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Thank you Phoenix Improv Festival!!! #PIF13


Thank You Phoenix Improv Festival for an incredible weekend! We had such a fun weekend filled with shows, workshops, parties, and sunlight! Sweet sweet sunlight! It was so much fun we thought we’d provide you with a daily breakdown of our trip.


The Arrival

After a 5am cab ride to the airport, the four of us (Dave was out of town doing something lame thing like visiting family or something) checked into our flight and went through security. David was immediately asked to step aside and with no explanation as a TSA agent grabbed David’s hands and wiped them with a brush looking for “residue.” David made a masturbation joke which no one appreciated at 5:30 in the morning, and then the boys were off through security without any other hitches!

The boys were seated all across from each other on aisle seats. David and Ryan next to each other and Alan and Collin next to each other one row behind David and Ryan. Ryan spent the airplane ride sleeping while listening to the Goodfellas soundtrack, David spent the airplane ride reading and listening to music, and Collin and Alan spent the airplane ride running lines for shows and finding ways to annoy David like constantly rubbing his head, poking him through the seats or asking him loud and inappropriate questions so everyone around him could hear. Though this was probably the tamest of the Switch Committee plane/car rides. Once we landed a man asked Collin and Alan “Why do you keep ragging on this guy?” inquiring about how poorly they seemed to treat David.

We walked off the plane and were greeted by our Den Mother Marisol! She had a sign that said “Switch Committee” on it. As Ryan said, “let me get a picture of…”, Marisol threw the sign in the garbage, which prompted us to go dumpster diving to retrieve it.  In the car, she gave us swag bags which had our badges, stickers, and notebooks. So awesome.

We asked Marisol what the best breakfast place around was and she immediately took us to Lolo’s Chicken and Waffles. They served homemade kool-aid in giant mason jars, and everything on the menu was basically just a variation of Chicken and Waffles. Everyone got giant plates of delicious, juicy, buttery chicken and waffles and David got collared greens and an egg because of Passover. He’s so Jewish. Ryan said it was the best kool-aid he’s ever drank in his life. Leaving the restaurant we were really able to soak in Phoenix. It was hot outside and we were so happy to be somewhere where the sun was shining. At one point Alan pointed to the ground and said “Look guys! Grass!” We were so excited about seeing a tree with leaves on it that we took a picture next to it. It’s the little things. Marisol dropped us off at our hotel where we all immediately ordered room service and threw a giant party with all sorts of sexy people invited…ok we all just immediately passed out and took naps from the early flight and because our bellies were filled with chicken and waffles (except David who was now eating kosher for passover macaroons). Collin, Alan, and David, all fell asleep in the same bed next to each other, while Ryan, seeing there was a free bed open, decided to grab a blanket and sleep under the desk like a troll. Ryan enjoyed sleeping under the table so much that he wound up sleeping under it for the two nights he was in Phoenix. He says it was because he liked it and his back hurt, but we all know it was really just because he was near an outlet where he can charge his phone.


We had heard people saying “you need to check out the science museum” so we decided to venture to the museum to see what all the hub-bub was about. We waited in line for a good amount of time, but not long enough to realize that this was a museum for children. After we each paid our $17 it hit us that it was all children and we looked like a bunch of older weirdos. Granted, we still walked around and played with everything that we could. We threw balls in a nose, performed brain surgery, walked through a stomach, and rode bikes to conduct electricity. It was perfect for us since we are basically children.


We arrived at the Herberger theater at 6pm to take an all-performers photo. It was there where we were greeted by Mack Duncan and Bill Binder, the men who run the Phoenix Improv Festival. They were both dressed sharply in full suits which was an indication of how professional this festival was taken. They showed us the stage we’d be performing on and our jaws dropped. It was a giant theater, easily the biggest theater space we’ve ever performed in (325 seats) and the biggest stage we’ve ever played on. We immediately looked around and made one rule (that we would later break) no one falls off the front of the stage because the stage was probably over 5 feet high. After the photo, one of the staff asked us if we’d like to see our dressing room. What!? Dressing Room WHAT!? We walked behind the stage into the back area and saw a dressing room with our “Switch Committee” logo on the front. The dressing room was decorated with candies, chocolates, bracelets, fun pencils, magazines, and of course, because they knew us so well, the walls were covered with One Direction posters. Collin was immediately drawn to the Mad Magazines while David and Alan quizzed each other on who their perfect One Direction match would be. Alan got Niall. Ryan drank coke. It was so cool to have our own space and it made us just feel excited and ready to perform. When Ryan talked with Bill and expressed his gratitude for how well they took care of us, Bill said, “We like to treat the performers the way they deserve to be treated…like rockstars.” Another indication of how well this festival is run and how well the performers are treated.


