A lot of improvisers love festivals. Most include hours and hours of shows, top notch workshops from instructors you don't normally get to work with, and after parties where people who were strangers a day ago do bits, crack each other up, share their insights, and become good friends. Improv festivals are great places to meet other like minded players from all over the place, share in the joy of the art, and learn new tricks to bring back home. Yet some people might feel intimidated by the idea of a festival - the nerves of performing in front of strangers, the exhaustion of traveling to a new place, and of course the cost of submitting, taking workshops, eating out, and lodging.
Most producers of improv festivals know that it takes a lot for folks to come out to their festival and they do their best to make the trip as easy, affordable, and exciting as possible. Coming from people who love improv festivals, have almost no money, and have both hosted and traveled to a bunch of them, here's a few reasons why we think you should start submitting to more festivals:
1. It will make you a better player.
Performing at a festival is different than performing on your home stage. Chances are you won't know the audience - there may be players from other cities or improv "muggles" who've never seen a show in their life. Feeling what it's like to play for them can give you a totally different perspective about the way you play. Even if there's only 3 people in the audience for your 6p Wednesday night show, that's 3 people who you get to experience something with that's not your typical show. If you take workshops, you also get the chance to mix with performers you've never played with and learn from them. Trying out a new form or exercise with people you've never met is both exhilarating and refreshing because it shows that you don't have to know about someone to know them on stage. Finally, watching the great performances of little known groups from who-knows-where and headliners from the Big Improv cities can reignite the desire to do more improv that you felt when you stated.
2. Your friends are waiting for you.
Festivals cultivate a sense of belonging and community just like the best improv theaters do. After a few days of watching shows, taking workshops, grabbing food, having drinks, doing bits, chatting about this and that, wandering around the area and looking up people on Facebook, festival performers can feel like they've known each other for a long time. That means they're likely to stay in touch well after the festival, sharing improv thoughts, pictures, and information all year until the next one. It just so happens that the same core groups of people tend to attend the same festivals every year, so going once means meeting people you'll see again and again. There's nothing like having the kind of friends that will let you jump on their back, make faces at you for fun, or follow you down the rabbit hole of the dirtiest joke you've ever told all over the world.
3. There's no place like home.
A lot of people like to call a festival their "home away from home", especially if they've been performing at it since it started. The longer people keep going to the same festivals, the more you get to watch people grow as both performers and people. You might notice that couple from across the country is married now; that guy from that awesome Austin team last year is here with a whole new team he started in Ohio; that girl you hung out with on Saturday night 2 years ago is now teaching a workshop; the instructor for the first workshop you ever took is the headliner this year...and so on. There's a greater improv community out there of like-minded people who have more in common than what they do on stage. They come from every big city and small town where the idea of finding truth in comedy branched out and motivated people to get up, act like someone else, and yes...and. Festivals are like a wormhole to the center of the improv universe.
Take our word for it and submit to a festival ASAP. You can find one in your neck of the woods all year long by visiting The Improv Network.
Submit to Tampa Improv Festival 2016 by clicking here!