11th Annual Sarasota Improv Festival

By Sarah Durham

The start of summer at Florida Studio Theatre means the Sarasota Improv Festival is right around the corner! Director of Improv Will Luera is gearing up for an exciting Festival featuring teams from across the country and as far as the United Kingdom and Canada. This year marks the 11th Annual Sarasota Improv Festival, and with it, new teams, new workshops, and new laughs.

Headlining this year’s Sarasota Improv Festival is Quartet, coming to us from Los Angeles. Making their Festival debut, this team is packed with seasoned improvisers. All of the group’s members were part of Chicago’s original iO (Improv Olympics) Theater when improv was first gaining a foothold in the United States. The artists behind this headlining troupe have also been instrumental in shaping some of the most beloved comedies from the past two decades, including serving on the writing staff of such television series as 30 Rock, Psych, and How I Met Your Mother.

Called “Ludicrously funny” by TimeOut LA, Quartet has performed in Chicago and Los Angeles for over 20 years. “I think it’s going to be really good for our audience to see them,” said Luera. “Quartet is comprised of very experienced improvisers doing some amazingly good long-form.”

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Jean Villepique, Bob Dassie, Craig Cackowski, and Carla Cackowski. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

In addition to Quartet, this year’s Festival will welcome two international improv groups: 2-MAN NO-SHOW from Canada and The Maydays from the United Kingdom. This year marks the fifth consecutive year that FST will welcome artists from around the world to its Improv Festival.

2-MAN NO-SHOW hails from Toronto, and has been named one of Toronto’s favorite improv troupes. Comedians Isaac Kessler and Ken Hall will be bringing a duo show that packs the punches. Toronto’s NOW Magazine calls the show “Hilarious and physical comedy that easily rivals anything currently on late-night TV.”

Flying in all the way from England are The Maydays, an award-winning improvised comedy company based in Brighton and London. “The Maydays are one of the premier musical groups out of Europe,” shared Luera. “The sense of theatricality and style that they bring to their shows is only paralleled by their musical ability. Music has always been a big part of our Festival and I’m proud to continue that tradition with this fantastic group.”

In addition to our headliner and international troupes, we’re excited to bring back audience favorites, as well. Teams like Available Cupholders (Austin, TX), Dad’s Garage (Atlanta, GA), Parallelogramophonograph (Austin, TX), and ImprovBoston (Boston, MA) have been huge hits at past Festivals, and won’t disappoint. Each team brings their unique spin on improvised theatre, sure to provide nonstop laughs.

Closing the Festival is its famous finale, All Play, where all 40+ Festival artists squeeze themselves onto one stage for a raucous, completely unscripted 60 minutes of collaborative fun. Artists from varying groups go head-to-head in friendly comedy competitions that highlight the unique styles and strengths of the Festival’s full lineup.

Inspired to discover your own spontaneous creativity? In addition to over 25 performances, 14 workshops will be held on Saturday, July 13 for those who want to learn from some of improv’s top performers.

The 11th Annual Sarasota Improv Festival takes place July 12 and 13. For tickets and more information, click here or call FST’s Box Office at 941-366-9000.

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Improvisers compete in All Play at the 10th Anniversary Sarasota Improv Festival (2018).      Photo by Sarah Haley.