6th Year of Festival returns to Memorial Hall and adds more performances
OTRimprov proudly presents the 6th Annual Improv Festival of Cincinnati. With a continuing focus on diverse voices and female performers, IF Cincy features improv talent from Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Missoula, Los Angeles, Toledo, Louisville, and from right here in Cincinnati. The Festival runs September 26-28, 2019 at Memorial Hall. IF Cincy is excited to return to Memorial Hall OTR. The venue allows the Festival to expand performance offerings, with more improvisers traveling to Cincinnati from across the nation. Additionally, more local troupes are scheduled to perform, highlighting the continued growth of world class improv in Cincinnati.
Headlining the Festival are:
- Sweater Puppies from Atlanta, GA featuring Amber Nash, best known for her role as Pam Poovey on the Emmy-winning animated show Archer, and an all star female ensemble. This unique show asks audience members to bring clothes for the performers to use as costume pieces, which are donated to local shelters and non-profits at the end of the set. We are very pleased to be partnering with Kind Flash Cincy, a local philanthropic organization dedicated to “flooding the streets with kindness,” to deliver clothing to their partners.
- Broke Gravy from Portland, OR, an award-winning troupe who uses honest audience interactions focused on personal experience to inspire and inform their scenes. An audience favorite last year, we are pleased to welcome them back.
- GREEN with Emily Fightmaster features Cincinnati native Emily Fightmaster. GREEN describes themselves as an improv troupe from Chicago “comprised of best friends and professional idiots” who worked together in The Second City National Touring Company as Green Co. for years. You can catch their individual members performing on stages across New York, on the resident stages at Second City, and on the Hulu series Shrill. But it’s more fun to catch them right now, all together, as GREEN.
- Annie O’Connor and Peter Fluet, both outstanding teachers and performers in their own right, team up as the duo The Local Option. Annie spent 3 years in Cincinnati as a member of “Trespassers Only” before moving to LA where she was a part of Heyday, an award-winning Harold team at iO West and was named Teacher of the Year twice. Peter is a veteran improviser who has trained and performed with Groundlings LA Sunday Company, Second City, IO West, and Upright Citizens Brigade.
Last year’s Festival saw an increase in representation of diverse voices and perspectives on stage. The trend continues this year with women representing nearly half of the performers in the Festival and multiple troupes comprised entirely of people of color. The producers of the Festival chose to solicit submissions for the 2019 Festival and expressly sought out diverse groups. “Increasing the diversity of voices on our stages has transformed the experience of the festival for performers and audiences. By seeking to present as many perspectives as possible, we strive to create a festival that represents both our city and the larger world of improv,” says Kat Smith, Managing Director of OTRimprov and Co-Producer of IF Cincy.
Traveling to Cincinnati are ANARCHY: an improvised rock opera Chicago, IL; Annie O’Connor Missoula, MT; Broke Gravy Portland, OR; Extra Crispy Louisville, KY; GREEN feat. Emily Fightmaster Chicago, IL; Harpoon Chicago, IL; Here on Purpose Pittsburgh, PA; I’m the Dog Chicago, IL; My Momma’s Biscuits New York, NY; Peter Fluet Los Angeles, CA; Rock O Matic Ferndale, MI; Smellybutton Toledo, OH; Sweater Puppies Atlanta, GA; Sweetheart New York, NY; The Toast Ferndale, MI; and Wieck & Petersen Detroit, MI.
Cincinnati’s improv scene has exploded in the past few years, with more and more groups performing regularly around the city. IF Cincy proudly showcases this growth and wealth of local talent. Cincinnati troupes joining the line-up are Blue Roses, Bluetime, Body Geology , Bucket, the Business, Cin City Comedy, ComedySportz Cincinnati, Dave Powell Champion, Don’t Tell Anna, The Golden Ratio, Hands on Dots, Highly Improvable, HOT MIC, Not My Boyfriend, Roosterwolf, Scissor Set, Separate Checks, Uranium-235, Waitlisted, and Wampus.
