[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/8-Ways-the-Manila-Improv-Festival-Bridges-People-Together-List-Title.png" alt="Manila Improv Festival - TITLE" width="100%"][list_title][/text_image]
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Last June 26-30, PETA and Silly People’s Improv Theatre hosted the 2nd Manila Improv Festival, showcasing the talents of not one, not two, not three,  not even 8(!), but ten Improv Groups, including the one I’m a part of, Switch (Or as we are colloquially known, the Improvoys.). It was a smorgasbord of people from nearly all corners of the globe, and needless to say, it was both an amazing spectacle and a humbling experience to share the stage with some of the more eminent performers in the world of improv comedy.

(Ironically, while this is a list about improv comedy, it probably won’t be much of an actual comedy list, if at all.)

Having said that, while looking at all the people I spent time with and got to know the past week, I have to say I felt that our common passion for improv comedy as a whole truly brought people together like nothing I could have ever expected. Here’s how that happened.






[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/8-Diversity-Improv-Can-Has-It.png" width="100%" type="subheading"] The Comment: “8. Diversity? Improv Can Has It!”[/text_image]
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You would think that a group called “Beijing Plus One” would be composed entirely of Chinese performers, but in the mix of Chinese performers were several Americans, Brits, maybe an Australian, and a Filipino. Also, unlike most other comedy circles, improv comedy has a pretty fair representation of female comics.

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[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/7-Culture-Enhances-Rather-Than-Divides.png" width="100%" type="subheading"] The Comment: “7. Culture Enhances Rather Than Divides”[/text_image]
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Instead of wondering how a team of Americans, Brits, Chinese, and Filipinos can work together and produce world-class comedy, all of us were just wondering when we could see another show like that again.

 

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[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/6-The-Audience-Discovers-a-Pleasant-Surprise-In-Improv.png" width="100%" type="subheading"] The Comment: “6. The Audience Discovers a Pleasant Surprise In Improv”[/text_image]
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People come together to see amazing improv comedy shows, and in a country where insult comedy and slapstick is the mainstream, a significant chunk of the audience are genuinely surprised at this refreshingly different approach to making people laugh.

Sometimes, the audiences even discover more pleasant surprises outside the shows, but that’s a story for another time – and publication.

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[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/5-Improv-Comedy-Doesn’t-Distinguish-Between-the-Novice-and-the-Veteran.png" width="100%" type="subheading"] The Comment: “5. Improv Comedy Doesn’t Distinguish Between the Novice and the Veteran”[/text_image]
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When you see a big group of improvisers onstage, do you take the time out to know who the “leaders” are, or do you just enjoy what you see? Improv comedy, being a group effort more often than not, doesn’t really put much emphasis on having individual superstars, and that’s a great thing. For newer players, they feel less pressured to share the stage with the veterans. For more experienced players, they feel less put upon to carry the show when it should be the group doing it as a whole.

On a personal note, a year ago, the fine people of Tai Chung Improv had me onstage as a volunteer in the last festival. A year later, I was sharing the stage with them as a fellow performer. Both times, they made me feel welcome even if they’ve all been doing it for much, much longer than I ever have.
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[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/4-True-Strength-In-Numbers.png" width="100%" type="subheading"] The Comment: “4. True Strength In Numbers”[/text_image]
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It’s so difficult to go onstage and try to entertain people, yet you will see an oddly large number of introverted people taking to the stage in improv, which they probably wouldn’t ever do if everything fell upon them and only them to perform as an individual. This is fertile ground for people to just go and break out of their shell, and to conquer their fears.
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[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/3-Language-is-Hardly-An-Issue.png" width="100%" type="subheading"] The Comment: “3. Language Is Hardly an Issue”[/text_image]
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One of the most memorable moments I saw from last week was when they played a game called “Language Mosaic,” where the players acted in the scene but spoke in anything but English. It was jaw-dropping how strong the audience reacted to them, applauding and laughing out loud, even if nobody understood exactly what any of the people were saying.

It was all the more amazing when the improviser speaking in Dutch and the improviser speaking in French carried on a conversation where they clearly understood each other despite the language barrier purely through context and non-verbal cues.
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[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2-Comedy-Is-Universal.png" width="100%" type="subheading"] The Comment: “2. Comedy Is Universal”[/text_image]
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In relation to #3, these people of all races came together for a week of entertainment and a love for the art form. It didn’t matter what walk of life they came from: they came, they saw, and they conquered. Not in that order, if #6 is any indication.

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[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/1-Political-Barriers-Nuh-uh-Not-Here.png" width="100%" type="subheading"] The Comment: “1. Political Barriers? Nuh-uh, Not Here”[/text_image]
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While China barred our Vice President from vising their country, something tells me that when it comes to the Manila Improv Fest, Filipino-Chinese relations are going juuuust fine.
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Credits:




Kel Fabie

Kel Fabie. is a DJ, host, mentalist, satirist, comedian, and a long-time contributor to 8List (Hello, ladies!). He has an Oscar, a Pulitzer, a Nobel, and two other weirdly-named pet dogs. He blogs on mistervader.com.

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