When Brian Crall (’05, Theatre) founded the Sacramento Comedy Spot in 2005, he says he practically had to pay people to take classes there. The fledgling theater and comedy school started as an outlet for Crall and his friends to ply their own unique brand of improv; today, it is the unrivaled epicenter of the Sacramento comedy community.
This weekend, the Sacramento Comedy Spot hosts 72-Hour Improv Marathon, an annual three-day celebration of the capital region comedy scene – one that owes its very existence to Crall.
“What’s funny is all I wanted to do was just create a space where we could experiment and do this kind of comedy that we wanted to do,” Crall says, “but the best side effect of that was that we ended up building this huge community of performers and talent, and we all lean on each other and have fun together.
“The most important part of the Comedy Spot is bringing together all these people that wouldn’t normally come together.”
Running March 11-13, the 72-Hour Improv Marathon will feature three days of shows, guest performances, and workshops, bringing in performers and spectators from around the country.
The event is a testament to how far Sacramento has come as a national destination for comedy, due so much in part to Crall and his commitment to growing the comedy community.
It wasn’t easy, Crall says.“It’s like trying to start your own market: You’re selling a product that’s never been sold in Sacramento before, so where do you find people that like this because it doesn’t even exist here?”
When he first enrolled at Sacramento State, Crall was not planning to be one of the region’s premier entertainment pioneers. Initially a business major before taking time off to find his true passion, Crall re-enrolled in the Theatre Department, and everything fell into place.
He founded his first improv collective, the Free Hooch Comedy Troupe, with friends after college. Their success led to the founding of the Sacramento Comedy Spot, and in the 11 years since, the theater has become a community institution inseparable from midtown’s cultural identity.
“I’m not selling future comedians, but what I am selling is just being comfortable with yourself and gaining confidence,” Crall says. “Some of the best feedback has been from kids who are now adults that said that my class was the first time where they felt comfortable.
“People say we’re the cheapest therapy in town.”
Info and tickets for the 72-Hour Improv Marathon are available at www.sacimprovmarathon.com.
Visit www.csus.edu/made/crall.html for more of Brian’s story and an inside look at the Sacramento Comedy Spot.