Six years ago the creators of the Chicago Improv Festival took notice of how many college improv groups were popping up at universities around the country. There was a young, hungry generation incubating in these schools. But the Chicago Improv Festival, the oldest improv festival in the world, didn't have a good place for them. So, Executive Director Jonathan Pitts founded the College Improv Tournament. Let the games begin!
The goal was to connect and encourage college improv groups and get a glimpse of the kind of unsupervised talent being fostered in our nation's educational institutions. To fund the first year, CIF risked $10,000 of their festival budget on the college tournament and recruited 13 teams from all around the midwest for a day of competition. Pitts was floored by the drive and talent of the groups. The college improvisers were thrilled at the chance to experience Chicago's comedy scene and network with other students who loved improv. And the Tournament exploded from there.
Last year, CIT's 6th incarnation, the original 13 teams grew to 126. Over the course of 6 months,16 regional competitions will feed into the championship round here in Chicago. Every regional round is live streamed for the performers friends and family to participate. Professional judges now give the teams constructive feedback. The only thing that hasn't boomed about the College Improv Tournament is the budget, still the same $10,000 they started with six years ago.
This year tournament producer Keith Habersberger, a former college student from a championship team, is appealing to the community for support and leveraging crowd funding site IndieGoGo to raise money to fuel the tournament's growth.
They got me with the PAWS parody. I've already donated. Helping to foster young improvisers across America is just another reason why Chicago is the comedy capital of the world.