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Dallas Comedy House Closing After 11 Years of Shows, Festivals and Laughs

The Dallas Comedy House moved to its third location on Elm Street last year.EXPAND
The Dallas Comedy House moved to its third location on Elm Street last year.
Jason Hensel
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A Dallas comedy institution just announced it will be closing its red doors for the last time.

Amanda Austin, the owner and founder of The Dallas Comedy House (DCH) in Deep Ellum, announced on her Facebook page that she's made the difficult decision to the close the comedy theater.

"I hope it's more sweet than bitter for you, as it is for me," Austin wrote. "I have laughed more during this DCH journey than most people will laugh in 10 lifetimes, and I wouldn't have it another way."

The Deep Ellum comedy theater's community has been performing shows and holding comedy classes in Dallas since 2009. It started in the back room of the Ozona Grill and Bar on Greenville Avenue and moved to a one-theater building on Commerce Street that's currently occupied by Dot's Hop House.

The comedy theater's community started to get some serious word of mouth and attracted crowds to its improvised shows and the annual Dallas Comedy Festival that started in 2010. The theater also offered stand-up comedy open mics and showcases that included headlining performances by several local comedians and some recognizable names such as Chelsea Peretti, Rory Scovel, Keegan Michael Key and the writers and performers from TBS's Conan show when host and comedian Conan O'Brien recorded a week of shows for his late night talk show at The Majestic in 2014.

The theater moved to its much larger location on Main Street in 2015, where it could hold multiple shows, more classes and bigger crowds. The entire operation was moved by the theater community's numerous volunteers. The new building had two theater spaces, a separate building for classes and a bigger bar and restaurant service. The giant neon "COMEDY" sign that marked the location of the Commerce Street building was also moved to the wall of its Main Street location's main waiting area.

"I understand that I’m responsible for everything with my name being on the line, but it definitely takes a village," Austin said in a 2019 story chronicling the theater's history. "So, it’s looking at all the different people who have helped create it and how much it’s evolved."

The theater ran into some trouble with its new lease in 2018. The company behind the Terry Black's Barbecue restaurant franchise offered to buy the building. During those discussions, the company purchased the building and became the theater's new landlord who slapped Austin's theater with default notices, allegations of code violations and eventually a notice to vacate the premises. Jessica Burnham, the executive director of the Deep Ellum Foundation, called the company's tactics in 2019 "unusual."

DCH stayed in its Main Street space for almost 11 months and moved to its current location on Elm Street in 2019. The theater continued to hold shows and classes until the pandemic forced businesses to close its doors.

"If you would have told me when I filed paperwork in 2008 to form an LLC for a comedy theater that my life would be changed forever by the experience, I would have laughed at you and kept Googling 'How to run a business,'" Austin wrote on Facebook on Thursday. "I never dreamed this journey would teach me so much about comedy, about business , about others and about myself."

Members of the improv troupe Scuba Pudding Jr., including John Spriggs, left, and Mike Maiella, right, perform a scene on the main stage of the Dallas Comedy House on Elm Street in Deep Ellum.EXPAND
Members of the improv troupe Scuba Pudding Jr., including John Spriggs, left, and Mike Maiella, right, perform a scene on the main stage of the Dallas Comedy House on Elm Street in Deep Ellum.
Jason Hensel

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