The new year has brought new beginnings and a new home for an eight-member comedy group based in Columbus with Ohio State ties.
#Hashtag Comedy is an improvisation group that has been performing in Columbus for around two years. Along with an OSU associate professor, two members of #Hashtag are also OSU alumni, and one of them — Kenny Greer — worked for The Lantern as a photo editor from 2007 to 2010. After his time at OSU, Greer originally took improvisation classes to get better at speaking.
“I am pretty outgoing, and I found a place to channel that,” Greer said of #Hashtag.
The group recently started doing weekly shows to ShadowBox Backstage Bistro, located at 503 S. Front St. Another troupe, ShadowBox Live, performs at the same venue and partners with #Hashtag and supports and self-produces a wide variety of shows, from musicals to comedy.
“#Hashtag does not interfere, but it adds to what ShadowBox does,” said Steve Guyer, executive producer and CEO of ShadowBox Live.
Before the weekly shows, #Hashtag had previously performed at the Backstage Bistro about four times in the past, said Sarah Storer, a member of #Hashtag.
Guyer said that #Hashtag’s partnership has brought a rare quality to ShadowBox, where the audience can come and be entertained but also interact with the members of #Hashtag every Wednesday.
“Improv is very exciting and fascinating,” Greer said. “Performing at the Bistro is an exciting experience, giving us a platform to open up Columbus to other improv groups and to expand the base of improv.”
Storer said that one thing that makes #Hashtag special is that all the members enjoy performing with each other.
“We don’t have a script. Each week we bring something new and edgy,” Storer said. “Our two main goals are to grow the improv community and to make someone’s day better.”
#Hashtag also promotes other comedians and improvisation groups during shows, Storer said. The group does this by inviting them to open for them and perform alongside them. Not only does the group promote other comedians, but it also allows musicians and local celebrities to be a part of its shows.
“The more we share, the better it is,” Storer said. “Other people’s comedy make us smarter.”
Storer said one goal that #Hashtag maintains while performing at the Bistro is to eventually have an audience average of 60 to 80 people by the end of the year.
Another goal, Storer said, is to simply make sure people are enjoying themselves.
“Before every performance, we chant, ‘Make people happy,’” Storer said.
Guyer said the Bistro hosts around nine different performances every week, including #Hashtag Comedy’s show. #Hashtag Comedy is featuring the improvisation group Fake Bacon to open for them Wednesday, and #Hashtag’s future performances can be found at its website.
Admission is $5 for all of #Hashtag’s shows, and Wednesday performances begin at 8 p.m.