Monday, February 20, 2012

Orlando Improv Festival

On February 6th & 7th, Mark Bartelli of the Daily City hosted the Orlando Improv Festival at Urban Rethink as part of Arts Fest. When I arrived, Mark used a bright red sharpie to write "sketch artist" on my name tag. I was rolling with the big boys now, an official sketch artist. This was a smaller, more intimate Festival than last year but Mark still had a plethora of posters.

I set up my artist stool next to a speaker and started blocking in the space. I was sitting next to a college student with a camera around his neck. He had "Press" written on his name tag. He confided that this was his first time using the camera. My inflated ego shrank. The two young women seated in front of me were from the same school. The woman in the stripped shirt asked several audience members questions. "So, what do you hope to gain from tonight's performance?" "Well Missy, I hope to laugh!"

The evening consisted of long form Improv. The audience would supply a few cues and the performers would keep the Improv going for the duration of an hour. The first group, Offsides Improv is the one I sketched on stage. The performance centered around the strained relationship a couple had developed with someone they had kidnapped. For the longest time we were left to assume this was a typical insular family. The audience was packed full. Mark actually had to squeeze a few more chairs on the sidelines to fit in late comers.

Once the first improv group was finished, the room had to be cleared so people could pay to see the next group. I believe there were five performances each night. The second comedy troupe was "Nobody's Sweetheart." This was a notable performance since Peter Murphy had returned to Orlando from LA to be in the show. Peter played the part of a corporate executive speaking with lazy employees. He kept the action lively and his irony brought plenty of laughs. After two hours of Improv, my sketch was finished. I decided to head out to the street with the second audience and head home.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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