Twin Cities Improv Festival

More so than any other style of comedic performance, improv is a risky endeavor. When it works, you get truly hilarious and spontaneous entertainment that crosses the spectrum of comedic styles from profane rants to lighthearted slapstick. When it fails, it's an exercise in excruciating awkwardness: performers failing under hot stage lights, an audience thinking it's not getting its money's worth, and uncomfortable silence punctuated by pity laughs. When the third-annual Twin Cities Improv Festival blows into town this weekend, humor-philes can expect nothing but the former. TCIF packs a huge comedy wallop with four days chock-full of improv troupes from the Twin Cities and across North America at the Brave New Workshop, Minneapolis's ground zero for the improvised funny arts. Locals are sure to recognize BNW regulars Five Man Job and longtime Minneapolis comedy workhorses from Stevie Ray's Improv Company. Those interested in taking in humor from faraway lands should definitely not miss Toronto's duo Iron Cobra or DePaul University's student company Cosby Sweaters.Also recommended is long-form improv troupe Batterymouth from Chicago, who instantly create a full half-hour of material from audience suggestions. Making the TCIF especially appealing are the ticket prices: only $10 per show, with multi-show passes for discounted rates. (photographed: Cosby Sweaters)
Thursdays, 7, 8:30 & 10 p.m.; Fridays, 7, 8:30, 10, 11:30 p.m. & 12:30 a.m.; Saturdays, 6, 7, 8:30 & 10 p.m.; Sundays, 8 p.m. Starts: June 25. Continues through June 28, 2009

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