Portland's Whiskey Tango is one of the many headliners at this year's Vancouver International Improv Festival.
Portland's Whiskey Tango is one of the many headliners at this year's Vancouver International Improv Festival.

The Vancouver International Improv Festival (VIIF) returns with the west coast’s largest celebration of making things up. But what can audiences expect from an event marking its 16th year? The short answer? One huge, hilarious party. And with over forty shows and performers coming from all corners of the continent, this year’s VIIF promises to celebrate Vancouver’s favourite comedic form with style.

“Any group can submit to be part of the Festival, but we want to make sure there’s a wide variety of improv on stage for our audience to enjoy.” says Alistair Cook, Artistic Director of the festival. “Currently the improv is 80-90% two men doing an organic improv show in a duo, so I’m looking for the best versions of that as well as a multitude of other styles; musicals and styles of improv that Vancouverites have never seen like last year we had a Slovenian group that did popular Slovenian songs and then improvised scenes in English based on those songs.”

Among the groups performing this year is Portland-based performers Whiskey Tango who can’t seem get enough of the festival, returning for a third time.

“Not only does VIIF create an outstanding lineup, ourselves included,” says Leon Anderson, a member of Whiskey Tango, “but the hospitality and graciousness is far and away beyond my wildest expectations. Even before we check in, there is a feeling that you are part of a family and everybody is excited to be together again.”

Also on the roster is Atlanta performers Dark Side of the Room, who will be bringing a show that asks: “what are the black people doing in all those major films?”.

Atlanta's Dark Side of The Room’s all African-American cast improvises the deleted scenes from your favourite movies woven together into one hilarious show.
Atlanta’s Dark Side of The Room’s all African-American cast improvises the deleted scenes from your favourite movies.

“So many great performances and characters were sent to the cutting room floor,” jokes Cris Gray of Dark Side of the Room. “We’re going to show everyone what they missed in the original cut.”

Local talent will be making their impact on the festival with performances by The Fictionals with Improv against Humanity, Chris ‘n Travis fresh off their Fringe run, and the Sunday Service, this year’s second place winner of the Georgia Straight’s best improv troupe in Vancouver award. Not to be outdone, expect players from Vancouver Theatresports League to make appearances in both the international and local ensembles.

“The ensemble experience at VIIF is a real treat.” says Tom Hill, half of Canadian Comedy Award winning duo Hip.Bang! “It’s rare in any art form to be able to collaborate and laugh with some of the best in the country, and VIIF gives us five days of that sweet, sweet fun.”

The festival opens Tuesday October 6 with an 8pm showcase followed by the opening night party at Performance works. Expect performers, audience members, and volunteers to mix and mingle like the cool little comedy family they are – and just in time for the holiday (the festival ends October 10).

“No festival feels more like a home away from home than VIIF,” says Nathan Loveless of Whiskey Tango. “It’s like visiting your favourite cool aunt and uncle’s house for thanksgiving, where they think your stories are funny, your clothes are right, you’ve grown up but aren’t old yet, and are fine with you not helping with the dishes, even though you know you will anyway. And then they let you have the turkey leg. Yea, kinda like that.”

The Vancouver International Improv Festival. On stage at Performance Works and the Waterfront Theatre (Granville Island, Vancouver) until October 10th, 2015. Visit http://vancouverimprovfest.com for tickets and information.