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Monday, May 20, 2024

Comic relief: Gainesville Improv Festival kicks off Wednesday

Magic — it’s what happens when audience suggestions combine with comedy gold on stage during the eigth annual Gainesville Improv Festival.

The Festival will run for four days with shows at High Dive Wednesday and Thursday and performances at The Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Squitieri Studio Theatre Friday and Saturday.

Twenty-four improvisational and sketch comedy troupes from around the country will perform.

Tom O’Donnell, producer of the Gainesville Improv Festival, said performing for the first time was like “Fight Club.” When you get on stage, you can’t think, you just have to do, he said.

From that terrifying first time, improv became an obsession for the former Theatre Strike Force member who, along with Skyler Stone, founded the festival in 2005.

Improv is an unscripted form of comedy. Audience suggestions are taken for skits, creating unique material with each performance, Stone said.

As a first time performer at the festival, Drew Korb, a former member of Theatre Strike Force and a current member of Chicago’s Mission Improvable — “the secret agents of comedy,” as he calls the members — said it’s a dream and an honor to perform in Gainesville again.

“Improv … it makes you better, it makes you sharper and makes you learn more about what’s going on in the world,” he said.

For the festival’s complete schedule and ticket information, visit

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