By Raynee Novak
The Vancouver Improv Festival is back for its 25th anniversary with a stacked lineup of guests.
To start off, The Great Canadian Baking Show host Ann Pornel brings out the big guns with her vast comedic experience. She’s a Canadian Comedy Award winner, a winner of the 2017 Entertainer of the Year award from My Entertainment World, and a Canadian Screen Award nominee for Best Host. She has appeared on Recipe For Disaster, Because News, The Baroness Von Sketch Show, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
Also leading the jam-packed festival is Edmonton’s Gordie Lucius, the host of CBC Gem’s Frick I Love Nature. There will be a number of world-renowned troupes, including Toronto’s Hinprov (Canada's first bilingual Bollywood-inspired improv ensemble) and Branded Silk from New York City.
The Vancouver Improv Festival is one of the longest-running of its kind in North America. It aims to celebrate spontaneity and collaboration through the art of improvisation. Since 1999, the festival has showcased over 1,350 international and local performers for thousands of Vancouver theatre and comedy fans.
“The calibre of performers at the festival blows me away every year,” says festival organizer Amy Shostak in a statement. “Our festival is one of a few improv festivals remaining in Canada after the pandemic. We are working to maintain a creative space where artists can collaborate and further the art form of improvisation.”
Other participants include No Sex in the City from Portland, who use their lacklustre love lives as comedic fuel. Queerprov has been Vancouver’s premiere queer improv comedy troupe since 2006, with their shows being playful, personal, and slightly saucy. Wadsworth Constant is an improvised one-act play by Portland’s Kristen Schier and Philadelpia’s Nick Gillette. Spontaneous Shakespeare Company from Vancouver improvises a full Shakespearean tragedy. Duo Pop Up Show pairs up improvisers from the festival who have never worked together before.
The festival also includes a number of in-person workshops, all taught by veteran improvisers who are performing at the festival. Classes are geared towards improvisers of all levels of experience.
“There’s nothing more electric than a night of improv where everything just clicks,” continues Shostak. “The audience knows that what they’re seeing is spontaneous and never to be seen again. And they are right there with the performers, discovering the scene moment to moment.”
The festival runs from October 10 to 15 with performances at both The Cultch in East Vancouver and the Tightrope Theatre on Main Street. Tickets are available online.