Chicago Improv Productions is proud to present the Chicago Improv Festival from May 2-8. Now in its 19th year, CIF features more than 170 groups from 9 countries, performing in 105 shows, at 21 venues throughout Chicago. Many of these numbers are new record sizes for CIF, as this year’s CIF is its biggest festival ever!
Even with the largeness of this year’s CIF, this year’s festival new Artistic Director John Hildreth (see picture) was focused on providing a more intimate experience for attendees, featuring smaller venues where audiences can get up close and personal with each performer. Under his guidance and with the artistic work of his 11 curators(*), they hand-picked the very best acts from more than 255 submissions to ensure that each show is highly curated to provide the highest quality comedy. Among the highlighted acts this year are 14 all-women ensembles or duos and 8 all-minority ensembles or duos, bringing an even greater variety to the fullness of CIF’s menu.
“We were flooded with submissions this year, and instead of admitting every group
that applied, we really made an effort to select the very best groups and showcase them in more intimate venues for a closer experience for our audience and our performers,” said John Hildreth. “We took the same approach as a small-batch brewery or an independent, artisanal bakery — hand-picking the best quality ingredients and putting each show together one at a time to make the best comedy possible. This small-batch entertainment, hand-crafted by the improv artisans one show at a time, brings a premiere choice for every comedy consumer’s taste and style.”
CIF’s Co-Founder and Producer Jonathan Pitts says, “This year’s festival features acts and ensembles from Chicago, all over the United States, as well as from countries as diverse as Argentina, Brasil, Spain and Venezuela. All our acts and ensembles are grouped into 10 different artistic categories (Alternative/Experimental; Dramatic: Emerging Artists; Featured Acts; Genre; Long Form; Musical; Short Form (Games); Special Events, and Open Stage) for our audience’s easy consumption. Like different styles of wine, cheese or ice cream, these 10 artistic categories make it easier for the improv comedy connoisseur to select what type of show they want to see, which venue to see it in, and what time to go see it, in whatever way works best for them.”
Jessica Kunnath, CIF’s Associate Producer says, “For example, if you love Musical Improv, you can go to the Musical Improv artistic category. You’ll see that all the Musical Improv acts and ensembles are at MCL Chicago, so you can choose whatever show time that fits your schedule best and go see the show, all the while knowing you will see a choice act that has been specially selected for your comedy pleasure.”
(*CIF 2016’s Curators: Jack Bronis; Lillian Frances, Rachael Mason, Jessica Mitolo, Stephanie McCullough, Kevin Mullaney, Nnamdi Ngwe, David Knoell, Micah Philbrook, Jay Steigmann, Ashley Whitehurst.)
– Lauren Carrane, CIF Publicist (c) 2016