|Posted by Jon Lannen on November 9, 2015 at 11:00 AM|
This column has been months in the making. I am beyond proud and humbled to be bringing this regular column that highlights comedy and the people behind it. Comedeep will be a writing project that focuses on the depths of comedy and the people behind it. The inaugral issue will highlight an event very dear to my heart: The Denver Improv Festival. I have said many times that the festival is like home to me. I have had the honor of performing at all 8 celebrations since its inception; along with producing the festival with a dear friend one year. I am elated to present this highlight on the DIF.
The Denver Improv Festival rocked Denver this past weekend. The tenth festival took place November 6th and 7th. This year was bigger than ever- with an array of headliners from the east to west coast. The DIF included performances and workshops with Paul Brittain (Saturday Night Live), Tim Baltz (Comedy Central’s Drunk History), Punam Patel (ABC Family’s Kevin From Work), Kevin Laibson (Artistic Director, The PIT), Mike Kosinski (TV Land’s Impastor) and Chris Booth (National Geographic’s Brain Games). Mike Kosinski is also someone I am lucky enough to call a friend. He, along with the wonderful Punam Patel, were gracious enough to support a show that I performed in. For the record, their sets were the best shows of the festival. The headliners showcased their incredible improv skill in the form of a few shows and workshops, hosted at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
Along with incredible out of town talent, the festival hosted many Denver ensembles, including In Beta Right Now; Carnival Code; Divit; The Chronicles of Ace Windu & Gropptimus Prime; Adventure-Prov; What About A Reuben; Cult Following; Kadan Koharrick: Apocalypse; Queerbots; HUMANS; PLF; BAUS; Third Curd; Three Men and A Babe; Lesbian Lovers; Gavel! Gavel!; Lost Dog; Bruce Lee; David and Terry; Governor Jack; Dishwater Blondes. The folks from Denver and the surrounding areas had wonderful shows full of laughs & support from improvisers and audiences. Kudos to all the teams for bringing your immense talent and showcasing it at the Denver Improv Festival.
The festival, of course, could not have happened with some very talented people. The non-profit behing the Denver Improv Festival is the Groupmind Foundation. Natalie Kilkenny, Kent Welborn, Emily Coates, Jessica Austgen, Brogan, Camilla Modesitt, Holly Jackson and Sarah Kirwin are the powerhouse team that brought Denver the biggest improv festival it has ever seen.
I had the honor to sit down with the Groupmind Foundation's executive director (and personal friend) Natalie Kilkenny.
Tell me a little about how you got started with Groupmind Foundation.
I joined GMF in 2009 and the board was re-evaluating what was important for the Denver improv scene. In 2010, Mike Malyar took over as Chair for the 2011 festival and I was co-chair. He and his wife became parents and I became the Chair for 2012 to 2015. Funny how life has a different plan than what is expected some times. Yes, and!
What do you love most about being on the board?
It's wonderful to share all that is happening in the Denver improv scene. When we get together, I am consistently blow away by how much variety and talent we have right here in our very own Denver.
This is by far the largest and best attended festival. What do you attribute that to?
This is our 10th year and our 8th active festival. While I have been involved for the past 7 years and 5 festivals, the biggest factor in the growth and success of DIF is from community. The board members are amazing and dedicate so much personal time, energy and love for improv and ensuring we celebrate just how awesome the Denver improv scene has become! The board is met with support from theaters, sponsors, media and,most importantly, people who are learning about this awesome art form.
What was your favorite thing about the DIF?
Community! We have all this amazing talent and we get to showcase it for an amazing weekend each year.
What's next for the festival?
Goodness only knows! This board is amazing and I'm so excited to see where the future leads.
If you had one message for everyone, what would that be?
Hug a board member, current or past! We are so fortunate to experience such a wonderfully supportive community. I feel that I have been the most blessed Chair ever. Some things are just meant to be and I'm lucky to have been at the right place at the right time with the right folks.
Great talent. Great volunteers. Great town. Great festival.
For more information on the Denver Improv Festival, click here.