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Chicago Improv Festival: Home Page

The 16th annual CIF, April 1-7, 2013

To submit your show, go to the CIF Submissions Website.

Submissions: November 1, 2012-January 3, 2013

CIF on Facebook, Flickr, Vimeo

The 2012 Chicago Improv Festival Archive

About the 16th Annual Chicago Improv Festival

The Chicago Improv Festival is longest running and largest improv festival in the world. Since 1998, the CIF has been showcasing and celebrating the best improv from Chicago, around the country and around the world. We have featured teams from as far away as Japan, Finland and Turkey and hosted shows by some of the biggest comedic performers of the past two decades. But best of all we showcase the up and coming artists who make improv the vibrant and exciting art form that it is.

This year we are trying something new. We are seeking shows in 10 different categories. We have assembled an experienced and talented team of improvisers to curate the submissions. Submissions to the 16th Chicago Improv Festival will begin November 1st, 2012. These are the categories:

  • Long Form Improv, curated by Rachael Mason and Dina Facklis
  • Short Form Improv, curated by Lillian Frances
  • Musical Improv, curated by Jeffrey Bouthiette
  • Genre Improv, curated by Joseph Bland
  • Alternative Improv, curated by Sean Cusick
  • Experimental Improv, curated by Jen Ellison
  • Hip Hop & Improv, curated by Rene Duquesnoy
  • Puppetry & Improv, curated by Cesar Jaime
  • Emerging Artists, curated by Keith Habersberger
  • International Improv, curated by Andrew Eninger
  • Improv on Screen, curated by Ted Tremper

Finally, we will be creating shows on one or more "uncurated" stages around town. If your group is not selected for an official CIF 16 category by one of our curators, you will still be eligible to play in the festival under the category Uncurated. This category is booked on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are not selected for the festival, you will receive instructions on how to sign up to play in an Uncurated show.

Jonathan Pitts is the Executive Director of Chicago Improv Productions and the Co-Creator and Executive Director of the Chicago Improv Festival. The 16th Chicago Improv Festival will be Produced by Aren Zolninger, the Producing Director of Chicago Improv Productions, and the Artistic Director is Kevin Mullaney.

Check out our FAQ if you have any questions or feel free to contact us directly. For video submissions to the improv on screen category, first read the details here.

- Kevin Mullaney (Artistic Director)


Q: When is CIF 16?
April 1st to April 7th, 2013
Q: Where will CIF 16 be held?
We will be holding events in shows on many different stages in different venues across Chicago including:
  • Second City
  • The Annoyance Theater
  • The Playground
  • Chemically Imbalanced Comedy
  • pH Productions
  • The Atheneum Theatre
  • ComedySportz
  • LOL Theatre
  • More TBA
Q: When will submissions be accepted?
Submissions will start to be accepted on Thursday, November 1st, 2012 and will end at midnight on Thursday, January 3rd, 2013.
Q: How many shows will groups get?
Out of town groups will get two shows, probably one on Friday night and one on Saturday night. Chicago groups will mostly get 1 show each.
Q: When will the calendar be announced?
On or before Januray 25th, 2013. We may be rolling out the submissions by category with some categories being announced earlier.
Q: What if we don't get in?
We plan on having one or more 'uncurated' stages during the festival. Any group that submitted a show and was not selected in their category may book themselves into these venues on a first come, first served basis. We will announce more information about the uncurated stages as they become available.

Submission questions

Q: How do I submit a show?
Here are the steps to submitting a show:
  1. Sign up for the submission website.
  2. Create a new submission using our form.
  3. Add a complete list of performers.
  4. Add additional links to your website, social media pages, reviews, videos, pictures and more.
  5. Pay the submission fee.
Q: What is the submission fee?
$30 for most categories. The emerging artist category is only $15 to submit. There is no submission fee for international groups (not from the US or Canada).
Q: How do I pick a category for our show?
Ask yourself these questions:
  1. Is your group a new, local group from Chicago who has never performed at the Chicago Improv Festival before? Pick Emerging Artists.
  2. Is our home country (where we live and perform) outside of the United States or Canada? Pick International Improv.
  3. Does your show feature rap or hip hop music prominently within the show? Pick Hip Hop & Improv.
  4. Is your show an improvised musical or contain a lot of improvised music? Pick Musical Improv.
  5. Does your show feature puppets? Pick Puppetry Improv.
  6. Does your show imatate a literary theater, film or television style (besides musicals)? Pick Genre Improv.
  7. Does the content of your show typically fall outside of the mainstream? Does it stretch the boundaries? Is it ridiculous, weird or dumb? Pick Alternative Improv.
  8. Does your show stretch the boundaries of improv in terms of technique, form, and content to push past the the current perimeters of traditional improv? Pick Experimental Improv.
  9. Does your group perform shorter games and scenes based off individual suggestions? Pick Short Form Improv.
  10. Does your group perform longer pieces (more than 20 minutes) off a single suggestion or no suggestion? Pick Long Form Improv.
  11. Are you submitting an improvised video short? Pick Improv on Screen.
You can also consult this page to get fuller descriptions of each category.
Q: What are the guidelines for the video part of our submission (for all other categories besides Improv on Screen)?
Videos should unedited, uncut videos of an entire set from the time you take the stage to the time you take your bow. Highlight reels where you cherry pick from several shows is not acceptable. Sound quality is very important for these videos. If you have a longer show (more than 30 minutes), you may submit a video which is only 15-25 minutes. However it must an unedited segment.