New Hashtag Comedy Theater Highlight Columbus' Growing Scene

Brooke Preston
Hashtag Comedy's new space

Editor's note: Some venues may be closed due to Covid-19. Check websites for information on upcoming shows or ways to contact managers and organizers.

Over the past eight years, Hashtag Comedy has built a reputation as one of the city’s finest improv teams, growing from a single troupe into an organization boasting five different shows and casts. Still, there’s one thing Hashtag hasn’t had until now: a venue of its own. “As we grew over the years, we asked, ‘Is this something that we can execute? Is Columbus ready for something like this? Are we?’” says Hashtag’s artistic director Sarah Storer.

The answer is a resounding yes (or, more aptly, yes and …). The Hashtag Comedy theater is currently slated to open this summer at 346 E. Long St. in the Discovery District, with capacity for up to 99, though Storer says the adaptable venue will largely host intimate shows for around half that number, as well as space for classes, a bar and possibly food. It won’t strictly feature improv, welcoming styles from stand-up to sketch and beyond. “We will still have those tried-and-true shows that feel familiar. But we also want to have shows when audiences say, ‘Wow, I don’t ever get to see anything like this anywhere else.’”

Hashtag’s new venue is just the latest sign of the city’s ever-growing scene, proof that there’s no better time to be a Columbus comedy fan. Here’s a closer look at a few other local groups aiming to delight.

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Harmony Cox hosts this live monthly storytelling showcase at Rambling House (310 E. Hudson St.), a folky gem of a bar/performance space. Every first Tuesday, performers are given eight minutes each to regale the crowd with a true tale loosely related to a monthly theme. “Story Club is not a stuffy recitation or a serious lecture series,” says Cox. “It’s lively and funny, full of laughs and surprises.”

The nonprofit MadLab Theatre (227 N. Third St.) is a performer’s laboratory. In addition to full-length original productions and a young writer’s program, MadLab is also home to some of the city’s greatest comedy troupe shows, from the long-running and always funny FFN to monthly live performances of It’s All Been Done Radio Hour (a PG-13 twist on the radio serial), created by producer Jerome Wetzel.

After a few moves, this multiformat comedy and theater operation co-owned by Tara DeFrancisco and Rance Rizzuto settled in a permanent home at 894 W. Broad St. in Franklinton. Among other shows, The Nest is home to ComedySportz Columbus and “Here the Musical,” a two-person improvised play. One of the first Central Ohio improv training centers, it also offers corporate workshops and classes for hobbyists and aspiring professionals alike.

Wild Goose is a nonprofit arts organization with a community space (2491 Summit St.) that hosts Columbus Unscripted’s stand-up show every fourth Monday, as well as Sassy Do, the city’s longest-running all-female improv group. As Sassy Do co-founder Barbara Allen explains, the performers focus on improv “through the lens of the female perspective. … The heart of our work is demonstrating the power of female friendship to change the world.”


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Barbara Allen, co-founder of Columbus Unscripted, introduces a comedian at the Stand Up for Stand Up open mic night at Wild Goose Creative.