"How to Tell a Friend That She’s Mad at You" by Emily Ball

Uh oh! Your friend posted a vague message that could have meant anything, but you KNOW that it means she’s upset with you. Now the two of you are in a fight, and the worst part of it is, she doesn’t even know! Here are a few tips to let your friend know that she’s mad at you:

  1. Give her a taste of her own medicine. Post a status referencing her post that starts out with “I guess some people think”, but don’t tag her in it or draw her attention to it in any way. She’ll see your post and realize that her status actually WAS about you, not about a rude stranger in the grocery store!

  2. Fight fire with fire. Message her directly and say “If you were upset with me, you should have just come to me about it.” This will open her eyes to the fact that she actually is upset about your choices, and definitely not about an illness in the family.

  3. Bring up old arguments. Statements like, “So I guess you’re still not over the Arby’s incident,” will remind her that she has plenty of reasons to be angry with you already, so this newest argument is just adding fuel to a fire she didn’t even know she was burning!

  4. Tell all of your mutual friends. Just because she doesn’t know she’s mad at you doesn’t mean that everyone else shouldn’t! This is the time for screenshots. Get everyone on your side so that by the time she realizes she’s upset with you, your allies are already set.

  5. Hire a skywriter. Nothing says “You’re mad at me” quite like expensive cloud calligraphy that literally says “YOU’RE MAD AT ME”.

I hope these tips have been helpful and informative. Please feel free to tag a friend who’s upset with you – happy fighting!

Emily Ball is an improviser, bartender, and stand-up comedian based out of Dallas, Texas. In her free time, she likes to moderate arguments between her cat, Debbie, and her dog, Tucker.

(Photo: Reyner Media/Creative Commons)

"Troupe Talk: Shameless Pug" by Jason Hensel

The Dallas Comedy House (DCH) improv troupe Shameless Pug has a performance opportunity for DCH students Level 3 and above. It's all in honor of the recently befallen “Student Lotto.” For their show on Wednesday, August 16, at 10:30 p.m., they would like two-to-three students to perform with them. This is a great opportunity to play with an experienced troupe. Interested students can leave a comment on the post on the DCH Training Center's Facebook page or contact Glenn Smith via Facebook. Those selected to play will be notified this weekend.  

If you don't know who Shameless Pug is, well, that is where I come in. I recently sat down with the Pug outside a PetSmart in Plano to learn more about being shameless.

Who makes up the Shameless Pug?
I am currently owned by Mano Galaviz, Josh Hensley, Becky Rentzel, Glenn Smith, and Ryan Vicksell, but I like having a different human for each day of the week, so I am looking for prospects. If you are reading this and like walks in the park and having your face licked, then hit me up. I’m on Facebook!
How long has the Pug been around?
I was initially raised on a Ewing farm over two years ago. Hey, I guess that makes me a teenager in improv years.
Who trains the Pug?
Well, after a youthful foray into academia at Pupperdine and DePaw universities, I roamed the Earth in search of spiritual guidance. This is where I met my current sensei, Tyler Via, who has helped transform me into a comedic Hong Kong Phooey.
What tricks does the Pug like to play?
I love putting someone’s paw in bowl of water while they sleep. That is a classic! They still won’t let me back at Dotty Dumplin’s Doggie Daycare because of that. I can also twirl on demand and play "Uptown Funk" on the banjo. A dog has to have a few extra tricks under the collar in case this improv thing doesn’t work out.
What is the Pug's favorite pun?
Hmm, that is a tough one. Do you smell up-dog?
Where does the Pug see itself in five years?
My psychic told me that you would ask that! In light of the fact that Keegan Michael-Key has opened many doors for improvisers with his varied successes, I feel like I will be in line to at least be a Kibbles N’ Bits spokesperson, become a staple on the TV series Downward Dog, and film my version of a cult classic, called Doggie Darko…..or playing the banjo on a street corner.
Who's been a good boy/girl?
Well, you, of course, Jason. Here’s your treat! Pats on the forehead to Stephen Colbert, Wonder Woman, Kumail and Emily, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. May their bowls be filled with Scooby Snacks. My owners? No, that lot needs some serious obedience training! I would hit them on their noses with a newspaper…..er, if I could actually hold a newspaper.

