Comedic teams will be taking a serious look at improv comedy.

8th Floor Improv will host the Bellwether Improv Festival, the Midwest’s biggest college improv festival this Friday and Saturday at the U.S. Bank Conference Theatre in the Ohio Union.

The festival features six hours of comedy each day performed by various improv groups. This free event will present a line up of both college and professional improv teams.

“In addition to (comedy) we also get workshops from professionals and all of the improvisers hangout between workshops and performances,” said member Claire McCarthy, a third-year in strategic communication. “During Bellwether you eat, sleep and breathe improv.”

This year there are teams traveling from different parts of Ohio, Chicago, Indiana, Missouri, Massachusetts and New York to participate in the festival. There will be eight college teams and eight professional teams attending, according to 8th Floor’s president, Andy Ross.

“It’s always super humbling to see all the professionals (perform) as well because they are very good at what they do,” said 8th Floor’s president and fourth-year in English, Andy Ross. “A lot of the younger kids have never seen professional improv.”

8th Floor Improv formed in 2004 and has been hosting the festival since 2010.

“It started out as a competition, but now it’s just a festival and everyone performs,” Ross said. “I really like getting to meet all the people. You meet a lot of very cool and very funny people who have a lot of the same interests as you.”

McCarthy, who will be performing at her third Bellwether Festival this year, describes the atmosphere of the festival as “overwhelming, but in the best way possible.”

Improv is different from other types of entertainment because it is a form of live theatre that is not rehearsed, and usually engages the audience.
“(Improv) is really cool,” Ross said. “Improv, more so than any other comedy, is about you and the people who are watching it. That’s the only time that particular thing is going to exist. The exchange of energy with the crowd is a very intimate thing.”