, was a bit of a disappointment. At the beginning of the night, I was told by host Landon Kirksey and many others that Little is one of the funniest people in the Dallas comedy scene. However, he chose to fill his set with new material that had not been workshopped, leading to a mediocre performance that he sardonically called out, lightly harassing the audience for “dropping the ball.” I have seen this sheepish acknowledgment of one’s own failure on stage countless times, but Little was unable to handle it gracefully and it made me slightly uncomfortable.

Veronica Elizabeth, the only true out-of-towner on the night’s lineup, was my personal overall favorite. Like most of the night’s comics, her set dedicated a huge portion to the idiosyncrasies of her love life, but she pulled it off with such a delightfully quirky style that I found myself smiling the whole time.

Though Wednesday night was not as strong as Tuesday’s kick-off, the Dallas Comedy Festival continued to bring laughs that were well worth the money spent. The week now turns to sketch and improv and shows no chance of slowing down the laugh rollercoaster. Be sure to follow @ImprovWins on Twitter for live updates as the festival continues, check back here for daily recaps and interviews and for scheduling and info visit

(NOTE: Yesterday’s article contained a slight error. The short film festival is being held on Saturday evening at 7:30pm before shows begin. Visit for more info.)