BY ASHLEY GRUENSTERN
July 12th marks The Backlot Comedy House’s one year anniversary since they have been in business and they are expanding to now offer classes and workshops for all ages in addition to their open mic, stand-up showcases and improv and comedy shows.
Kyla Morris, owner of The Backlot Comedy House, said that they are now expanding with their stand-up comedy by trying to feature it more frequently.
“We have a stand-up showcase once a month and then we also have stand-up open mic every Friday,” Morris said. “So even if you have never performed stand-up in your life, you can come here and feel totally comfortable because the audience is amazing. They are very welcoming and it’s really cool because a lot of the people who come never have done stand-up and the first time they’d done it was here. They’ve expanded in the last couple of months and it’s totally amazing to see them grow.”
Matt Scales, member of The Backlot Comedy House troupe, said that each show is always new and different from the last because of the strong audience involvement and participation.
“We do games where we know the outline, but we get suggestions from the audience which completely changes what we do,” Scales said. “Every single show, regardless of what we are doing, is 100% different every single time. It keeps a new and unique feel to it regardless to if it’s your first time or your fifteenth time.”
Fundraisers and workshops to build strong communication and teamwork for organizations and businesses are also new features that they will be adding, according to Morris.
“Businesses can come in, or we can come to them and do workshops with their employees to learn customer service skills and teambuilding skills because those are all the tools you need to use in order to do improv,” Morris said.
Morris said that they currently offer acting classes for kids in elementary through high school, as well as adults and are hoping that this area will grow to offer more levels and types of classes.
“We have elementary, middle and high school classes which are all separated and then we also have adult acting classes,” Morris said. “Hopefully we will expand into sketch classes and stand-up writing classes.”
Morris said that they will be able to host private events where organizations can meet to experience the shows together.
“We do private events too,” Morris said. “You can rent the space for a meeting or we also do it where if you have an organization you can come in and we pair it with a restaurant in town, so you can come and see a show and have some food and drinks and enjoy private time with your group.”
Morris said that they are also opening up the doors to fundraisers because she has always been passionate about them and it is their opportunity to have an influence on the community with the charities and organizations.
“I’m very involved in a couple different organizations,” Morris said. “I’ve always been this way and we wanted to bring that here because this was also an opportunity for us to have a voice for a variety of charities and fundraisers and that sort of thing. We are starting to open that up a little bit more where we would like to introduce that on Thursday nights, so we have an extra show because then there is marketing on our end and the organizations end to get people in here so they can put money towards their stuff.”
Scales said that he thinks being involved in a business that has a strong tie to the area will benefit not only the comedy house, but the community as well.
“I think it brings a very good sense of community here,” Scales said. “The owner, Kyla has made a very strong effort to reach out to the businesses around. We try as much as possible to give back to the community what the community has given to us.”
Morris said that the comedy house is able to offer Oshkosh a different type of art that wasn’t as prominent as others downtown.
“I feel like downtown Oshkosh is already a very strong art scene for music and art galleries and that sort of thing, but also we are adding to the theater scene,” Morris said. “We are just adding something else to the theater scene. It’s more of getting back that artistic culture down here too.”
Morris said she feels like the community is what keeps them here and people coming through the door to see their shows and it’s an opportunity to give back.
“We depend on them and now they can depend on us to go to that next level for whatever they need to accomplish,” Morris said. ν
Ashley Gruenstern is a reporter with The Oshkosh Scene.