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Comedy

The Dallas Comedy House Fights For Its Home

A new landlord is trying to force the theater out of its digs. But Deep Ellum is not letting it happen without a fight.

Amanda Austin, the owner of the Dallas Comedy House, issued a rallying cry on Friday. The comedy club and improv theater is in trouble.

It’s been well-covered elsewhere, but here’s the gist. In January, the company behind Terry Black’s Barbecue in Austin bought the theater’s Deep Ellum home. The new landlord promptly began trying to evict Dallas Comedy House from its Main Street digs, presumably to install a restaurant in its place. Black Market Investments, in its efforts to oust Austin and her club, cited vague lease violations and code compliance issues, although Dallas Fire-Rescue told the Morning News that any code hazards have been resolved. Austin took the behind-the-scenes legal back-and-forth public over the weekend as the club’s future became more endangered.

So Dallas comedy fans and Deep Ellum rallied, incensed at a meat purveyor trying to “bully” its way into a neighborhood and comedy scene that take their sense of community very seriously.

However, in a Facebook post defending itself, Terry Black’s Barbecue says it isn’t budging. “Many issues at hand are 100% non negotiable no matter how lenient we would like to be,” says the post, which decries the supposedly “false allegations” that have been made against it. The post continues: “Much of what has been written is misleading or completely false, and we think any rational person would agree, when there are business disputes things like this happen when one side tries to win public opinion.”

Austin certainly made her initial plea in an effort to win public opinion. This is not a bad thing, especially when the public opinion in Deep Ellum seems unanimous.

The Dallas Comedy House is a beloved institution, teaching improv and comedy classes and hosting all manner of events that contribute to the vibrant feel of a neighborhood trying to keep its cool as it weathers the pitfalls and culture-sucking hazards of redevelopment and growth. Black Market Investments, family-run though it may be, is an out-of-town company that saw a quick buck to be made by forcing another barbecue joint into a booming neighborhood that doesn’t really need more barbecue.

This one is worth trying in the court of public opinion.

Comments

  • PeterTx52

    “The Dallas Comedy House is a beloved institution, teaching improv and
    comedy classes and hosting all manner of events that contribute to the
    vibrant feel of a neighborhood trying to keep its cool as it weathers
    the pitfalls and culture-sucking hazards of redevelopment and growth.”

    so the new landlord is in the charity business? does the DCH make enough money to covert the rent? is the new landlord not supposed to make a profit on their investment? if the DCH is so great then why didn’t it try to buy the property?

    • B_

      When you buy a property with an existing lease, you have to honor that contract. That’s the law.

    • Don Brosey

      Charity business? I don’t think anyone suggested DCH is not paying their rent. The actions of Black Market Investments seems to suggest they want that space now for their restaurant, and have no intention of honoring the final 2 years on DCH’s lease.

    • David Maddox

      Peter, the new landlord has to honor contracts and follow the law just like everyone else. (Despite what you seem to think, a landlord isn’t allowed to do something illegal just because it makes them a few extra bucks.) It’s a false dichotomy to present it as if the landlord has only 2 choices: make a profit by breaking the law or run a charity business. There’s a 3rd choice. Follow the law and and let the lease run its course.

  • bmslaw

    How did D magazine determine that this neighborhood “really doesn’t need more barbecue”? Is there some objective metric that was used to reach this conclusion? Can this same metric be applied to tattoo parlors, for instance, or to comedy clubs? Or even city magazines?

    • abnormalellen

      There is a BBQ place directly next to the comedy house – Bakers Ribs. And Pecan Lodge is down the street. It doesn’t make sense. There arent any comedy clubs outside of DCH in deep ellum. If you don’t care about the comedy club, do you care that the other Dallas based BBQ places would also suffer?

      • bmslaw

        I did NOT state that this neighborhood did not need any more comedy clubs, just as I did NOT state that this neighborhood did not need any more barbecue joints. In fact, I did NOT state any fact (or opinion) at all. I merely asked questions, directed to D Magazine and its employee, as to how they reached the conclusions in their post. Personally, I think the world would be far better off if we had more comedy and more (good) barbecue. But that is beside my point.

        • abnormalellen

          Cool deal. Hope someone can help you out.

    • @zaccrain

      hm perhaps