The highly passable and inconspicuous building standing close to the corner of Franklin and Roberson Street houses a lesser-known staple of Chapel Hill nightlife. Dirty Southern Improv (DSI) is a standup, sketch, and improv club that features local comedians and groups. Unknown to most, DSI offers spectacular free shows on Friday and Saturday nights which are perfectly suited for a raucous night out with friends.
Mister Diplomat, a free show featured at 10 p.m. on Friday nights, exhibits true stories of local celebrities, as told by local celebrities. Funny tales of uncomfortable interactions, trips, and local phenomena rule the evening, acted out by the ‘diplomat’ and his supporting ensemble. This is a stellar group composed of a rotating selection of exceptional NC comedians and people from every background with an array of humorous situations to draw on. Such as: Unfortunate interactions with the owner of the largest legal fan, or experiences with James Scott Farrin (the commercial-heavy workers comp. Attorney,) the possibilities are limitless when watching a DSI show. The show is free and features a consistently hilarious group of comedians. Mister Diplomat is sure to instill cackles galore.
On Saturday nights, DSI hosts the weekly free show ‘Versus’ at 10 p.m. Described by DSI as “a hip-hop improv party,” it is a perfect opportunity for some late night laughs. Featuring a set squadron of improv specialist, local rap artists, and a beatboxer, Versus provides the exact atmosphere DSI promises. The Saturday Versus show reigns supreme in the field of puns, and the continuation of sketches and themes throughout the show. In Versus the comedians split in half and step in gradually to fill the scene with more characters, all the while everything said must rhyme. Topics are established in one scene, and then revived later on, by some holy power which the leading comedians possess. Possibly the funniest spot in the Triangle on a Saturday, Versus will undoubtedly keep you cackling right out the door, quoting the comedians into the next few days.
A visit to DSI is one of those exceptional Chapel Hill spots that one comes to love. A combination of different things causes this, namely your lack of expectations. The unexciting and camouflaged brick building, paired with the dark interior don’t make DSI appear to be too thrilling. However once one has sat down and begun to follow the sketches and recognize the themes, DSI is absolutely perfect. The community atmosphere, the pep of the performers and regulars, and the accessibility of the venue helps position DSI to be one of the leading nightlife spots around.
East Chapel Hill High’s own improv stars, combined in the group Randomax, are huge supporters of the free shows at DSI.
“DSI’s free shows are a great, casual way to showcase amateur improv,” said Frances O’Grady, a performer for Randomax. “By having free amateur shows, it ensures that the audience is packed; guaranteeing a lot of energy and suggestions.”
By offering free shows, and including a mix of local celebrities, amateur comedians, and improv specialists, DSI makes improv accessible and easy to follow for previously un-anointed viewers. DSI’s weekend shows are a superb option for on-budget late night in the area and are a smart way to get the public interested in a sometimes neglected art form.