Comics T.J. & Dave Want You To Know That This is All Made Up

Categories: Comedy

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Courtesy of Dallas Comedy House
Improvisors T.J. Jagodowski and David Pasquesi

For the last 15 years, T.J. Jagodowski and David Pasquesi of the comedy duo of T.J. & Dave have started their shows with the same, simple method. They walk out on stage, introduce each other and assure the crowd, "Trust us, this is all made up."

Some music plays, the lights come up and the two are either standing or sitting on stage with no script or storyline to protect them from the harsh judgment of an audience. All they have is their wits and each other. They don't even ask someone in the audience for a one-word suggestion, their favorite color or something they would bring with them if they had to spend a year in Antarctica to kick off an idea for a scene. They literally know just as much as the audience does about what will unfold on stage.

Anyone with the balls to stand under a spotlight knows that the silence in those first few moments after the lights go up and the realization that a quiet crowd is waiting for a reason to laugh can be one of the scariest experiences of their existence.

"When those lights first come up and I haven't really thought about it this way, so forgive me if this idea is half baked is there is a little bit of free fall there," Jagodowski says. "It's almost like when someone jumps out of a plane, there's a little bit of free fall and if you start freaking out, you're going to tumble and keep falling the rest of the way but if you trust that improvisation is going to start showing you what's already there, then there's some sense of being taken care enters into there."

The magic of any improv comedy group is watching how they tangle with or toss away those fears about the unknown and let the unfolding events create comedy that can't be written before they walk out on stage or recreated once they leave it. Every show is unique to the room and the moment. It exists in an ether that can't be bottled and inhaled ever again and TJ & Dave perform one of the purest improvised shows an audience can witness. T.J. & Dave will perform two such sold out shows this Friday and Saturday at the Dallas Comedy House as part of the 2015 Dallas Comedy Festival.


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Jackass Star Preston Lacy Talks About What He Can't Do at the Dallas Comedy House

Categories: Comedy

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When the Dallas Comedy House booked Jackass star Preston Lacy to be one of their headliners for the stand-up section of their annual Dallas Comedy Festival, they had to make a special agreement.

"I had to agree with the venue that I wouldn't be bringing any animals or weapons or anything like that," Lacy said. "They said, 'You know that there's no stunts, right?' I said, 'Yeah, I know.'"

There was just a hint of mild disappointment in Lacy's voice when he said, "Yeah, I know" as if he truly relishes the opportunity to hurt, humiliate or harm himself for an audience's amusement. Then again, just about every comedian who steps out on a stage is willing to do the same thing for an audience whether it's telling an embarrassing story from their past or sliding down a chute coated with sex jelly into a pyramid of trash cans.

Lacy, the star of the TV and movie versions of the Jackass franchise, is bound to have a ton of stories about both even if he won't be allowed to let a pig eat an apple out of his butt-crack on stage tonight at 8:30 and 10 p.m. at the Dallas Comedy House.

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The 6th Annual Dallas Comedy Festival is Next Week, and It Will Be Epic

Categories: Comedy

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Dallas Comedy Festival
Next Tuesday kicks off the 6th annual Dallas Comedy Festival at the Dallas Comedy House. The giant celebration of improv, sketch, stand up and short film comedy has grown tremendously over the years, bringing in performers from all over the country. This year, the festival will host 27 stand up comedians and 35 improv troupes, plus many more. "The amount of people submitting as well as the quality of talent continually amazes us each year," says Dallas Comedy House owner Amanda Austin.

"The festival is kind of like Christmas or Easter at church," she says. "It brings out all the people who don't normally come to a comedy theater on a regular basis. And for those who live and breathe comedy, it's the biggest week of the year and only solidifies their love for all things comedy."

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UNT's Improv Team Celebrates Regional Win with Awesome Comedy Bash Before Nationals

Categories: Comedy

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Roll Out the Barrel
Roll Out the Barrel members L-R: Cotton Hensley, Seth Jones, Jason Pollard and Jose Rodriguez
This past January, UNT's improv group, Roll Out the Barrel, nabbed first place at the College Improv Tournament (CIT) Southwest Regional. This marks the second consecutive Southwest Regional win for UNT, with last year's group, Cell Block Tango, taking home the prize in 2014.

Roll Out the Barrel members Cotton Hensley, Seth Jones, Jason Pollard, and Jose Rodriguez (all UNT students) will head to Chicago March 14 to compete for the national prize. But first, they're throwing a big, free comedy bash, the UPC Spring Comedy Festival, in Denton Friday.

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The Trailer Park Boys (Yes, the Actual Trailer Park Boys) Are Coming to Dallas

Categories: Comedy

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Courtesy of Personal Publicity
Julian, Bubbles and Ricky, the criminal comedy trio known as the Trailer Park Boys.

Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, known together as the infamous Trailer Park Boys, are the best known criminal comedy group in the world. The heavily hairsprayed Ricky, the googly eyed Bubbles and the cocktail clutching Julian get recognized in all four hemispheres, an even more impressive feat for a show that started on a Canadian cable station back in 2001.

For the uninitiated, the documentary style show features the criminal exploits of Ricky, Julian and Bubbles and their squalid but happy, lower than lower class lives. Ricky, easily the dumbest of the three with brief moments of brilliance when faced with the threat of arrest, proudly deals dope and lives in a 1975 Chrysler New Yorker dubbed the "Shitmobile." The Swayze-esque Julian comes up with most of the schemes for the crew's various capers and criminal enterprises and has never been seen on camera without a drink in his hand. Bubbles is the heart of the group, loves kitties and has an impressive talent for music for a guy who spent most of his life living in wooden work sheds.

