Author Archives: Kristin Hirsch

Announcing the GRIF 2017 Schedule!

We are so excited to announce this year’s schedule! Beside each event you will find a link to buy tickets for that specific show and time. If you are interested in seeing EVERYTHING you can buy the ALL ACCESS PASS which will get you admission to all Dog Story Theater shows (does not include the Pyramid Scheme showcase or Improv Hop). You can also get a  4 SHOW PASS for a discounted rate.

 

Monday/October 30 

10/30- 7 pm show: Kickoff Show at Comedy Outlet Mondays at Dog Story Theater featuring No Outlet, Funny Girls, The Toast and With the Dark (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes:

No Outlet (Grand Rapids, MI):

No Outlet was one of the first established improv troupes in Grand Rapids and currently focuses on musical improv, both short and long form. No Outlet is the host troupe for the Grand Rapids Improv Festival.

Funny Girls (Grand Rapids, MI):

Funny Girls is an all-female identifying comedy collective. They perform improv, sketch and standup and first performed at GRIF 2015. They started off doing improv off of their old childhood journal entries, and now in their monthly shows have the audience vote for one of three photographs and base their improv off of the story of that photo.

The Toast (Ann Arbor, MI):

The Toast celebrates relationship-driven long form in a fresh new way. Formed in early 2017 when a group of Pointless Brewery & Theatre classmates decided to fine-tune a new form, The Toast has blossomed into a troupe committed to exploring, presenting, and honoring the comedy in the human condition.

With the Dark (Grand Rapids, MI):

With The Dark specializes in The Bat, a longform format in which lights are turned off. Preferably the stage should be completely black. Our particular brand is reminiscent of an old timey radio-play, with a predilection towards the spooky and mysterious.

 

Tuesday/October 31

10/31 – 7 pm show: Haunted Improv featuring Awkward & Unrehearsed, 86 Improv and Sofa (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes:

Awkward & Unrehearsed (Detroit, MI):

Awkward and Unrehearsed is an awkward and unrehearsed 2-man troupe. Steve and Alex started performing together as part of the troupe Mrs. Claws.

86 Improv (Grand Rapids, MI):

Andy and Alastair come together with an narrative improv style that plays on kitchen slang. Games are inspired by terms like 86, recook, too many cooks, and more.

Sofa (Grand Rapids, MI):

Sofa is a long form troupe performing The Living Room style of improv based off of conversations inspired by audience suggestion.

10/31 – 9pm show: Comedy From the Crypt featuring Brenda, The Travel Band and Comedy Eventually (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes:

Brenda (Detroit, MI):

Brenda does a variation on the Sleep Over form. Long form narrative improv based on the suggestion of a genre or event.

The Travel Band (Detroit, MI):

These 6 members out of Detroit Improv community clicked instantly. It’s easy to see why these guys are so fun to watch as you see them building relationships and caring for each other while exploring the environment together.

Comedy Eventually (Grand Rapids, MI):

Comedy Eventually is made up of long form duo, Amy Gascon and Joe Anderson. Each show consists of two versions of the same scene; one dramatic followed by one comedic.

Wednesday/November 1 

11/1 – 7pm to 10pm Special Event show: PYRAMID SCHEME Improv Showcase featuring Cash & Carry, Late Night GR, No Outlet, Pseudo Improv and The Gentleman’s Sandbox 

**Tickets for this event can be bought at Comedy Outlet Mondays at Dog Story Theater in the weeks leading up to the show, or at the door the night of the show. Online tickets are not available for this event**

About the Troupes:

Cash & Carry (Ferndale, MI):

Cash & Carry are a musical duo from Ferndale, MI. Members RJ Cach and Cari Sue Murphy have been performing together since 2015 and decided to form this duo in Spring 2016, in hopes of bringing more musical improv to the Motor City & to have an outlet for their constant impulse to sing! Together they explore all the songs that might be found at a particular Location, suggested by the audience. Directed and accompanied by Jeremy St. Martin whose vast musical experience takes the show to a whole new level.

