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Seven Reasons You Can’t Miss the Sarasota Improv Festival

Here’s what you need to know about this year’s fest.

Presented by FST July 3, 2019

(Pictured left to right): Isaac Kessler, Ken Hall.

Image: 2-MAN NO-SHOW

Calling all comedy lovers! The Sarasota Improv Festival produced by Florida Studio Theatre is a can’t-miss festival for anyone who is a fan of a good laugh and great talent. This year’s Fest will serve up 48 hours of non-stop comedy with over 25 performances, over 100 of today’s best improvisers, and over 14 workshops. Whether you’re looking for a hip and fun date idea, a fun night out with friends, or are looking to inspire your own creative side, the Sarasota Improv Fest has you covered. Here are our top 7 reasons why you don’t want to miss this one.

Festival improvisers all gather on stage for the highly popular finale, All Play, at the 10th Anniversary Sarasota Improv Festival.

Image: Sarah Haley

7. You’ll see the best of the best.
Often called “The Festival of Headliners,” the Sarasota Improv Festival features the top talent in improv comedy today. Seriously. Any number of these troupes could be, and have, headlined other festivals. Each year, right here in Sarasota, you get to see them all in one place.

Festival improvisers all gather on stage for the highly popular finale, All Play, at the 5th Annual Sarasota Improv Festival.

Image: FST

6. Travel the world…without leaving paradise
This year’s festival features troupes from all over the country—from Los Angeles and Chicago to New York City, Austin, Boston, Atlanta, and all over Florida. Plus! This year’s lineup brings groups from as far as the United Kingdom (cheers, mate!) and our neighbors to the north, Canada, (You betcha, eh?).

Festival improvisers all gather on stage for the highly popular finale, All Play, at the 10th Anniversary Sarasota Improv Festival.

Image: Sarah Haley

5. Predictable =  boring.
Life is full of plans and obligations. It’s time to treat yourself to a weekend of freedom and spontaneity! You deserve it. So, put down your checklist of chores and head on down to Florida Studio Theatre on July 12 and 13. We don’t know exactly what will happen…but isn’t that part of the fun?

Dads Garage 2018: Andy Coen, Whittney Millsap.

Image: Sarah Haley

4. Laughter is the best medicine
Stressed at work? Got some aches and pains? Sunburn? Allergies? Whatever ails you, there’s probably a drug for that. But sometimes a little bit of laughter is just what the doctor ordered. With more than 25 performances over the course of just 48 hours, FST is serving up over two dozen reasons to laugh.

Quartet Performance: Bob Dassie, Jean Villepique, Craig Cackowski, and Stephnie Weir.

Image: Quartet

3. Learn from the masters
Do you have writer’s block, or want to give yourself an edge during your next sales pitch? Do your friends call you funny, but you have no idea what they’re talking about? Give one of the festival’s 14 different workshops a try. Dive into your own comedic creativity under the guidance of some of improv’s top teachers. Whether you’re an improv virgin or a seasoned member of the community, there are workshops to challenge and surprise you.

Happy Karaoke Fun Time: Ali Reed.

2. Laughs for everyone!
What makes you laugh? Think all improv looks like Whose Line Is It, Anyway? Think again. From improv games to physical comedy to musical improv, and more, this year’s festival features a wide range of improvisational and comedic styles. 

Groups like Happy Karaoke Fun Time (NYC) and StaceJam (Chicago) feature real singers performing songs they completely make up on the spot. 2-MAN NO-SHOW (Toronto, CA) uses physical comedy, clowning, sketch comedy, and buffoonery to take audiences on a rollercoaster ride of wild characters, bizarre scenarios, and comedic lunacy. ImprovBoston (Boston, MA) is known for its signature style of long-form improv, which builds upon itself to create an uninterrupted, fully improvised story. There’s even a family show, kiddos—the laughter isn’t just for adults. 

SAK 2018 SIF (Pictured from left to right): Ana Eligio, Emily Fontano, and Chris Dinger.

Image: Sarah Haley

1. The finale favorite
The Festival finale is always an audience favorite. This year, FST will squish more than 100 artists onto one stage—yes, you read that right—for a raucous, completely unscripted 40-minute thrill ride of collaborative fun. Artists from varying groups go head-to-head in friendly comedy competitions that highlight the unique styles and strengths of the festival’s full lineup.

The 11th Annual Sarasota Improv Festival takes over Florida Studio Theatre’s downtown campus on Friday, July 12, and Saturday, July 13. Don’t wait! Tickets and passes are going fast. Grab yours online here or by calling (941) 366-9000.