The Improv Meetup Mini-Fest is bringing its distinct brand of laughter back to Columbus.
Anthony Windsor II, founder of improvisation troupe Uncle Fun — the host of the fest— said the comedy showcase will be presented from 5-11 p.m., Saturday at Kafe Kerouac. A ccording to Columbus Underground’s website , the event will feature improv, stand-up and sketch comedy.
Jeremy Pelzer — founder and host of the weekly Columbus Improv Comedy Meetup! as well as an Uncle Fun member — said both Columbus residents and people from neighboring cities are encouraged to attend the mini-fest, which aims to bring improv enthusiasts together on and off stage.
Windsor, also a co-host of Columbus Improv Comedy Meetup! and an Ohio State alum, said three Cleveland-based groups and one Cincinnati-based group are included in the event’s 2023 lineup.
“I think that is different from previous years in that you have all these different artists coming in doing different types of art for their audience,” he said.
Additionally, Windsor said two student improv groups from Ohio State, 8th Floor Improv and Fishbowl Improv, have been invited to perform at the mini-fest. Windsor said involving college students is an exciting development for the event.
“It is something I’ve wanted to do in the past but haven’t got a chance to, so I’m very excited for all of that,” Windsor said.
Beyond being close to Ohio State’s campus and the Short North, Kafe Kerouac is an ideal event venue because of its built-in stage, seating and food/drink options, Pelzer said. Moreover, Pelzer said Kafe Kerouac has a cozy atmosphere that lends itself to more personable improv.
“It’s an intimate theater that is like a smaller theater, but at the same time, it’s large enough to handle a lot of people in it,” Pelzer said.
Windsor agreed. Oftentimes, he said a smaller space can generate more authentic audience participation.
“Comedy works a lot better when the audience is engaged and close to you because to get that feedback,” Windsor said. “And the audience vice versa feels like they are almost part of the show as well.”
Pelzer said attendees will be given several chances to involve themselves in all improv performances, making for a highly interactive audience experience.
“They can raise their hand every time if they want to play every game,” he said.
Pelzer said he thinks those unfamiliar with improv can use the mini-fest as an accessible crash course in the art form.
“It’s also incredible that we live in a city where there are these many comedians,” Peltzer said. “There’s not only a great diversity of comedy in Columbus, there’s also a really good amount of talent here.”
Windsor said the Improv Meetup Mini-Fest’s doors will open at 4:30 p.m., with the showcase officially beginning at 5 p.m. While admission is free, tickets must be reserved via the mini-fest’s AllEvents webpage .