Chicago Improv Festival 

Calling all comedy nerds, this is your opportunity to get some one-on-one face time with eleven huge names in comedy! The 17th Annual Chicago Improv Festival is right around the corner and some of your favorite comedy icons will be in town both performing and teaching workshops. The workshops are held on Saturday, April 5th and Sunday, April 6th. These tend to sell out, so make sure to snag a spot before they're all gone.

Long Form with Rachael Mason
Saturday, April 5, from 10am to 12pm at Studio BE

Combining the exercises of Del Close and improv theory, this workshop will touch on everything from openings to scene work to some of Rachael’s favorite forms. Rachael Mason is Head of Advanced Improvisation at The Second City. She is currently performing with The Second City Improv All-Stars at UP Comedy Club and with Susan Messing in The Boys.

Improvisation For Long Form with Michael Delaney
Saturday, April 5, form 10am to 1pm at Stage 773 (The Thrust)

This workshop will focus on scenework for the Harold and long form in the tradition of the Del Close style. Emphasis will be on creating scenes which lend themselves to subsequent beats as the Harold/form progresses. Michael Delaney has been a performer of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater since it’s inception in 1998, where he has written, directed and performed in countless scripted and improvised shows. Co-founder of UCB’s banner teams The Swarm and The Stepfathers. He is the former artistic director and current head teacher in both improvisation and sketch comedy writing at UCB Theater in New York. He is also an adjunct professor in Columbia University’s film department for comedy writing.

Exposition is Your Friend! with Dave Razowksy
Saturday, April 5, from 10am to 1pm at Stage 773 (The Pro)

How much info is too much info? How much do you need to define to get your scene going? When does a scene organically go from “fact” to “truth?” Become aware of the feeling of being present, and you will suddenly know where you go next. This class is for onstage and off. Dave Razowsky is an alum of the Annoyance Theater, iO and Second City.

Behavior is a Game with Kevin Mullaney
Saturday, April 5, from 12pm to 2pm at Studio BE

Create fun behavior-based games in your scenes. Respond impulsively to your scene partner. Turn those impulses into a game and take your scene partner on an emotional roller coaster. Kevin Mullaney is the Artistic Director for the Chicago Improv Festival and for Under The Gun Theater. He is the former head of the training program at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre where he taught from 1999 to 2006.

Musical Improv with Laura Hall & Rick Hall
Saturday, April 5, from 1pm-4pm, at Stage 773 (The Thrust)

Laura Hall, musical director for Whose Line is It Anyway and husband, Rick Hall, Second City alum, will be teaching a musical improv workshop. This workshop will create a fun environment where you can grow, explore, and move out of your comfort zone. The workshop will start out with warm-ups and games and will move on to creating songs that are natural extensions of the improv skills you already have.

Jon Barinholtz & Rob Belushi Workshop
Saturday, April 5, from 2pm-4pm at Studio BE

Jon Barinholtz (Annoyance Theater and iO Chicago alum) and Rob Belushi (iO Chicago and Second City alum) will focus on the relationship aspect of improv. This workshop will be focused on taking a look at how you can strengthen your scenes so that they are not only funny, but interesting. The fastest way to this is through establishing and building a strong relationship and a detailed point of view. They will focus on deepening the impact we have on one another onstage by expanding upon the concept of vulnerability in order to incite emotional responses causing deeper affects and higher stakes.

A Master Class with Susan Messing
Sunday, April 6 from 10am to 12pm at Stage 773 (The Pro)

Susan Messing answers your weird improv questions and sends you home with a renewed joy for the art and your own sense of play. Susan has been an improviser and comedian for over twenty-five years. She is an alumna of iO Chicago, Second City’s Mainstage and a founding member of Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre. Susan created and has taught her curriculum at iO and iO West, The Annoyance Theatre, The Second City and around the country.

Matt Besser Lecture
Sunday, April 6, from 1pm-3pm, at Stage 773 (The Pro)

Matt Besser is a co-founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, co-author of The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisational Manual, and host of the long form improv podcast on Earwolf.com called improv4humans. Prerequisite is having listened to improv4humans as an example of what we will be doing in class.

Ian Roberts Workshop
Sunday, April 6, from 12pm to 3pm, at Studio BE

Ian Roberts is one of the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade, and co-author of their book, The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisational Manual. The goal of the UCB style of improvisation is to perform improvised scenes that play as well as, and could be mistaken for, written sketches. In service of this goal, Ian’s class will focus on the “if, then” process of playing the game of the scene (the linchpin of the UCB improv philosophy), and playing at the “top of your intelligence.” Mastering these two concepts is the basis of creating improvised scenes that are of as high caliber as well written comedy sketches. Improvise so well that you’re accused of cheating – there is no greater compliment for an improviser. This workshop will be limited to 20 students and will cost $100. If people want to audit the class, they can do so by paying $30 at the door on the day of the workshop.