I love improv comedy. I've written here several times about my own experiences performing improv over the years. In fact, my presentation at Hubspot's Inbound Conference was all about how you can improve your life with improv. Imagine how excited I was when I learned Nashville was getting a club dedicated to improv and other forms of comedy.
Four years ago, Luke Watson, an Atlanta-born and raised improv comedy actor, moved to Nashville. At the time, Music City only had several improv troupes performing in the bars, cafes, and restaurants scattered around town. Space was limited for live improv comedy because this is music city. There wasn't a strong comedy tribe, because each performer and troupe was traveling to multiple venues around town. They lacked an in-person place to all convene.
Luke founded his own improv troupe, LOL Nashville. He also founded and produced the Third Coast Improv Fest. The improv festival brought together local troupes in ways they hadn't connected before. During these networking opportunities, Luke met Scott Field, the artistic director of Music City Improv, and co-founder of Improv Nashville. They both noted the constant challenge for members of their tribes to find regular venues to perform in. This is when the idea of Third Coast Comedy Club was born.
If You Build It They Will Come
The excitement came swiftly from Nashville's improv community when Luke and Scott announced their vision of their new home for local comedians. They didn't just want improvisers. They wanted all comedic art forms: sketch, stand-up, variety shows, live podcasts, talk shows, and of course, improv too. They found a location, but it was time to raise the capital to make it all happen. This is when they decided to run a Kickstarter campaign.
One of the best ways to test a concept is by connecting with a community first and using a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter. Crowdfunding expert and CEO of CrowdfundingHacks.com, Clay Hebert told me, "Find your tribe. Let them inside your process. Show them the journey. And then, when you're ready, you launch the project to your tribe. Don't launch and hope that magically the platforms will bring your tribe to you."
With a goal of raising $25,000, they launched their Kickstarter campaign and quickly surpassed their goal to $32,480. They were ready to invest their own money to make their club come to life, but achieving their goal on Kickstarter meant they now had the capital and community support to do it. Luke told me he loved the all-or-nothing aspect of Kickstarter. Their tribe had spoken.
Luke explains what really made this all happen, "Without the relationships and friendships Scott and I have made over the last several years with local comedians, the club would never have happened. We wouldn’t have felt the dream was possible. We wouldn’t have hit our Kickstarter goal. We wouldn’t have had the extra hands to help us paint and finish the buildout. We would have never opened our doors. Nearly every interaction at every comedy event in Nashville paid off in making the Third Coast Comedy Club a reality."
Today, there are twelve improv troupes performing regularly around town. Sketch comedy is starting to pick-up, and there are over seventy-five opportunities to see stand-up this month alone in Nashville. When Third Coast Comedy Club officially opens it's doors, it will stand as a testament of a dedicated tribe of comedians and comedy lovers in this city.
In Seth Godin's book "Tribes", he writes, "You can't have a tribe without a leader and you can't be a leader without a tribe." Luke and Scott found their tribe. Take a few minutes today to ruminate about your tribe. I'm excited to tap back into my love for improv. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with my tribe soon. Before starting your own Kickstarter campaign, be sure you have a tribe to support you too.
This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.