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Fishbowl Improv to Host Free Two-Day Comedy Festival

Fishbowl Improv group will host a free two-day improv comedy festival at U.S. Bank Conference Theater at the Ohio Union on March 24th and 25th. Credit: Courtesy of Fishbowl Improv

This weekend, the tide will pull in comedians from across the country to Ohio State.

Fishbowl Improv, one of Ohio State’s improv-comedy groups, is hosting its fourth annual Tides Festival this weekend.

The festival will feature performances by OSU’s 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group, as well as groups from other colleges, such as Bowling Green State University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Missouri and Xavier University.

Collin Roberts, vice president of Fishbowl Improv and a third-year in engineering physics, said that in addition to performances from collegiate groups, professional improv comics from New York, Chicago and Columbus also will perform.

“Some of the alumni of Fishbowl, for example, are on professional improv teams now,” Roberts said. “So we always extend an invitation to them and ask if they want to come and, then they also have connections in different communities.”

Roberts said there are two types of improvisational comedy: short form and long form. He said short-form improv usually has a gimmick and is similar to what you would see on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” while long form is like an improvised play, where the performers have more of an opportunity to “freestyle.”

Roberts said, in the past, they have combined both short form and long form. This year’s Tides Festival is focused solely on long-form improv.

“The performer goes on stage, says, ‘Can we get a word?’ and then from there, it’s fair game,” Roberts said. “No rehearsal, (it can last) 20 minutes or more. Some of these pros go for nearly an hour straight. That’s what we’re focusing on this year.”

While the festival is marketed with a different theme every year, Roberts said there is no set theme for content that participating teams must follow. He said the main goal is to showcase different collegiate and professional improv groups.

Roberts added that he wants people to come to the festival to laugh and immerse themselves in the comedy that will be created on stage.

“We just want as many people to come for as long as they want and just watch this stuff,” he said. “(We want them to) have a good laugh, escape reality for a little while and be a part of whatever fantastic, ridiculous, goofy, funny, crazy world the people on stage are making.”

Jackson Donaldson,  a member of Fishbowl Improv and a second-year in electrical engineering, said this is his second time participating in the Tides Festival. He said seeing live improv comedy is a exciting experience.

“I think there’s something really neat about being there when this whole improvised thing is just being made up on the spot,” Donaldson said. “You’re there to witness it. It’s never the same like going back and watching improv in like a video or anything. But when you’re there and this crazy thing happens, it’s just amazing.”

The Tides: A Free Two-Day Improv Comedy Festival will be held in the U.S. Bank Conference Theater at the Ohio Union. Doors open on Friday at 7 p.m., and on Saturday at 5:20 p.m. Admission is free.

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