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Comedy and Improvisation

This section contains essays and videos about writing and performing comedy and improvisation. A great introduction to the topic is Matthew McMahan’s essay “Laughing Matters: How Comedy Tells Us Who We Are.”

The Latest

On Between Two Knees, or About Other Futures
Essay
On Between Two Knees, or About Other Futures
by Sebastián Eddowes-Vargas
17 April 2024
NO SUMMARY: Comedy as a Form of Solidarity and Resistance
Video
NO SUMMARY: Comedy as a Form of Solidarity and Resistance
A Conversation with Artists and Students of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago
Friday 14 April 2023
United States
Reflecting on the Timeliness of Polish Theatre at Kraków’s Divine Comedy Theatre Festival
Essay
Reflecting on the Timeliness of Polish Theatre at Kraków’s Divine Comedy Theatre Festival
by Howard Shalwitz
2 March 2023
A performer holds a large bag tagged PLOT DEVICE onstage.
On Between Two Knees, or About Other Futures
Essay

On Between Two Knees, or About Other Futures

17 April 2024

In Between Two Knees, the 1491s use comedy to destabilize rigid ideas of history. Sebastián Eddowes Vargas discusses the Perelman Performing Arts Center production, highlighting the narrative and political potency of laughing in the face of trauma.  

Event poster for no summary Comedy as a Form of Solidarity and Resistance.
NO SUMMARY: Comedy as a Form of Solidarity and Resistance
Video

NO SUMMARY: Comedy as a Form of Solidarity and Resistance

A Conversation with Artists and Students of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago

Friday 14 April 2023
United States

In the first episode of our 2023 season, Golden Thread’s Sahar Assaf, executive artistic director, and Wafaa Bilal, artist-in-residence, will be joined by the classes of associate professor Simon Anderson, a British-born-and-educated cultural historian, and interdisciplinary Syrian artist Sami Hussain Ismat, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago.

An actor dressed as President Zelensky points a prop gun at an unseen target.
Reflecting on the Timeliness of Polish Theatre at Kraków’s Divine Comedy Theatre Festival
Essay

Reflecting on the Timeliness of Polish Theatre at Kraków’s Divine Comedy Theatre Festival

2 March 2023

The Divine Comedy Theatre Festival in Kraków, Poland explored the theme of “Polish Taboo” across its thirty-two productions this year. Howard Shalwitz, who attended the festival as part of an American delegation of artists building connections between the United States and Poland, shares his experience attending the festival.

A young woman looks to her right.
“Marimacha” Laughs its Way Through Representation of Latine, Black, and Queer Characters
Essay

“Marimacha” Laughs its Way Through Representation of Latine, Black, and Queer Characters

13 February 2023

Daphnie Sicre discusses the way that Latinidad, Blackness, and queerness intersect in “Marimacha,” comedic coming out story about an AfroPanamanian family on their way to a wedding.

Two women stand on stage in front of music stands on microphones.
“Serving Lewks and Puro Class,” Tus Tías Explore the Legacy of Selena
Essay

“Serving Lewks and Puro Class,” Tus Tías Explore the Legacy of Selena

2 February 2023

Trevor Boffone reviews Tus Tías’ The Invocation of Selena, a sketch comedy and cabaret-style show that begins by summoning Latine icon Selena and ends by eulogizing her.

PUHA Podcast Teaser.
Disability
Podcast

Disability

5 October 2022

In this week’s episode, hosts Bíborka and Zsófi focus on different abilities and handicapped people in the performing arts. Translating their guests’ responses into English, the co-hosts sit down with independent theatremaker, poet, and dramaturg Ádám Fekete; and the core members of the ArtMan Association, Dorka Farkas, Kata Kopeczny, and Ferenc Kálmán, who work with integrated dance and movement practices to produce amazing contemporary dance shows.

