The Edinburgh International Improv festival returns for a fifth installment of shows and workshops. From 2-5 March, the cream of the global improv community will be joining the best Scottish talent in a variety of formats.
The festival launches on the 2nd at the Monkey Barrel with a special edition of the Barrel staple Dating Crapp, in which guests Shannon O’Neill and Graham Dickson will mine the dating profiles of two sporting/ foolish audience members for material. Don’t swipe left on this potential goldmine of comedy and cringe.
The first of several double-bills brings teams from Glasgow and London together at the Scottish Storytelling Centire on Fri 3 March. One Big Jacket are based at Glasgow Improv Theatre and will be performing the long-form Harold. The Gatekeepers are four international improvisers who met in London at the Free Association Improv Theatre.
More teams from Glasgow and London come together for the second of the evening’s double-bills. Couch are the house team of Glasgow Improv Theatre and will be using a Spotify playlist populated by the audience for inspiration for their scenes. London-based Slumber Party will bring a series of scenes of high-energy debauchery.
Two familiar faces return to the festival for an hour of pure improv based on audience suggestions. Sarah Claspell is the co-runner of the World’s Greatest Improv School which offers courses online and in Los Angeles. She’s a member of Cardinal Redbird and has written for shows like Drunk History and has appeared on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Michelle Gilliam is the founder of Wisconsin’s ImprovMKE and a headliner of last year’s edition of the Improv Festival. She coaches and performs in Milwaukee and Los Angeles.
Friday concludes at the SSC with another double-bill, featuring God’s Lettuce from Glasgow and Action Jackson from Berlin. God’s Lettuce are a new house team at the prolific Glasgow Improv Theatre and will be bringing The Bat; a Harold with the lights off! Action Jackson are an international mix of performers that all perform and teach in Germany’s capital.
Saturday kicks off with another double, featuring Edinburgh-based Infinite Potential and Big Couch all the way from New Orleans. The home team are stuffed with international talent from the Netherlands, Greece, and Canada, as well as the UK. Big Couch are on a mission to raise the profile of improv in the Big Easy.
The ubiquitous Glasgow Improv Theatre are represented once again in another double-bill. This time it’s President Dog, a brand new house team, inaugurating proceedings. They’re joined by LA’s Candy Apple Red, featuring several familiar faces to the festival performing the finest in musical improv.
There must be something odd lurking in the waters of the Clyde as Yer Da are yet another group of Glasgow-based stalwarts, bringing their monthly Yer Da Wants A Word to Edinburgh. And expect big characters and weird scenarious from the Netherlands’ Land of Giants.
Next up are EIIF headliners RaaaatScraps. Sebastian Conelli, Ryan Haney, Shannon O’Neill and Achilles Stamatelaky bring the New York improv staple to Edinburgh, and will be using the real life tales of one audience member as inspiration for their scenes.
Saturday is rounded off by EIIF perennial favourites The Imposters, Shetland’s only improv group. They’re joined by Toronto’s Affirmative Action, a hugely assured band of actors, writers, and comedians.
The last day of the festival opens with a blast of nostalgia in the form of Edinburgh’s ChuckImprov, who will pay tribute to the legendary Chuckle Brothers with a show made up on the spot. Online supergroup Pure Mush will be making a rare live performance in the other half of the final double-bill of the weekend.
Sunday continues with two Ensemble teams, formed at the festival itself. Sixteen improvisers from all over the world are split into two super teams, meeting for the first time.
You won’t be left on a gurney for hours at St. Doctor’s Hospital. Improv theatre group The Free Association presents an improvised medical drama, based on classic US dramas like ER, House, and Grey’s Anatomy.
Finally, the festival headliners come together as a one-off supergroup for the All-Star Armando. Beginning with a monologue from one of the guest stars, it spirals off into a number of scenes based on those anecdotes.
Edinburgh International Improv Festival runs from Thu Mar 2 to Sun 5 Mar 2023. Tickets from all shows can be purchased from the EIIF website.