Curtain Call: So Ill Comedy Festival Keeps the Laughs Going

Curtain Call: So Ill Comedy Festival Keeps the Laughs Going
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Who: So Ill Improv Comedy Club
What: So Ill Comedy Festival
When: 2011-04-20 - 2011-04-23
Curtain Call: So Ill Comedy Festival Keeps the Laughs Going
Leah Williams Wright

To commemorate its fifth year, SIU's So Ill Improv Comedy Club will be putting on its annual laugh fest.

The So Ill Comedy Festival begins Wednesday, April 20 and continues through Friday, April 23. The four-day event will include performances at a variety of venues in the 'Dale, including the Varsity Center for the Arts, Hangar 9, Station 13, and Longbranch Coffee House.

Coproducer Kyle Scanlan said all of the shows for this year's laugh fest will include improv groups, standup routines, or sketch comedies to get the giggles going.

"It is going to be exciting," Scanlan said. "We've got a lot of great performers who are going to put on a really good show."

Improvisational comedy is spontaneous, where the characters and situations are often created while the performance is in progress.

Among the top-shelf talent for the 2011 edition of So Ill is Baby Wants Candy, a fully improvisational musical troupe based out of Chicago. Equipped with a full band, Baby Wants Candy has been the starting point for Seth Meyers and Rachel Dratch from Saturday Night Live and Jack McBrayer of Thirty Rock.

"Experiencing Baby's show is like going to a Broadway show," event coproducer Eric Christensen said in a press release, "only you get to pick the show when you get there."

This year, the festival is getting out of the improv mold and shaking some things up with the addition of standup comedians.

Comics from Chicago, New York, Wichita, Champaign, and Canada are flying into Carbondale (and boy, are their arms tired). Leaving the jokes and the rim shots to the professionals, Scanlan said there is a very talented group at this year's festival.

"A lot of these guys I have performed with in other cities, and some of them I know by reputation alone," he said. "And to have them all in one place is like giving Carbondale an early Easter basket."

Capping off the entire festival is a concert at the Hangar 9 for a night of musical acts. Closing out the night is BeatBox, a Chicago group that impersonates a rap battle that integrates improvisational scenes into a hip-hop background.

Carbondale has a long history with improv comedy, dating at least to the formation of Community Floss in 1998. Scanlan and the Carbondale Comedians later introduced a more lively and very diverse set of comedic talents to Southern Illinois.

Success with improv has tapered off, but Scanlan said he hopes that the success of the So Ill Comedy Fest will bring more interest into what the club is doing.

"We're kind of wanting to restore it back to its former glory," he said.

For more information about the So Ill, visit <>. Those interested in the club and wanting to audition should email Scanlan at <>.

who: So Ill Improv Comedy Club

what: So Ill Comedy Festival

where: Station 13; Longbranch Coffee House; Varsity Center for the Arts; Hangar 9

when: Wednesday, April 20 through Saturday, April 23