Baton Rouge just got a new home for comedy.
This February, local comedy theater collective LATCo. Comedy hosted its first show in a newly opened Mid City space. After performing for more than three years at local bars like Spanish Moon, Driftwood Cask & Barrel and Phil Brady’s, the group’s founders decided it was time to settle into their own spot.
At the beginning of January, they began transforming a former Ogden Park hair salon. They painted the walls all black and added theater seating and a small stage.
Located on Hearthstone Drive across the street from Radio Bar, LATCo. is set to become a go-to spot for weekly comedy performances, twice-monthly improv shows, and regular improv classes, team building workshops and other comedy events. At the theater, ticket holders are transported into an engaging, comedic world where anything goes. One second, an actor could be on his knees barking like a dog, while another person is heroically singing the national anthem. Guests never know what jokes the comedians will pull out of their pockets.
The theater was founded by T.C. Matherne, Michael Moss and Betty Mujica-Milano after the three hit it off at a local improv class. It specializes in long-form improv comedy—a 20- to 60-minute comedy show with no script—but local creatives from all comedic backgrounds can utilize the space.
“It’s a hub for creatives and for people who have never found their thing,” Mujica-Milano says.
Since they first started practicing in a private meeting room at Whole Foods in 2016, the group has doubled in size. Now, LATCo. has 14 regular members and has taught more than 50 students during classes and workshops. For the founders, it’s more than an improv comedy group. It’s a community.
After students take improv classes, Moss says they’re more attentive, engaged conversationalists and better at public speaking. In some cases, the practice positively affects the person’s whole life.
“A lot of people take improv to become better lawyers, comedians or better this/better that, and we find that they come out being better people,” Matherne says.
The founders never imagined they’d have their own space after just four years of practicing improv together. The group went from strangers connecting over an interest in the craft to starting their own comedy group to becoming business partners. Together, they hope to create an inclusive, judgement-free space where people can just be themselves.
“Getting to bring a community together, which is so rare now that people put down their phones and are vulnerable with each other,” Mujica-Milano says, “it makes me feel like we’re the luckiest people because we get to create that space here.”
Get ready to improv
Visit latcocomedy.com for information about upcoming improv comedy shows and classes. LATCo. is at 455 Hearthstone Drive.
This article was originally published in the March 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.