Chicago Improv Festival set for April 23-29
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
The Chicago Improv Festival is back for round 15. Its purpose is to teach, promote and document the art of improvisation to aspiring comedians, professional artists and the public.
The event has brought forth over 850 ensembles from 15 nations, boasting previous performers Tina Fey, Amy Poeler, Seth Meyers, Horatio Sanz and Neil Flynn. It has become known as the most prestigious improv festival in the world, and it all happens right here in Chicago.
The theme this year is “Celebrating the Art of Play.” Susan Messing, artistic director of the event and teacher at DePaul, believes this title to fit perfectly with the tenets of the industry.
Messing collaborates with Rachael Mason and Kate Duffy in their reverent group, The Playboys. She also has her own show called “Messing with a Friend,” in which she selects a new guest to be her partner every week. With no script and no censoring, uninhibited humor runs free.
“Nobody does improv for the money, it’s for the joy of playing,” Messing said. “It’s basically a bunch of adults acting like fifth graders.”
Messing is most excited to see Mullaney Chain (April 26 at the Playground Theatre) and the 2-Man No-Show (April 28 at the Laugh out Loud Theatre). But there are several other improv groups worth mentioning, too. Here are some to look out for:
Improvised Shakespeare Company – A show where the players speak only in Shakespearean English teeming with rhyming couples, insults, disguises and asides.
Cook County Social Club – An all-male group known for their fast-paced style and sharp comedic wit.
North Coast – A free style rapping, beatboxing, long-form group from New York.
Skinny Jeans – A local all-female troupe goes through four two-man scenes full of chaos.
Kiss*Punch*Poem – A New York group that lets the audience come up with a poem to inspire a bunch of scenes.
Stage Fright – An Improvised Homage To Hitchcock, a Philadelphia group that pays tribute to the famous director by applying a humorous twist to the classic Hitchcock characters and style.
Sutton and Napier – Members of the group BASSPROV and founder of the Annoyance Theater created this duo.
Come celebrate the beauty of grown men and women letting their goofy, outlandish colors shine, all for the satisfaction of making you laugh. Tickets range from $5 to $20 with student discounts available. For more information go to www.chicagoimprovfestival.org.