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edge staff writer


Improv ME Festival says ‘Yes, and…’ once again

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BREWER – Some of the best improvisational comedy groups from all over the state of Maine are descending on the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer this weekend.

On Nov. 8 and 9, local improv troupe The Focus Group will once again be playing host to the Improv ME Festival. Sessions will take place at 8 p.m. on Nov. 2 and at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Now in its fifth year, Improv ME is the largest annual assemblage of improv talent in the state of Maine. With three sessions over two days featuring seven different groups, audiences will get the chance to experience some of the best improv that Maine has to offer. The producing sponsor of the Improv ME Festival is Geaghan Brothers Brewing Company, a role they have filled since the festival's inception. The media sponsor is The Maine Edge.

Joining The Focus Group will be: Bar Harbor’s ImprovAcadia, Farmington’s Teachers Lounge Mafia, Orono’s Improv In Sanity, Camden’s The Cool Kids’ Table, Bangor’s Queen City Improv and southern Maine’s You Should Smile More.

In addition to the groups listed, the festival will close out with an improv surprise featuring players from a variety of different troupes; expect the unexpected even more than usual from Improv ME’s final set.

Each of these groups brings something unique to the table. The festival is welcoming back some groups – including one that hasn’t been involved since the inaugural Improv ME – and introducing some new ones -

Admission to each session of the festival is $10. In addition, a limited number of All-Festival passes – good for admission to all three performance sessions – will be available for $25. The Producing Sponsor of the Improv ME Festival is Geaghan Bros. Brewing Company. The Media Sponsor is The Maine Edge.

(In the interest of full disclosure, in addition to The Maine Edge being the festival’s media sponsor for each of its five years, the author of this piece is a member of The Focus Group and one of the organizers of the Improv ME Festival.)

The Improv ME Festival was born of a desire to bring together Maine’s wealth of improv talent together in one place. Members of The Focus Group had participated in just such an assemblage in the troupe’s early years; they had done two years as part of the now-sadly-defunct Portland Improv Festival and had an extremely positive experience. Not long after word of PIF’s conclusion arrived, the desire to continue being part of that sort of event led to the idea to try and make a festival of their own happen – and The Focus Group jumped on it.

Six years later, here we are.

While previous incarnations of the festival have featured groups from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, this is the second year that Improv ME has featured exclusively Maine-based groups. The scene has exploded in recent years and Improv ME hopes to celebrate the growth of Maine improv.

The scene is SO exciting that there’s not nearly enough room on the slate to include them all. Southern Maine has so many wonderful groups that the festival simply couldn’t invite everyone who deserved a spot. And with the goal of including some new groups, a few previous participants fell by the wayside. That is not an indictment of anything other than a limited amount of space and time. The hope is to bring other nascent groups into the fold each year; ultimately, it’s about bringing attention to the improv scene in general.

Improv ME’s goal is to keep mixing it up – this year’s slate of new and returning groups is primarily troupes that have connections slightly closer to this area. However, the truth is that the event is ever-evolving, so there’s no telling what the future may hold.

And there you have it. If you’re looking to have a few laughs this weekend, there’s no better place to be than the Improv ME Festival. You won’t know what’s coming – and neither will the folks on stage – but rest assured, it’s going to be a good time.


Participating groups

The Focus Group (Bangor/Brewer)

The Focus Group has been bringing their own brand of improv comedy to area audiences since 2009; they celebrated that 10-year anniversary back in April. Over the past decade, they have established themselves as a mainstay of the region’s artistic community. They offer their unique takes on standard improv formats while also occasionally inventing a few interesting improv twists of their own along the way.

Teachers Lounge Mafia (Farmington)

These folks out of western Maine are stalwarts of the improv scene. They’ve been bringing their brand of short-form goodness all over the state and beyond for years. They’ve also been very good friends to the Improv ME Festival, appearing in every iteration thus far. Teachers Lounge Mafia is one of those groups that, when they perform, if you aren’t laughing, it’s because you actively hate fun.

ImprovAcadia (Bar Harbor)

What more can be said about the incredible talents of ImprovAcadia? Since its founding by Jen Shepard and Larrance Fingerhut 15 years ago, ImprovAcadia has been bringing long-form-infused short-form (or short-form-infused long-form) improv comedy to audiences in Bar Harbor and beyond – including their wintertime performance space on Main Street in Bangor. Simply put, they are the best that Maine has to offer.

Improv In Sanity (Orono)

It has been a while since we saw this group at the festival – an earlier iteration of Improv In Sanity participated in the very first Improv ME, but they haven’t returned in the years since. These folks are based at the University of Maine at Orono, a student group that is currently on the upswing in terms of commitment and participation.

The Cool Kids' Table (Camden)

This crew comes to Improv ME from the Camden. The Cool Kids’ Table has been making audiences laugh on the midcoast for a while, we’re happy that they’ve made their way inland to take the stage as part of the Improv ME Festival again after. Inspired by a short-form ethos, they might be cool, but you can still totally sit with them.

Queen City Improv (Bangor)

Queen City Improv has become a thriving participant in the area’s improv comedy scene, performing in a variety of venues all over the region. They’re all about the short-form improv, bringing a diverse set of sensibilities to the stage and offering a show experience that is all their own. You might have seen them performing out and about, but now you get to see them again on the Improv ME stage.

You Should Smile More (southern Maine)

This improv collective is a relatively recent addition to the Maine improv scene, making their first appearance as part of the Improv ME Festival. You Should Smile More is a group of female improvisers devoted to bringing that specific energy to the improv stage. As a collective, they bring together different groups of improvisers for every performance. Sometimes, these groups are tight-knit collections of performers with considerable experience working together. Other times, there are folks meeting for the first time that very evening. This particular incarnation of YSSM will feature guests from other groups involved in Improv ME – but you’ll have to turn up to see which ones!


Improv ME schedule

Friday, Nov. 8 8-10 p.m.

The Focus Group

Teachers Lounge Mafia



Saturday, Nov. 9 5-7 p.m.

Improv In Sanity

The Cool Kids’ Table

Queen City Improv


Saturday, Nov. 9 8-10 p.m.

The Focus Group

You Should Smile More

And an improv surprise to close things out!

Last modified on Thursday, 07 November 2019 09:54


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