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#Hashtag Comedy Launches New Improv Night at Shadowbox

Walker Evans Walker Evans #Hashtag Comedy Launches New Improv Night at ShadowboxMatt White of #Hashtag Comedy — Photo by Walker Evans.
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Did you happen to make a New Years Resolution about seeing more local comedy performances in 2015? Then you’re in luck! Improve troupe #Hashtag Comedy is launching a brand new weekly night at the Backstage Bistro at Shadowbox Live. The first night takes place this Wednesday, and we got a chance to check in with #Hashtag member Matt White to find out more about what we can expect from the new series. Our full Q&A can be found below:

Q: First, can you tell us a bit about your personal background in comedy?

A: I first got into comedy shortly after moving to Columbus eight years ago. I started doing standup comedy at the Funny Bone open mic nights. I had a few semi-successful performances and I was starting to build confidence; however, one night, while trying out new material, I bombed. I was up on stage for 5 minutes, and literally, no one laughed. After my set, the M.C. announced to the crowd that I wasn’t actually a stand-up comedian, but rather the “local hypnotist”. He later informed me after the show that comedy was a “rough business”.

After that experience I gave up comedy for a while. About a year later, a co-worker told me of an improv class being offered by experienced improviser Jeff Gage. I took one of Jeff’s classes and fell in love with improv. I ended up taking about five of Jeff’s classes — starting with the beginner classes and moving up to advanced improv. During the last class I met my fellow performers in #Hashtag Comedy.

Q: So how did #Hashtag end up forming from those classes?

A: We all had such a great time working together that we didn’t want to let the fun end. We started meeting up once a week practicing improv and trying out different types of comedy. After a few months we started doing shows at local venues throughout Columbus. We originally had nine members, but two left the group for personal reasons, and we added a new member (Kenny) who is now engaged to one of our original members (Sara B.).

Q: How do you feel about the comedy scene in Columbus as a whole? Are you guys seeing support?

A: The members of #Hashtag Comedy are extremely passionate about the Columbus comedy scene and seeing it grow. The Columbus comedy scene is at an exciting juncture. You have the established comedy venues like Shadowbox Live that put on great shows every week; but in the last few years I’ve seen more and more groups and performers pop-up. I think there is an underground buzz starting about Columbus comedy. It is #Hashtag’s goal to make Columbus comedy a weekly entertainment choice for people, rather than just something you do once or twice a year. You see this in cities like Chicago, New York and L.A. I think it can happen in Columbus too. It is also our goal to showcase local Columbus comedians and entertainers. We have some extremely talent people in Columbus. We think Columbus can (and will) be a place where these people have an opportunity to shine an grow, rather than feel the need to move to bigger cities in order to “make it.”

Q: How did this new partnership come about with Shadowbox Live?

A: A member of our group, Sarah Storer, reached out to Shadowbox Live and asked about opportunities to perform at their venue. Shadowbox is a lot like #Hashtag in that they too want to showcase local comedians. Shadowbox offered us an opportunity to perform on their side-stage in the Backstreet Bistro. We did one show and they liked us, so they asked us to do a few more shows. We did a few more shows, and Shadowbox still liked us. A few months ago Shadowbox reached out to Sarah to see if we wanted to make the relationship more official.

Q: Anything else we should know about the initial show coming up this week?

A: Our special host of the show will be Karina Nova, an Emmy winning journalist at 10 TV Columbus. Each week we will have local personalities and entertainers join us on stage to host our show. We’d like to get Mayor Michael Coleman to host one of our shows. I’ve seen the Mayor speak and I think he is funny and passionate about Columbus- just like #Hashtag.

For more information, visit www.hashtagcomedy.com.

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