If you could jump in your "comedy time machine" (a time machine that can only be used for the purposes of viewing important moments in comedy groups' histories and therefore can't be used to go back and...I don't know... stop Hitler) to view the history of Locked Out Comedy and set the dial to seven years ago, you'd see them clearing out their stuff from a West End venue around the same time that the rest of the place was slowly turning into a graveyard.
"We pondered a name for 40 minutes to an hour," said founder and performer Von Daniel. "Then somebody threw out Locked Out and we went with that. The original owner said, 'I'm no longer going to do this so if you have personal belongings in the theater, get it now or you will be locked out.'"
Now the group not only holds regular shows at the Addison Improv and the Life Central Church's theater in Plano but they also do the bulk of their shows for corporate and private audiences that hear about them solely through word of mouth with no traditional marketing whatsoever other than a website and a Facebook page. They've also earned back the ComedySportz designation they thought Dallas would never have again seven years ago when the old owner closed up the shop.
"We all met at the bar afterwards and said let's just continue doing what we do," Von Daniel says.
This Saturday marks another chapter in their barreling quest to "just continue doing what we do" when Locked Out Comedy becomes incorporated into ComedySportz, the national league of short form improvised comedy, making them ComedySportz Dallas just like they were when they performed in the West End. They kick off their new affiliation with their first show as ComedySportz Dallas at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Life Central Church's theater at 2301 Premier Dr. in Plano.
The name is the only major change from the audience's POV. Two teams of improvisational comedians play games that will be familiar to any regular viewer of Whose Line Is It Anyway? except the points do matter and one team actually goes home a winner. The group also performs a monthly show at the Addison Improv called The Humor Games in which the competition is whittled down by individuals rather than teams and the humor can be more adult in nature than their other shows.
"Everything you do that evening is fresh and brand new and has never been done before and you'll probably never do it again. That was more of the appeal for me than spending late nights with drunks at a club and everybody wanted to hear profanity and very blue material," says Daniel, who used to perform stand-up before being drawn to short form improv. "That was the big draw