Late Night GR (Grand Rapids, MI):

Late Night Grand Rapids (LNGR) 2015-now. Mainly a sketch comedy group that consists of a core group of writers, actors, comedians and musicians who have worked together in various combinations for some time. Founded by comedian Alastair J. Watt, the other players include and not limited to Danielle Armstrong, Sean Francis, KJ Johnson, Sarah Wegner, Laura Uzarski and Stevie Elizabeth. Taking cues from several classic sketch shows (Monty Python, SNL, Kids in the Hall, Key & Peele, Inside Amy Schumer, etc.)

No Outlet (Grand Rapids, MI):

No Outlet was one of the first established improv troupes in Grand Rapids and currently focuses on musical improv, both short and long form. No Outlet is the host troupe for the Grand Rapids Improv Festival.

Pseudo Improv (Grand Rapids, MI):

We primarily do short-form improv games, resembling popular shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway. We do shows on Grand Valley’s campus every two weeks on Wednesday nights, as per tradition. We’ve had many members come and go due to our location on campus, but the group will never fade. We’ve grown a lot in the last few years and have begun branching out into the community. We hope to one day become a household name, and will always strive to give our best.

The Gentleman’s Sandbox (Chicago, IL):

Our show is comprised of a 20-minute opening team followed by 30-minute improvised set by The Gentleman’s Sandbox. The Gentleman’s Sandox’s set is an altered harold form created by Miles Potter.

Thursday/November 2 

11/2 – 7pm Special Event: GRIF Improv Hop featuring Fictional Friends, Flower Shop Bangers and Plant Parenthood (GET TICKETS HERE)

**This event is a GRIF favorite! The Improv Hop is a improv show and bar crawl in one and will feature three improv troupes at three different local bars in Grand Rapids (locations TBA). Ticket price includes one drink ticket to be used at any of the three venues**

About the Troupes:

Fictional Friends (Grand Rapids, MI):

Short form, long form and everything in between. FickFrnz puts an emphasis on finding what’s real in a scene, often through a lens of original games and formats.

Flower Shop Bangers (Chicago, IL):

We begin each show with the phrase “We are the Flower Shop Bangers. We are going to do improv for you and we get weird with it.” We then turn away from each other, walk around the stage, make eye contact, and begin our show. The show is generally a narrative of deep characters, interesting places, and useless trivia knowledge that is as weird as the intro suggests.

Plant Parenthood (Grand Rapids, MI):

Plant Parenthood came together in 2015 after it’s founding members met at Dog Story’s Comedy Outlet Mondays. They have become regular performers at Dog Story theater and Comedy Outlet Underground. Members have trained at Grand Rapids Civic theater and Chicago’s iO theater. PP has dabbled in short form games, sketch writing and performing, and more recently focusing on long form improv. No two shows are ever the same with this heart wrenching and reality bending group of comedy heroes!

Friday/November 3 

11/3 – 7pm show: Dynamic Duos featuring Josh & Sarah, Fat Man & Big Tom and Listen, Stupid (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes:

Josh & Sarah (Merrillville, IN):

Josh and Sarah do a two person, long form Improv show. They do a series of scenes, occasionally connected and with a monologue thrown in now and then in a loose Harold style.

Fat Man & Big Tom (Detroit, MI):

Fat Man & Big Tom are a comedic improv duo hailing from Detroit. While performing, they found themselves with very similar styles but differing approaches to the art. They are both geared towards finding the heart of the scene, and looking to keep a point of view in an ever changing landscape. The results usually vary from heart breaking to hysterical, be it a father and son fishing trip or a dysfunctional couple at the Ice Capades. Fat Man & Big Tom fall easily into characters that make you want to see them succeed or fail mightily.

