Now settled into its new purpose-built theatre, theImprov Comedy Club in Houston, Tex., has cemented its reputation as one of the country's premier showcases for uproarious talent. A fan-shaped room with raked seating ensures that everyone gets a clear view of both the stage and the 16-foot-wide projection surface by Stewart Filmscreen, while a potent Meyer Sound system delivers all the punch lines with crisp intelligibility to all 510 seats.
"It's a great sounding room," asserts Houston Improv General Manager Raymond Cook. "The sound is so much more crisp and clear than what we had at the old location. Performers love it, and we've had more than one say, 'I want to come back and film my special here.'"
Designed by Bill Schuermann of HFP Acoustical Consultants and installed by the Whitlock Group (both Houston-based), the main system comprises two UPQ-1P loudspeakers, three UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers for delay, two UPM-1P loudspeakers for front fill, and a single 500-HP subwoofer. One UM-100P stage monitor provides artist foldback, and a Yamaha M7CL digital mixing console anchors FOH mix.
"The under-stage sub is awesome," continues Cook. "In the pre-show video segments, when it wipes from one segment to the next, the sound effect shakes the whole room. It really gets your attention."
"For comedy, intelligibility is paramount," notes Schuermann. "Meyer Sound's phase-coherent self-powered loudspeakers deliver uniform intelligibility regardless of level. And by using the MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program I could guarantee seamless, uniform coverage."
A separate system for the outer bar area sports eight MM-4XP self-powered miniature loudspeakers and a UMS-1P subwoofer, all suspended from the ceiling grid. "The sound quality in the bar is great," states Cook. "And I can't believe there is so much sound coming out of those tiny little speakers. It's amazing."
The new Improv theatre was designed by Rhonda Woodall and Todd Arenz of Hermes Architects of Houston. Houston Improv is one of 24 Improv-branded comedy showcases stretching from coast to coast. All trace their roots back to The Improvisation, a club started by Broadway producer Budd Friedman in New York City in 1963. A dozen years later, Friedman planted a second iconic Improv club in Hollywood, and celebrated performers who launched their careers at the two showrooms represent a who's who of American comedy talent.