8th Annual Sarasota Improv Festival – 26 World Premieres in 3 Days

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(Sarasota, FL) —It’s that time of year again when laughter takes over the entire Florida Studio Theatre campus. 18 of the top improv groups from all over come to Sarasota to take risks, get raw, and get real on stage in a variety of improv formats. The 8th Annual Improv Festival will be held on July 14, 15, and 16. Passes are now on sale; 3 day passes are $69, 2 day passes are $59, Friday or Saturday passes are $49, and Thursday passes are $20. All festival passes are now on sale and may be purchased by calling the Box Office at 941-366-9000, or by going online at floridastudiotheatre.org.

The Sarasota Improv Festival brings together the most creative and inventive improv groups from all across the country and the world. “We are very excited about the festival,” said Festival Producer and FST Managing Director, Rebecca Hopkins. “There’s a wide range of groups representing the spectrum of improv classifications: long form, short form, musical, dramatic, genre-based, and more. Every year it takes a lot to put together this weekend of comic shenanigans. We are always asking ‘How do we shake things up bit?’ It’s a jam packed weekend… man oh man is it jam packed. I have to make myself breathe just thinking about it.”

Also gearing up for these 3 days of non-stop laughter and unpredictable comedy is FST’s
Director of Improv, Will Luera. “This year, not only are we bringing back many of the festival favorites like
North Coast, STACKED, ImprovBoston and Available Cupholders,” said Luera. We’re also welcoming three new teams who will add the level of improvised theatricality and humor that our audiences have come to expect. Two of the new teams are among the most recognized narrative ensembles in the world; Our headliner, Impro Theatre from Los Angeles and Parallelogramophonograph (PGraph), from Austin have been wowing audiences with their highly stylized improvised shows, and I’m very excited to have them here in Sarasota.”

Headlining the festival, recognized by Entertainment Today as “The most uproarious, side-splitting, laughter-till-you-drop show,” Impro Theatre brings a little sci-fi flavor to Sarasota with their hit show, Twilight Zone: Unscripted. The Examiner calls their show, “STUNNING! A phenomenal display of fearlessness, creativity and inspiration.” From the darkest corners of reality to the land of the unexplained, this is a completely improvised show in the style of classic 60’s sci-fi television shows. Enter the dimension of pure imagination as the company starts with audience suggestions and creates all-new and completely improvised episodes.

For the second year in a row, FST brings in laughter from across the ocean as well. “We are continuing our commitment to bringing in International Acts with Speechless,” said Luera. “This cast is coming to us from Colombia and Canada with one of the most unique shows of the festival. Based on movement and physical expression, this wordless show is accompanied on stage by a live DJ.” Laughter translates into every language.

Kicking off the festival with some home grown comedy on Thursday evening are returning Florida groups Just The Funny, Dear Aunt Gertrude, Sick Puppies, The Third Thought, Post Dinner Conversation, and Villain Improv. These comedic comrades will wrap up the first night of the festival with FAST: the Florida All-Star King of the Hill Competition.

On both Friday and Saturday night, groups will perform 40-minute sets as the laughs continue with returning favorites including, STACKED, Hawk and Wayne, Dad’s Garage, Available Cupholders, ImprovBoston, Big Bang, North Coast Improv, SAK Comedy Lab, and of course the home team of FST Improv.

Now a staple of summer in Sarasota, last year’s festival saw over 3200 attendees in just three days. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune calls it “ Reliably clever and funny.” The Observer says it’s, “Edgy and entertaining” and “A rocking festival.”

At the Sarasota Improv Festival, you never know what will happen. Attendees get the chance to see 26 World Premieres, never before performed shows by the top improvisers in the field. Rounding out the festival is the always anticipated All Play performance on Saturday night in the Gompertz Theatre. It’s the one night with every single performer in the festival on stage playing together at the same time. Anything can happen at any moment. It’s creativity at its most chaotic, and it works. But don’t worry the staff is there to make sense of it all. Your only job is to laugh as much and as loud as you possibly can while enjoying food and beverages.

The Sarasota Improv Festival only happens once a year, so don’t miss it. Passes are now on sale; 3 day passes are $69, 2 day passes are $59, Friday or Saturday passes are $49, and Thursday passes are $20. All festival passes are now on sale and may be purchased by calling the Box Office at 941-366-9000, or by going online at floridastudiotheatre.org.

