After the smashing success of last year’s inaugural District Improv Festival, the District Improv Company, with help from the Washington Improv Theater, will once again host three days of long-form improv shows at night and workshops during the day, Sept. 24-28 at Source.
“Last year we started with a small core of DC improvisers and we knew lots of cities had their own improv festivals, but for whatever reason, DC hadn’t yet, so we wanted to put DC on the map,” says Dan Miller, District Improv board member and external relations director for Washington Improv Theater. “Everyone in the improv community is really excited about doing this again.”
The festival will showcase 30 improv troupes from around the country, including 10 of the top acts in the D.C. area.
“Once word got out about last year, the caliber of acts interested this year raised considerably,” Miller says. “Improv is going through a bit of a renaissance right now. Classes are selling out left and right, and it’s gotten so big, troupes are performing at venues all over the city. There’s a lot of talent in the area and it’s growing.”
Headlining this year’s event are TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi, considered by many to be the premier improv duo working today thanks to their patient scenework and rich characters. They will take the stage on Saturday, Sept. 27 and teach an improv workshop on Sept. 28.
“They are as big as you get in terms of people who are improv-famous,” Miller says. “A lot of people know TJ from the Sonic commercials, and they are both very recognizable from their TV appearances. They are the ultimate du0 in long-form improv today.”
Among the local favorites are Washington Improv Theater musical ensemble iMusical, Thunderball (featuring D.C. native Paul Laudiero), and veteran D.C. duo ShawnMikael(s).
“It’s similar to last year in that we are looking to really shine a light on the top DC-based talent and then welcome folks from across the country to get a taste of our local scene,” Miller says. “The competition this year is definitely stiffer. The quality of submissions was better so it was much more competitive to get in this year.”
With so many great local groups, there’s no reason to run off to New York or Chicago to see great improv.
Big Bang (Boston)
Bonecracker (Chapel Hill)
Broadway’s Next Hit Musical (NYC)
Dial M for Nasty (DC)
Evan the Loyal (Baltimore)
Family Haircut (NYC)
FOIA Love All-Stars (NYC)
From Justin to Kelly (NYC)
Jive Turkey (DC)
Junior Varsity (NYC)
King Bee (DC)
Outside Voices (Philadelphia)
People Like Us (DC)
Press Play (DC)
The Raving Jaynes (NYC)
SeaTea (Hartford, CT)
Sistine Robot (DC)
Squirrel Buddies (Austin)
The Amie & Kristen Show/The Kristen & Amie Show (Philadelphia)
Wicked City (NYC)
For the festival, former and current BIG artistic directors Harris and Prescott Gaylord will improv with their highly physical performance style with help from guitarist Luke Chohany.
“We typically start with an invented creation myth, then we will do some combination of silent scenes, regular scenes, and songs,” Harris says. “I’m very excited to be coming back.”
Special out of town guests include a return performance by Philadelphia’s The Amie & Kristen Show/The Kristen & Amie Show, who gave a crowd-favorite performance at the first District Improv Festival; nationally known musical improv ensemble Broadway’s Next Hit Musical; and ukulele-wielding Austin duo Squirrel Buddies. Each will lead a workshop as well.
“For those interested in learning what long-form improv is—a craft different than short-form, which you would see on Whose Line Is It Anyway—this is a chance to dive in and see some of the top talent in the country,” Miller says. “These acts were all selected by a jury and it’s going to be really exciting.”
All-access festival passes can be purchased for $40 and tickets to individual shows can be purchased for $10-15. Tickets for TJ and Dave are sold separately.
For more information, visit districtimprov.org.