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Since the 1980s the Flat Iron Arts Building has served as an artistic commune, giving local creatives a place to work, perform, even live. Earlier this month the building became home to its first artist-run comedy venue. The people behind the Collaboraction space offered up their salon stage for local comedians Michael Brunlieb, Harrison George, Scott Goldstein, and Alex Honnet to realize their vision of an anything-goes comedy space, Flat Iron Comedy.
George moved to the city four years ago and quickly became a part of the improv scene. He went to different shows every night, but felt like he was seeing the same thing over and over, despite the wealth of talented performers. He craved something different.
"For an art form that's main attribute is that anything can happen at any moment, everything started looking a lot alike," George says. "A diversity of voices is the most important thing to bring to the stage."
Regular performances will take place Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at 7:30 and 9:30 PM, and each night will be curated by a different member of the Flat Iron ensemble (Brunlieb, George, Goldstein, and Honnet along with Damian Anaya, Morgan Lord, and Caitlin Stephan). Audience members can look forward to a mixture of improv, stand-up, storytelling, solo sketches, group sketches, music, dance, and whatever anyone wants to try out—the early shows will be more like straight-forward variety performances, while later shows will be more experimental and will include things like solo improv performances and a sketch laboratory. Most importantly, from night to night and week to week, there will always be something different. "We want people to feel the need to check in . . . to see what we're up to," George says.
The group hopes not only to find its place in the performance community but in the neighborhood as well. According to George they'll be looking to connect with local businesses for upcoming shows and to offer up their space for community events like town hall meetings or political rallies.
Flat Iron will pay comedians for their performances on the spot; 50 percent of ticket sales support Collaboraction and the other 50 percent is split between the night's performers. This will be the most important constant as the space continues on. There are no plans to expand or create a training center, just to simply realize on stage the comedic whims of the people running the joint.
"We're going to run it like an ensemble with people coming and going," Goldstein says. "It will be great experiment, letting the inmates run the asylum."