Allyson Jaffe started as a waitress at the age of 19 at the D.C. Improv in Northwest. Thirteen years later, at the age of 32, Jaffe now runs the show as co-owner.
Jaffe wanted to do stand-up comedy herself but decided it was a bit too stressful putting herself out on stage.
“When it's not getting good reception you're like, oh, what's wrong with me, so you need to have thick skin to keep doing it,” she said.
Instead of turning her back on her love of comedy, she decided to use her creativity and business sense behind the scenes, scheduling national names and fresh new comedy acts like Spike Davis.
The Improv is the only full-time comedy club in D.C. and it’s hosted everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Dave Chappelle to Lewis Black.
Jaffe is also manager and principal of the comedy school, which started in 2003 and has had well over 1,500 students.
Her love of comedy came from struggle. Jaffe suffers with Duane syndrome, which causes her to have double vision and subsequent headaches.
“For me to deal with it I had to make fun of it and laugh about it, so when I did do stand up my stand up was about having double vision,” she said.
And Jaffe says that at the end of a long, stressful day, laughter is the best medicine.
“Especially in Washington, people are super busy and everybody is important, I understand that,” she says. “But it's so important that you take a step back and laugh.”