Amanda Austin (Photo by Sean McGinty)

Amanda Austin (Photo by Sean McGinty)

Unemployment is up, the economy is slumping and bad reality TV shows are dumbing down America. So what’s an educated, witty, young woman looking to earn a living in a brainy, offbeat entertainment industry to do? Just laugh it off.

One of these days, neighborhood resident Amanda Austin, founder of Dallas Comedy House, intends to garner a sustainable salary teaching and performing improvisation and sketch comedy full-time in her very own venue. For now, she’s content to do it for giggles (often following a strenuous regular workday at a local luxury car dealership) out of a temporary spot at the Ozona Grill on Greenville Avenue.

A dramatic-arts fan throughout childhood, Austin put off the pastime until post-college when, on a whim, she enrolled in a class at Ad Libs School of Improv in downtown Dallas. “Twenty minutes into the class, I was hooked,” she says of the art that involves thinking on your feet and a bold willingness to make a donkey of yourself — literally, in some cases. But it’s not all scary: “A big part of it is getting to know each other, and intimating how [fellow troupe members] will react to situations,” Austin says.

After working her way through class levels, she used vacations to travel to cities with strong improv-theater communities, such as LA and Chicago, learning as much as she could about running a comedy school. Armed with knowledge, she returned to Dallas and offered to buy Ad Libs. “They didn’t go for it,” she says. No hard feelings — now she and her troupe Sucker Punch Improv simply plan to offer an alternative, with a mission in mind. “We want to build a good reputation for the [improvisational theater] industry here in Dallas and to make sure there’s something for everyone who wants to be entertained.”

CALL OUT: Looking to laugh and learn? Check out Dallas Comedy House,

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.