About Florida Studio Theatre

Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Artist Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company eventually settled down into a permanent home, acquiring the former Woman’s Club building – now renamed the Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the newly renovated Gompertz Theatre, the Goldstein Cabaret, the John C. Court Cabaret, and the new Bowne’s Lab Theatre.

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. Under Richard Hopkins, Producing Artistic Director and CEO, FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.



Performance Schedule:

Thursday, July 9

7:00pm – Just The Funny/Dear Aunt Gertrude/Sick Puppies– Bowne’s Lab

8:30pm – Third Thought/Post Dinner Conversation/Villain– Bowne’s Lab

10:00pm – FAST(Florida All-Star King of the Hill Competition) – Bowne’s Lab

Friday, July 10

6:00 pm – FST Improv – Keating Theatre

7:00pm – Parallelogramophonograph – Keating Theatre

7:00pm – ImprovBoston – Goldstein Cabaret

8:00pm – Dad’s Garage – Keating Theatre

8:00pm – Speechless – Goldstein Cabaret

8:00pm – Impro Theatre – Gompertz Theatre

9:00pm – Available Cupholders – Keating Theatre

9:00pm – STACKED – Goldstein Cabaret

10:00pm – North Coast Improv – Keating Theatre

Saturday, July 11

5:00pm – Dad’s Garage – Keating Theatre

5:00pm – Hawk and Wayne – Goldstein Cabaret

6:00pm – Big Bang Improv – Keating Theatre

6:00pm – Parallelogramophonograph – Goldstein Cabaret

7:00pm – North Coast Improv – Keating Theatre

7:00pm – Available Cupholders – Goldstein Cabaret

8:00pm – SAK Comedy Lab – Keating Theatre

8:00pm – ImprovBoston – Goldstein Cabaret

9:00pm – Impro Theatre – Gompertz Theatre

10:30pm – All Play – Gompertz Theatre

For full Group Information, please visit https://www.floridastudiotheatre.org/2016-sarasota-improv-festival



8th Annual Sarasota Improv Festival Group Information

Available Cupholders

The Available Cupholders is a powerhouse 5-person ensemble dedicated to producing experimental, enriching and entertaining improvisational comedy. Made up of some of Austin’s very best comedians and award-winning actors, The Cupholders aspire to explore and expose an art form cloaked in natural communication, believing Improv to be the theatre of everyday existence. All members of the group started improvising as teenagers, and now, decades later, they not only continue to perform, but they live and breathe improvisation. To them, improv is their art and the ensemble is their family. With their work, The Cupholders strive to be on the cusp of a daring theatrical experience that takes place anytime, anywhere. Their goal is to elevate the form and playing field, shedding light on the ever-changing zeitgeist in which we live, with belly laughs along the way. “If you don’t know Available Cupholders, you don’t know improv.” – Austin Chronicle

Big Bang Improv

Boston style free-form that has been wowing New England audiences and at festivals around the world for years. The entire set moves seamlessly from one scene to the next at the rate of over a scene a minute all following the group play philosophy of “follow the funny”. The show builds rapidly and culminates in a series of surprising and organic callbacks done through the unique editing styling and storytelling of this Boston super-team. This is a high-energy improv experience that redefines itself with every performance.

Dad’s Garage

For two decades, Dad’s Garage has produced innovative improv and scripted comedy in the heart of Atlanta. Well known for no-limits storytelling, Dad’s Garage has become Atlanta’s premiere destination for anybody who wants to laugh until they pee their pants. The Dad’s Garage improv education program and ensemble has produced several nationally-known actors including Amber Nash, Tara Ochs, and Lucky Yates. Dad’s Garage believes joy and laughter are vital to a happy and healthy community; their irreverent attitude is an added bonus.

Dear Aunt Gertrude

Since 2009, Dear Aunt Gertrude has kept audiences laughing with it’s fun-loving, themed show, chock-full of innovative comedy. This 10-member team currently performs both short-form and long-form improv shows at The Box Theater in the heart of Tampa. In the past they have had the privilege of opening for The Upright Citizen’s Brigade Touring Company at the Palladium and have been a featured team with The American Stage Late Night Series. They were delighted to perform among other improv fanatics at The Orlando Improv Festival, The Gainesville Improv Festival, The Tampa Improv Festival and they couldn’t be more thrilled to return to The Sarasota Improv Festival this year.