Kunafa and Shay Teaser Image.
Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival
Podcast

Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival

4 October 2022

In this special episode, Marina and Nabra sit down with Lebanese actor, theatremakers, and peacebuilder Raffi Feghali to talk about the Buffer Fringe Festival. Buffer Fringe is an annual festival with a mission for peacebuilding and social justice, organized by Home for Cooperation and situated in the buffer zone in Cyprus. Buffer Fringe runs 7-9 October 2022, presenting three days of international, interdisciplinary, experimental performances under the theme of Pockets (beyond). Join us as we explore improv in Lebanon, experimental theatre in a geographically contentious area, and artistic curation for peacebuilding.

Five people posing for a photo with the Comedy Carnaval banner behind them.
Rejecting Local and National Borders in La Carpa De La Frontera
Essay

Rejecting Local and National Borders in La Carpa De La Frontera

3 October 2022

Theatremaker Maria Patrice Amon shares her experience watching La Carpa De La Frontera at Latinx Theatre Commons’ 2022 Comedy Carnaval and explains the significance of carpa theatre.

Round headshots of speakers on a yellow background with podcast title
Improvisation
Podcast

Improvisation

28 September 2022

In this episode, co-hosts Zsófi and Bíborka talk about the practice and art of improvisation with three outstanding figures from the Hungarian contemporary dance and jazz scene: Zoltán Grecsó, a dancer, choreographer, and founder of Budapest’s improvised dance evening series Willany Leó; Viola Lévai, a dancer and teacher of contact improvisation; and Ernő Zoltán Rubik, a musician, composer, dancer, and an active member of the Hungarian free jazz and contact improvisation scene.

LTC attendees standing in front of a mural at Su Teatro.
Why Comedy? Why Now?: On the 2022 Latinx Theatre Commons Comedy Carnaval
Essay

Why Comedy? Why Now?: On the 2022 Latinx Theatre Commons Comedy Carnaval

23 June 2022

Trevor Boffone reflects on the 2022 Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) Comedy Carnaval that convened at Su Teatro in Denver, Colorado, which was comprised of productions, readings, panels, and special sessions that showcased the depth and range of Latinx comedy in theatre.

 

2022 Latinx Theatre Commons Comedy Carnaval
Video

2022 Latinx Theatre Commons Comedy Carnaval

Highlighting some of the best Latinx comedic talent in the country

Thursday 9 June to Saturday 11 June
Denver, Colorado

The 2022 Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) Comedy Carnaval presented a broad range of Latinx comedy content and conversations. Programming will highlight artistic voices and content creators who practice comedic arts through theatre, stand-up, sketch, improv, podcasts, and webseries.

Best Medicine: Why We Need the 2022 LTC Comedy Carnaval
Essay

Best Medicine: Why We Need the 2022 LTC Comedy Carnaval

9 June 2022

Amelia Acosta Powell describes the creation and intention behind Comedy Carnaval, an LTC event that invites Latine theatremakers to laugh in the face of oppression.

Gender Euphoria teaser image.
Gender Euphoria, Episode 8: QTPOC Comedy: Connecting, Communing, Creating Compassion
Podcast

Gender Euphoria, Episode 8: QTPOC Comedy: Connecting, Communing, Creating Compassion

With D’Lo

28 March 2022

Gender Euphoria, the Podcast host Nicolas Shannon Savard sits down with actor, writer, and comedian D’Lo to talk about his career and how he uses comedy and storytelling as tools for connection, education, and compassion.

2022 Comedy Carnaval Banner
2022 Latinx Theatre Commons Comedy Carnaval Announcement
Essay

2022 Latinx Theatre Commons Comedy Carnaval Announcement

24 March 2022

The Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) announces the 2022 LTC Comedy Carnaval, June 9-11, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. The convening is hosted by Su Teatro Cultural & Performing Arts Center. …because the past two years have been so rough that we gotta ducking laugh 🦆

Learning About the History—and Future—of Stand-up Comedy
Podcast

Learning About the History—and Future—of Stand-up Comedy

With Rachel Blackburn

29 September 2021

Michael Lueger is joined by director, performer, and educator Dr. Rachel Blackburn to discuss diversity and intersectionality within the stand-up comedy world and how comics are engaging with social issues and movements.

