The 8th annual Dallas Comedy Festival at Deep Ellum's Dallas Comedy House will feature a mix of local and national standup, sketch and improvised comedy including, from left to top right, comedians such as James Adomian and Paul Varghese as well as the Improvised Shakespeare Company.
The 8th annual Dallas Comedy Festival at Deep Ellum's Dallas Comedy House will feature a mix of local and national standup, sketch and improvised comedy including, from left to top right, comedians such as James Adomian and Paul Varghese as well as the Improvised Shakespeare Company.
Courtesy of Dallas Comedy Festival

The 8th Annual Dallas Comedy Festival Starts Today — Here's Who You Should Check Out

The Dallas Comedy Festival has come a long way from its early days in Deep Ellum, even though it's only moved a quarter of a mile north from its original location on Commerce Street.

Eight years after the first festival, the Dallas Comedy House is holding this year's DCF in its new, bigger home on Main Street, which means more space to accommodate all the acts and a larger expected crowd.

"The first one was in the old DCH building, which just had one stage in a small theater," the festival's executive producer Maggie Austin says. "Now that small theater is just a little bit smaller than one of the stages we have at the theater we have now."

The eighth annual festival starts on Wednesday and will run through Saturday with live comedy performances by a number of returning stand-up comedians and comedy groups as well as some new faces who are headlining the festival for the first time.

Stand-up comedian and impressionist James Adomian and the Chicago improv troupe the Improvised Shakespeare Company will headline this year's festival. Adomian has appeared in numerous TV shows such as Drunk History, @midnight, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Children's Hospital as well some memorable episodes of the comedy podcast and IFC comedy series Comedy Bang! Bang!

Adomian was also one-half of the international Trump vs. Bernie comedy tour in 2016, in which he played Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for a series of mock debates, with comedian Anthony Atamanuik appearing as then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company has been performing on comedy club and theater stages around the country since their auspicious start in Chicago's improv comedy scene in 2005. The group crafts completely improvised plays that sound like they came straight from the Bard's lips using only a one-word suggestion from their audiences. They've performed off-Broadway in New York as well as at Bonnaroo, the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, the San Francisco Sketchfest, the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and the Upright Citizen Brigade's Del Close Marathon.

The festival will also feature an interesting mix of local and out-of-town comedy groups and comedians such as local favorites Paul Varghese, Saffron Herndon and Aaron Aryanpur, as well as the improv groups The Late 90s from Chicago and Heel Turn from Oklahoma City. The festival will also feature a return performance of DCH's Halloween sketch series Jason: A Campy Musical and Bulls on Parade.

"Because the Dallas Comedy House has grown as far as having improv, sketch and stand-up, we wanted to have improv, sketch and stand-up in our headliners," Austin says.

The festival also expanded to a third stage located in the lobby of DCH's training center, just a few doors down from their main stage location on Main Street. Austin says the comedy theater hopes the festival will eventually expand to more venues in Deep Ellum and beyond.

"Our goal ultimately is to be multi-venue and across Deep Ellum so this year, we're testing a third stage in the training center at the Dallas Comedy House," Austin says. "We're testing out what it looks like when people get their badges and the crowds have to wander out a little further than they have before."

Eighth Annual Dallas Comedy Festival, Wednesday, March 22, to Saturday, March 25, Dallas Comedy House, 3025 Main St. Passes are $99 to $289 at dallascomedyfestival.com. Visit the site the day of the show for info on pricing for individual show tickets.

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