"Improv Tips Reaches 100 Milestone" by Jason Hensel

Congratulations to Paul Vaillancourt on posting 100 Improv Tips videos! For two years, Vaillancourt, co-founder of iO West and author of The Triangle of the Scene, has offered timeless advice for improvisers at all stages in their development through his short videos on YouTube.

Even more, he often brings in revered improvisers to offer their tips, which is great for students who don't get a chance to take workshops or classes taught by these esteemed performers. 

For example, Armando Diaz offers his advice on how to keep growing as an improviser, Molly Erdman shares her thoughts about therapy improv, and David Koechner explains how to hyper agree

Vaillancourt's 100th video features Del Close and advice about the art of improv.

"Del [Close] used to tell us that being funny is not really the sort of point of improv," Vaillancourt says in the video. "Sometimes, especially new students, want to say, 'Well, what's the point, or what's the purpose of improv?' and I don't think improv has a purpose. I think improv is like a medium like paint. Once you learn how to mix the paint and apply it to the canvas in certain ways where you have a command of that medium, then you can use it to express anything you want."

Sure, Vaillancourt says, you can get an audience to laugh.

"[But] what else can we get them to feel? Horror? Sadness? Joy? Happiness? Transcendence? All of these things," he says. "I think that if I had one thing to impart to you as we move on to the next step, it's challenge yourselves to let the work be more than just funny. I mean, funny is great and funny is a fantastic goal or a fantastic byproduct of what we do, but I think it's so much more than that."

As an example, he offers a clip (below) of Del Close "himself improvising a monologue about the suggestion 'Del Close.' It's like it's layers upon layers, but I think that when you see him do it, it'll really drive home this point."

Once again, congratulations Vaillancourt, and thank you for all of these tips!

"Six Eats for Your Comedy Appetite" by Jason Hensel

That comedy on stage is making you hungry. Time to order some food. With so many good options, it’s hard to decide what to pick. Here are some suggestions.

Pros: The perfect theater food. It’s light. It’s inexpensive. It hardly makes a sound when you chew it (with your mouth closed, you heathen). Cons: You always grab more than can fit in your hand and half of it falls on the ground.

Tortilla Chips
Pros: Their only purpose in life is to be queso (or salsa or guacamole, if you’re nasty) vessels, just like humans. Cons: Hard to eat them quietly in a timely manner. Tortilla dust.

Pros: The quiet Tex-Mex food. Full of cheese. Can add steak or chicken to it. Cons: If you’re with someone else, you’ll be asked to share or offer a bite. Don’t. This cheesy goodness is all yours. Make your date or friend order his or her own.  

Pros: The sandwich of the Southwest. A step above the pedestrian bread slice. Can save the other half for lunch tomorrow. Cons: Loose wrapping. But then it becomes a salad; so pro, fewer carbs!

Pros: Classic. Food of the people. Not uppity like wraps. Always there for you in a pinch. Cons: You’ll be forced to categorize your friends into those who slice diagonally versus those who slice horizontally.

Pros: Fulfilling. Magical. Life-changing. Will hold your hand when you're sad. Cons: There are no cons with queso.

Guess what. Yeah, that’s right. The Dallas Comedy House offers a food menu featuring all of these items and more. Bon appetit!  

Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program and performs with .f.a.c.e. and the ’95 Bulls.

"Comedy and Imagination" by Jason Hensel

The Imagination Institute is a Philadelphia-based non-profit dedicated to exploring imagination across society. One of its specific, yearly meetings is the "Comedy Imagination Retreat," and the organization recently released a video (below) featuring an interesting panel discussion from its August 2016 meeting. 

The panel consisted of comedy professionals such as Aisha Alfa (actress and comedian), Cindy Caponera (actress, writer, and producer), Scott Dikkers (founder of The Onion), Kelly Leonard (executive director, insights and applied improvisation, Second City Works), Anne Libera (director of comedy studies, The Second City), and Bob Mankoff (cartoonist and former cartoon editor of The New Yorker), among others. 

The participants discussed a wide variety of topics relating to comedy and imagination, such as "Does being funny lead to happiness?," "Is laughter a necessary component of comedy?," and "Where does comedy come from?"

