There have been open mics and showcases at places such as Twilite Lounge and touring comics have stopped in at Trees, but there hasn't been a space dedicated to live comedy since the fabled Dallas Comedy House left its Elm Street location over a year ago.
The new Dallas Comedy Club in DCH's last location officially opens on Wednesday under new owners Ian and Rosie Caruth, who offered an early preview last Thursday of the space and some of its star talent.
"We heard time and time again how excited people are and how much people value live comedy," Rosie says. "People want human connections and that connection isn't something you can get from a screen."
DCC's preview night included two shows on its main stage with performances by comedian Paul Varghese and the house improv troupe Jerry! as well as some musical improv comedy from Leslie Collins and Jeff Poteet on the club's patio space.
The true test of a new theater's launch is the vibe of the people who keep the shows running and the audiences returning, and DCC seems to be off to a rousing start.
"Performing in front of an audience for the first time in one-and-a-half years was both surreal and so fulfilling," says Tab Parker, a sketch teacher, performer and director at DCC who performs in the house improv troupe Jerry! "After the show, I was emotional and very grateful. I have deeply missed being on stage."
Other members of the group say the first show on the new stage also tested the camaraderie and partnerships that can only form naturally in front of a real audience.
"The amount of support and respect for each other is unmatched," says Chad Cline, another Jerry! troupe member and DCC improv instructor. "I've been teaching and performing in Dallas for over 25 years and have not experienced it like this before."
"Every theater has a different feel from the size of the stage to the energy of the audience," says DCC sketch instructor, director and performer Jacie Hood, who also performs with Jerry! "Just getting to play with each of the two theaters is really fun, and I've been lucky enough to perform in several comedy clubs in my time ... but to be in a new club open[ing] and having our first shows back since the closures in 2020 feels so emotional and like coming home.
"They've really put a lot of thought into the people who are working and performing there as well as how to care for and support them," Hood says. "Rosie, [director of education] Kimberly Alu and Ian are committed to DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] so much so that they hired a professional to train the entire instructor team and attended it themselves. They're aware of the work it takes to create a safe environment for all students, staff and performers and setting the standard from the beginning rather than getting the club open and it becoming an afterthought."
Parker says the owners have the same enthusiasm for comedy as their performers and staff, and those forces create momentum to make sure that the operation is efficient, expressive and supported from the stage to the bar and kitchen staff.
"DCC is unique because of the leaderships' enthusiasm and genuine love for comedy of all kinds," Parker says. "It's been a long time since I have been in such a positive and supportive environment. I think the audience experience at DCC will be fantastic. They are putting up fun and unique shows and encouraging performers to brand out. The more kinds of comedy there are, the better."