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$20,912
pledged of $30,000pledged of $30,000 goal
187
backers
16days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, August 9 2019 6:18 PM UTC +00:00.

$20,912
pledged of $30,000pledged of $30,000 goal
187
backers
16days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, August 9 2019 6:18 PM UTC +00:00.

About

The team that produced the Union Improv Festival and The Kerfuffle has a home. As part of the new site at 434 McGrath Highway in Somerville MA, Union Comedy will be a 72-seat theater with live comedy programming and a comedy school focused on longform improv.

When we formed in 2017 our goal was to give longform improv a home in Boston and we're finally here--Union Comedy is opening a theater.  The type of immediate joy live comedy can create is such a satisfying experience for audience and performer alike. The idea of creating an environment that produces that joy for years to come is what's kept us motivated to make our dream come true.   

The location of our lease is on the edge of an already thriving and rapidly developing Union Square. Union Comedy will be a short walk from public amenities like the Somerville Public Library and Prospect Hill Park and neighborhood destinations like Brass Union, The Independent, Urban Axes, and Warehouse XI. 

Those coming by car will find it conveniently located at the intersections of McGrath Highway (Route 28), Highland Ave, Washington St, and Medford St and nearby Route 93 connects those coming from north and south of the city. 

Those using public transit can use the 80, 86, 88, 90, 91 buses to be dropped right at our door (422 McGrath Hwy Stop) or a block away and the CT2 stops less than two blocks away. Additionally, the MBTA Green Line Extension will put the East Somerville station within short walking distance to our location. 

The theater will have an audience capacity of 72 with about 250 square feet of playable stage space.  An array of audiovisual equipment will provide whatever technical elements a performer may need. A 98 square foot backstage green room will serve as the primary pre-show waiting area for performers and will be furnished with equipment for the temporary storage of personal items. The lobby space will hold the box office and a lounge. There will be 3 ADA-compliant gender-neutral restrooms.

We're performers at heart and we know what makes a great stage for live comedy. The stage we're going to build in our space incorporates aspects of our favorite theaters and we can't wait to get people on it.   

More people than ever before are interested in performing live comedy. We want to build a comedy school that helps those people find their comedic voice and develop the skills needed to put it in front of an audience. We intend to match our students with the very best instructors who will help them unleash that creative potential. 

Our Core Curriculum is a 4-Level program focused extensively on longform improv scenework. The goal of the Core Curriculum is for students to develop a strong level of comfort and confidence performing improvised 2-person scenes in the early levels before transitioning toward utilizing them in the traditional longform structure of The Harold.

Beyond that, we'll offer an assortment of classes and workshops in additional areas of comedic performance such as sketch comedy, character creation, and satire writing. We want our classes to reflect the interests and talents of our community. 


As an entirely new construction project, building the theater from scratch is the most expensive aspect of this project followed by fees (e.g. architect, legal, licensing, insurance), furnishings (e.g. seating, bar equipment, technical equipment), and supplies (e.g. food & drinks, paper & plastic goods, cleaning supplies). The vast majority of these costs are being covered by the founder's capital and SBA backed small business loans, but we still need your help with assorted necessities:

Hitting our $30k goal ensures that we can open without any glaring missing pieces, but reaching our Bonus Goal of $50k would allow us to get closer to our actual vision for the space including:

  • Better outdoor signage
  • Upgraded bar equipment
  • Acoustic paneling for additional soundproofing
  • Decor and other aesthetic improvements 


Our five founders are leaders in the Boston improv community with a combined 30+ years of producing, directing, and performing experience:

Andrew Barlow - Producer (Naffy, Boston Sketch Co., Thursday Night Throwdown, The Jamaica Plain Improv Festival); Director (ImprovBoston's Harold Night, Indie); Performer (Naffy, Boston Sketch Co., ImprovBoston's Harold Night, 20 Minute Movie, Improv Asylum House Teams) 

Ben Gibb - Producer (Flotilla); Director (ImprovBoston's Harold Night, 20 Minute Movie); Performer (ImprovBoston's Harold Night, Fine Line Comedy)

Ben Scurria - Producer (SummerHouse, The Happy Hour); Director (ImprovBoston's Over the Line, ImprovBoston's Harold Night, Indie); Performer (ImprovBoston's Harold Night/Mainstage/National Touring Company, Fine Line Comedy, Terrible People)

Pat Kearnan - Producer (Flotilla); Director (PIP, Indie); Performer (Old School Game Show, Oregon Fail, ImprovBoston's Harold Night, 20 Minute Movie, Fine Line Comedy, Sophie: The Musical)

Sara Teague - Producer (Naffy); Director (ImprovBoston's Harold Night); Performer (Naffy, ImprovBoston's Harold Night, Boston Sketch Co., SITMO)

We have created and produced some of Boston's most successful independent shows and an annual festival consisting of 200+ performers. Because of all this experience we are aware of what comedians need from an institution in order to succeed. Our founders also have strong professional backgrounds in Small Business Management and Accounting. 

We started this project in April 2017 and the following two years consisted of a mountain of setbacks, months wasted pursuing dead ends, and nonstop logistical hurdles, yet here we are. It will work because we aren't scared of complex projects and we don't lose our heads when things get difficult.

