Ottawa Improv Fest ’11 – A hazy look back

It’s been a pretty fantastic weekend here at the Visitorium…and I’m not only talking about the last post I made, that somehow drew more than 200 hits to the page yesterday.  Thanks for that, and hey, some of you folks reposting that page on Facebook..?  Friend me, so I can read what people are saying!  I’m a compete attention whore like that.

But there’s more, and it’s the kind of ‘more’ that means I don’t exactly remember how I got home on Saturday nite.  yes, that’s right, it was the OTTAWA IMPROV FESTIVAL this past week, and as far as I could tell it was a smashing success.  I only made it out to three events, but I still feel like that might be enough to make me need rehab.

My first night (of two) was on Thursday, when I darted there after the preview performance of ST.CARMEN OF THE MAIN at the NAC (about which I’ve already blathered).  I hustled on up to Arts Court Studio for a familiar scene…CRUSH IMPROV and their ‘BOUT TIME setup, although now afar from the usual Elmdale Tavern digs.  Not to fear, tho, the Beau’s was flowing on makeshift taps and I, patron of the Arts that I am, donated generously.  Which may be why I don’t exactly recall the name of the team squaring off against standing champeens THE NEIGHBOURHOOD (although I can tell you they were Mike Kosowan, Joel Garrow and Jim Davies, battling Ken Godmere, Cari Leslie and Tim Anderson).  Each team was dandy as per usual, occasionally receiving a guest-assist from UNCALLED FOR‘s Anders Yates.  Smokes were bartered for, Perogies were used as weapons of conquest, and by the end of it, the Neighbourhood stood tall yet again, , keeping their winning streak unbroken.  Myself, I enjoyed some after-palaver with Heather Marie and Al Connors, among several illustrious others (I TOTALLY got a ‘The Neighbourhood’ hat-trick on my Facebook the next day!).  A good day.

But the NEXT show I saw, this time on the Saturday…yow.  I made it for both timeslots this day, settling in to deep, dank SAW Gallery for the first half of festivities.  Saw Heather and Al again, yay, as well as Tim Anderson and man-about-town Sterling Lynch.  There was a French show on upstairs with troupes LA LIEU and L’ACRONYME, but down in the SAW it was time for MONTREAL IMPROV and SEX T-REX to shine.  There may have been a guest-performer or two in thereabouts, forgive me if I’m remembering incorrectly.  I don’t take notes, and did I mention about the beer flowing?  That’ll be important later.

The troupes were sweet to behold…a bit to start off about  a young fan meeting his shotput hurling idol in a grudge match of Guess Who? entertained, and Sex T-Rex floored the joint with their tale of Justin Bieber, Usher, and the importance of flossing.  A great show (although as Heather rightly noted, too short!), and quickly we all filed upstairs for part two, with EDGEWATER HOTEL getting things underway with what they say is their farewell performance.  Too bad, ’cause there was some talent up there on that stage in a show mostly about pretending to own things (and why not?).  Then the rather amazing STANDARDS AND PRACTICES took over, and damn, but that’s a solid bunch of weirdos right there!  A pretty incredible improv show that bust many guts.

As someone who hasn’t really seen much improv besides CRUSH, it was great to get to this festival and see some of the other talents out there.  I missed too many…INSENSITIVITY TRAINING, GRIMPROV, CRYSTAL BASEMENT, GENTLEMAN’S CLUB…but maybe I’ll do better next year.  Anyhoo, after the S&P lads finished up, it was right back to the hardcore drinking.  And chatting.  And…what’s the word..?  ‘Social…izing’?  Is that right?  Is that a word?  Is it anything like hanging out on the steps, listening to Heather Marie and Nick diGaetano have a heated discussion about theatre?  Or Brad MacNeil being true to his word and giving me a crash course in Questions (which I’m totally going to OWN next time we do it in class!)?  Whatever it was, it felt real good, and so, after all the beer was drunk and we’d made a solid dent in the Rye and Tequila rations, the mob of us headed out to the Red Room for more afterfun.  I got to finally say hi to Mike Kosowan (Red Noses, yo!), and…

…and, well, it gets pretty blurry after that.  I kinda ‘member Cari Leslie dancing, and me chatting with Chantal from GCTC, and precious little else.  Somehow I managed to pay the cabbie to take me home, and thank God Winston yelled at me in the morning, because I forgot to set my alarm.  Did I mention I worked at 8 the next day..?
I would have headed out to the final day, but I was just too wiped (I am kinda sorta getting older, it turns out), especially as it was a rather unforgivingly brutal brunch shift at work.  And yes, your Visitor was hurting.  But the good kind of hurt…well earned.  Thanks be to the organizers of this highly entertaining little festival, and I sure as shit hope there’s another one like it this time in 2012.  Not 2013, obviously, as time is slated to END in 2012, but hey, at least we get one more year, right?

Fucking Mayans.

Peace, love and soul, Improv fans,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s