Joyful. That is how the organizer of the Twin Cities Improv Festival describes the local style of the improv. And this week, people can catch the best of that joyful improv at HUGE Theater. Along with invited improv from across the country. The festival begins today, June 21, and runs through Sunday at HUGE Theater. The festival is in its seventeenth year.

Improv theater is all made up on the spot. No scripts, no pre-planning, no outlines. Improv groups practice making up scenes together but each time they do, it's always different.

HUGE Theater at 3037 Lyndale Ave. S.. Photo by Clifton Zawasky, courtesy of HUGE Theater.

“Five days of top-shelf improv shows,” Butch Roy said, organizer of the festival. Roy has been organizing the festival with Five Man Job, “There are three of us,” before HUGE Theater was around.

Roy realized as he traveled around the country doing improv that his home of the Twin Cities stuck out.

“Go anywhere else,” Roy said, “And you will have an appreciation for this city.”

According to Roy, the joyful style found in the Twin Cities comes from the fact that the Twin Cities isn’t Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles. People aren’t performing to be discovered. Improv artists perform here for the fun of it, for the art of it, and for the community.

At the Twin Cities Improv Festival, each performance slot pairs local groups with visiting groups so the audience will get a mix of improv styles. There is no expectation that audience members need to know about the improv groups or improv at all. A lot of improv is meant to be funny but some groups add other emotions, like Twig Child performing on Wednesday night plays with experimental horror. Feel free to ask the front desk at HUGE Theater for more information about the performances.

For those worried about audience interaction, it doesn't happen until the audience member offers up a suggestion or a comment.

“Don’t worry about it,” Roy says to the newcomers. “No one gets picked on.”

On Saturday, out-of-towners Matt & Mattingly perform which is a special, perhaps sentimental, performance. In 2009, the group flew out from New York and performed at the first fundraiser to raise money for HUGE Theater at the Intermedia Arts, at 2822 Lyndale Ave. S. Matt & Mattingly are coming back for the last show at HUGE Theater before they close and move down the block to 2728 Lyndale Ave. S. Twin Cities Improv Festival will be the last performances at this location for HUGE Theater.

Tickets can be purchased ahead of time on the Twin Cities Improv Festival website. Roy suggests getting tickets ahead of time because shows will sell out, especially by Friday and Saturday once word gets out about the festival.