Station Theater Re-Opens, Featuring COVID Expert Dr. Peter Hotez

Supernova comedy troupe on stage.
Supernova comedy troupe on stage. Photo by Eden Sones
The improv and sketch comedy scene across America has been hit very hard by COVID. Major locations like the iO Theater in Chicago and Dallas Comedy House announced permanent closures, and our own Station Theater was one of the first venues to shut its doors last March. Now, they are finally ready to bring some laughter after a long, dark time.

“We’re excited to be back,” says co-director Jessica Brown. “It’s been a longtime coming, and we wanted to be extremely cautious.”

The two-night event will feature a range of improv and sketch shows. The most notable will be an appearance by Dr. Peter Hotez, Co-Director for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital Center as well the Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor. Hotez has been one of the public faces of Houston during the pandemic, usually guiding us through new health protocols with his combination of slightly-rumpled professorial attitude and firm dedication to evidence-based practice. He’s also not above a little subtle trolling of the anti-vaccine crowd, so he is the perfect guest for a comedy troupe.

Hotez will be part of the Supernova show, where guests are invited onstage to be interviewed and then the actors build scenes around their answers and personal stories. There’s no telling exactly what this will entail in practice (it is improve, after all), but it’s likely that Hotez will have some insight from his time in the COVID trenches.

“We want to celebrate someone that has really helped a lot of people, and we wanted to zero in on someone from Houston that was well known and well respected,” says Brown.

The nights will also feature many mainstays of Station Theater. There will be a performance by Trek Wars, who specialize in audience suggestions based around old science fiction television shows. Can’t Tell Us Nothing and Discharged will also be onstage, as well as the Gen X-centered ‘80s Comedy Kids.

One of the things Brown is most proud of is that the celebration will include the first performance from Station’s fortieth graduation class. The theater began running classes again in May as part of their slow effort to re-open. Thanks to donations from members of the community and an understanding landlord, Station is emerging from COVID in debt but still standing, which is quite an accomplishment.

“When I started in the first improv class here, I never could have imagined we’d reach 40,” says Brown. That’s a big number.”

Event organizers are taking as many health precautions as they can. All performers are required to be vaccinated, and it’s a personal sticking point for Brown who is responsible for an elderly relative’s at-home care. Seating will be reduced, and audience members are asked to mask up. The various surfaces will be wiped down between shows. The event is BYOB, but the nearby R-Bar will be running drink specials that can be carried over to Station sealed.

Asked if thing were finally getting back to normal for Station Theater, Brown said no. The exact shape of the improv scene going forward is still in flux, and everyone is going to have to adapt to a new paradigm. That said, she’s excited about seeing the re-opening.

“Just the fact that we are coming back is a success, that we get to put on a show,” she says. “The energy in the building has changed. I would go up there and it felt sad and empty. Now it feels alive.”

Station Theater's grand re-opening is scheduled for Friday, August 20 and Saturday, August 21 at the Station Theater, 1230 Houston. For more information, visit or call 832-786-0413. $10 advanced, $15 door (no cash).
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner