Dallas Comedy Club takes over the former Dallas Comedy House space in Deep Ellum.
Owners of Dallas Comedy Club Ian and Rosie Caruth met at a comedy club and even did some shows at DCH before it closed.
The husband and wife owners of Dallas Comedy Club, Ian and Rosie Caruth, want to bring great live comedy back to the city.
It was a sad day when it was announced last year that Dallas Comedy House would be shuttering for good in Deep Ellum. A neighborhood staple for over a decade, owner Amanda Austin shared last August that the comedy club and training center would close due to the pandemic. DCH had just re-located the year before to a bigger and better space on Elm Street. What would become of the recently renovated club fully equipped with an outdoor beer garden and restaurant? Well, now we know. Coincidentally enough, two former DCH performers are opening up their own Dallas Comedy Club this September.
In anticipation of the opening of the new club we talked to Ian Caruth about he and wife Rosie’s new venture.
PaperCity: What are your backgrounds and what made y’all want to open your own comedy club?
Ian Caruth: Our backgrounds are in doing this stuff! We met at an improv show in New York City. I was playing and Rosie was in the audience that night, but we started talking after the show and made each other giggle. We both did improv and all kinds of comedy for years in New York, and it’s just the best entertainment. It’s funny, it’s smart, it’s faster than anything else, and it’s brand new every single time. Usually pretty cheap too, which is nice in the city.
We’ve been talking for years about opening up our own place here in Dallas. Not as some steely-eyed, mega-competitive thing; we just couldn’t figure out why there wasn’t more comedy, because Dallas is a pretty big city. There’s a lot of smart people here, and they need more entertainment options than a Cowboys game or, I don’t know, fishing. We started going to shows at the Dallas Comedy House, and met some great people and we started getting involved there, so we put off that idea for a while. But we’d still talk about how we’d do things a little differently, and a couple months ago it seemed like a chance came up and Rosie and I didn’t even have to think about it. We absolutely couldn’t let it go.
Compared to the former Dallas Comedy House, what will be different and what aspects will you be keeping at Dallas Comedy Club?
Some stuff we’re not changing. The bones are still there, because it’s an amazing physical space for entertainment — two black box theaters, a huge patio, multiple training rooms, full bar and kitchen. It’s a great place to do shows, it’s a great venue to do classes, corporate training, all kinds of events, parties.
More than anything else, we really want to stay in touch with the comedy community. I just want to help carry that flame. Help make this a funnier place to be. DCH did something great for Dallas, and I know, because I grew up here and I remember what it was like before. Amanda Austin (founder of the Dallas Comedy House) is a real, actual hero and she did a lot, for a long time, to put alternative comedy on the map in this town. The community of people that formed around DCH was super rad, and Rosie and I only got to be a part of that for a little bit but they were great folks and really welcoming and we want to make sure to give them a place to call home. Keep the lights on.
We loved the Comedy House, but I always wanted to open up our own venue, offer our own particular philosophy and discoveries. It’s hard to reduce to one sentence, but we’ve definitely got something new for Dallas. I learned from a pretty specific, like, lineage that started in Chicago and developed in New York, that I studied and practiced at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Magnet Theaters. I played there a lot, and I think it felt a little different than what they did at DCH. Everywhere you go for comedy, they teach it and do it a little different, and so every theater kinda has its own flavor. Our theater, uh, tastes real good. Mmm-mm. Real nice spice to it.
One brand new thing: we want to bring in some of the discoveries we made over the last year, putting new kinds of performance and classes and communications online. Everybody’s been Zooming for the last year; that’s great prep for us to be able to showcase Dallas comedy and bring it out to the world. So we’re building in new technology so we can share more of what goes on in here, as it happens on stage.
What can you tell me about the stand-up aspect? Will you bring people in from all over or mainly feature comics in Dallas?
We want to have comics from all over! Funny and smart, that’s the deal. I’ve loved standup since I was a kid who stayed up too late to watch “Comic Strip Live”; it’s a crazy, dream-come-true to have a place to put up great comics. If I was 15, that’s the part that I’d be freaking out about. Also, that they were letting me open a bar. But really, secretly we want to help develop talent here in Dallas. This is a big city, and it’s growing all the time, and there’s a lot of people here that are really funny but don’t have access to a scene the size of L.A. or New York to help blow them up. People think of Austin as the artsy little island in Texas, but I think there’s more scene in Dallas than anybody’s realized. They just gotta have a place to be.
Where do you see the comedy scene going in Dallas now that people are getting out to shows again?
Have you been out recently? It’s amazing: everyone is back out now, it’s like people were spring-loaded to launch themselves out of the house. People want to laugh and be with people and see something new, and, that’s pretty good for someplace like Dallas Comedy Club. So, for reals, I see the scene going right here, to this building, the way we’re doing it. We want to be the place where funny people meet each other and start working together. Where funny happens, see? (Points to sign). A hundred years ago everybody had to wear masks and stay inside for a year, and then right after, on the back end, they had the roaring twenties. I think in five years Dallas will have a real, full-assed comedy scene. Plus, booze is still legal.
What do you hope to provide for aspiring comedians in Dallas with your training program?
We want to get people playing the way we tried to – play at the top of your intelligence, don’t second-guess yourself, go out there and do something that feels big. Just jump. Know that you’re good enough to be great on stage, you just have to get out of your own way. Know that you’ve got amazing performances in you, and that we’ll give you a place to do it. We want to launch people to great new stages in their life! If we can do that, I’m gonna feel pretty good about what we’re doing in Dallas.