The Kansas City Improv Festival

Project role: Improviser
Location: Kansas City, MO

 Pictured: a KCiF sponsor, 3 members of Business of Otters, a 4th guy who looks vaguely like me but is not, in fact, me.

Pictured: a KCiF sponsor, 3 members of Business of Otters, a 4th guy who looks vaguely like me but is not, in fact, me.

It was an absolute pleasure to return to my stomping grounds at the Kick Comedy Theater in KC for the 17th Kansas City Improv Festival!

The festival, produced each year by the KC Improv Company, takes place over two jam-packed weekends and features prominent improv acts from all over Kansas City and throughout the U.S., as well as specialized workshops and of course, great after-parties. Despite being (allegedly?) based in Chicago now, I couldn't resist popping in for a couple of shows with two groups that got accepted to perform.

On Friday, August 18th I played with Business of Otters (Andy Perkins, Michael Hudgens, Joshua Gleeson, and myself.) The otters are basically a quartet of college buddies, and when we take the stage together to indulge in what we call "basement-prov" (so named because it originated in inebriated basement shows for no audience), the result is a racing, absurd, joyously stupid time. We've actually won a couple KC competitions despite rarely having any idea what we're trying to do.

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We don't get many chances to perform together these days - in fact, this was the first set we'd done since the last annual festival - but once we sat down and started talking, it took no time at all for the old sparks to fly again. The set can be viewed here (time code 21:37). It made very little sense, conveyed nothing of importance, broke several improv rules, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

 Kate not included in this picture because she wasn't in the group yet when I made it and I am lazy.

Kate not included in this picture because she wasn't in the group yet when I made it and I am lazy.

Then on Saturday I returned to play with Breakspeare, a novel little group consisting of myself, Tim Marks, Kate Haugan, and Dave Martin. Every Breakspeare show to date has featured some combination of 3 out of 4 of us, this time it was Dave who sat out. The format is somewhat difficult to explain, ya kinda have to see it. But I'll try anyway. One player speaks in modern American English while the other two maintain a Shakespearean style of dialogue throughout. The set is divided into several unconnected scenes, each of which takes place within a genre of film or television, as submitted by the audience before the start of the show.

 Crowd for the Saturday show at The Kick Comedy Theater

Crowd for the Saturday show at The Kick Comedy Theater

In short, it's the hardest improv I've ever done in my life. The only way I can think to make it more challenging would be to layer music over top, but that makes my head spin so don't tell Tim I even mentioned it. The festival set was a lot of fun and really well received! Tim and Kate are two of the greatest improvisers I've ever had the pleasure of working with and I was so, so happy to get another chance to tackle this mixed-up style. Video of the set can be viewed here (we go up first after a brief intro.)

If you're in KC, I highly suggest checking out the KC Improv Festival next time it pops up. It's a well-curated fest that won't waste your time, and is guaranteed to introduce you to something new in the improv world. If you're part of a troupe from anywhere at all, submit for next year! You won't regret it.