8083B340 19CF 4CBA 8653 B2B892A56696

Vancouver Improv Festival 2022

Vancouver Improv Festival Returns September 13th-18th, 2022

After a 2 yearlong pandemic hiatus, the annual Vancouver Improv Festival returns for its 24th year. This is one of the city’s most popular arts festivals featuring all-live shows held at a couple of the city’s most intimate theatre spaces: The Cultch and Tightrope Theatre. The festival includes performers and troupes from Canada, The United Kingdom, and The United States.

A week before the festival’s run I was invited down to Tightrope Theatre to take part in an improv workshop, the kind the actual festival will be hosting as well. It is a way to experience the craft firsthand and grow a new found appreciation for those who are brazen enough to be a part of it. You intentionally put yourself in discomfort, opting to not memorize lines or read from a script. In this world anything goes, and you give control to your audience and your teammates around you. Suggestions taken from the crowd and storylines carried forward by those acting around you.

Here, we were given a green light that we were in a safe, judgement free space. The freedom to let loose and allow yourself to be goofy, and not have all the answers. The power and humour of improv is in the unpredictability and the relatability. We participated in improv games and learned the art of “just say yes”, engaging our minds and our bodies, as you can see in the photos included. And what I got out of it all was a deeper understanding of what goes into improv and the respect that these creatives deserve to put themselves out there.

Fast forward, I attended the Vancouver Improv Festival’s opening night at the Cultch. Here, attendees were given a smorgasbord sampling of a few of the acts that can be seen all week, and the style you can expect from each. This assembly included local players and those who have traveled across bodies of water. I won’t go into detail and review each set, as it is different for each performance.

As an overview we had a group create a scene from why the audience loved Vancouver. One improver sang about worms using the audience’s suggestions and what they knew about the earth dwellers. And a one man show gave us a lightening round of character as dictated by the audience.

My favourite was Shakespearean improv, hosted by an improver from the UK. He taught us that there were only 4 emotions in all of Shakespeare’s plays, and actors in those days did not rehearse, they came having memorized their lines and then filled in the blanks by feeding off the facial expressions that their audience was broadcasting.

I even got to put my new improv skills to use as I took centre stage to improv a Shakespearean sonnet with 3 artists, an experience I am not only proud of, but can now cross off my bucket list.

This showcase was a great to experience in small spoonfuls of what the festival is all about, but for those who missed it, here is what you can expect (as taken from the press release), so sign up and support local and hilarious talent by attending a couple of the shows below.


Soul Decision is a Vancouver/Toronto based duo consisting of Kevin Vidal and Christian Smith, an award winning duo seen on CBC’s Workin’ Moms, Strays, and Kim’s Convenience. They have appeared at Just for Laughs Montreal, Zoofest, and other festivals across North America and Europe.

Performances: Friday Sept 16, 10 pm at The Culture Lab and Saturday Sept 17, 9:45 pm at The Historic Theatre.

Hello City is an award-winning improv troupe from Halifax. They are best known for their show HELLO CITY where they invite audience members to tell stories about the place they live, using those stories inspire scenes. They’ve won multiple awards including Outstanding Comedy (Halifax Fringe), Best Ensemble (Halifax Fringe) and silver for Best Comedy Night in Halifax (The Coast).

Performances: Thursday Sept 15, 7:30 pm at The Culture Lab and Friday Sept 16, 10:00 pm at The Culture Lab.

School of Night features Adam Meggido and Sean McCann of London, UK. They improvise in the style of Shakespeare and occasionally other literary titans. If you think improvising a rhyming sonnet in iambic pentameter is impossible, they’ll prove you wrong. They have appeared at Shakespeare’s Globe and Elsinore Castle, where Hamlet is set.

Performances: Wednesday Sept 14, 7:30 pm at The Culture Lab and Thursday Sept 15, 9:45 pm at The Historic Theatre.

Z Said features long-time friends and performers Joleen Ballendine and Todd Houseman from Edmonton. They’ve taken the classic Theatresports game, “He said/she said/they said,” and expanded it into a full-length show.

Performances: Thursday Sept 15, 9:45 pm at The Historic Theatre and Friday Sept 16, 7:30 pm at The Historic Theatre.

The festival includes in-person and online workshops, taught by instructors from across two continents. Classes are geared towards improvisers of all levels of experience. This year’s event also features a 50/50 raffle, inviting patrons to purchase tickets to support the festival.

For festival tickets, show schedules, and more information about workshops, please visit www.vancouverimprovfest.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top