To make room for all these troupes, IF Cincy has expanded its schedule. With three shows on both Friday and Saturday nights, there are even more chances to see the troupes performing at IF. Another change for this year is a reduction in ticket prices. “We wanted to do everything we could to make the cost affordable for our audience while also making sure we maintain the sustainability of IF Cincy. Lowering the price for tickets to all shows give the local audience more chances to see the talented improvisers visiting Cincinnati and, at the same time, will expose them to the amazing improvisers working in the city year round,” says Paul Wilson, Co-Producer of IF Cincy. Single Tickets are $15 for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening performances
Many of the performers taking the stage in the evening will also be hosting workshops over the weekend, giving locals and visiting artists a rare opportunity to take classes from the impressive and diverse range of visiting national talent.
Who: OTRimprov presents
What: Improv Festival of Cincinnati (IF Cincy)
When: Thursday through Saturday, September 26-28, 2019
Where: Memorial Hall OTR, 1225 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Featuring: Improv artists from Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Missoula, Toledo, Louisville, and from right here in Cincinnati.
How Much: Single Tickets $15 | Full Festival Pass (8 shows) $100. Additional fees may be added.
ANARCHY: an improvised rock opera (Chicago) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Anarchy is a completely sung, completely improvised rock opera featuring some of Chicago’s finest musical improvisers, who have a wild variety of training and educational backgrounds. The project started in the fall of 2013 as an idea born from the desire to create a brand new form of musical improv, with roots in modern musicals (including shows like Tommy by The Who, Green Day’s American Idiot, Rent, and Spring Awakening).
Blue Roses (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
A Cincinnati-based two-prov who enjoy and are inspired by the work of David Lynch. Two-prov/duo-prov weirdness with emotional content.
Bluetime (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Mary O’Connell and Tone Branson are company members and performers for Improv Cincinnati, and work together on a variety of improv and sketch comedy projects. With a combined 15 years of improv experience and love of playing unusual characters, the duo created, “Bluetime,” a long form set comprised of a series of stories that take place during an event (suggested by the audience) of significant size and scope. Sweeping between “blue time” scenes, where they play themselves, and “orange time” scenes, where they play outlandish characters, Mary and Tone take audiences on a journey that is honest, sincere, foolish, and fun.
Body Geology (Cincinnati) || NEW to IF Cincy
Body Geology is an improv duo made up of two people. One of them is named Brian and the other is named Natalie. Their unique, synergistic bond dates back all the way to last January, and they’ve performed together for over thirty minutes. In addition to their upcoming set at the 2019 Improv Festival of Cincinnati, their comedy can be witnessed at their respective day jobs, at opportune moments in various Cincinnati parks, and probably also at parties, if they were to go to any.
Broke Gravy (Portland, OR) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Broke Gravy mixes the unique experiences of their audience with narrative, relationship, and the unexpected to create a show that is always surprising and new. Sometimes they ask you questions. Sometimes you ask them questions. Every time you’ll discover something that explores humor, humanity, and truth.
Bucket (Cincinnati) || NEW to IF Cincy
A two-person Harold with an exciting aquatic twist.
The Business (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Here to strategize all your improv synergies – their patent pending reverse recursive analysis is sure to improve your comedy reception and activate your most vital laugh centers. Their dedicated, professional, customer focused improvisation team will assure your experience is one of comfort and quality. You’ll be glad you chose The Business, a division of OTRimprov, for your improv needs – they’ll shift your paradigm to a new dynamic of improv greatness.
Cin City Comedy || NEW to IF Cincy
Cin City Comedy presents their version of the Armando with a guest storyteller (scenes inspired by true stories that are made up on the spot).
ComedySportz Cincinnati (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Using audience suggestions and willing volunteers, the red team and blue team will go head to head playing some of the most popular improv games. Scenes, jokes, music, puns, and guessing games abound in this entirely unscripted show. The all powerful referee will keep things moving, call out fouls, distribute points, and with the audience’s help, announce the improv champions at the end of the match!