The characters that inhabit Sunnyvale Trailer Park have been in and out of each other's hair and in and out of jail for eight seasons going on nine thanks to Netflix, which brought back the show long after they swore they made their last episode. They've also produced three full-length movies, a bunch of TV and live specials and live stage shows including their latest stop in Dallas this Tuesday at The Majestic for their Still Drunk, High & Unemployed Tour.

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Four Funny Females Kick Off Their 9th Season of Four Funny Females

Categories: Comedy

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Photo by Ryan Fyffe
Comedians Jodi Hadsell, Sherry Elbow, Linda Stogner and Laura Bartlett

Back in 2007, the late writer and thinker Christopher Hitchens caught a forklift load of flak for writing a story in Vanity Fair titled simply "Why Women Aren't Funny." He reasoned that men were funnier and more clever in comedy than women thanks to a trait guys picked up in the evolutionary timeline from their unconscious requirement to impress the opposite sex in order to propagate the species. It offered an interesting albeit misguided read and not just because Hitchens' jokes proved he "wouldn't know a joke if it came served on a bed of lettuce with sauce Bearnaise."

That's his joke, not mine.

The real problem with Hitchens' piece is that he tries to dig so hard to prove his argument with scientific studies and sociological arguments that he negates any chance he has to give women's comedy a fighting chance. Deconstructing humor is a pointless endeavor. Sure it can be criticized, but if you're taking apart the reasons why a joke is funny or why certain people have a knack to make people laugh, you aren't just dissecting a dead frog. You're smashing it with a Gallagher sized mallet. He also failed to mention Gallagher probably because it would further damage his argument.

I could just as easily negate his argument today by presenting him with the story of the Four Funny Females, a homegrown troupe of four female comedians consisting of Laura Bartlett, Linda Stogner, Sherry Belle and Jodi Hadsell who are funny enough to have a show that's run consistently for the last nine years in perhaps one of the unfunniest corners of the Metroplex. The group kicks off their ninth season this Saturday at the McKinney Performing Arts Center.

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Paula Poundstone on Crowd Work, Career Milestones and Riffing on Air

Categories: Comedy

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Every Paula Poundstone show is different thanks to the comedian's ability to interact spontaneously with the crowd. Her shows take on the air of a dinner party -- a host chatting with her guests before launching into stories about traffic, kids, cats and all things "everyday" -- if dinner parties were hosted by veteran performers with more than 30 years of comedy experience behind them. The comedian, author and regular panelist on NPR's popular weekly news quiz show, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, will perform at Dallas City Performance Hall this Saturday. We chatted with her before her tour, An Evening with Paula Poundstone, hits DFW.

So you're known for your interaction with the crowd. How do you approach that?
It's not all that challenging, really. Sometimes I'll say something that will cause someone to exclaim or clap louder than somebody else, you know, whatever. So sometimes I'm just sort of drawn to somebody or sometimes I just look around the crowd and ask somebody either a question about some local thing or ... you know, it's really very, very random. My manager always tells me that I know who to talk to. That couldn't be further from the truth. I find that if you get anybody talking, they all have crazy stuff. It's really just like talking to anybody. Once you get a conversation going, then there's things that happen later in the show that remind you of something somebody else said, and you kind of bounce back and forth. It's really just a conversation. It's fun. I feel like there are some nights that are heavier with that than others, but largely I feel that's it kind of the heart and soul of the evening.


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100 Creatives: No. 19 Filmmaker and Funniest Comic in Texas Linda Stogner

Categories: Comedy

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Photo by Mark Woods
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.

When you hear Linda Stogner's act on stage, you get the sense that she lives in her own little world where common sense and normalcy don't exist. But as Joel Hodgson once said, "That's OK, they know me there."

The comic and filmmaker was born into a life of absurdity. She was brought into the world by a father who got mixed up in a Chicago crime syndicate when he had an affair with the wife of a local mob boss. When her mother left her with her father and he couldn't take care of her, his partner-in-crime brought her back to Texas where his parents raised her with a set of phony adoption papers. That sounds like the perfect resume for a budding comic but it wouldn't be fair to just call Stogner that. She's also a gifted and heartfelt storyteller.

Her storytelling skills and unique point of view have earned her comedy honors such as this year's Funniest Comic in Texas as well as several Emmys and a Gold Hugo award for the short films and documentaries she's made for KERA and the PBS series Life 360.

She talked to Mixmaster about her zany imagination, why her comedic presence is more of a persona and less of a character and finding the unusual stories of interesting people.

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Linda Stogner Is 2014's Funniest Comic in Texas

Categories: Comedy

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Photo by Danny Gallagher
Comedian Linda Stogner was all smiles and almost all tears after winning the 2014 Funniest Comic in Texas contest Sunday at the Addison Improv.

Once again, the Addison Improv hosted the final showdown for the Funniest Comic in Texas and this year's honor went to two-time FCiT finalist and local comedian Linda Stogner.

One-fourth of the Four Funny Females, Stogner went up against four strong sets from four equally talented comedians including Joel "Junebug" Runnels, Chris Mack, Jon Stringer and Theo Taylor. However, Stogner's well-honed brand of absurdist observation ultimately won over the judges and the final trophy, which was presented by last year's winner Raul Sanchez.

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Dallas Comedy House Moving to Main Street

Categories: Comedy

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For almost six years, the players and performers of the Dallas Comedy House have turned a relatively small space on Commerce Street in Deep Ellum into a thriving hub for a form of comedy that most people have never seen around these parts.

Now they need a bigger place to play in, and come March 2015 they'll get one when they make their first move to their new home.

DCH founder and Director Amanda Austin said plans are place to move the comedy club next year from their Commerce Street headquarters to a new building on Main Street near the corner of Main and Hall Street.

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