The Stumptown Improv Festival is taking over Southeast Portland's Milagro Theatre for a full weekend showcase of the best North American improv, August 13-15. Single show tickets start at $13, and a full pass to all Thursday through Saturday shows is just $80. Here's who we'll be lining up to see:
North Coast (NYC): Comprising members of The Upright Citizens Brigade, the Peoples Improv Theater, and The Magnet theaters in New York City, this six-year-old troupe raps their way through audience suggestions woven into whip-smart freestyle songs. Why we're stoked: Beatbox-backed hip-hip improv complete with historical references? Sign us up.
The Liberators (Portland): The Rose City's best-known improv troupe—a melange of Shelley McLendon, Tony Marcellino, Nicholas Kessler, and John Breen—has been goofing around for over nine witty years. Why we're stoked: We recently caught the ol' Libs at Portland Center Stage's Slingshot Comedy and loved their classic, charming style. Also, Liberators member John Breen will do double duty at the festival as one half of Bang + Burn, spoofing spy adventures along with Brody Theater veteran Beau Brousseau. Double the Breen, double the fun.
Magnet Theater (NYC): Veterans from New York's stand-out ten-year-old improv theater—known for their improvised musicals and star-studded classes (hello there, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Ellie Kemper!)—will bring long-form improv to the Stumptown stage. We just hope they won't have to teach the locals any lessons. Why we're stoked: We can't wait to see which touring “package” the festival sprang for: the “Armando Diaz Experience,” “Rock Solid Plus,” or the "The Armando Diaz Experience All Star Extravaganza featuring Armando Diaz!"
JV (Los Angeles): Eight very funny people who draw crowds at the Upright Citizens Brigade's Franklin Theater in Los Angeles every Friday night. Why we're stoked: JV's #ThrowbackFriday shows weave guest storytellers' old photos into vintage improv. We'll start looking through old Facebook albums now.
Whiskey Tango (Portland): All dapper gentlemen, all damn funny, this troupe of local funnydudes weave long-form improv stories from a single audience suggestion. Why we're stoked: The collective features solid members of Portland's comedy community like Gabe Dinger, Leon Anderson, and Jed Arkley (the latter two co-founded the Stumptown Improv Fest with Erin Jean O'Regan and are responsible for bringing the city such a wonderful collection of spontaneous, oddball funny. We tip our hats to you all).
Virginia Jack (Vancouver and Toronto): Briana Rayner and Nicole Passmore rose together in the Vancouver comedy scene, and formed an improv duo cranking out one-act plays with audience input, lots of role swapping, and a gleefully bizarre sense of humor. Why we're stoked: Their recent improvised prison show Orange is the New Blank drew crowds and laughs at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, where they asked audiences to "Help women finish their sentences." Also, this wonky, adorable, and understated video the pair created for Air New Zealand. We don't quite get it, but we love it.
Stumptown Improv Festival at the Milagro Theatre