Improv is a special kind of comedy; random ideas or elements are introduced by someone in the audience, and the team must immediately perform a comedic skit based on, and building on, those elements. Reciting the same jokes at every show is how many comedians become famous, but it takes someone with an especially sharp wit, natural humor and fast thinking to be great in the improv field. Many people first learned about improv by watching “Whose Line Is It Anyway”, which features master improv comedians Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady. Sacramento’s live improv shows are plenty of fun, and anyone in the audience could be called upon to introduce an idea to the performers.
Sacramento Comedy Festival
Comedy Spot
1050 20th Street, Suite 130
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 444-3137
www.saccomedyfest.com

Date: Sept. 9, 2016 – Sept. 11, 2016

Now in its sixth year, the Comedy Festival brings together improv groups, headliners, sketch comedians and stand-up comics from the Sacramento area and across the country. The nonprofit Sacramento Comedy Foundation operates the festival, as well as the Sacramento Improv Marathon which takes place each spring. The Foundation aims to promote the region as a destination for lovers of the performing arts and comedy. As part of that mission, area youth and adults interested in the arts are offered comedy classes, workshops, support, experience and exposure. Tickets for the Comedy Festival can be purchased online, and all-access weekend festival passes are available as well.

Comedy Sportz
CSZ Sacramento
2230 Arden Way, Suite B
Sacramento, CA 95825
(916) 243-8541
www.comedysportzsacramento.com

Dates: Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 7 p.m.

Comedy Sportz, as the creators hasten to point out, is not about sports-based humor; it is about two improv groups competing for points and laughs from the crowd. The high energy program is set up similar to “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, with audience participation and winners crowned at the end. The club also offers special music-based Mayhem long-form improv nights and game-based improv, as well as Shower Thoughts, featuring improv skits in the style popularized by Second City and “Upright Citizen’s Brigade.”

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Anti-Cooperation League
Comedy Spot
1050 20th St., Suite 130
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 444-3137
www.saccomedyspot.com/acl

Date: Every Saturday at 9 p.m.

The Anti-Cooperation League (ACL) show, considered to be Sacramento’s longest running comedy event, is the flagship improv act at Comedy Spot. Each Saturday evening the ACL crew interviews a special guest, then plays off the guest’s feedback to create improvised comedic scenes. Special guests come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from famous actors or directors, local business people, members of Sacramento media or a colorful character with a crazy job, allowing the improv to stay fresh and topical. Former and upcoming guests include Heroic Girls founder John Marcotte, TV personality Mark S. Allen, legislative advocate Matt Canty and Empire’s Comic Vault Press owner Ben Schwartz.

You! The Musical
Comedy Spot
1050 20th St., Suite 130
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 444-3137
www.saccomedyspot.com/you

Date: 4th Saturdays at 8 p.m.

Audience members makes up a title for the show, and a fully improvised, one-hour long musical extravaganza is performed in response. Heroes, villains, dreamers and schemers are created for the plot, and the music, dance moves, song lyrics and more are made up on the spot by the show’s talented and creative crew.

Harold Improv
Comedy Spot
1050 20th St., Suite 130
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 444-3137
www.facebook.com/Harold-Improv

Date: Every Wednesday at 8 p.m.

These Wednesday night shows are a great opportunity to see talented comedians who are on their way up in their field. The show involves four groups; two Harold teams and two Gordon teams. Members of Harold teams are emerging stars, honing their comedic chops in hopes of ultimately playing on the club’s main stage. Gordon team comedians are graduates of Comedy Spot improv classes, who have auditioned and won a spot performing in the show. The teams start with one suggestion and then keep the laughs coming as they weave in new ideas that wrap up together by the end of the night.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers business, employment, animal rescue, volunteerism and nonprofits. Her work can also be found at Examiner.com.

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