Monthly Archives: March 2013

A New Home

Hello there! I’m John Rawley, founder and artistic director of The Alternative Comedy Theater in Dallas, TX. In March 2008, I started The ACT. There were just 11 performers in my company, and we were rehearsing in the living room of my house. Since then, The ACT has grown and grown. The ACT and its members perform regularly in Dallas, TX and at comedy festivals and venues all over the country including The Big Sexy Weekend of Improv (Dallas, TX), Out of Bounds (Austin, TX), The Out of the Loop Fringe Festival (Dallas, TX), The Black Box Improv Festival (Atlanta, Georgia), The Gainesville Improv Festival (Gainesville, FL), The North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, Improv Festival Oklahoma, The Broadway Comedy Club (NYC), Coldtowne Theater (Austin, TX), The Tank (NYC), Ghostlight Theater Club (Oklahoma City) Satori Coffee House (Mobile, AL), The Hideout (Austin, TX) and The Parkside Lounge (NYC).

My partners, Liz Robinson and Travis Medina, and I are getting ready to open our own theater. We are currently looking at spaces in Dallas, TX.

Right now, we perform on a regular basis at some great venues in Dallas, but we have too many performers not getting the stage time they deserve. The Alternative Comedy Theater needs to open a space so that all of its performers have a chance to perform. We also produce an annual improv comedy festival called The Big Sexy Weekend of Improv. We have performers from all over the country come to Dallas for a weekend of shows and workshops, and we need a space of our own to produce the festival. And when we open, we will have performers not affiliated with The ACT come to our space and perform.

By contributing to our campaign you’d help a lot of people get the opportunity to get up and make people laugh. Who knows maybe someone at the ACT will move on to LA or NY and make it BIG. And you’ll help create another venue that nationally touring groups can stop and perform at.

We are raising $10,000, and we’ll use every penny of it. The money that we raise will help buy tables and chairs, help buy materials to build a stage, help get a license to sell beer and wine, help improve our lighting and sound system, and help buy all the things you forget about when you move. Hey… Toilet paper cost money! If you contribute you will get things like free tickets to shows, free improv classes, t-shirts, and stickers.  What happens if we don’t reach the full $10,000? We’ll take what we get and go forward, improving the space as we go.

Everyone needs to laugh. Everyone needs to play. Improv comedy helps people do both. If you can help us out by donating, we’d appreciate it. If you know someone who is an improviser, please help us out and let them know what we’re up to. Thanks!


Work off stage means more play onstage!

When the house lights dim, and the stage lights come up, we want two things: quality on stage and butts in seats.  There are three things that I have focused on over the past couple of decades that have helped me achieve this. Make this a mantra for you improv troupe: We need to practice, we need to hustle, and we need to focus on marketing.
Let’s be honest… practicing and rehearsing sucks. It’s tedious. It’s time consuming. It’s work. We don’t want to work. We want to play. We want to get up in front of a crowd and make them laugh. But we need to rehearse.  We need to practice. We need to work. We work in rehearsal so we can play onstage. Set up a rehearsal schedule with your team, and then everyone needs to write the dates down on their calendars and then everyone needs to show up.
You gotta hustle! Get people to come out to your shows. Don’t think that the venue your group is performing at will get a bunch of people to come out and watch you. They won’t. They will try, but it is your job to get people to come out too. Let people know about shows on Facebook and Twitter. Email people. Call people. Make a flyer and pass it out at work or school. If the venue and the performers are busting their butts to get people to come out, then chances are people will come out.
The final thing you want to focus on is marketing. Most people think its advertising. It’s not. If you don’t know what marketing is, buy a book or take a class. A book that I found very helpful is Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. You can buy it on Amazon and you can probably find a used copy on eBay or at a used book store. Also, check out the website for more details. You’ll be glad you did.
Show business is a business, so run your business successfully. If you don’t know how, learn how. Work offstage so you don’t have to work onstage. Performing for 100 people is a lot more fun than performing for 10. There are so many awesome things you can do to have a more successful act. Find those things and use them! Good luck!
-John Rawley