Glod in red, a silhouette of a person with their arm raised.
A Discussion on Peace by Piece by Nabil Sawalha
Video

A Discussion on Peace by Piece by Nabil Sawalha

Part of BÉZNĂ Theatre's GLOD: Political Theatre as a Civil Right series

Monday 17 August 2020
International

Glod: Political Theatre as a Civil Right presented Peace by Piece by Nabil Sawalha livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Monday 17 August 2020 at 10 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 6 p.m. BST (London, UTC +1) / 8 p.m. EEST (Cluj, UTC +3).

Writing Killer Short Plays with Steve Yockey
Video

Writing Killer Short Plays with Steve Yockey

with playwright Lauren Gunderson

Wednesday 6 May 2020
United States

Playwright Lauren Gunderson presented Writing Killer Short Plays with Steve Yockey livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Wednesday 6 May 2020 at 1 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 3 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 4 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 21:00 BST (London, UTC+1) / 22:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC+2).

Headshots of Tori Sampson, Leah Nanako Winkler, Larissa FastHorse, and Jonathan Spector.
Comedy + Playwrighting Class!
Video

Comedy + Playwrighting Class!

with playwright Lauren Gunderson

Tuesday 5 May 2020
United States

Playwright Lauren Gunderson presented Comedy + Playwrighting livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Tuesday 5 May 2020 at 12 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 2 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 3 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 20:00 BST (London, UTC+1) / 21:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC+2).

two actors onstage
Writing Comedy and Wielding Power
Essay

Writing Comedy and Wielding Power

27 January 2020

Madeleine George and Mike Lew talk about writing comedy for theatre, vulnerability as playwrights, working with different aesthetics, and more.

three actors onstage, one jumping in the air.
On Bicultural Comedy
Essay

On Bicultural Comedy

An Interview with Herbert Sigüenza

5 January 2020

Matthew McMahan talks to playwright Herbert Siguenza about branching out as a solo writer after years as a member of Culture Clash, writing bilingual comedy, and more.

pink flyer for the hemispheric institute 2019
Encuentro 2019 hosted by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics
Video

Encuentro 2019 hosted by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics

The World Inside Out: Humor, Noise, and Performance

Sunday 9 June to Thursday 13 June 2019
Mexico City

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University presented events from their Encuentro 2019 livestreaming from Mexico City on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv from Sunday 9 June to Thursday 13 June 2019.

two actors in costume
Laughing Matters
Essay

Laughing Matters

How Comedy Tells Us Who We Are

14 February 2019

Professor Matthew McMahan talks about the importance of understanding comedy’s theatrical history: how it has evolved, what it says about a society, and why the genre shouldn’t be forgotten in the American theatre.

We Had a Convening About Comedy in Theatre and People Couldn’t Stop Farting
Essay

We Had a Convening About Comedy in Theatre and People Couldn’t Stop Farting

27 November 2018

Playwright Peter Nachtrieb gives his reflections on the Comedy Convening co-hosted by HowlRound in Boston, MA on 17 and 18 October 2018. 

Neal Brennan, Mike Birbiglia, and the Rise of Personal Comedy Theatre
Essay

Neal Brennan, Mike Birbiglia, and the Rise of Personal Comedy Theatre

30 June 2017

Brett Aresco looks at personal comedy theatre and recent shows by Neal Brennan and Mike Birbiglia.

The I Told You Show
Essay

The I Told You Show

Anthony Atamanuik’s Take on Trump, The Election, and Where It All Went Wrong

31 March 2017

Allison Raynor interviews Anthony Atamanuik, a Donald Trump impersonator who critiques both the president and audiences in his latest solo piece.

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