Listen, Stupid (Ferndale, MI):

Listen, Stupid hails from the mean streets of Detroit. Well, really the nicely paved streets of the suburbs, but they still bring the city’s hustle and honesty to every show they do. Nuverre Naami and Tom Novik have been performing together since 2013, playing various shows, events, and festivals, and at a variety of venues and theaters. This duo loves to play all kinds of characters, using a montage of scenes to patiently explore and connect everyday relationships and encounters

11/3 – 9pm show: Leading Ladies featuring Funny Girls, Lady Parts Detroit and Dianasty (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes

Funny Girls (Grand Rapids, MI):

Funny Girls is an all-female identifying comedy collective. They perform improv, sketch and standup and first performed at GRIF 2015. They started off doing improv off of their old childhood journal entries, and now in their monthly shows have the audience vote for one of three photographs and base their long form improv off of the story of that photo.

Lady Parts Detroit (Ferndale, MI) :

Lady Parts Detroit is an all-female sketch and improv comedy troupe. While their sets are often centered in everyday conversations, the ladies pull apart these mundane interactions, using one line or phrase from each scene to turn their set into an interconnected wonderland of always clever, sometimes touching, consistently hysterical, and often physically embarrassing comedy.

Dianasty (Detroit, MI):

Dianasty starts the show with receiving a suggestion from the audience. That suggestion then inspires a melody or beat from two members on the backline. The remaining member of the troupe then performs a short solo which leads into the scene. The set continues with a blend of a capella songs and scenes.

 

Saturday/November 4 

**We are excited to be offering a variety of workshops! To buy tickets for individual workshop please click the link next to each workshop. If you would like to attend all three workshops for a discounted price please PURCHASE A WORKSHOP PASS **

11/4  – 10 AM to 12 PM WORKSHOP at Dog Story Theater (GET TICKETS HERE)

Beyond Hamilton: A Musical Improv Workshop taught by Nelson Velazquez

Hip-hop has influenced everything from the radio to the TV to the big screen. It has also become part of the theatre scene as well! Learn the basics of what it takes to do improvised hip-hop from the streetz on up! We learn the fundamentals of building your rhyme catalog to putting together a cypher to going from scene into hip-hop in one dope workshop!

About Nelson:

Nelson is currently an improv instructor at Crown Point Community Theatre.  He is the founder and head musical director for Los Improviachis, the world’s only improvised mariachi band. He is responsible for directing/teaching/coaching both short-form & long-form musical improvisation from both the actors and musical directors point of view. He is a seasoned workshop leader, and has led workshops for a wide variety of people across the country.

 

11/4 – 12 PM to 2 PM WORKSHOP at The Fuse Box (GET TICKETS HERE)

Don’t Be Bulletproof taught by Jessica Landis

Improvisation means you can do, or be, anything. How do you make the “right” choice when there are infinite possibilities? This workshop will focus on making brave, interesting moves in your scenes that will surprise you and your audiences. Avoid the mundane! Never do the same date-at-a-restaurant scene again! Pick up the confidence that you will be okay no matter what happens next- and no matter who you are on stage with. As Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has said, being present in the moment can make you a better person and a better leader. Don’t you want to try it?

About Jessica:

Jessica has been teaching improvisational theater classes at theaters in Chicago for over 10 years, including Gorilla Tango (now under new management), One Group Mind, and Theatre Momentum. She has also taught at the Champaign-Urbana festival at SoDo Theater. In the past few years she has also taught workshops on demand for independent improv teams. Jessica has a degree in theater direction and has directed scripted and sketch shows at Stage 773, MCL, and the Annoyance Theater in Chicago.

 

11/4 – 2 PM to 4 PM at Dog Story Theater (GET TICKETS HERE)

The Mind of Character taught by Mike McGettigan

Find the nuance of character and allow it to work for you. Let go of you “actor” brain and let your character do the thinking. Students will be focused on finding their individual way into a character allowing them to develop realistic and honest characters that are as easy to transform into as putting on a hat.

About Mike:

Mike McGettigan acts as Planet Ant Training Center Director, Instructor and a resident member of the The Planet Ant Improv Colony Home Team. A former instructor and performer of the Second City Detroit, McGettigan has over twenty years of performance experience and eleven years of student-centered teaching practice including other prominent institutions like the Detroit Creativity Project, YArts and GoComedy. His extensive training includes instruction from improv luminaries Keegan Michael Key, Michael Gellman, Carla and Craig Cackowski, and many more. He has earned multiple awards for his writing, directing, and acting prowess and has spent time working alongside notable Detroiters such as Tim Robinson, Sam Richardson and Marc Evan Jackson. McGettigan specializes in focusing his students’ on the hilarious side effects of honesty, connection and character.

