Sarasota Improv Festival Is Back to Entertain This Summer

Twenty, count 'em 20, improv troupes are coming to town over the weekend of July 12 and 13.

By Kay Kipling June 27, 2019

Bob Dassie, Carla Cackowski, Jean Villepique and Craig Cackowski of Quartet, at the 2018 Stumptown Improv Festival.

Familiar improv faces—and new ones—will appear at Florida Studio Theatre’s 11th annual Sarasota Improv Festival, taking place July 12 and 13 at theaters on the FST campus.

In all, 20 of the top comedy troupes from all over the country and as far away as the United Kingdom and Canada will turn up to present comedy and improvisational theater during the fest, which was founded by FST’s Rebecca Hopkins in 2009. FST’s director of improv Will Luera is director of this year’s event.

Headlining the 2019 festival is Quartet, formed by Bob Dassie in the 1990s. Over the years, Quartet has featured members like Tami Sagher (a writer on 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother), Stephnie Weir (MADtv) and Jack McBrayer (30 Rock). The four members of the ensemble performing here are Carla Cackowski, Craig Cackowski, Dassie and Jean Villepique, all of whom were part of Chicago’s original IO (Improv Olympics) Theater just as improv was becoming a “thing” in the United States. Dassie has performed and taught improv all over the world and has appeared on Monk, Community and HBO’s Funny or Die Presents. Villepique has starred on AP Bio, Sharp Objects and 30 Rock.

Dad's Garage members Whittney Millsap and Andy Coen.

FST is also bringing international companies to the fest once more, both of them making their festival debuts. 2-Man No-Show hails from Toronto, Canada, and The Maydays are based in Brighton and London, England. 2-Man No-Show features, as the name suggests, just two men—Ken Hall and Isaac Kessler—and has been praised by the Chicago Tribune for “the kind of restless intelligence, physical curiosity and potent vulnerability that keeps the stakes high and the gags appealing.” The Maydays currently perform four shows with varying approaches. In Tonight’s Top Story, audience members cut out newspaper articles just before the show, and the group comes up with scenes and songs inspired by the articles that reflect the city’s spirit.

Returning this year to the festival are favorites such as Parallelogramophonograph, Dad’s Garage, ImprovBoston and Available Cupholders. In addition to the 27 performances scheduled over the festival weekend, 14 workshops will be held during the day on July 12 for those who want to learn more about the art of improv. And the popular fest finale All Play, where all of the festival performers take the stage together, returns as well. One more note: Dad’s Garage will extend its stay here following the festival, staying in residence at FST for a week to lead workshops and deliver encore performances July 19 and 20.

For more information about all the troupes, including the schedule line-up and pass and ticket options, call 366-9000 or visit

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