Columbus, OH

Fishbowl Improv to bring back annual Tides Comedy Festival

The Lantern
Fishbowl Improv members are preparing for the quickly approaching Tides Comedy Festival. Credit: Courtesy of Troy Cwynar

Students seeking relief from the winter blues can find it in the U.S. Bank Conference Theater inside the Ohio Union, where Fishbowl Improv, a student-run comedy group, brings back its Tides Comedy Festival Friday and Saturday.

The two-day festival features three Ohio State comedy groups, nine groups from colleges across the country and three professional improv troupes. The groups will perform all types of comedy, from short-form improv to scripted sketches. Students can stop in at any time from 6-10:30 p.m. both nights, Troy Cwynar, vice president of Fishbowl Improv, said.

The last time the festival occurred was in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic, so this is the first Tides for current members, Cwynar said.

“This is all new to us. It’s very much this thing of the past that we are trying to resurrect and bring back,” Cwynar, a fourth-year in history, said. “We can bring back Tides to a whole new generation at OSU.”

Cwynar said groups from Bowling Green State University, Kent State University, Miami University, the University of Missouri, Loyola University Chicago and the University of Notre Dame will be performing as well as participating in workshops with the professional teams.

“It’s a cool opportunity for the college teams to get professional coaching and guidance,” Cwynar said.

The professional groups attending are Columbus’ own ROT Improv, “TBD: The Improvised Musical!” and Help Me I’m Drowning of Brooklyn, New York.

Cwynar said Fishbowl alumni are among the professional teams performing, and current members are excited to learn from them.

“ROT was actually founded by Fishbowl alumni once they graduated and moved on,” Cwynar said. “They now do improv professionally in Columbus.”

Michael Lavelle, treasurer of Fishbowl Improv, said long-form and short-form improv as well as sketch comedy will be featured to appeal to all audience members.

“There are a lot of different styles of comedy,” Lavell, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering, said. “If one doesn’t tickle your fancy, I’m sure some group will.”

Mary Mahoney, president of Fishbowl Improv, said audiences can expect a lighthearted and easy watch.

“I know people that have come to Fishbowl shows that don’t even really know what improv is walking into it, and they end up having a really great time,” Mahoney, a third-year in film studies, said. “It’s just a really fun, light and breezy, easy to watch and easy to participate kind of event.”

In addition to performing, Mahoney said the group is especially excited to watch both the college and professional teams participating.

“It’s always really cool to see people that are professional at something do their thing,” Mahoney said. “We always learn something from watching other people.”

Lavelle said all students need to do to enjoy Tides is show up ready to laugh. “All it takes for someone to come and see Tides is to walk up, hold out their hand, get their hand stamped and sit down and enjoy,” Lavelle said. “If people want to experience some good comedy, Friday and Saturday night are a great way to do it.”

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