FST Improv

Since 2001, FST Improv has been providing laughs to every nook and cranny of Sarasota and beyond. From snowbirds to roundabouts and everything in between, every show is unexpected and made up on the spot. Taking audience suggestions, the cast of FST Improv twists and turns it into an improvised game. With audience favorites such as the three headed Broadway star, paper chase, puppets, and more – it’s easy to see why audiences keep coming back.

Hawk & Wayne

St. Petersburg’s critically acclaimed comedy improv duo, Gavin Hawk and Ricky Wayne weave together a hilarious, totally improvised one act play based on audience suggestions. Back for their 5th straight year at Sarasota Improv Festival, they have been well received nationally this past year touring comedy festivals like Philadelphia’s DuoFest, Hartford Improv Festival, Detroit Improv Festival and Out of Bounds Comedy Festival in Austin, Texas. HAWK & WAYNE combine a unique mixture of the Chicago and West Coast long-form improvisation styles through Hawk’s training at Second City Chicago and Wayne’s training at The Groundlings. They are currently in their 6th season in residence at American Stage in St. Petersburg, where they have done year long runs of their critically acclaimed shows: The Dumb Show, 321, The Memory, News of the Weird: Live!, It’s a Living and currently This Is A Comedy Show! They have performed at numerous festivals, comedy clubs and theaters throughout the Southeast. They both founded and are directors/educators of American Stage Education’s Intensive Improvisation Program.

Impro Theatre

Impro Theatre creates completely improvised, full-length plays in the styles of the world’s greatest playwrights, authors and composers. With no pre-planning or prepared scenarios, the performers combine verbal dexterity and robust physicality to bring character and plot to life in an instant, making each Impro Theatre show unique and unlike any other theatrical experience. Founded as Los Angeles Theatresports in 1988, Impro Theatre has evolved from a successful short form improv troupe into a critically acclaimed improvisational theatre company. In southern California, Impro has performed sold-out shows at South Coast Repertory, The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, North Coast Repertory in San Diego, Falcon Theatre in Burbank, and The Pasadena Playhouse, as well as venues around the world including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, The Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago, The Melbourne Fringe in Australia and Theatre Adyar in Paris. Impro Theatre’s Main Company has received multiple Critics’ Picks in the Los Angeles Times, Back Stage West and L.A. Weekly, and many shows have been Ovation Recommended. Los Angeles Times calls them, “Amazing! One of the funniest evenings in town. The troupe spins an entire play into comedy gold right before your eyes.” Stage & Cinema says, “As high a degree of general excellence in writing, acting, and direction as I have seen in any theater company in America.” American Theatre Magazine said of the company “Here might be the salvation the theatre seeks”.


For over 30 years, ImprovBoston has been New England’s leading theater and school dedicated to the art of comedy in all its forms. Voted “Best of Boston” by The Phoenix, The Improper Bostonian, and The Weekly Dig, ImprovBoston performers, teachers and students have included film stars, Emmy Award-winning comedians, and acclaimed producers, directors, musicians and writers. ImprovBoston alumni are featured on The Daily Show, America’s Got Talent, Funniest Wins, Real Time with Bill Maher, Last Comic Standing and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, to name a few. In 2014, the Independent Reviewers of New England honored ImprovBoston with an award recognizing its longstanding contributions to the Boston theater community. As a nonprofit arts organization, ImprovBoston serves the community through laughter with youth outreach programs, workshops for businesses, scholarships, a national touring company and, of course, performances at its theater complex in Central Square, Cambridge.

Just the Funny

Just The Funny, Miami’s Home for Improv and Sketch Comedy, and 5-time winner of the New Times Best of Miami presents Fever Pitch. Sometimes dramatic, sometimes comedic and always intense, Fever Pitch is the show where anything and everything can happen, as actors push the limits of themselves, the audience and what can be done with improv. Part improv show, part performance art, Fever Pitch will take you on a voyeuristic journey, where the lines get blurred from what is performance and what is real. Not for the faint of heart, Fever Pitch, tackles any and every subject, and is not appropriate for kids.