11/4 – 4:30pm show: Montage featuring Unicornucopia, Almost Good and Makeshift Up (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes:

Unicornucopia (Ferndale, MI):

Specializing in, but not limited to the Harold as our main form, Unicornucopia is an improv troupe of 8 funsters who deliver an engaging energy to all of our performances. Our strong group mind allows us to get on the same page quickly, presenting fantastic, absurd and fun connections through exploration of relationships and characters.

Almost Good (Detroit, MI):

We specialize in the Montage form. Our long form improv scenes are high energy with emphasis on playing juxtaposing characters within everyday scenarios that evolve into surreal circumstances. The members enjoy dynamism within the constraints of the stage, including object work, crowd interactions and we’ve even been known to sing on rare occasions! Give us shot we might be (Almost) Good!

Makeshift Up (Crown Point, IN):

MSU performs short & medium-form improvisation.  Shows run anywhere from 20-45 minutes and feature tried and true improvisational games made popular by Whose Line Is It Anyway as well as new games invited by the MSU team

11/4 – 7pm show: MashUp featuring League of Pointless Improvisors, Planet Ant Farm Team, Socrates Soccer Tees and Crab Fight (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes:

League of Pointless Improvisors (Ann Arbor, MI):

Our rotating cast performs Long Form improv which is character and relationship driven. The Pointless Form: The Bruce Lee, or Water Form. We look to emulate Bruce Lee’s approach to martial arts, through our approach to the art of improv. We are continually training, learning, and exploring various forms, and styles, so that we can be at our most improv ready state, able to use any element, at any given time.

Planet Ant Farm Team (Hamtramck, MI):

The Planet Ant Farm team is a group composed of talented improvisers from the greater metro Detroit area. Established in early 2017 the group consists of 12 mainstage cast members and performs twice weekly in various Planet Ant Productions. The team is led by Mike McGettigan, Training Center Director and instructor and focuses on the comedy of honest connection and the absurd.

Socrates Soccer Tees (Chicago, IL):

Socrates Soccer Tees is a One Group Mind team based at The Comedy Clubhouse in Chicago, IL. Based on one suggestion, this long-form improv group will delve deeper into what makes us human, and find the funny in it all along the way.

Crab Fight (Detroit, MI):

You never know what to expect from a Crab fight. Whether it be a battle to the death between two crustaceans in the alley behind a starbucks or a lively debate between a group of charming decapods on a cool summer day. Regardless, it’s going to be one hell of a time!

11/4 – 10pm show: Musical Extravaganza featuring Cash & Carry, Los Improviachis, The Tony Stanzas and Musical The Improv (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes:

Cash & Carry (Ferndale, MI):

Cash & Carry are a musical duo from Ferndale, MI. Members RJ Cach and Cari Sue Murphy have been performing together since 2015 and decided to form this duo in Spring 2016, in hopes of bringing more musical improv to the Motor City & to have an outlet for their constant impulse to sing! Together they explore all the songs that might be found at a particular Location, suggested by the audience. Directed and accompanied by Jeremy St. Martin whose vast musical experience takes the show to a whole new level.

Los Improviachis (Chicago, IL):

We perform both short-form and long-form musical improv with heavy audience participation.  All music is acoustic and in the style of mariachi.  The show is in 98% English with some Spanish thrown in for flavor/character.

The Tony Stanzas (Crown Point, IN):

The Tony Stanzas’ got their start in back in February of 2015 as a group of new improvisers putting up an improvised musical called “Love Boat: The Improvised Musical” based off the Aaron Spelling TV show. After their initial runs with the show, they decided they wanted to continue performing and working on new styles of musicals and topics; Thus, The Tony Stanzas was born. They have performed in NWI along with various times in Chicago.

