Dogs (And Their Human Companions) to Perform at House Party Comedy

Dogs - and their human stand-up comedy companions - are the featured performers at this weekend's House Party Comedy
Dogs - and their human stand-up comedy companions - are the featured performers at this weekend's House Party Comedy Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Most weekends, comedy fans in Houston can find an entertaining stand-up show at a local venue to take in with friends. But none include man’s best friend. This weekend, House Party Comedy aims to change that when it goes to the dogs.

House Party Comedy is the city’s only non-profit comedy showcase and it returns Saturday, July 22 with a show dubbed “That’s My Dawg!” The comics performing on the bill will each bring their dogs onstage with them for their respective sets, according to Jacob Calle, House Party Comedy’s host. The one-of-a-kind show is a literal house party, held periodically at Calle’s Midtown residence, located at 1509 Stuart Street.

Past shows have featured acts like Whitest Kids U’ Know, musicians Jim Ward and the late Daniel Johnston and a Who’s Who of local comics, including Ashton Womack and Zahid Dewji, who’ve written for Trevor Noah and Jimmy Fallon, respectively. But none have ever featured Buddy, Luna, Bella or any other dogs.

“I’m opening up my bedroom, we’re going to put kennels in there and the comics are going to be onstage with their dogs. Yeah, it’s a gimmick but it’s also enrichment for the animal,” Calle explained. “When we’re at work, when we’re at comedy shows, when we’re on dates, when we’re partying – when we’re just anywhere but home – all that dog is doing is just waiting for us. How cool would it be if it was like, ‘Hey, let’s bring the dog to the party, invite your best friend over, your little buddy, and let’s just all hang out and love each other and just enjoy the evening.'

“You know, those dogs are just going to love it. I talked to everybody to see how cool they are with having their dog with this many people and we’ll be taking turns having the dogs out when they’re not onstage,” Calle continued. “I just think it will be a very nice thing to do for the dog as well having so much love on them and pet by so many people, they’re going to love it.”

To be clear, the show’s guests are not allowed to bring their own dogs to the show. The canine guest list is exclusive to the comedians performing the show. So, the dogs coming to House Party Comedy this weekend are a select list as they belong to a select list of local comedians. Those comics include Chad Alexander, Steve Cantwell, Barry Laminack, Will Loden, Lisa Lyric, Lotto Marie, Emily Peacock, Timely Rain and Waldo Rodas.

“I’m so excited. I’m going to be co-hosting with Jacob. The comics that night are bringing their dogs onstage and I’m going to be managing the dogs and their behavior, making sure everyone’s good,” said Paige Storz, a certified dog trainer whose services are available through her business, Raise the Woof! Storz recently shared with the Houston Press some tips to use music to ease anxiety in dogs.

“I will just be making sure the dogs are doing okay onstage with that amount of people and calling it quits if they’re too overwhelmed. As well as making jokes about the dogs,” Storz added with a laugh. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

It’s also all for a good cause. As in the past, the show’s proceeds are tabbed for donation. Past shows have benefitted animal conservation for gorillas, giraffes, rhinos and pangolins. They’ve funded education initiatives and wildlife vet clinics. This installment will aid a South African family Calle befriended on his many trips to the country as a wildlife documentarian.

“It’s going to a very dear, close family of mine in South Africa. They’re just in dire financial need right now,” he explained. “South Africa, you’re living in a first world country right smack on top of a third world country. It’s not a great place to live if you want to live comfortably. (They) just really need some help.”

“I’ve always thought myself not as a Houstonian, not as a Texan or an American citizen. Just more of a global citizen, you know? Just because someone’s 10,000 miles away doesn’t mean that they’re not my neighbor,” Calle added. “We’re on this planet together. If we could all just help each other out, to me, that’s what’s important.

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Show co-host Storz has performed at House Party Comedy, worked the door and attended as an audience member.
Photo by Jordan Crutchfield, courtesy of Paige Storz
“I figure that the best way to make a comedy show successful right off the bat is to just give, just give it all away. That way, at the end of the night, everybody’s going to walk away feeling like they did something awesome for the day, which is correct. They did.”

Not only are the guests giving something with their minimum $8 donation, they’re getting a lot, too. In addition to living room proximity to some of Houston’s best comics, there’s free beer from Southern Star Brewing, complimentary whiskey courtesy of Milam and Greene and free pizza. There’ll be prize giveaways, with tickets to upcoming comedy shows and the World Series of Dogs show at NRG Park. And, of course, there will be glorious, furry, friendly doggos with which to interact.

We asked Storz, who’s studied dogs for more than a decade, if they have a sense of humor. She told us about Dudley, a bloodhound she adopted to do search and rescue. She likened Dudley to “a belligerent drunk man” and said he was far more suited for therapy work than search and rescue. Dudley’s thrived in that environment and was tabbed to work with the Dash Gordon Foundation, where he’s a therapy dog for special needs kids and adults.

“He has the goofiest personality. He’s the kind of dog that trips over his feet and slides down the hill on his chin. The kind of dog that puts his whole, entire head in the water bowl. And, when you did get agitated with him and say, ‘Hey, Dudley,’ he picks his head up and flings water all over the house,’ Storz said. “He has a sense of humor. They don’t have emotions the way people do, of course, right? I would call it personality more than anything.”

“I would definitely agree that animals do and can and have the capability to have a sense of humor,” said Calle, not only a comedian and show host but also an animal behavioralist and activist. “While it may not be on our comical level, they do find things entertaining, from their perspective.”

House Party Comedy presents “That’s My Dawg!” 7 p.m. Saturday, July 22. 1509 Stuart. Featuring Houston comedians and their dogs. Guests are not allowed to bring their dogs to the event. Minimum $8 donation.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.