Three shows to see at the NYC Improv Festival

Veteran teams reunite and recognized out-of-town troupes drop by for a weekend stuffed with long-form improvisation.

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  • Photograph: Tracy Wilson

    Centralia

  • Photograph: Keith Huang

    Dion Flynn and Ali Farahnakian

  • Photograph: Gautam Narang

    2-Man No-Show

Photograph: Tracy Wilson

Centralia


Now in its third year, the NYC Improv Festival may not be a massive, nonstop bacchanal like the summer’s Del Close Marathon, but it features a number of experienced troupes that either don’t perform on a regular basis or are visiting NYC. Zany, potent or fearless, these shows are a few of those worth catching over
the weekend:

Centralia
The three guys of Centralia, who were all part of the foundational improv ensemble Burn Manhattan, thrive on the theatrical. Their sense of narrative, big characters and broad physicality stand out from the talking heads that make up a lot of improv in NYC. They’re also committed to the art of transforming any objects and bits of clothing within reach into whatever a scene requires: A tie becomes a snake, a stepladder transforms into giant scissors. Friday 21 at 9pm

Farahnakian and Flynn
PIT founder Ali Farahnakian performs every Wednesday night at the theater, but the chance to play with his longtime pal Dion Flynn comes around less often. Farahnakian’s always good at portraying unassailable, bug-eyed bosses with wild ideas, but Flynn—who made Jimmy Fallon laugh when he played a number of roles, including Barack Obama, on Late Night—has a wonderfully unpredictable energy that pushes Farahnakian into new places. Thursday 20 at 9pm

2-Man No-Show
This Toronto duo likes its improv bold and busy: As scenes spin from one to the next, their spirited characters barrel into one another—often literally. The players make good use of the disparity in their sizes—Ken Hall is tiny and Isaac Kessler much larger—as they wrestle, dance and charge across the floor. With colossal enthusiasm and playfulness, they make sure the audience comes along for the ride. Saturday 22 at 9pm, Sunday 23 at 7pm

The NYC Improv Festival takes place at the Peoples Improv Theater through Sun 23.


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