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The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Improv Hosts 19th Festival

ISABEL BINAMIRA/THE HOYA Improvisers from universities all over the country came together to practice at this year’s Improv Fest.
Improvisers from universities all over the country came together to practice at this year’s Improv Fest.

Georgetown’s Improv Association hosted the 19th annual Improv Fest in Bulldog Alley this weekend. Both nights were sold out and featured teams from George Washington, George Mason, University of Maryland College Park, Ohio State University, SUNY Binghamton and Columbia College.

Georgetown Improv team’s Co-director Emlyn Crenshaw (COL ’15) initiated the planning for the event last semester by inviting different schools to campus over email. After she received responses from interested schools, Crenshaw, who planned Improv Fest last year, finalized logistics. She helped the groups set up on-campus housing for out-of-town teams and coordinated the arrival of teams before the show.

“I’ve learned that no matter how hard you can work planning something for a bunch of improv people, chances are it will go awry in some way,” Crenshaw said. “So as long as you have the general logistics worked out, I have learned to trust it’s going to be fine, everyone will have fun.”

The money from ticket sales for all of the improv shows throughout the year goes into a fund for the Performing Arts Advisory Council (PAAC). Each year all the PAAC groups submit budgets, and that money is then divided up among the various groups based on those budgets, but Crenshaw said she does not believe the improv group receives enough funding.

Due to the low cost of running an improv troupe, Georgetown’s Improv Association does not receive as high of an allocation of money as they would prefer, which would allow them to travel to perform at more shows and host more workshops on campus. The team hosts several workshops throughout the year where they bring in professionals, usually alumni from Georgetown’s team, to work on specific aspects of improv.

“We’ve sold out every show this year, so we make a lot of money, but we don’t end up seeing that,” Crenshaw said.

According to Crenshaw, the team could also use more money to grow the Improv Fest here on campus by hiring professional improv troupes for workshops.

“I think for events like this the more people the better … one of the most unfortunate things about Improv Fest is ideally it would be four times as big, but we’re just too small of a school and we have too small of a budget,” Crenshaw said.

John Ross, vice president of “8th Floor Improv,” the improv team from Ohio State University, praised Improv Fest for hosting such talented and competent teams.

“We’re a well-traveled team …and Georgetown Improv Fest is really high quality in terms of what teams they bring in. Every team we saw this weekend had a grasp on what they were doing,” Ross said.

John Wambach, one of the creative director’s on “The Bureau,” University of Maryland College Park’s team, echoed Ross, highlighting Improv Fest’s impressive range of groups at the fest this year.

“We always love going out to Georgetown … they bring in such a variety of groups from all over the country. It’s probably the largest range of groups in one festival that we go to,” Wambach said.

The audience also lauded the performance’s diversity of improv troupes showcased.

“I really enjoyed the fact that other school’s improv troupes were involved. I think it added a really nice layer to the show to help the audience see all different styles of improv because every troupe had a very different way they interacted with each other, and very different senses of humor too. It was really enjoyable to see the variety in improv,” Emma Piliponis (COL ’18), a show attendee, said.

Gabe Bolio (SFS ’18), a freshman who joined the team in the fall semester, was one of 60 students who auditioned this year for the team. Bolio said the team has begun to rise in prominence on campus recently.

“I think the comedic performing arts at Georgetown is on the rise, the improv team has been around for decades but now it’s starting to have its mark on campus,” Bolio said.

This growing presence of comedy on campus is exemplified by this season’s historic elections results that named the satirical team Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Connor Rohan (COL ’16) GUSA president and vice president. Crenshaw, who worked on Luther and Rohan’s Youtopia campaign, said that she has also seen a notable change in prevalence of comedy on campus in her four years. This is the first year the team has sold out every show this far.

“As time has gone forward we’ve connected with more people … I feel like people are starting to try [improv] out a little bit more and it doesn’t feel as insulated and that’s so much fun,” Crenshaw said. “I’m so proud of the trajectory I’ve seen in the past four years … at this point, this year especially, we have become a team that is so forward thinking and so into growing comedy and growing our exposure and trying out weird new things, just because we can.”

Looking forward the team hopes to keep growing and influencing life on campus. Team member Caitlin Cleary (COL’16) also stressed this growing influence of improv on campus.

“Now that we have a lot more cultural influence on campus, how are we going to use that to get people’s attention, but without sacrificing being funny and a little subversive?” Cleary said.

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