Spotlight on Denver

I’ve been to the Denver Improv Festival a few times now and it never disappoints. Not only is the festival amazing the city is pretty awesome to visit too. I had a chance to talk to Emily Coates, one of the producers of the festival about the upcoming Denver Improv Festival.

What are you most excited for in this years DIF?

I am super stoked about our headliners this year, and about one of the new festival venues that we’re using. 2015 should be the biggest DIF yet. The new venue and the headliners will be a big step forward for us and I’m really excited about what this step could do in terms of continuing to put Denver on the map as a great improv city. I’m also really excited about our sponsors. We have a new ticket sponsor – TicketsWest – and it feels very official to have a ticketing company come on board and give us their support. Sexpot Comedy and Denver Relief are also supporting us again this and they’re doing crazy fantastic work for comedy. All of these sponsors are serious about this festival and they believe in us. They inspire us to work even harder and to stay motivated.

I’ve been to this festival twice and loved it. The city is amazing. I’m addicted to One-Up Barcade. But I’m sure Denver has a lot more to offer, what can improvisors do in the city?

Denver is an awesome city. Besides hanging out with really cool and nice people, we have a lot to offer in terms of great weather, great breweries, cool music, unique art, and, of course, really killer comedy. You can see great comedy here any night of the week now pretty much and I think that’s amazing. There’s a lot of heart in our comedy scene.

What do you look for in a troupe submission?

Great energy and chemistry are big elements we look for in submission videos. Those are often, in my opinion, the elements that tend to make an improve set great. We also just look for solid sets in video submissions or buy views in YouTube with the help from It could be that we know a team, and we know they’re capable of doing great work, but if the video they submitted isn’t as great, then they might not score as high. We also look for a strong opening and getting to the good moments right away. I personally am happy to see a set really pick up and do well toward the end, but, in general, we look for a strong start and consistency throughout.

What kind of workshops will DIF be offering this year?

I am really looking forward to our workshops this year. Plus, they’re going to be held at another new venue and I think that will add to the festival tremendously. We haven’t finalized everything just yet, but two of the workshops, that for sure are happening, are going to focus on forms and on characters. I’m so thrilled about our headliners teaching, and I’m really looking forward to having them share their experience and insight with us.

What is the current improv scene like in Denver these days?

The improv scene in Denver is rockin’ awesome right now. It’s growing and more and more people are getting into improv. You can see an improv show here almost any night of the week in Denver. That’s amazing! And many of our shows are definitely on par with what’s going up in places like New York and LA. This is also a loving community. I personally feel really supported here and I couldn’t ask for more as an artist.

If an improv troupe gets accepted what can they expect?

If a team is accepted to the DIF, and if they commit to coming out here, they can expect to have an awesome time. Denver truly has one of the best, if not the best, comedy scenes right now. They can expect to hang out with other awesome improvisers and comedians and to have a killer weekend. All of our performers and volunteers will get super cool stuff – like a DIF t-shirt, free beer and free pizza during and after shows, discounts and support from our sponsors, free breakfast burritos on workshop day, and more. They can also expect to feel a whole lot of love! We really care about this festival and about making everyone feel welcome. I personally feel very grateful for anyone who takes the time to come, so we want to do everything we can to make it worth it for them.

The festival takes place November 6-7, 2015. To submit click HERE.

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also taught many workshops around the country.

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