Most importantly, we have an extreme passion for Boston improv, a firm belief in its immense creative potential, and a deep appreciation for all of its creators and supporters. It will work because of you.


 Reward Mockups...  


Contribute beyond cash... 

by getting the word out! Help us grow by sharing this campaign with your friends, signing up for our distribution list, following us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and coming out to perform & enjoy once we're open.

Artwork by Kristina Stapelfeld

Risks and challenges

We've planned and planned and planned but in the end opening a physical business is a risky endeavor. We're relying on construction timelines and budgets which are subject to fluctuations in adverse circumstances. And while we've secured the major licenses and permits we need to open there are always legal and administrative hurdles that can surprise you. We have contingencies in place and we're confident we can overcome any challenges we're presented with.

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    Union Comedy Social Media Follow

    Pick this reward and @unioncomedy will follow you on Twitter or Instagram (your choice).

    Add $1,000 for likes.

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    Digital Poster of The Harold

    The Harold is the name of one of the oldest longform improv formats. It has a mix of 2-3 person and group scenes built into a 3-act structure.

    For $7 you'll receive a high-res digital poster of The Harold designed by Kristina Stapelfeld.

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    Die Cut Sticker

    The biggest most beautiful Union Comedy die cut sticker you could ever even imagine. Stick it on yourself or give it to a friend.

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    Andrew Barlow's 35 Second Impressions

    Andrew is world famous for his mimic and impression work. Get this reward and he will do a one time dead accurate impression of you on Instagram for you to hold on to forever. Is it him? Is it you? When the line starts to bleed who will you tell and will they believe you?

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    Time Capsule

    Help future historians by stashing some treasure in our walls. Or some garbage? It’s your call with this reward—it just has to fit in the capsule.

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    Test Show & After Party

    Can't wait for our official opening to check out Union Comedy? Get in early by attending our test show (and stay for the after party). Date TBD.

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    Mystery Box

    Curated by our founding members, this mystery box could contain absolutely anything at all. It's a real risk to pick this perk, but that's what improv is all about. Plus, you'll finally get an answer to the age old question, "what's in the box?!" It will not be entirely filled with useless trash.

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    Team Workshop

    Here's a chance to work directly with some of the most experienced longform coaches in Boston! Need a new perspective on your scenework or want to try out a different form? Our Founders have over 30 years of experience in Harold, Spokane, Monoscene, Narrative, Armando, Movie, and more! Scheduled by availability in the Boston area or on Skype.

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    Private Naffy Show

    Naffy is a longform improv group that's been performing all over Boston for over three years. Now you don't have to leave your house to see them perform. Claim this reward and Naffy Improv will do a private show for you and your friends, you and your cat, or just your cat.

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    The Bundle with **Exclusive** T-Shirt

    Wow I wish there was a way I could get all this cool stuff instead of having to pick just one OH WAIT THERE IS IT'S CALLED THE BUNDLE AND I'M READING ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW.

    There are 4 rewards in The Bundle:
    - An exclusive one time run Union Comedy t-shirt
    - Test Show & After Party
    - Die Cut Sticker
    - Digital Poster of The Harold

    That's $100,000 worth of rewards for just $225.

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    Pay-to-Play

    Outright old fashioned American bribery. When we begin programming we're reserving a time slot just for this reward. Purchase this and you (along with whoever you like) will be given a single full hour show which we will promote and sell tickets to the public as if it weren't tainted with cold hard cash. You can do anything you want and we can't stop it. This is honestly a terrible idea for us to do.

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    Annual Pass

    Plan on being a regular? Consider becoming a Union VIP with an Annual Pass. Present this pass at the box office for free admission to any show for one year. Start date TBD.

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    Enter The Hall of Guardians

    Preserve your visage eternally in our hallowed halls. Are you smiling softly, offering patrons a gentle welcome? Are you sending a stern glare toward students as they arrive late to class? Are you doing something weird that's going to make us regret this reward? An 8x10 frame is yours to fill with your haunting image.

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    Name The Show

    Our late Sunday show will be an Armando set with members of our house teams and special guests. You get to name the damn show and we can never change it. Forever.

    Yikes.

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    Andrew Barlow's Epic Instagram Poem

    Andrew has been toiling away at his masterpiece: a 10 day epic poem broadcast via his Instagram stories. He just needs the main characters. Purchase this reward and you will be thrust into the most exciting story of our generation.

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    Build Tour

    Get an up close behind-the-scenes look at Union Comedy as it comes together. Claim this reward to tour the space at some point during the build to see our progress.

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    Wood from Independence Hall

    Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness? The Founding Fathers must have taken a few improv classes because they nailed the Rule of Threes. This authentic wood chip from the original Independence Hall is priced at $243 to commemorate the 243 years between the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the opening of Union Comedy.

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    The Marissa

    -Andrew Barlow's Impressions
    -Pay-to-Play
    -The Test Show

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    Design A Bathroom

    Union Comedy will have three bathrooms. Let those interior decorating skills shine! Mural? White Board? Old newspapers? You have more freedom than we'd like to allow. Please don't embarrass us.

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