The Stumptown Improv Festival is back for its second year, you guys! Organizers Leon Anderson, Jed Arkley, and Erin Jean O’Regan curated a hell of a festival last year—and if last night’s opener is any indication, this year is going to be even better.
The early show featured local troupe Peachy Chicken, Seattle's Interrobang?!, and The Mess, from Minneapolis. Peachy Chicken started it off with a long-form harold that introduced a pirate bar, talking dolls experiencing existential crisis, and a social anxiety support group. Their high-energy set was a great fit for the first show of the first night, showing off local talent and creativity and setting the stage for a couple of great out-of-town guests.
Seattle’s Interrobang?! took the stage next and dropped an inflatable mattress front and center. On and off the mattress for the next 25 minutes, they built scenes with characters who had just finished having sex. The troupe has a great, conversational style that makes their scenes seem effortless. And they aren’t above pandering—one of the highlights of the set was a post-coital threesome lying in bed together and playing Fuck-Marry-Kill using the 17 Republican presidential candidates.
Closing out the first show was the gem of the night, The Mess, from Minnesota. One of last year’s runaway successes, Ferrari McSpeedy, is two members of The Mess. They’re back later this weekend (YES!), and this year they brought a few of their friends. The Mess is a total, chaotic mess, and a nonstop delight to watch, with rapid-fire free-association that always seems on the verge of spinning out of control, but never does. They’re clearly a troupe who’ve been working together for years, know how to listen and play together, and take the audience right along on the trip with them.
LA’s Summerland opened the night’s second show with a longform set based around a visit to Grandma’s that reveals far more about Grandma than her grandson ever wanted to know. Though rocky in spots, it was an impressive bit of sustained character work. Local favorites Curious Comedy Theater rounded out the show with a strong example of the kind of teamwork and high-energy scenework they’re known for. And closing the night on a high note, LA duo Daily Double killed it with a single-scene set that explored social stigmas, friends vs. “friends,” and the fact that no one knows what the hell a quince is. Teammates Toni Charline and Betsy Sodaro have an incredible rapport and put on an amazing show that keeps you laughing while also highlighting and exploring the strange truths of human existence.
This was just night one, and tickets are going fast for the rest of the weekend. So get on it! The performers are fantastic, and the Milagro Theatre is an incredible, intimate venue to see an improv show (or 10). “This is an amazing theater,” one of the performers said when his team ran out to start their set. “You’re all, like, RIGHT THERE.”