Dave Powell Champion (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Featuring OTRimprov’s Artistic Director Dave Powell and his hand-chosen Champion, this is improv at its most immediate. Past champions have included local actors and improvisers but the Champion for IF Cincy is one you are going to want to see. Details coming soon!
Don’t Tell Anna (Cincinnati) || NEW to IF Cincy
Xavier University’s oldest improv group. The troupe combines long-form and short-form improv into monthly performances on campus that are free of charge. DTA has performed at Ohio State University’s Bellwether Improv Festival and at Michigan State University’s festival.
Extra Crispy (Louisville, KY)|| NEW to IF Cincy
Extra Crispy reunited in January of 2019 and perform regularly at the Bard’s Town Theatre. They bring you short form games and open scenes.
The Golden Ratio (Cincinnati) || NEW to IF Cincy
After being individually captured by pteranodons and dropped into a giant nest of newborn reptile-birds, the members of THE GOLDEN RATIO joined forces in a battle for survival and won! Earning the respect of ancient Greek mathematicians, they’ve been imbued with the power to grow 1.618% more compelling with each subsequent improv performance. When not creating perfectly balanced narratives for enthralled audiences around the world, they can be found in the petals of the flower, the gyre of the tropical storm, and the elegant spiral of the DNA molecule. They live in FibonacCincinnati and, like you, they like to party.
GREEN feat. Emily Fightmaster (Chicago, IL) || NEW to IF Cincy
GREEN is an improv troupe from Chicago comprised of best friends and professional idiots. After traveling the country with The Second City National Touring Company as Green Co. for years, these improvisers have dispersed across the country and reclaimed their namesake (probably illegally, please don’t contact their former company.) They now travel the country performing again because apparently they could not get enough of riding around in a rental car together. You can catch their individual members performing on stages across New York, on the resident stages at Second City, and on the Hulu series Shrill. But it’s more fun to catch them right now, all together, as GREEN.
Hands on Dots (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Like any good host, Hand on Dots lives to make sure you have a good time. With their relationship-driven scenes and fearless exploration, they’re the type of party you’ll still be talking about Monday morning. Members have trained and performed with various improv companies, including Pointless Improv in Ann Arbor, Michigan, OTRimprov, and Improv Cincinnati. Order a cocktail, grab a seat, and get ready for the party!
Harpoon (Chicago, IL) || NEW to IF Cincy
Steven Saltsman and Tommy Spears are two friends who met studying improv and sketch at the Second City Training Center and iO in Chicago. The duo loved collaborating so much they decided to make it official. With deep dives into weird and fantastic characters, the two make relationship based improv and talk about Cole Porter. Harpoon! will be turning one year old at IF Cincy, and has performed at Crossroads Festival in Indy, Trillfest in Houston, and the Atlanta Improv Festival.
Here on Purpose (Pittsburgh, PA) || NEW to IF Cincy
This Harold team most recently performed at the Louisville Improv Festival in August. Currently they don’t have any famous members, but they’re “working on it.”
Highly Improvable (Cincinnati) ||RETURNING to IF Cincy
Highly Improvable has been thrilling audiences with short- and long-form improv in Cincinnati since 2011. Welcoming performers of all skill levels, Highly Improvable performs regularly at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center and Myrtle’s Punch House.
Hot Mic (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
With musical accompanists, EZ/DZ (Daniel Zimmer, piano. Delmar Davis, guitar), HOT MIC performers Gauravi Shah, Colin Thornton, Tone Branson, Chance Kilgour, Ellyn Broderick, Mary O’Connell, Kelly Morton, Tracy Connor and Cat Ward create a fun and unique musical story based on audience suggestion. All of the scenes, the music, and lyrics are made-up on the spot by, what many audiences have called, “magic.”
