CC2 inferno 300 color.jpg: Ann Arbor’s Improv Inferno will be home to the first ever Michigan Improv & Laugh Festival that opens July 12.
Chicago. Toronto. Los Angeles. While those cities sit atop the list of North American towns respected worldwide for their long love affairs with the art of improvisation, don’t be surprised if Metro Detroit’s reputation gets a major boost this week when the first-ever Michigan Improv & Laugh Festival opens at Ann Arbor’s Improv Inferno.
“It’s going to draw national attention to the burgeoning improv scene we have here in Michigan. It’ll put us on the map,” Dan Izzo, festival organizer and artistic director of the Inferno, told Curtain Calls last week. “And then the flipside is [it will] also expose the improvisers in Michigan to what’s happening on the national scene.”
The five-day event will feature 20 local and national improv troupes, including such familiar names as Second City Detroit and the Planet Ant Improv Colony. Joining them will be The Beatbox, a group from North Carolina that fuses fast-paced longform improv with classic hip–hop; Diversionary Tactics, an Atlanta-based troupe known for its improvised serial about five superheroes who live together and get on each other’s nerves; and Chicago’s Dirty Water, a critically-acclaimed improvised comedy about the fun-loving, wise-cracking regulars at a local bar. “They do the show in a bar sitting right at the bar. They use the bar as their set,” Izzo said.
It’s a concept that will certainly feel right at home at the Inferno, since the downtown Ann Arbor storefront has a fully-stocked, fully-functional bar sitting in the near-center section of its building.
The highlight of the festival, Izzo believes, will take place Saturday at 10 p.m. when Chicago’s Bassprov takes the stage. The show features two fishing buddies “solving life’s problems, one beer at a time.” “To have them come here is a real feather in our cap. It’s such a fun, cool show.”
The festival also includes two days of improv classes and a Sunday afternoon Masters Class that are open to the public with prior registration. And Sunday evening will showcase improv’s distant cousin, stand-up comedy.
Izzo believes visitors to the festival will have a really good time laughing at things they’ve never seen before. “We’re offering something really fun to get people out of the routine of a dinner and a movie!”