Dikkers, for example, believes comedy comes from practice and the desire to put in the work for it.

“It’s not magic,” Dikkers said. “It didn't come out of nowhere. [Comedians] developed it and they practiced it, and they became masters. When you do something…if you do it for 10
years obsessively, you're going to be a master. I’ve seen that over and over with people.” 

Dikkers' philosophy is that "consistent practice can create talent," and there are two myths about comedy.

"The first myth of comedy is that the genius sits down and writes brilliant comedy without (first writing) 19 jokes that failed," Dikkers said. "The second myth is completion, that the people who succeed in comedy are the ones with the talent. Not true. The people who succeed in comedy are the ones who complete it.”

Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program and performs with .f.a.c.e. and the ’95 Bulls.

"The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Sketch Shows" by Chad Richards

It was the beginning of a new term and my six Sketch 3 classmates and I were waiting in the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) lobby for the class to start. There was a table with nametags out for us. On top of the bar were stacks of Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within with a sign indicating they were for sale. We were trying to figure out what was going to happen next when we heard a booming voice come over the P.A.


We were confused.

“ARE. YOU. READY?!” The voice repeated.

We heard movement above us. Suddenly, noted motivational speaker, business guru, and life coach Tony Robbins rappelled from the rafters and met us on the floor.

“ARE. YOU. READY?!” He exclaimed again. His headset microphone shook as he emphatically pointed at each one of us. We looked at each other, began a slow clap, and knew we were ready. We followed the spray-tanned genius into Tharp theater, where he presented us with a life-changing lesson: "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Sketch Shows." I am now humbled and honored to present these lessons on to you.

  • Take Things to Extremes

    • The smallest kernel of an idea can turn into the most delicious piece of sketch popcorn. In general, I’m a pretty reserved person. Pushing things to the extreme is something I struggle with in improv and when I’m writing. But when you can really commit to a sketch and get to those extremes, it’s magical. Push the people you’re writing with to get there.

  • Find Fun Takes on Common Things

    • Everyone wants their comedy and writing to be relatable. Everyone also wants to come up with the most original and creative idea ever put on stage. Let the latter come from the former. Relatable things are relatable because they happen every day. Relieve yourself of the pressure to come up with grand ideas by looking at the day-to-day from a new angle.

  • Be Positive

    • This is something you hear over and over from instructors and performers at DCH, but sketch is where this has really clicked for me. Our Level 2 and Level 3 sketch shows have started with a very rah-rah opener. That energy and enthusiasm carry over for the rest of our shows. I can see it in my cast mates’ performances, and I can feel it in my own.

  • Weird Works

    • When someone pitches an idea that’s a little strange, find the fun elements and run toward it with your arms wide open. It may very well turn into one of your favorite sketches if you embrace it with the right attitude.

  • Be Aware of Your Resources

    • DCH performers are more than just hilarious comedy brains. Sometimes, they have an intricate knowledge of a particular topic. Sometimes, they are prop masters. Sometimes, they’re willing to buy lots of wigs and costumes to help the jokes land. Use your full toolbox when you’re writing and planning your sketch show.

  • Have a Pudgy Guy Take His Shirt Off

    • No need to mess with a classic. A pudgy guy without his shirt on is vulnerable, yet whimsical. That’s really what good writing is all about.

  • Enjoy the Process

    • Putting on a sketch show is a lot of work. There has been lots of writing, rewriting, rehearsing, and memorizing. I have caught myself feeling the work weighing on me. Thankfully, my cast mates; Jonda, our teacher; and Cody, our TA; have been there for me to bring back the fun and silliness every step of the way.  

I’m not sure how Tony Robbins made some of those of points so personal to me, but I suppose that’s just part of his wonder. Thanks to Tony Robbins, and all of our teachers and TAs, for guiding my classmates and me through this program. We can’t wait to perform Frisky Business three more times. We would love for you to come see it.

Chad Richards is a graduate of the DCH improv program and is currently graduating from the sketch program. In his free time, he likes to tell people that he likes writing. He performs with Sunglow and The Big Short. Frisky Business runs July 12 at 7:30 p.m. and July 13 and 14 at 7 p.m.

(Photos by Jason Hensel)