North Coast Improv

With a cast of improv comedy veterans in New York City (UCB, The PIT, and The Magnet theaters), North Coast’s explosive performances have been packing comedy venues, universities, and festivals nationwide since 2009. Named one of the “Top Ten Best Comedy Shows” by Time Out New York, the show’s improvised scenes are inspired by a single suggestion from an audience member – and they escalate into full-blown hip-hop songs, facilitated by resident beatboxer and World Beatbox Champion, Kaila Mullady. With their seamless melding of comedic timing and freestyle rapping abilities, North Coast frequently blurs the line between comedy show and concert, drawing audiences from the comedy, hip-hop, and theater communities for an experience that has been hailed as “mind-blowing” and “next level” by critics and audiences alike.


PGraph’s Improvised French Farce is an exploration of the latent comedy in social status. Infidelity, insecurity, and insatiable appetites for wealth and power collide with riveting consequences. No topic is taboo; No neurosis too absurd. Rich in physical humor and wordplay, French Farce is a delight to watch. We turn a blank stage into a French salon, a blank script into sharp social commentary, and “improv comedy” into “théâtre improvisé”.

Post Dinner Conversation

As Tampa’s original comedy company, PDC Inc offers improv, sketch and stand-up shows and training weekly in the Bay area. Drawing from all major traditions of improv, their Flashform method features narrative, game play, and scene work that’s dangerously funny, utterly captivating, and refreshingly free. Pushing the boundaries of comedy and roasting the traditions of improvisation, Flashform players look for the heat of the moment, the weight of the conversation, and the heart of the funny. PDC Inc performs yearly at numerous festivals around the country, including Del Close Marathon, Sarasota Improv Festival, Miami Improv Festival, Gainesville Improv Festival, Atlanta Improv Festival and others. They have also been hosted at major improv theaters like the Hideout in Austin, TX and SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando, Fl. Dedicated to growing the Florida Improv Community, PDC Inc annually hosts the Tampa Improv Festival in November, the Gasparilla Improv Marathon at the Gasp! Fringe Festival in March, and the Florida Improv Retreat in May, as well as seasonal shows, workshops and the Bay area’s only improv conservatory program.

SAK Comedy Lab

Since 1991, SAK Comedy Lab has been delivering high energy and hilarious improvised comedy to Central Florida. Our professional ensemble performers create scenes, characters and songs on the spot, all based on suggestions from our audience. The SAK brand is fun and edgy for adults but widely enjoyed by our younger fans.

Sick Puppies Comedy

Sick Puppies Comedy prides itself on creating new formats. One of the more popular ones is the Effin Beagan. Originally named “The Beagan” after the first comedian that performed it with us, he later cancelled on another event so we renamed it the Effin Beagan. Much like the Armando in format, we just place a stand-up comedian in place and become inspired by their material.


Speechless is a theatrical project created by Colombian improvisers Felipe Ortiz and Daniel Orrantia with Canadian DJ Mama Cutsworth. The magic of this long-form improvised show comes from one key element: no words are used. Instead, the body and music are the focus, allowing anyone in the world to understand the beautiful and intertwining stories that unfold. Elements inspired by Buster Keaton’s physicality or the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez are wrapped inside rich musical soundscapes. Based on physical theatre, clown techniques, and film scores, Speechless lives at the intersection of familiar and surreal. Speechless debuted in October 2013 at the Würzburg Improvisation Festival, Germany and has since toured to Colombia, Brazil and Canada.

STACKED: All-Female Musical Improv

Stacked takes a suggestion of one word and delivers musical hilarity in four part harmony. With high energy, big characters, catchy songs and no apologies, Stacked is sure to take you on a wild ride. www.stackedmusic.com

The Third Thought

Synchronicity at its finest, The Third Thought was formed in late 2010 and is the longest running weekly Long-form Improv Troupe in the Tampa Bay area. Playing at festivals(Gainesville, Miami & Tampa) around the state along with the Del Close Marathon in NYC, The Third Thought is very excited to be returning to the Sarasota Improv Festival! The Third Thought plays weekly in the Tampa Bay area and offers multiple drop-in workshops to share the love of Long-form Comedy Improvisation.

Villain Improv

Villain is Miami’s first improv theater dedicated to the art of Chicago-style long form improvisation, brought to you by Artistic Director Jeff Quintana and co-founder Peter Mir.


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