Musical The Improv (Ferndale, MI):

Musical the Improv explores a theme suggested by the audience that has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people. Using a stylized opener and closer with a montage in the middle this group creates an experience you’ll be humming and tony buzzing about.

 

Sunday/November 5 

11/5 – 10:30am to 2pm Special Event: Improv Chaos Brunch (FREE but please SIGN UP HERE)

This festival tradition is open to anyone regardless of improv experience and is a great way to participate in the festival. People will be split into groups and form new improv “troupes” where you will have to complete challanges and create new improv games as a team. At 12:30 we’ll break for a light brunch and resume at 1pm to perform your troupe’s creations for the rest of the groups. It’s completely free to perform and watch!

11/5 – 3pm show: Sunday Funday featuring Empanada Grande, short rib and Darcy Monsters (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes:

Empanada Grande (Grand Blanc/Grand Rapids, MI):

With characters and situations influenced by the performers backgrounds, Quintin and Sammy take the audience inside the minds and hearts of some of our favorite characters. Characters that are real, genuine and eager to please.

Short rib (Philadelphia, PA):

Short rib does a 2 person pretty flower/Spokane. We start with a base scene rich with emotion and relationship, and at every opportunity explore the characters, weird, and games we discover along the way.

Darcy Monsters (Chicago, IL):

Darcy Monsters perform long form improvisation, often a single scene or several connected scenes in the same “world”. They DGAF on stage, but they eschew blue material in favor of treating every choice with weight, leading to hilariously outrageous situations and dialogue.

Monday/November 6 

11/6 – 7pm show: Closing Ceremonies at Comedy Outlet Mondays at Dog Story Theater featuring 4th Rule Improv Presents: Random House, The Gay Agenda and JAWSOME (GET TICKETS HERE)

About the Troupes:

4th Rule Improv Presents: Random House (Los Angeles, CA):

Random house will feature a scene between Joe Spence and a first time improviser, a scene with a current student at any program, and a scene with one or two graduates from any improv training program. Then we can see how well we speak the same language. And of course, most importantly, we’ll have fun!

The Gay Agenda (Detroit, MI):

The Gay Agenda plays with a form they created, The Queer Ass, inspired by the WeirDass. On July 22  we won Planet Ant’s Colony Fest 2017!

JAWSOME (Madison, WI):

An improv duo originally formed in Madison, WI, JAWESOME is performed by John Steeno and Casem AbuLughod.
Performing together since 2011 with the Monkey Business Institute in Madison, Casem and John enjoy exploring any stage they can get their hands on.

Announcing the 2017 Workshop Lineup!

We are so excited to be bringing three new workshops to GRIF 2017! The workshops give improvisors of any experience level a chance to brush up on their skills and learn some new ones.  All workshops will be held Saturday, November 4th and are going to be taught by some amazing improv professionals. This year there won’t be any overlap in workshop times so those who want to attend all three will able to. Stay tuned for more information on buying tickets for individual workshops or a workshop pass which gets you into all three for a discounted price! Without further ado, here are the workshops offered this year:

Saturday 11/4 – 10 AM to 12 PM

Beyond Hamilton: A Musical Improv Workshop taught by Nelson Velazquez

Hip-hop has influenced everything from the radio to the TV to the big screen. It has also become part of the theatre scene as well! Learn the basics of what it takes to do improvised hip-hop from the streetz on up! We learn the fundamentals of building your rhyme catalog to putting together a cypher to going from scene into hip-hop in one dope workshop!

About Nelson:

Nelson is currently an improv instructor at Crown Point Community Theatre.  He is the founder and head musical director for Los Improviachis, the world’s only improvised mariachi band. He is responsible for directing/teaching/coaching both short-form & long-form musical improvisation from both the actors and musical directors point of view. He is a seasoned workshop leader, and has led workshops for a wide variety of people across the country.

