Today we’d like to introduce you to Lindsay Goldapp.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Lindsay. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I met most of the creative team from Stomping Ground in the early to mid-2000s in Dallas when we were all doing comedy or theater. We’ve loved working together and learning from each other over the years and have all left to train at different institutions in the country- Groundlings, iO, Second City, Comedy Sportz, etc. We all settled long term back in Dallas and, in the last couple of years, we saw a need for a new comedy training center in the city.
We played with a few iterations of what this may look like, and things really started to fall into place when we realized that our vision was actually a non-profit comedy theater and training center. We knew that we wanted to create hilarious, professional shows… but we also knew that laughter could do much more.
Now, a lot of “muggles” (as we lovingly call non-comedy people) might not know this, but while most traditional theaters are non-profit institutions, comedy theaters tend to be for-profit. There are a few big ones that are nonprofit, and we really wanted to follow this model because of our focus on community, outreach, and service. It was at that point that I reached out to Andrea Kyprianou Baum, a local therapist who I also knew loved improv.
She found that in her work as a therapist there was quite a lot of overlap with the core tenets of improv; it was her dream to officially merge these worlds. We knew that Second City had been teaching improv classes for people on the autism spectrum for years, and we began to explore what else was out there as far as therapeutic improv and improv for people with unique needs.
What we found was that there were endless opportunities and classes being done across the country. We attended the first annual Improv & Mental Health Conference in Chicago, and we shared resources with other mental health and improve institutions doing similar work. And our Improv for Life program was born. From there, we have worked to make our vision of comedy that can enrich the community a reality.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
We have really been fortunate that the road has not been too bumpy, but I also like to remember that this thing has been an idea for several years. So, while it may seem like we had an idea and then executed it quite quickly, we really have worked for many years to tweak and perfect the vision.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Stomping Ground Comedy Theater story. Tell us more about the business.
We are a non-profit comedy theater and training center with a mission of enriching the community through comedy. We do all the things that traditional comedy theater and training center’s do- we teach improv, sketch, and stand up classes. We have shows. Our nonprofit status is quite rare in this field. We structured ourselves this way so that we could focus less on the “bottom line” and really dedicate ourselves to serving the students, the audience, and the community.
We feel that there are a few things that we feel set us apart. The most prominent difference is that we are the only institution in DFW offering improv classes for wellness and unique populations. and we employ a licensed therapist who oversees this program. We do workshops, conferences, and training for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and brain injuries. We also offer classes for those on the autism spectrum. We offer workshops for people with anxiety and to people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. We are out in the community offering free or discounted training to groups who could benefit, and we want to continue doing this as long as the universe will let us. The Improv for Life program is a core part of what we do and we will continue to expand it by creating programming for other unique needs.
For students in our adult comedy classes, we want to always offer the best and highest level of comedy training. We try to hire the best instructors who have professional experience in their field and can really help their students navigate the tricky world of comedy. Many of our instructors work as creative professionals- in acting, standup, marketing, etc and have a lot of knowledge to offer people pursuing those fields. They have also trained at the best institutions in the world- Groundlings, iO, Second City, Annoyance, Steppenwolf, Neo-Futurists; our goal is to pass our knowledge onto the students and prepare them to become a star on our stage or beyond. And we use our network of artists all over the country to help them when and if they decide to leave Dallas.
Now, we also understand that not every person takes an improv class because they want to be on SNL. And for those people, we offer that personal guidance to help them achieve whatever goal they want whether that is building confidence, making friends, or just having fun. Each student is an individual with individual goals, and we focus on helping them navigate their path. I am honestly so proud of the team at Stomping Ground and feel that they are not only the most knowledgeable and skilled instructors, but are also the most compassionate and caring individuals.
We are also the only comedy theater in DFW offering a wealth of resources for children and teens. We have summer comedy camps, which can not only help improve the comedic chops of a funny kid but can improve the confidence of kids who haven’t quite found their voice. Improv is a great tool for building confidence and expressing yourself creatively, and we want to help each child do that at the pace that is right for them.
We also have a Funny Fearless Female camp for ages 5-19, which was a dream of mine. It was modeled after something at Second City called S.H.E (Sisterhood. Humor. Empowerment) Camp created by my friend and improviser Stacey Smith, and I was so inspired by the idea that I wanted to create one here in Dallas. It’s essentially a camp where girls and young women can not only bond and celebrate sisterhood, but learn new skills that empower them and build their confidence. Our camps are also welcoming to those with special needs.
We also offer our improv show that is for kids, called Just Kidding, where we improvise a fairy tale with help from the audience AND we offer a FREE creative Pretend Play Time during the day for preschoolers and their parents that is special needs friendly.
Lastly, we have a huge focus on reaching out to our community and celebrating its diversity onstage and within our doors. We know that improv isn’t that diverse, and we want to change that. We don’t just want to give people a seat at the table- we want to give them the whole dang table. Dallas is diverse, and we want our stage and audience to reflect that. We have people on our Creative Team whose job it is to go out into the community and recruit talent and offer scholarships for our training so that we can change the face of improv and comedy for the better. We also host an all-female comedy jam and a multi-cultural potluck where we celebrate other cultures and bond over something we all love- food. We are constantly looking for new wants to make improv more accessible and more inclusive.
Overall, we have a goal of offering something for everyone. It may take us a while to build up to that, but it’s our goal.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Oh, this one is a real thinker. In my own life, I admittedly haven’t had too many bouts with bad luck, for which I’m very fortunate. I don’t consider myself to be lucky either. So, I guess that one comes out a wash?
As far as our business, there have been “red tape” struggles. Opening a brick and mortar business in a bustling metroplex can be challenging, and we’ve hit some patches where we have had to work through issues out of our control. Our opening was delayed because of issues related to parking, and that was an unlucky challenge to face.
Similarly, the process of gaining tax-exempt status entails a long journey with the IRS, and that can include long wait times and a lot of paperwork. But, this is all part of the game so we’ve worked through it. I’m sure you probably wanted a juicier answer than that and I did not provide the juicy details. Trust me when I say they’re not very exciting! Documents and formatting and permits just aren’t great gossip fodder. Follow up with me in five years and maybe I”ll have some drama to share.
- Show Tickets- Pay What You Can for some shows and up to $12 for prime time shows
- Adult Classes- Workshops for as low as $40 to 8-week courses for $275
- Kids Summer Comedy Camps- $200-$300
- Improv for Life Workshops- $95
- Address: 1350 Manufacturing Ste 109 Dallas, TX 75229
- Website: www.stompinggroundcomedy.org
- Phone: 469-206-0082
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @stompinggroundcomedy
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/stompinggcomedy
- Twitter: @stompcomedy
Angela Ross Photography, Michael K Bruner Photography, Rosey Blair Photography