The loss of the Dallas Comedy House (DCH), the Deep Ellum improv comedy theater swallowed up by the pandemic last August, was swift and sudden, but a new set of owners stepped in with plans to open the theater almost one year later. Their vision extends beyond the venue and through the entire comedy community.
Ian and Rosie Caruth, the co-owners of the new Dallas Comedy Club (DCC) opening on Elm Street in Deep Ellum, say they jumped at the chance to take over the space once it went up for rent again last November. Ever since, they've been prepping the building for its rebirth as the DCC on Labor Day weekend in September.
"We got word late last year that the space was going up for rent," Ian says. "Honestly, it took us about five minutes to figure out that we were really interested in it. We've wanted to open a venue for a while and we were super sad to see DCH go out of business. It's a wonderful place and a super awesome community, and we loved it. It's just sort of unthinkable that that place wasn't going to exist."
"Once we had the idea in our heads, there was no turning back," Rosie says. "We had this frantic conversation for 15 minutes, and we said, 'Can we do this? Yeah, we can do this.' Now it's just about how can we do this."
The Caruths met in New York while pursuing their acting careers. They took improv comedy classes and performed shows at places such as the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, the People's Improv Theater (also known as The PIT) and The Magnet Theater. They moved back to Ian's hometown of Dallas to get married based on their best "economic interests."
The two continued pursuing comedy at DCH in 2018, working their way through the club's classes and ranks. They were just about to start performing main stage shows when DCH shut down at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Everything was surprising at that time," Ian says. "It was definitely upsetting seeing the place in town where we did comedy and liked the comedy they did. It was shocking to see that place end."
DCH was more than just a place to learn and perform comedy. The theater built a community of friends and long-lasting partnerships.
"The first day at DCH, the instructor asked why we were here," Rosie says. "I said I want to meet my new best friend. Fast forward to now, six of those people in that class are my best friends now. Improv is such a connective tissue. You won't forget those vulnerable experiences you have together."
The success of multiform theaters such as DCH and DCC are pushed by the community of performers and producers they attract. Rosie says she wants to make sure Dallas doesn't lose that kind of place.
"DCH really made Dallas feel like home to us," Rosie says. "I wanted to make sure there was that home feeling for comedians so it didn't feel like they'd have to go elsewhere to do comedy."
Ian and Rosie say they don't just want to contribute their support to the foundation of Dallas' comedy scene. Their goals extend far beyond the boundaries of the buildings' walls.
"When you think about comedy in the U.S., New York, Chicago or Los Angeles basically are the cities everyone thinks of," Ian says. "I grew up in Dallas, and I remember what it was like to not have access to those kinds of things. I want Dallas to be thought of as one of those kinds of cities."
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