Chicago Improv Festival Wrap Up: Day 1

We just got back late last night from Chicago after participating in the 13th Annual Chicago Improv Festival, the biggest improv festival in the country. I traveled and performed with my show “Dusk: Improvised Tween Erotica.” Here are some highlights from the trip.

Day 1: Thursday April 22


Avi, Michael Thomas, Kyle and me flew in together on an early flight and took the train downtown. We got off at the wrong stop, and while waiting for the next train, we took the opportunity to play some ninja/samurai.

This game popped up many times over the weekend, in elevators at parties, in the pool, or whenever there seemed to be downtime.

We met up with Lindsey at the hotel, went to lunch at Lou Menalti’s (I thought the front desk person said “Illuminati’s”) for some deep dish Chicago pizza. Then naptime. Chelsea joined us at the hotel, we grabbed some coffee and headed out to the park to take advantage of the good weather.

We walked through Grant Park and went down to the lakeshore

Lindsey and Kyle are doing their impression of buildings.

Me and Chelsea are all smiles.
Kyle does his best to make me feel tall.

We walked through Millenium park. We saw the amazing amphitheater there, along with the “bean” and video art fountain. We had a lot of photo fun with the “bean.”

Michael, Chelsea and Lindsey are downtown shiney.




We even ran in to some street performance there, a dance/beat-box combo that was very sweet. It’s always a sign of a great city to me if you can stumble upon art and performance. We ran in to Chelsea’s friend and old Austin improviser Alan Metoskie as we passed some Chinese sculpture and headed down to the video fountains. I took some photos of the cast flirting with the public art.

Avi doing an impression of the video art.


Kyle flirts with the sculpture.

Lindsey’s impressed.

That night we headed down to the Apollo Theater to watch some improv. We saw a strong set from a young improv duo out of New York, called Swords.


That guy from swords.

Followed by local favorites Dirty Water.

A blurry photo of improv


We headed over to IO to catch the International Match Up. We met up with the rest of the Duskies there. We saw some killer improv from

Os Improvaveis (Portugal) & The Reckoning (Chicago)
Jenny Bjork (Sweden) & Mark Sutton (Chicago)
ImproTOP (Mexico) & Cook County Social Club (Chicago)

It was probably my favorite performance of the festival.

Then we headed down to Mullens for the nightly festival after party.



Me and Bill Stern, hanging tough.

Erica, Patrick, Michael and a sneaky Kyle.

Joplin joins the gang!

A fun first day and a great start to the festival.

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About Shana Merlin

Merlin Works is the brainchild of Shana Merlin: improviser, teacher, and performer. Since 1996, she’s been leading classes that stretch people’s imaginations, push them out of their comfort zones, and make them laugh out loud for hours at a time.
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