CIF 2017 General Release 4 B .pdf

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Feb. 17, 2017

Contact: Sharp Pencil Marketing
Lauren Carrane / Ph: 954-554-0336

Executive Producer Jonathan Pitts stepping down from festival at the end of the year
Chicago, Ill. – Chicago Improv Festival Productions is proud to announce that the 20th
anniversary of the Chicago Improv Festival will be taking place from March 27-April 2 @
Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave; and Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
As it does every year, the Chicago Improv Festival will present diverse improvisers on its stages
regardless of race, creed, religion, shape, size, sexual preference or ability. “That’s why the
theme for this year’s festival is ‘No Ban on Fun! Everyone Welcome! With Liberty and Laughter
for All!’’” says Jonathan Pitts, Chicago Improv Festival’s Co-Founder and Executive Producer.
“It's the 20th annual Chicago Improv Festival, and just like we have for 20 years, we aim to
celebrate the art of comedic and theatrical improvisation. We create because to play is a divine
right of being human. We laugh because it’s part of what makes us human. The ability to play
together is a pact between improvisers and audiences that the Chicago Improv Festival has
presented in every performance throughout our history,” Pitts said.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the festival, original festival co-founder Frances Callier will
return to perform with Angela Shelton in their improv duo Frangela. The pair currently serves
as regular pop-culture pundits on NBC’s The Today Show and Dateline, Fox’s Mike and Juliet
Show, CNN’s Showbiz Tonight and Headline News and Fox News’s Red Eye and The Big
Story, MSN’s The Big Debate, and are regular contributors on NPR’s Day to Day and Off Ramp.
“This festival would not exist today if it weren’t for the foresight and enthusiasm of Frances
Callier,” Pitts said. “It just feels right to have Frances return again this year to help us
commemorate how far we have come in 20 years and welcome in a new era of the festival.”
In addition, Jon Barinholtz (Superstore) and Rob Belushi (How I Met Your Mother, Sorority
Row), will be returning to the festival with their improv show, Sheldon. More headliners will be
announced in the coming weeks.

This year’s festival will be significantly different from previous years because almost all of the
shows will be concentrated at two venues within walking distance of each other: Stage 773 and
the Athenaeum Theatre. Improv shows of similar styles — such as musical improv, dramatic
improv, two-person shows, etc. — will be grouped on the same stages at the two venues. A few
one-off shows will also be held at the Annoyance Theater and Second City’s e.t.c. theater.
This year’s festival will welcome more than 150 improv groups from all over the United States,
as well as Amsterdam, Canada, Germany and India and more, a testament to how popular
improv has become throughout the world. “When I first started the festival 20 years ago, I don't
think there were 150 improv acts in the entire country, much less at one festival,” Pitts said. “It’s
truly amazing.”
Pitts, who founded the festival with Frances Callier in 1997, has also announced that he will be
stepping down as executive producer of the festival at the end of this year. “It’s been an honor
to be of artistic service over these last 20 years to Chicago's improv community, as well as the
national and international improv communities, but the time has come for me to focus on my
own playing, creating, teaching, and directing, as well as put my energies into producing the
Chicago Podcast Festival,” Pitts said.
Pitts will remain the Executive Director of Chicago Improv Festival Productions, the non-profit
organization that runs the festival, but he will pass the running of the festival on to Jessie
Kunnath, who has previously helped produce both the Chicago Improv Festival and the Detroit
Improv Festival. John Hildreth will again serve as this year’s artistic director. “I am excited about
taking over the mantel of running this festival and take it into its next 20 years,” Kunnath said.
“2017 is an especially good year to celebrate improvisational comedy,” Pitts said. “If you need a
break from the constant churning headlines, come to the Chicago Improv Festival. If you need
to gather with people to laugh and have fun, come to the Chicago Improv Festival. If you need
to see how we are all making do, how we are all making through, in short, how we are all
improvising in these trying times, come to the Chicago Improv Festival.”
DATES: March 27-April 2, 2017
TICKETS: Ticket prices range from $5-$25. For details, visit
A complete list of groups and shows will be released in the coming weeks.
To schedule an interview with one of the artistic directors or performers, please contact Lauren
Carrane at 954-554-0336 or email



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