 

Saturday 11/4 – 12 PM to 2 PM

Don’t Be Bulletproof taught by Jessica Landis

Improvisation means you can do, or be, anything. How do you make the “right” choice when there are infinite possibilities? This workshop will focus on making brave, interesting moves in your scenes that will surprise you and your audiences. Avoid the mundane! Never do the same date-at-a-restaurant scene again! Pick up the confidence that you will be okay no matter what happens next- and no matter who you are on stage with. As Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has said, being present in the moment can make you a better person and a better leader. Don’t you want to try it?

About Jessica:

Jessica has been teaching improvisational theater classes at theaters in Chicago for over 10 years, including Gorilla Tango (now under new management), One Group Mind, and Theatre Momentum. She has also taught at the Champaign-Urbana festival at SoDo Theater. In the past few years she has also taught workshops on demand for independent improv teams. Jessica has a degree in theater direction and has directed scripted and sketch shows at Stage 773, MCL, and the Annoyance Theater in Chicago.

 

Saturday 11/4 – 2 PM to 4 PM

The Mind of Character taught by Mike McGettigan

Find the nuance of character and allow it to work for you. Let go of you “actor” brain and let your character do the thinking. Students will be focused on finding their individual way into a character allowing them to develop realistic and honest characters that are as easy to transform into as putting on a hat.

About Mike:

Mike McGettigan acts as Planet Ant Training Center Director, Instructor and a resident member of the The Planet Ant Improv Colony Home Team. A former instructor and performer of the Second City Detroit, McGettigan has over twenty years of performance experience and eleven years of student-centered teaching practice including other prominent institutions like the Detroit Creativity Project, YArts and GoComedy. His extensive training includes instruction from improv luminaries Keegan Michael Key, Michael Gellman, Carla and Craig Cackowski, and many more. He has earned multiple awards for his writing, directing, and acting prowess and has spent time working alongside notable Detroiters such as Tim Robinson, Sam Richardson and Marc Evan Jackson. McGettigan specializes in focusing his students’ on the hilarious side effects of honesty, connection and character.

 

 

Wondering about Workshops?

Watching improv is great, and watching it at the Grand Rapids Improv Festival is even better, but sometimes you just want MORE. That’s why every GRIF we carefully put together a selection of workshops to help people learn and grow in their own improv journey! Most of our workshops are appropriate for beginners to veterans and each one focuses on a different aspect of improv. Do you have a workshop you might want to teach? Then apply HERE! Do you have a workshop you’d like to attend? Leave a suggestion in the comments below!

Some of our past workshop topics include short form game creation, musical improv, and more! Each workshop is taught by experienced improvisors and is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning whether you’re just looking for a few hours of fun or looking to build skills for your own improv resume.

If you’re an improvisor who still hasn’t applied to GRIF, do it now and get in on our July early bird submission pricing! APPLY HERE!

SUBMISSIONS ARE OPEN!

Today is the day! Submissions for GRIF17 are now open. Troupes, individuals and those interested in teaching a workshop can head HERE and apply!

Submissions open JULY 9th!!

Submissions are opening July 9th and we can’t wait to welcome everyone back to Grand Rapids! The GRIF organizers are busy behind the scenes making sure GRIF17 will be one to remember. Remember IMPROV CHAOS? It’s going to be even better! Remember our downtown bar crawl? This year it’s going to be EVEN BETTER!

Thank you to everyone who made the GRIFs of years past so successful! Come out and see what we have in store for this year.

GRIF 2017 is SIX MONTHS away!

GRIF17 is right around the corner! Ok, maybe not RIGHT around the corner, but like, down the block and around the corner. In any case, it’s coming and it’s time to get excited. Do you have a troupe that would like to perform? We can’t wait to have you! Are you an individual that doesn’t have a troupe but would still like to participate? Join our Improv Chaos event! Do you have a special skill that you think would enrich our festival goers? Sign up to teach a workshop! Do you just like to watch improv and drink? Plan to come along on the GRIF Improv Crawl! Submissions to participate are set to open in July. In the mean time, tell your friends, tell your troupe mates, and tell Siri to mark your calendar for GRIF 2017 – October 30 to November 6!

Stay tuned here, and on our Facebook page for all the updates!