Major cities like Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles have long rounded up their fastest and funniest in yearly extravaganzas of improvisational comedy, and this year, Portland joins their ranks: The first annual Portland Improv Comedy Festival will create a critical mass of funny from August 5 to 7 at the St. Lawrence Arts and Community Center, bringing together quick-draw comics from across the state and around New England.
A collaborative effort of the Greater Portland comedy community, the festival will feature the on-the-spot antics of nine improv teams over the course of the weekend. Some of these groups will be familiar to denizens of the Portland comedy circuit, including the Escapists, Portland Playback Theatre, the Portland Improv Experience, and Running With Scissors. Also participating are the Teacher's Lounge Mafia, from Jay; New Hampshire's Stranger Than Fiction; Unexpected Company, all the way from Rhode Island; and a new improv iteration of Westbrook's Acorn Productions billed as Acorn's Nut Factory. In addition to each group's slot in the festival line-up, teams also send representatives to a ninth, inter-team ensemble for a "Jam" session that will head up Friday night's show.
While the inaugural festival's participants are largely local, organizers look to the future for an even wider scope of laughs. Says Rachel Flehinger, an organizer of the event and member of Running With Scissors, "This year is just the beginning. In years to come this festival can bring national attention and tourism to our state." Maine's comics are well on their way to rewinding each other and hunting Whatsits with the big dogs.
Portland Improv Comedy Festival | $10 in advance, $12 at door, $25 three-day pass | portlandimprovfest.weebly.com
: This Just In
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