I’m the Dog (Chicago) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
I’m the Dog consists of Alec Herr and Tatum Hunter. The two met at Chicago’s iO comedy theatre when they locked eyes from across the room in the midst of a hate-fueled dance battle, like that one scene in West Side Story. Their shared love of narrative forms and sincere characters inspired them to form I’m the Dog so they could find opportunities to get out of the classroom and onto the stage. Their improv explores the relationship between sincerity and absurdity and focuses on characters who love each other. They’ve performed at The Crowd Theatre in Chicago.
The Local Option (Missoula and Los Angeles) || NEW to IF Cincy
Annie O’Connor and Peter Fluet are friends and founding members of the Los Angeles based improv team HeyDay (creators of the Vertical Harold). They have been performing, teaching, coaching, and generally thinking about improv for over 20 years at theaters such as Westside Comedy, IO West, Second City LA, UCB, and Groundlings. They decided to get together in Cincinnati and form The Local Option, a two person improv show where their unique styles will come together, clash, and create a journey that runs the gambit of heartwarmingly poignant, experimentally silly, joyously provocative and sometimes just absolutely filthy.
My Momma’s Biscuits (New York, NY) || NEW to IF Cincy
NYC’s most LIT improv team, every My Momma’s Biscuits show is a party and you’re invited! Watch MMB sing, dance and act a fool in a performance you will never forget. They’ve performed at 2nd Best Comedy Fest, Hell Yes Fest, Black and Funny Improv Festival, Diverse As F*ck Festival, Detroit Improv Festival, Del Close Marathon, and more. They are Magnet Theater’s Inspirado champions, Dancify That winners, and conquerors of Hell Yes Fest’s Pizza eating contest.
They have performed and taught workshops all over the country. Trained at the best comedy theaters in New York City, MMB is a talented group made up entirely of some of the best POC comedians in the city. Members are currently performing and or writing at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, The Peoples Improv Theater, The Armory Improv Program, and BoogieManja.
Not My Boyfriend (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Not My Boyfriend is ready to swipe right on you!! Be ready to enjoy a first date full of laughs and minimal awkward pauses. This group of Cincinnati’s finest eligible individuals will have you begging for a second date with their witty banter and charming personalities. You won’t want to ghost them, we promise.
Rock o Matic (Ann Arbor, MI) || NEW to IF Cincy
Rock O Matic is a musical trope of eight that performs 1-3x a month at Go Comedy! in Ferndale, MI since February 2019. We are directed by PJ Jacokes, who performs with us whenever he gets a chance, and musically directed by Jeremy St. Martin with 3 other band members. Rock O Matic is currently scheduled to perform Friday night at DIF 2019 and submitted to CHIMIF 2019. Performers include Hunter Dunn, Sonia Khaleel, David Moan, Sara Rose, Natalie Roxas, Alec Sheldon, and Cari Sue Murphy. Band members include Mikey Brown, Katie Hoffman, and Matt Wixom.
Roosterwolf (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Roosterwolf is a house team of OTRimprov. Developed in January 2018, this team consists of lovable, talented improvisers, whose unique scenes and goofy characters are sure to provide hilarious entertainment for anyone who crosses their path.
Scissor Set (Cincinnati) || NEW to IF Cincy
The two sharpest blades in the drawer cut scenes together like Vera Wang on a tube top. It’s not classy, but somehow they pull it off. Extreme characters are sliced open and stitched together with emotional commitment and raw energy. Whether you’ve seen Scissor Set or you’ve ever held a really nice set of scissors in your hand, you know how it feels to enthusiastically proclaim, “nice pair!”
Separate Checks (Cincinnati) || NEW to IF Cincy
Separate Checks has been performing as a duo team for nearly a year, but has been performing together on various troupes for the past two years. This is their first festival appearance.
