It's undeniable that Houston's comedy scene has been on the rise. You can catch a cheap comedy show just about any day of the week, and a lot of it is really good. Some of this is due in part to the improv troupe The New Movement Houston (TNM). Based out of Austin, TNM has been bringing street cred to improv comedy in Houston for the past year or so, but now they seem to have outgrown their britches. The New Movement Houston has just gotten a makeover and their new name is Station Theater.
There were improv troupes in Houston long before TNM; one such troupe is Rogue. Rogue had been performing and teaching beginner-level improv classes around town and was looking to expand their offerings. Having mutual interests at heart, they decided to team up with TNM, who already had a large following in Texas and Louisiana. Under the TNM moniker, Rogue and performers from other troupes began building up their class size and structure.
"When The New Movement Houston began teaching improv classes, we had about 12 students," Executive Director Shyla Ray says. "Now we have 60."
In addition to the growth in the number of students, TNM Houston also saw its popularity growing. But this growth was somewhat stifled.
"All of TNM people are in Austin or New Orleans," says Ray, "and we wanted something that was completely Houston."
Ray goes on to explain how every major city in the country has a rich and vibrant comedy scene and, since this is the fourth-largest city in the country, Houston deserves one, too. To expand sometimes, however, means cutting ties and TNM Houston felt that it was in its best interest to have something of a do-over. Ray makes sure to mention that the split was completely blessed by TNM and they remain best buds.
Now, as the Station Theater, the troupe can offer more classes in advanced levels. Additionally, the new name allows focus to be placed on obtaining a physical location.
"Expanding and finding a space is a big priority," Ray enthuses. The Station Theater will also be applying for nonprofit status, allowing for local funding and fund-raising.
Currently, the Station Theater hosts several weekly improv performances. You can catch them on Friday nights at Avant Garden for their variously themed shows. Five dollars and some good fodder will get you an evening of improv. Additionally, they host a free Sunday show beginning at 7 p.m. that allows their improv students the opportunity to get up in front of a live audience and hone their skills. The Supernova Armando show that follows is where people are invited to come tell a story while one of the Station Theater troupes improvs around it.
Once they do have that space, the Station Theater hopes to host several annual comedy festivals. There has never been a venue for large-scale comedy events in Houston and the Station Theater is trying to change that. They are currently planning a festival this spring, in addition to other major events.
"We want Houston to have a comedy community," Ray remarks. "One that's cheap and accessible for everyone to get involved in."
For more information on the Station Theater visit their Web site, stationtheater.com