Las Vegas samples the national improv scene this weekend with the inaugural Downtown Vegas Improv Festival, featuring acts from Austin, LA, Chicago, Toronto and beyond. “We wanted to find some really unique acts,” says producer Maxim Lardent. “We have a troupe that performs an improvised comic book. We have a version of live drunk history, improvised plays and musicals—and our headliner, Jetzo, is something I guarantee you haven’t seen before, a father-son duo from a small fishing village in Japan.”
In total, 14 troupes will perform in four shows this weekend, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. inside Inspire Theater. Improv is different each show, and that’s especially true with the fest, as not all troupes will be performing in each show. Smaller troupes will be mixed up with larger troupes like History Under the Influence, which has seven members ... and one drunk guy. But don’t discount the smaller troupes: “We chose Rollin’ in Riches from Santa Monica because it’s just the two of them, but they have the energy of six,” Lardent says.
There will also be local troupes performing and classes on Saturday for people who want to try improv—but the variety of artists means audience members can see people performing together for the first time, and maybe never again. “We have some really great teams that are going to be performing, and we hope that this helps put Las Vegas on the map as an improv destination,” Lardent says. “Not just for performers to come here, but in the minds of audience members.”
Downtown Vegas Improv Festival March 11 & 12, shows at 7:30 & 9:30 p.m., $10 show/$30 fest. Inspire Theater, downtownvegasimprovfest.com.