There it is! Another amazing improv festival in the books! Once again our friends from Off The Cuff in Cedar City, Utah have brought us three nights of amazing comedy to enjoy, experience, and to learn from as the 5th Annual Red Rocks Improv Festival hit the ground running in classic improv fashion.
First of all, I need to point out the amount of planning and preparation that went into this festival. Don’t confuse the RRIF as another one of “those” festivals where you show up and “check-in”, only to sit around and wait for your performance time slot to approach, all-the-while wishing that you’d been able to meet a few other performing teams at the bar and network. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Because unlike mega-festivals (ie DCM, LAICF, and CIF) this is a smaller intimate group setting. The producers of the RRIF did that intentionally so as to create a community away from your home. This serves two purposes:
1) It actually allows you to mingle and to get to know other teams in a one-on-one basis.
2) It enhances your performance on stage. It really does. For instance, how many times have you performed at LAICF and the crowd was so small (assuming there IS a crowd) that you throw in the towel and say “screw it”. Instead of being focused on “what form are we going to do for the festival” you find yourself in a much more relaxed/social environment where you focus on each other. You are LITERALLY BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS offstage, which in turn translates to building relationships onstage. See how that happens? So yeah! A huge round of applause to Off The Cuff for creating an intimate social environment for all to enjoy!
The second aspect of the festival that I’d like to point out is the extra curricular activities. I am specifically referring to the hikes out in Zion National Park. These hikes are breathtaking and super fun! I mean, just check out that view:
You really want to pass THIS up? And this is just one of many hikes this region has to offer.
I could go on and on about how much I loved the hikes, but I’ll let Yelp do that for me. In the meantime, visually munch on these pics I snapped.
Now for the comedy aspect of the festival. I mean, wow. Just….wow! The RRIF has a way of finding some of the BEST improv teams out there! Just to highlight a few of the showstoppers, teams like Beehive, Fancy Football, The Comedy Project, Old Vegas, Melissa? and Pawn Takes Queen were among the best of the best. You may not have heard of some of these teams, but trust me…you won’t soon forget them!
And especially as an east coaster, I’m am super thrilled to get to know and mingle with more than just teams from New York and Boston.
Attending improv festivals is seriously one of the best things you can do as an improviser as it allows you to showcase your talents, network with other teams, improve your skills by building relationships off stage, and experience something completely new that you normally wouldn’t have the chance to see in your own hometown.
Cross-pollination, people! That’s what we are trying to accomplish here!
Oh! Here’s something I forgot to mention: the STAGE! Wow! What an amazing theater these guys have created! The theater at OTC is part of a strip mall including stores like Big Lots, The Dollar Tree, and JoAnn Fabrics (not quite sure if those businesses are accurate, but you get my gist), but don’t hold that against them because once you get inside….holy crap! It’s beautiful! For starters, it’s an open-air room with a full size elevated stage located in the rear of the space, and individual padded chairs facing forward. The ticket counter is smartly located right as you walk in the theater, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but trust me. It is. Many other theaters either don’t have an established ticket counter, or if they do it is all the way in the back or easy to miss. So yeah. It’s a big deal that the first thing you see is where to purchase your tickets. Immediately on your left as you walk in is the tech booth. Again, not a huge deal to point out, but in OTC’s case it is. For those of you who have had to tech shows in the past, how cumbersome are most tech booths? They are small, tiny, cramped spaces that aren’t usually large enough to accommodate more than two or three people at a time. And even that’s a stretch of the imagination! Off The Cuff’s tech booth is probably 15×10 feet in surface area, and has a full range of your standard lights, sound, and projection, but it is also equipped with a full video editing station so you can receive a copy of your performance before you go home!
Long story long, the theater at OTC is one of my favorite to perform on because you actually feel like you’re performing on a stage. As a performer, that’s huge! I’ve done festivals in the past where my “stage” is a 5’x3’x5″ off the ground, and the room feels like a glorified broom closet. (Not exactly praising your performers here, guys). But the stage at OTC’s Red Rocks Improv Festival make you feel like a rock star!
In summary (what a clichéd way to end a review), the Red Rocks Improv Festival is certainly one of the BEST I’ve ever been to! (And I’ve been to a lot!) Sure, it might take you a while to get there, but once you do you won’t regret it!
Mike began his comedy career in 2005 as a Philadelphia Phillies “Phanstormer,” performing on-field sketches for the crowd. He founded The Mike Brown Solo Improv Extravaganza and was a member of improv teams “Trapper John”, “Robot Junkie”, and “Ha-Prov”, and currently performs two-prov with “God’s Little Athiest”.