Improvisational comedy is a very funny thing. It is as entertaining and exhilarating for the audience as much as it is for the performer, but it is not for the faint of heart. Over the past ten years, the Phoenix Improv Festival has delivered this combination of laughs and thrills right on cue and last weekend’s event at the Herberger Theater in Downtown Phoenix was no exception.
This year’s program featured improvisational comedy groups of differing styles, but all equal in their ability to make audiences laugh. Troupes like Coldtowne from Austin, Texas and local group The Light Rail Pirates relied on audience-supplied suggestions to drive the scene. Others like Cog and King Ten, both from L.A., delivered their scenes through a well-known form of improv known as “The Harold”. Local Phoenix groups Dangerville and the National Comedy Theatre incorporated music into their acts. Dr. God from L.A. provided a bit of star power with film star Matthew Lillard making a couple of appearances during their Friday evening set.
With each performance, audiences were audibly delighted by the talent of these fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants comedians. To produce thirty straight minutes of unscripted comedy is no small feat, but each group pulled it off with ease.
In its ten years of existence, the Phoenix Improv Festival has grown from a single night of local troupe performances to a three-night marquee event, attracting groups from across the country, along with the Valley’s quickest comic minds. Year after year, the festival provides a truly hilarious contribution to the creative culture of Downtown Phoenix.