The Shoreditch Improv Festival is organised in its second year by London improv group City Impro. City Impro formed in 2013 after some of their members met on a beginner’s improv course. They've come a long way since then and now perform regularly in London, the UK and at international festivals. In 2014, the group started hosting a fortnightly Sunday show at the Water Poet in Shoreditch, each night performing with different guest groups from London and beyond. Every show has the aim to bring excitement back into comedy and introduce the audience to an under-promoted form of comedy whilst never becoming repetitive or stale.
The performing groups have been chosen very purposefully to promote as many improv and sketch styles as possible.
In the last two years, improv comedy has experienced a surge of popularity around London with great new groups popping up on the scene. With so many talented comedians, City Impro decided that a fortnightly event was not sufficient to showcase everything that improv has to offer and thus the Shoreditch Improv Festival was born. Created with the express mission statement of “promot[ing] Improvised Comedy in London and the UK by making as many people laugh as much as possible in as short a space of time as possible”, the festival is set up slightly differently than other comedy festivals. Over the space of three days, 30 groups will be performing short sets in shows put together specifically to showcase a wide variety of improvisation forms to the audience. A one hour show can thus include everything from an improvised musical to a Shakespearian play with some short games and scenes thrown in for good measure.
City Impro don’t consider any of the festival acts to be headliners. The Shoreditch Improv Festival instead seeks to introduce audiences to this less well-known form of comedy without judgment as to the relative merits of the many different forms it can take. The performing groups have been chosen very purposefully to promote as many improv and sketch styles as possible. All acts are united by the fact that they feature fantastic performers and great comedic talents (some of which are just waiting to be discovered by the mainstream).
This difference in approach is reflected in the line-up which includes veteran Edinburgh groups such as Ten Thousand Million Love Stories and Music Box performing with new up-and-comers The Coaterie (who blend sketches with improvisation like never seen before) and the Human Machine (where one of the performers is a custom-built robot A.I.). City Impro also want to take improv to the streets, which is why the Shoreditch Improv Festival features an improvised tour of Shoreditch, where the audience can take part in an immersive tour of local street art facts made up on the spot based on their suggestions.
Finally, audiences will also have the chance to try out this comedic form for the first time themselves at a special beginner workshop. One of the best moments of the festival last year was to see audiences experience their first improv show on a Friday night and then signing up for the workshop that ran the next day.
City Impro would be delighted to discuss the festival with any reviewers in advance or to welcome them to the performances. Please get in touch at [email protected] for press tickets. On 12th February at 7pm, City Impro will also be hosting its last pre-festival show at the Water Poet and are available for interviews on that date.
The festival runs from the 17th until the 19th of February at the Water Poet in Shoreditch (11 Folgate Street E1 6BX).