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Local improv groups prepare for comedy war

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Members of OSU's Fishbowl Improv group perform during their Welcome Week Show Aug. 19. Fishbowl Improv is set to participate in Improv Wars, a competition between improv groups, starting Oct. 1.  Credit: Courtesy of Facebook

Members of OSU’s Fishbowl Improv group perform during their Welcome Week Show Aug. 19. Fishbowl Improv is set to participate in Improv Wars, a competition between improv groups, starting Oct. 1.
Credit: Courtesy of Facebook

A war of comedy is about to ensue.

Improv Wars is a competition among local improv groups who battle it out for the audience’s approval.

Brad Shimp, coordinator of Improv Wars, said he is excited about this year’s competition at Studio 35 Cinema and Drafthouse.

“There are 12 groups competing, which is really amazing,” Shimp said.

Improv Wars consists of three rounds, taking place Tuesday, Oct. 15, Nov. 11, with a final set to take place Nov. 19. Four groups are lined up to compete each night, and the winner of each will proceed to the championship.

Local improv groups include Fake Bacon, #Hashtag and State of Play, as well as Ohio State’s own 8th Floor Improv and Fishbowl Improv, Shimp said.

In the past, Improv Wars has taken place at Funny Bone Comedy Club and Restaurant in the Easton Town Center, but Shimp said he hopes the installation at Studio 35 will bring the event more infamy.

“The venue is closer to downtown and campus, where more people who would come to an improv event,” Shimp said.

Fishbowl Improv secretary Rachel Rustemeyer, who is a fourth-year in French, said the group is excited for the change of locations as well, as they are hoping to see more university students.

“It’s also a really neat part of town with a fun, trendy feeling, which makes it more exciting to perform there,” Rustemeyer said of Clintonville.

Mitra Jouhari, president of 8th Floor Improv and a third-year in psychology, said the festival is a great opportunity to unite the Columbus improv community, and Daniel Cleveland, a member of Fishbowl Improv and second-year in biomedical engineering, also said he hopes the event will give groups a chance to share the local improv scene.

“Columbus’ scene is certainly healthy and effervescent, but it just needs a spotlight,” Cleveland said.

Improv Wars brings the audience into the show, asking for suggestions to prompt the group’s next scene. This involvement and approachability of the event makes improv appeal to a vast crowd, Cleveland said.

“Improv is a very blue collar comedy,” Cleveland said. “Anything goes, so the nature of any subject can be explored.”

Additionally, Rustemeyer explained that laughter is a “universally appealing pastime.”

“Improv is full of the biggest goofballs you’ll ever meet who just want to hang out and have a good time. I think that’s the college mentality summed up,” Rustemeyer said.

Improv Wars is just one of the improv events local groups are preparing for this October, Shimp said. An improv festival, Columbus Unscripted, is scheduled to take place Oct. 24 to 27 at the Wild Goose Creative at 2491 Summit St. In addition, if the event at Studio 35 is successful, Shimp said Studio 35 hopes to do return engagements in upcoming winter and spring months.

Students are encouraged to not only attend the shows but also get involved, Shimp said.

“Getting up on stage is frightening and exhilarating — it’s just fun,” Shimp said.

The Improv Wars shows are all slated to begin at 7 p.m. on their respective dates. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased directly from Studio 35.

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