October is a time for football, fall leaves and the frights of Halloween. But the folks at De Pere’s ComedyCity in The Green Room Lounge want you to start associating the month with off-the-cuff comedy as well.
Each weekend in October, ComedyCity will be hosting different improvisational comedy troupes as part of its Green Bay Improv Festival.
This is the festival’s second year, and organizer Sean Yahn, a ComedyCity performer, says you can expect lots of laughs.
“People should check it out because every show is unpredictable, family friendly, unique, and guaranteed funny,” he says. “If they have been to a ComedyCity show before, this is a great opportunity to see how other groups from across the country perform.”
The first weekend brought Madison’s Monkey Business Institute to The Green Room Lounge. That troupe is also home to Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda, the creators of the popular online video series Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager through the their production company Blame Society Films.
The rest of the month will bring groups from across the country including California, North Carolina and Missouri. See the complete schedule at the end of this article.
Yahn started performing improv while attending high school in Oak Creek and continued when he went to Michigan Tech before landing at ComedyCity. Over the years, he’s attended his share of improv comedy festivals and found there was a need for something different.
Yahn says what makes the Green Bay Improv Festival unique is the way it puts the spotlight on just one group each weekend.
“This is really where the idea came from,” Yahn explains. “As a performer I have traveled in upwards of 1,100 miles, devoted a week of vacation time, and personal funding all for about an hour of performance time over the course of a three-day festival weekend. We wanted to create a festival where our audience has more exposure to each group and also gives the performers more stage time.”
The Comedy Network
Yahn says members of ComedyCity in De Pere have been able to use their connections in the comedy community to help them find the right acts.
You may remember that ComedyCity was once called ComedySportz. The Northeast Wisconsin club changed it name when it broke-away from the ComedySportz franchise and became independent. But it continues to follow a similar format with its shows. A number of other clubs also became independent around the same time. Yahn says that’s where some of the connections come from.
“In other cases it’s been a former ComedyCity performer who had joined the group and helped us get in touch with the right people,” he adds.
Yahn says building relationships with other clubs and performers is an important part of what goes on behind the scenes.
“The national improv community can be a close group, but you need to network to get into certain circles or talent levels. What I mean by that is I can’t call up Steve Carell and perform with him. It’s usually about who you know and your credibility as a performer.”
That’s why Yahn thinks events like the Green Bay Improv Festival are important for those pursuing comedy. The four-week fest at ComedyCity gives performers the chance for not only more stage time, but more “quality time” with those who share their interests.
Going Long for Laughs
Of course, there are also plenty of reasons for a community to get excited about an improv festival too.
Yahn says this year the Green Bay Improv Festival will be featuring more “long-form improvisation.” Short form improv came out of exercises practiced in improvisational acting. It’s what you may be used to seeing at ComedyCity – sketches that last two to five minutes and are built to create laughs quickly.
Yahn describes long-form improv as more theatrical, and compares it to the styles you might see performed by well-known groups like Second City and The Upright Citizen’s Brigade. It can last anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes or even longer. Yahn says this allows actors more time to build up characters and storylines.
“The urgency to make the audience laugh immediately isn’t as import as to bring the audience along on a comical journey, “Yahn says. “We wanted to have ‘long-form’ at this year’s festival to showcase to the audience this other aspect of improvisation. ComedyCity has a growing ‘long-form’ culture with occasional shows on Thursday nights,” he says.
If you’ve been to ComedyCity in the past, this is a chance to see something different. Find out what happens when your favorite local funny-guys and gals get mixed up with other quick wits from around the country.
For those who’ve never seen live improv comedy, Yahn says the Green Bay Improv Festival will not disappoint.
“If they are new to the experience, this is probably the best time to check it out. The groups we have coming in are all extremely talented,” he says.
Tickets to the shows are $12 or $10 for students and seniors. You can also get VIP tickets which start at $55 this weekend and decrease by $10 each weekend. The VIP pass includes preferred seating and a free drink.
The Green Bay Improv Festival Schedule:
All shows are at 7:30 and 9:30 pm
- October 11 & 12: ImprovCity (Irvine, CA)
- October 18 & 19: ComedyCity (Kansas City, MO)
- October 25 & 26: ComedyWorx (Raleigh, NC)
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