Our History

TNM founders Chris Trew and Tami Nelson met in 2004 while taking improv classes in New Orleans. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina pushed Chris and Tami over to Austin. Four years later, with thousands of hours of improv performance experience under their belts, Chris and Tami crafted a unique comedy syllabus - one that teaches anybody how to perform faster, funnier, and smarter (both on- and off-stage).

In February 2009, they started teaching improv classes in a 700-sq. foot building in East Austin. They called their tiny spot The New Movement, and even though it wasn’t much of a theater space - one room and a bathroom – people immediately took notice, and a creative community sprang up in just a few weeks. TNM brought something new to the Austin improv scene – a specific approach to the craft that couldn’t be found in a book or anywhere else in the country. The difference paid off as TNM started attracting both eager rookies and veteran performers.

By January 2010, there was enough talent to bring audiences to 1819 Rosewood for the first time. The Megaphone Show was the first official weekly performance and was soon joined by the hit absurdist open mic event Block Party. Comedy hungry Austinites packed the small Eastside theater early and often, paying nothing or $5 to see shows. Early TNM alumni held down the fort in Austin while founders Chris and Tami hit the road on several national tours, teaching and performing all across the United States.

Early 2012 saw a big move for TNM ATX, going from a small space in East Austin to a much larger venue (616 Lavaca St) in the sub-basement of the Masonic temple in the heart of downtown Austin. That space now features a 90-seat theater, six classrooms, two offices, merch/ticketing counters, a lobby with free arcade machines, and tons of storage and production space to accommodate the ever-growing TNM community.

Also in 2012, TNM Nola expanded its operations to a 50-seat theater in the historic Marigny neighborhood, and a new community of TNMers sprang up. Chris and Tami moved back home to New Orleans, installing a team of brave staff members to run TNM ATX in their absence.

In mid-2014, TNM Nola found an amazing 2-story building on St. Claude Ave and renovated that into a comedy-creating campus that serves as its current home - complete with an 80-seat theater, multiple classrooms, a video production studio, and more space for expansion.

Later that year, TNM Nola opened a small full-service bar, Rosewood (named after the street of the very first TNM theater in Austin), that serves patrons inside and outside the theater. TNM Nola has since garnered the Gambit Weekly's Best Place to See Comedy in 2015 and 2016.

Also in 2016, TNM ATX doubled its square footage and acquired new classrooms and meeting spaces, and also installed an audio recording booth and live streaming cameras in the theater.

Today, TNM has joined an elite group of comedy collectives who maintain a strong presence in multiple cities, with shows and classes running in Austin and New Orleans. TNM also continues to pursue film/TV/web projects through its production company, while maintaining a national presence with their frequent tours, festival appearances, and their new online portal Comedy Underground. What does the future hold for TNM and all of its students, faculty, staff, and fans? Stay tuned!