CIF PRODUCER’S STATEMENT:
As the Producer for the 18th Annual Chicago Improv Festival, I’m honored, overwhelmed, and excited to see the community, as a whole, work on all these cylinders that the CIF staff has been putting in place since the summer. It’s really interesting when you work behind the scenes to pull together so many different comedy institutions under one banner, in the sense that the Chicago Improv Festival is created to honor the art of improv, yet there are so many various methods or teachings of how that art form should or can be. When I took on the job as Producer this year, 2 of my main goals were the following: Community & Timing. How can CIF give more support in making the Chicago comedy community more united, while not only exposing the Festival itself, but each theatre we’re partnering up with? Furthermore, how can we do this while ensuring a sense of respect to all people involved – venue owners, performers, marketing/publicist outlets, and even ourselves (CIF Staff)? And while these more moralistic thoughts loom, what can we do as an organization to facilitate each detail in a timely manner, including submission deadlines, venue scheduling, press release dates, and effective notifications/communications? The funny part about these questions, as the Producer for #CIF18, is that – if you’re a Producer in general, you most likely face these questions about your own show/event, and quite honestly, if we had the answers down to a concrete equation then we’d follow that template every time. But with so many x-factors, our equation really stays in a hypothetical status. Thus, in true essence of this art form, Producing the Chicago Improv Festival takes as much improv skills to the business sense in hopefully creating good “scene work.”
In relation to this thought of various schools & success, I would like to quote Mick Napier (from his blog): “The value of the exposure, training, and performing in various schools of acting and improvisation, though, is more evidence than anything that one philosophy cannot form this singular causal proclamation to an individual’s professional success. It is many different factors, including intelligence, upbringing, world-view, awareness, AND training.”
This year, a smaller project within the Festival that’s been pulled together is a special event named “A Night of Change.” As a performer myself, being affiliated with Stir Friday Night (a Chicago-based Asian-American comedy troupe) grows into learning more about my roots as a Filipino American, as well as, learning & discovering cultural differences as an Asian-American performer in entertainment and media. To make it simply put – we have a voice and we want our voice to be heard in an equal opportunity setting. As the Producer, I was very fortunate to bring on Mr. Nelson Velazquez of Salsation (the comedy troupe with a Latin flavor), as an Associate Producer. In the Summer of 2014, we Co-Produced an amazing event featuring Salsation, Stir Friday Night, & Pimprov (ensemble of “Pimps” played by mainly African-American performers). From that, we wanted to open up the spectrum on a bigger platform that the Chicago Improv Festival presents, and feature all our friends of diverse & rich cultural background in a one-night only event that showcases the “changing” face of comedy. The “Night of Change” makes me so happy to give another opportunity of exposure for my talented friends’ voices to be heard! Check out Night of Change here!
Lastly, for the past 3 months, my support team has been working hard to make this whole thing click. There aren’t enough thank you’s, free food, or hugs that I can give to truly show how appreciative I am for JC Farris, Ricky Haschemeyer, Nelson Velazquez, Lisa Akroush, Lauren Pizzi, Jamie Black, Sheena Laird, and Stacey Smith. Them busting their butts with deadlines I set or constant follow-ups from their Producer (me, duh), makes me proud for the product that we’re presenting to the Chicago community this year. I also need to give a huge digital handshake and hug to all the venues that I’ve been in contacts with – I’m truly truly grateful in your understanding of the Chicago Improv Festival and the support we seek for each other’s’ work from a business perspective. And of course, I must thank the leadership and guidance of Jonathan Pitts and Kevin Mullaney. This Festival is a beast and these gents have been great at stepping in to knock out fires, give pats on the backs, and work with higher scale business decisions. If you see any of these people I’ve named during Festival week, I urge you to say Hello! cause working this much behind the scenes definitely calls for recognition.
NOW, EVERYONE NEAR & FAR – go have a fun time at the CHICAGO IMPROV FESTIVAL! Go see shows, meet new performers, and long live the art of improvisation! Thank you.
Jonald Jude Reyes
Producer, Chicago Improv Festival 2015