TJ and Dave Bring Their Legendary Improv to Houston
TJ and Dave, Photo: Joe Mazza
When I started covering comedy in Houston, the last thing I wanted to cover was the world of improv. The form of performance was never something I found myself interested in and like many things, I felt I never would have any interest in it either. However, over the past couple of years I’ve learned more about it; I’ve caught some stellar improv performers, and thus my mind has been forever changed about improv and those who perform it. Friday, November 6th, BETA Theater will be bringing the two most revered improv performers going, to Houston at MATCH. Those two performers are the massively popular and celebrated duo, TJ and Dave. Stephen Colbert once said of them, “One of these guys is the best improviser in the world. And the other one is better.” Hailed by pretty much every highly regarded critic around, these two comics have had a documentary made about them, and they have such spellbinding performances that many walk away from their shows forever changed. FPH sat down with Jeromy Barber of BETA Theater to see why this is such a landmark show for the Houston comedy and improv scene, and what these two are all about.
FPH: How long has it taken you to get TJ and Dave to come to Houston, and what about them made you want to take the time to get them here?
Jeromy Barber: I’ve been working for a good while to get them here, at least since the beginning of the year. BETA’s goal is to offer the best training in improv to Houston, and TJ & Dave are among the best on the planet. We’ve brought in a lot of amazing talent - Susan Messing, Craig Cackowski, and DUMMY. We helped bring in Jimmy Carrane through the Houston Improv Festival. Craig has been on “Community” and “Drunk History,” and Susan is at the top of the list of improv performers that people revere; but in the improv world, they’re both icons. Jimmy is the host of the Improv Nerd Podcast. When I started BETA in 2013, it was unusual to bring such people to Houston, but we will not grow into the performers we need to be without the best training. TJ & Dave are highly revered by most folks in the comedy community. Their workshop sold out in hours.
FPH: Why should any improv performer come to Houston?
Jeromy Barber: These pros from Chicago, New York and LA come to Houston because they’re passionate about improv. It’s a powerful and life changing set of skills that transcend beyond stage performance. I’ve heard David Pasquesi say he believes that improv could save the world. It’s this passion about improv that brings them to Houston.
FPH: Why should people see these two perform here in Houston this week?
Jeromy Barber: This is a hard question, and I think if I had an answer that would translate to Houston, then the show would already be sold out. I think TJ & Dave offer the best opportunity for you to have a life changing experience at an improv show. What they do is often beautiful. It would be nice if people got to experience it.
FPH: Why is the show at MATCH and not at Beta Theater?
Jeromy Barber: Size. BETA only holds fifty or so people. TJ & Dave needed a larger house, and we reached out to MATCH earlier in the summer while they were still under construction. Chuck Still walked us through the space, and we all got pretty excited about the potential of having such an incredible facility in town.
FPH: There are people who don’t get improv or who don’t like it nor do they understand it. What would you say to someone who doesn’t like improv as to why they should see these two guys perform?
Jeromy Barber: Well, if you don’t like improv and you still don’t like it after this show, then you can once and for all settle the issue because it doesn’t get better than these guys. Houston is in its longform improv infancy. It’s easy to see some local shows and feel meh about it. TJ & Dave is who we all aspire to be like, and in time, Houston will have their own TJ & Daves.
You can see these two in town for one night only over at the new MATCH (Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston) center on Friday November 6th. The duo will be in Houston for the very first time, and the all ages show starts at 8:00, with tickets at $35.00 each, or $25.00 for students.