Night two of the Phoenix Improv Festival 13 at the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix was one of the funniest nights of improv I saw in a long time. The show was consistently funny, with troupes from all over the country and some veteran performers from Arizona taking the stage.
First up was JaxN Reed, with two of my favorite female improvisers (and two of my former instructors), Stacey Reed Hanlon and Jacque Arend.This duo has been performing together for almost a decade in various troupes, and their chemistry is always unstoppable.
A duo from Los Angeles, Street Lightning, was up next. They had high energy and strong characters in their fast-paced show — the highlight, for me, being a precious scene about hedgehogs.
Yet another duo took the stage next, Tandem, from Rock Island, Illinois. The lady in the troupe, Leslie Mitchell, used to perform in the Valley, and I can see why they made it to PIF this year. Their characters were unforgettable, and I liked their format of reverting back to old scenes as characterization progressed.
Another L.A. troupe, featuring the guys from Street Lightning, called Mister Town City went next. They performed the classic format the Harold, going off an Easter-appropriate suggestion of “Jesus.” My favorite scenes involved Jesus himself, and the troupe worked really well together.
Galapagos, one of the Valley’s longest-running improv troupes and the most-traveled, was up next. The troupe is made up of founders of the Phoenix Improv Festival, and they proved why they’re one of the mainstays with their intelligent comedy.
I really liked Michael Keaton, another duo, from Minneapolis, because the characterization was so strong and distinct throughout the scenes. There was a lot of emotion within the characters, and I thought Hannah Wydeven was a standout performer of the night.
Finally, closing out the show, was Switch Committee, a current headliner at Improv Olympic in Chicago — very impressive. The guys were the most physical of the night, falling and running off the stage at times and jumping on each other throughout their scenes. It was frenetic and funny and a great way to close out the night.
There’s more improv at the festival tonight. Go here for details and tickets.