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Midvale Journal

Wasatch Improv Festival ready to make 2019 bigger and funnier

Jan 08, 2019 01:34PM ● By Bob Bedore

It’s hard to explain the Purdy Twins, but two things are for sure: they are funny, and there is nothing like them. (Blake Heywood)

By Bob Bedore | bob@mycityjournals.com

How do you put on one of the biggest improv comedy festivals in the country? Well, you improvise. 

“Last year we really didn’t know fully what we were doing,” admitted Wasatch Improv Festival Board Member Jason Wild. “All we knew was we wanted it to be something that we’d all be proud of and that everyone who came out would have some laughs and be glad they came. Somehow, we did that, and a lot more.”

In its first year, the Wasatch Improv Festival (WIF) did a little, “let’s announce a festival and see if anyone comes.” Soon they were not only having to turn away acts that were submitting from around the country, but also guests who were trying to get into the Midvale Performing Arts Center. “We were putting in as many chairs as we could, but finally we just had to tell people we couldn’t fit any more,” said Wild. 

“This was one of the best festivals we’ve been to,” said Rolland Lopez of the Los Angeles improv duo Rollin ‘n’ Riches. “I can’t believe that this was a first-year festival. This was better than a lot of festivals in their seventh year.” 

And now the people behind the Wasatch Improv Festival, taking place once again at the Midvale Performing Arts Center January 17-19, have their work cut out for them as they try to improve on last year and make it even bigger and better. 

A lot of their success was in the mix they represented last year, and that will be in play again this time out. The mix is not just in Utah and non-Utah teams, though that is very important (this year will feature teams from 11 different states), but also in the style of improv. This year will see a complete mash-up of different types of comedy. This means that you’ll be seeing something different every 20 minutes – and all of it funny. 

The Wasatch Improv Festival is all about exposing people to something a little different. “Last year’s festival was one of the greatest times of my life,” said board member Blake Heywood. “I met so many new friends and learned so much about different styles. I really can’t wait to see how this year goes.”

Learning is also a big part of the festival. There is always something you can learn by watching others perform, but there are also classes that you can take. The WIF offers classes from national teachers Andel Sudik, Celeste Pechous and Nick Candon. There is even a “Free Lunch” class that can be attended that includes a lesson and lunch – all for free. 

“I’m really excited about the teachers we have this year,” said board member Tom Shannon. “These are teachers we really wanted to go out and get, and I’m so happy that they’ve said yes. It’s going to be a big part of our festival.”

Once again, the festival will feature 10 different acts each night. The shows will start at 7 p.m. on January 17-19 (Thursday-Saturday) at the Midvale Performing Arts Center, 695 W. Center St. Each night will be broken up into two acts with a 30-minute intermission in between. Tickets will be $10 per night. There is a special pass available to the first 50 buyers for all three nights for $22. It should be noted that the comedy is mostly PG-13, but there will likely be some language that can come out, especially in the second half of the shows. This will be especially true on the final set on Friday night. 

This year the WIF has some of their favorite acts from last year returning, including Rollin ‘n’ Riches and The Purdy Twins, and some new acts including Murder, Murder (improvising a 20-minute murder mystery), The Next Generation Gap (father and son team), and Bird & Friend from New York. Utah teams like Quick Wits, Murder Fairy & Arson Leprechaun, and Park City Improv, will be joined by some other teams making their first WIF appearance. These include Improv Broadway and Rev Mayhem: The Improvised Rock Band.

When not improvising, the performers will be enjoying the wonders of Utah as well as competing in the second annual WIF Top Golf Shoot Out, doing some “Laugh Yoga,” going on a ghost hunt in the Midvale Performing Arts Center, and wrapping up with a late-night karaoke party featuring “Life of the Party” and Rob Ferre. 

For more information about the festival and tickets, please visit their website at wasatchimprov.com.