The Kalamazoo Improv Festival returns for its 9th annual showcase of some of the best improv teams in the midwest. In the past, the festival has featured performers that later went on to such fame as The Walking Dead (Steve Yeun), Saturday Night Live (Paul Brittain, Alex Moffatt, Luke Null), Second City Main Stage (too many to count), and more. Festival-goers have the chance to see and meet these talented folks before they make it big. Teams from Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Kalamazoo will perform scenes that will leave you weeping with laughter; all made up completely on the spot using suggestions from the audience. This year, the Fest features such teams as Whirled News Tonight, the longest running improv show in Chicago, featuring Adal Rifai from the popular podcast Hello From The Magic Tavern. Also, the team Devil’s Daughter was named Best Harold Team at i.O. Chicago, their highest team honor.
Once again, downtown Kalamazoo’s arts hub The Epic Center, will play host to the Fest October 20 & 21 in its 2nd floor Jolliffe Theatre.
“We’re not only focused on delivering great shows, we want to deliver a great experience for audiences and performers”, says Dann Sytsma, festival producer. “The memories people create at the festival are unlike any other experience in Kalamazoo. An improv audience is unique because they know that what they’re seeing will never happen again, and that’s a fun thing to share with people. That’s what we’re delivering.”
Festival-goers can support an essential non-profit organization with every drink that they buy. All drink proceeds go directly to the Black Arts & Cultural Center, who will be serving beverages both nights. Have a drink while you enjoy top-notch improv.
The festival activities start at the 5:30pm, Friday, October 20 Happy Hour Show (discount food and drinks), followed by shows at 7:30pm, 9:30pm. The fun continues Saturday, October 22 with improv workshops at 1pm and 4pm, where you can learn valuable improv skills from some of the finest teachers in the business. The festival finishes off with a bang Saturday night with shows at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. Except for the Friday, 9:30 show featuring the highly acclaimed Whirled News Tonight, each show will feature three outstanding improv teams.
Schedule of Performances:
Friday, Oct 20, 5:30pm Happy Hour Show, Drink & Food Discounts
ROIAL Improv - Laughs of Spartan proportions
Blab Rats - Tested and found to be funny
BoxFan - A light and breezy duo
Friday, Oct 20, 7:30pm
League of Pointless Improvisors - You’ll get the point
Pop Scholars - Young, smart & sexy improv
Devil’s Daughter - So funny, you’ll swear it’s evil (named 2017 “Best Harold Team” by i.O. Chicago… that’s a big deal)
Friday, Oct 20, 9:30pm
Crawlspace Eviction - Aged and weathered to perfection
Whirled News Tonight - The news is real. Everything else is improvised. (The longest running improv show in Chicago)
Saturday, Oct 21, 7:30pm
Listen, Stupid - Don’t make us smack you
Best Friends - We’ve all got ‘em. Some are funnier than others.
Piebenga Plumbing - Reliable customer care
Saturday, Oct 21, 9:30pm
Worklight - Students of life. Students of laughs.
Adal & Erin - Two stars of Chicago makin’ stuff up
Big Spoon - Roll over and enjoy it
Tickets are $20 general admission for each show, or get a $60 fest pass and see as many shows as you want. Busy one of the Festival days? Buy a nightly pass, $45 Friday night (3 shows) or $30 Saturday night (2 shows).
All shows will be at the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. To get more information or to purchase tickets, go to crawlspacetheatre.com.
Schedule of Workshops:
Saturday, Oct 21, 1pm
DRAGON’S BREATH (FORM WORKSHOP) with Adal Rifai
Learn a form that is the pinnacle of group mind! No player on the team leaves the stage at any point, you stay engaged and connected at all times with no sides to retreat to. Each performer is continuously a part of the piece, becoming an architect from within. Using organic transitions, give and take, and non-verbal support skills, you will learn to rock a form that flexes your improv muscles like never before. The tools learned and used in their workshop can also be applied to any improv show.
Adal Rifai - Adal Rifai is a improviser/coach/teacher/writer/producer and podcaster in Chicago. You can see Adal at iO with the house team Revolver and in the weekly show Whirled News Tonight and around the U.S. with Pudding-Thank-You. He also teaches improv at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Past iO credits include Swim Buddies, Our Feature Presentation: The Improvised Movie, Radical Concept, and Hunter Family Crest. He has performed at Second City as a member of Twisty and HouseCo. Along with appearances on the podcasts 'Comedy Bang Bang' and 'Improv 4 Humans', Adal voices the character Chunt on the improvised podcast ‘Hello, From the Magic Tavern’.
Get Connected with Mark & Scott Piebenga
Two person scenes come in all shapes and sizes, be it short or long, fast or slow. But in all cases, they benefit from connecting with your scene partner. This workshop will focus on techniques to perceive and make meaning of your scene partner's choices and building awareness of your own. The brothers Mark and Scott Piebenga share their experience from performing their two-man show together for the last four years.
Mark and Scott Piebenga, sons of Grand Rapids MI, have been performing improvisation and comedy for the bulk of the last two decades. Scott’s credits include Crawlspace Eviction (Kalamazoo), We Can Make You Laugh (national tour), Bovine Metropolis (Denver), and currently performs at iO and the Playground(Chicago).
Mark’s credits include Monkapult (Kalamazoo), the Playground, Annoyance, iO and Second City (Chicago). They have shamelessly re-appropriated the name of their grandfather, uncle, and father’s actual plumbing outfit without concern for the shocking disparity in work ethic and usefulness.
Saturday, Oct 21, 4pm
World Building in Improv with Adal Rifai
Learn to create and reinforce world rules within an improvised piece. Allowing for more depth and investment in a new world with it's own reality. You'll learn how to look for and execute on 'world rules' and 'piece rules' producing a more satisfying and memorable show and freeing up your play vs. trying to get facts straight.
Group Scenes with Erin Kief
This workshop will walk you through building relationships quickly, getting on the same page, and balancing the groups' needs with the individual voices within the group. The exercises we do will also help with mono scenes, group games, and will help you to maintain your individual voice on larger teams.
Erin Keif is an improviser and sketch performer from Boston who currently performs all over Chicago. She can be seen on the Harold team Comet, the independent team Wet Bus, and Whirled News Tonight at iO Chicago. She can also be seen playing with Papa Legba and Close Quarters CiC theater. She coaches the team Mr. Dr. and wrote John C. Reilly fan mail when she was twelve years old.
For the Saturday workshops, admission is $15 per workshop. All workshops will take place at First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo 315 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.
To get more information or to purchase tickets, go to crawlspacetheatre.com.
Tickets are $20 general admission for each show, or get a $60 fest pass and see as many shows as you want. Friday night pass is $45. Saturday night pass is $30. For the Saturday workshops, admission is $15 per workshop.