Funny Women in Limelight at 18th Annual Chicago Improv Festival

An exceptional homecoming "parade" of sorts, the 18th annual Chicago Improv Festival (CIF18) happening April 20-26, 2015, is an opportunity for improvisational comedy fans to reunite with hometown favorites whose stars are on the rise, and show a warm Windy City welcome to fresh acts in town only once in a blue moon-for ridiculously fun improv amusement.

Under the guidance of Artistic Director Kevin Mullaney, CIF18 honors the art of improv-in its many forms-and the city's burgeoning improv community with "Improv in Every Direction!" CIF18 curators carefully selected about 150 improv acts from around the globe for fans to enjoy at 14 cozy neighborhood venues around Chicago. Artistic improv categories featured at CIF18 include: Long Form, Short Form, Emerging Artists, Musical, Dramatic, Experimental, Genre, and Open Stage.

"This year's fest also puts the point-of-view of female improvisers in the limelight. Thanks to the incredibly funny women who have cleared their way, like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Melissa McCarthy, women are finding their 'sweet spot' in comedy and making waves in the improv arena," says CIF 18 Executive Director Jonathan Pitts.

CIF18 Double-Bill Headline Acts

Funny Women Rise to Top at CIF18
Chicago's very own funny women are lined up for CIF18, including: Lauren Lapkus (SAG winner, Orange is the New Black), who will gallop in with Wild Horses ensemble out of Upright Citizens Brigade LA; and, the triumphant return of The Katydids having wrapped filming the first season of their new TV Land original series, Teachers. If that's not enough of a Windy City women's touch, Katie Rich (Saturday Night Live writer) and Holly Laurent bring Joan & Ro, New York City, 1962. CIF18 also introduces Chicago improv fans to Sasheer Zamata (Saturday Night Live) and Nicole Byer.

Mama's Boys Come Back Home for CIF18 (and a Home-Cooked Meal)
As for CIF18 Featured acts, CIF18 welcomes back Chicago natives Jon Barinholtz (FOX's New Girl, The McCarthys) and Rob Belushi (How I Met Your Mother, The Mentalist) as SHELDON. A bro-mance quite unlike any other, this pair met in 2005 while they were training at The Second City and have been improvising together ever since with their signature fast-paced Chicago-style. Barinholtz and Belushi also can be seen starring in Comedy Central's widely popular Pie Guys web series.

CIF18 Remembers The Compass
CIF18 joins the 60th anniversary celebration of The Compass. Best known for creating The Second City, The Compass produced plays in Chicago derived through improvising various materials of inspiration, which in turn, not only furthered the art of improv but also educated, entertained, and brought laughter to many people.

CIF18 will pay tribute to this ground-breaking ensemble with a special performance of Jeffrey Sweet's You Only Shoot The One's You Love-a one-man show on wisdom gained through his working with groundbreaking comic legends, like Del Close, Elaine May and Mike Nichols.

Enter-to-Win: The Compass Players Challenge at CIF18
Die-hard improv fans are invited to take The Compass Players Challenge at CIF18 for a chance to win two tickets to a CIF18 Featured Act show. Starting April 20, 2015, "players" are invited to hunt down each of The Compass Players CIF18 tribute displays, and then post a "selfie" by each display with #CIF18 to Twitter and Facebook. The first person to post photos with all of the tribute displays as instructed wins.

CIF18 After Parties Alive with Utter Nonsense
Think of a grandma bragging about sexting or a toddler contemplating a career change-and that's Utter Nonsense. Experience Chicago's newest adult party game alongside fans and improvisers at festival's freaky fun after parties.

Locations, Locations, Locations
Fourteen treasured theaters in Chicago and suburban Schaumburg will serve as hosts for this 18th annual fest of behemoth proportions. Emerging artists, drama or musical, CIF18 dolls out eight artistic categories of improv in a spectrum of funny flavors. And, to make it as easy as possible to experience various kinds of improv, each CIF18 host venue is for the most part dedicated to a specific artistic category of improv.

Explore CIF18
Tickets to CIF18 shows cost $5-$25, and may be purchased at host venue box offices. To keep up-to-date on the latest shows and after parties throughout the festival, visit, follow @CIFest and #CIF18 on Twitter, and find CIF on Facebook at

About Chicago Improv Productions
The Chicago Improv Festival is produced by Chicago Improv Productions, a 501 c3 non-profit Illinois arts organization offering year-round improv programs, including: College Improv Tournament; Educational Outreach; Teen Comedy Fest; and other shows and special events in Chicago. Chicago Improv Productions' mission is to celebrate the present, honor the past, and showcase the future of improvisational theater, in all of its multi-disciplinary expressions, through local, regional, national, and international perspectives. Annually, Chicago Improv Productions presents or produces more than 300 improv acts and ensembles from all over the globe.

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