The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

In the moment & on the spot: Floodwater Comedy Festival brings improv


In the moment & on the spot
By Claire Dietz
[email protected]

“Think fast” is a hard task. But if you become good enough at it, you can make a career out of it. Well, as long as you’re funny.

The Floodwater Comedy Festival will welcome a variety of improv troupes and performers this weekend.

Improv comedy is created on the spot, but that doesn’t there is no prep involved. For many, the activity becomes a dominating force in their lives.

“Because of my participation in improv, I am more spontaneous in every facet of my life,” said Martin Wessels of the group Some Assembly required. “Saying ‘yes’ is great advice for any situation. Trying new things and taking chances. Live in the moment. “

Wessels, an Iowa native, knew improv would be a big part of his life shortly after getting his first taste for it competing in high-school speech contests.

In his first month at Iowa Central Community College, he was a part of the improv group Blue Light Special.

“It was there that I really feel in love with improv and the spontaneous lifestyle that it promotes,” Wessels said. “After two years there, I transferred to UNI, where I and some close friends started Some Assembly Required. It has all been downhill since then.”
Improv is so more a lifestyle than a genre of comedy, Wessels said; it is a singular performance type.

“Improv demands for a well-knit ensemble,” he said. “Everything about the art form calls for unity, and [improvisers] are generally welcoming and friendly people because of this. If you have ever met [improvisers], chances are their best friends are also into improv.”

Gary White of the CIC Theater in Chicago’s Little Gary improv group agrees.

“I love comedy in any form,” he said. “To me, improv is unique in the genuine surprise and excitement experienced by the performers. You get to experience the rush simultaneously with the audience. I don’t think that energy can be fully captured in any other comedic medium. A great improv show can make me laugh in a way nothing else can. A bad improv show can also make me laugh in a way nothing else can.”

Hopefully, Floodwater attendees can share in that laughter, White said. If they’ve never seen improv performed before, hopefully, they’ll find it “groovy.”

Another improv performer, Mary Fessler, performed with the local Paperback Rhino troupe before moving to Chicago to work with iO Theater and CIC Theater.

“My favorite improv moment is when Paperback Rhino advanced to the final round of College Improv Tournament Nationals in 2012,” Fessler said. “We had worked so, so hard to improve, and that moment when they told us we had made it that far was the most out-of-control happiness I’ve ever felt. I mean, we were sobbing and lifting each other up. We ended up getting third place in the final round, but it was totally fine. It just felt so gratifying to work hard and see improvement.”

When: 11 p.m. today
Where: Public Space One, 120 N. Dubuque
Admission: $5

Cream of the Crop Improv Spectacular
When: 11 p.m. Friday
Where: Public Space One
Admission: $5

Floodwater Presents: Little Gary (Featuring the Sherbet Boys)
When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Riverside Theater, 213 N. Gilbert
Admission: $10

Midwest’s Best Improv Bazaar
When: 11 p.m. Saturday
Where: Public Space One
Admission: $5

A Space Jam
When: 9:15 p.m. April 24
Where: Public Space One
Admission: Free


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