Smellybutton (Toledo, OH) || NEW to IF Cincy
Smellybutton is the first house team chosen by Glass City Improv. Met (mostly) in a level 1 improv class, took subsequent levels together, formed a practice group. Love each other deeply and profoundly. Not Scientologists.
Sweater Puppies (Atlanta, GA) || NEW to IF Cincy
Sweater Puppies is an all-star, all-female team – Karen Cassady, Megan Leahy, Whittney Millsap and Amber Nash have worked together for years and finally combined their talents to create new experiences with old clothes. They ask audiences to bring in gently-used pieces of clothing they no longer need, which they use as inspiration for short and long-form shows. After the show, the clothing is donated to a deserving charity. A fun show plus a good deed gives everyone a case of the warm and fuzzies!
Sweetheart (New York, NY) || NEW to IF Cincy
Sweetheart marries montage and an expansion with their form. They start with grounded, world-building scenes that quickly spiral in as connections are drawn and the world gets smaller and smaller. Sweetheart has been performing together since September 2018 when they were cast as a house team at Magnet Theater.
The Toast (Ferndale, MI) || NEW to IF Cincy
The Toast has appeared at the Grand Rapids Improv Festival, Detroit Women of Comedy, Snow Day (Go Comedy!), and Trill (Houston, TX). They make their home at Pointless Theater in Ann Arbor, MI, where over half of our troupe teaches and/or plays on a house team.
Uranium-235 (Cincinnati) || NEW to IF Cincy
Colin Thornton and Joe DiSalvo are Uranium-235, a radioactive comedy duo who perform “The Deconstruction”. The Deconstruction takes a simple scene and exponentially breaks it apart until it’s inner truth is completely revealed. This challenging format is normally performed by a full team of improvisers, but Uranium 235 love to jump in the deep end of danger and risk. Join them on an entropic journey from order to chaos.
Waitlisted (Cincinnati) || NEW to IF Cincy
Waitlisted is a long form troupe that performs a (modified) Slacker, with each scene following a person, place, or other element from the previous scene.
Wampus (Cincinnati) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
WAMPUS! is a mighty six-headed beast that performs a volatile and highly experimental form of improvisation never before seen in the majestic Ohio Valley. “Dangerous”? Perhaps. “Exciting”? Mos def. “Miss-able”? Only if you want to spend the rest of your life wallowing in ceaseless regret.
War Candy (Cincinnati) || NEW to IF Cincy
War Candy formed in April 2019 as an Improv Cincinnati Harold house team. They are still fresh to the city’s improv scene, but have managed to capture the hearts of many. The Candy family is comprised of all flavors, sweet and sour. Alex, Deserae, Jordan, Josh, Miguel, Sania, and a trio of Sams bring friendship, close bonds, and genuine love to the stage. Mixing in high energy, relatable characters, sticky situations, and end of the world scenarios, together they use audience suggestions to create a series of improvised scenes to fascinate viewers.
Wieck & Petersen (Ferndale, MI) || RETURNING to IF Cincy
Wieck and Petersen have been improvising for over 11 years now and have been friends for just as long. Last year they decided to see what happens when you mix the intellect and character driven style of Chris with the heartfelt narrative style of Bob, and the results were pure magic.
OTRimprov is collaborative, simple, and joyful. We bring talented performers together to create consistently interesting, frequently funny, and always inventive scenes. By exploring a variety of forms, we keep ourselves and our audience on our toes. Members of OTRi have studied and performed with a variety of improv theatres and groups around the US, including Second City, iO, iO West, ACME Comedy Theatre, Mission IMPROVable, SmartyPants, Wit’s End, and Incredulity. We are proud to have been named “Best Improv Troupe in Cincinnati” by the readers of CityBeat for the last 5 years running (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019).
We foster new talent through classes and a welcoming atmosphere where all performers feel inspired to explore and take risks. OTRimprov is proud to produce ComedySportz Cincinnati and support Bucket, Dave Powell Champion, Not My Boyfriend, Scissor Set, and Separate Checks