It was only 7:00pm at this point, and we weren’t on until 10:30pm so we went up to the balcony to watch the other improv teams. The theater was packed with people who were all buzzing with excitement. It was amazing and inspiring to see that many people packed into a giant theater space to watch improv comedy. The groups before us were all fantastic and at intermission we headed back to get ready for our show. The people backstage had no idea what to do with us as we began beating the hell out of each other all over the backstage area of the theater to warm up. It was like a hardcore wrestling WWE match with trash cans and objects being used all over the place. People were looking around as if they should call the police. After calming down, we put our hands in the middle and dedicated our upcoming show to Dave.

The Show

The show was an absolute blast! Once the music started, we came dancing out (as usual), but this time to one of the biggest audiences we’ve ever performed for.(325 seats and the house was packed). After dancing like fools, we got the suggestion of “baking cookies.” This prompted us to talk about topics like loved ones sending baked goods, loved ones sending DVD’s, and sharing Netflix with relatives and it messing up the queue. Then, from there, we transformed into doing our show…

[vimeo 90371087]


After the show we were invited to join everyone at Space 55 for an after party. Ryan, David, Collin, and our friend from the Magnet Theater, Rick Andrews, all went to the Circle K convenience store to buy some drinks for the party. Rick asked Ryan to get him a seltzer water, but Ryan didn’t know what seltzer water was and David got nothing because of Passover. Ryan also bought a slurpee but accidentally put it in a regular drink cup so he was amazed that it only cost him 89 cents. While Ryan walked out and explained his excitement about the current economy status of Phoenix,  Rick confirmed it was because the clerk thought there was soda in the cup. Highway robbery. Ryan’s wanted, Dead or Alive. Space 55 was a blast. They had a stage and theater seats in the back room and put on a show called Jam City. We got to meet all the wonderful performers who performed that night and then got to do a short-form jam with them. At one point, a dog was on stage playing 185; the dog literally stormed the stage, stepped forward, barked a few times, and then stepped back.


Ryan could not stop laughing. Around 2am Phoenix time, we had all realized that we’d basically been up for 24 straight hours and it was time for us to head home. Alan and Collin slept together, David slept on the other bed, and Ryan on the floor under the table.


We all woke up around 9am Saturday, and ate breakfast. Before our workshop, David and Collin decided to hang out inside the hotel room and watch the NBA playoffs while Alan and Ryan went out to explore the town. They went to different businesses around the area looking for knickknacks and things to bring back home from the trip. Ryan took hundreds of photos of the street art he saw while Alan complained about how hungry he was. Eventually they found themselves at a restaurant waiting for David and Collin to show up.



Around 12:30pm Marisol picked us up from the restaurant and took us to the Phoenix Theater where our workshop would be. The theater was beautiful with a gigantic grass courtyard. We arrived and saw a ton of familiar faces. Several of the improvisers performing in the festival were in the workshop. It was the biggest workshop we’d taught yet, with 21 people registered. So big, we split up the group giving Alan and Ryan 10 people while David and Collin took 11. The workshop was so much fun. Everyone was gung-ho and eager to learn. In addition, everyone was extremely talented. Everyone was also excited to jump all over each other which happened (hilariously) quite often. With such a supportive group, it was easily one of the best workshops we’ve ever taught.


It was Alan’s birthday on Saturday and he was hankering for In-N-Out Burger so Marisol offered to drive us to the restaurant. The car ride was insanity, with all of us all hungry and riled up from the workshop, we were dissing each other, and singing songs. We’d make a joke and then immediately follow it up with lines like “Are you two pieces of bread, because you just got TOASTED” or “Are you Space Ghost? Cause you just got GHOSTED!” Are you a mailman? Cause you just got POSTED! Typically those would be followed up with repeating the lines but saying BOOM or Got Ya before hand. You get the idea. This was the entire 20 minute car ride to In-N-Out Burger and then throughout the entirety of the meal. At In-N-Out Burger everyone got Double Cheese Burgers and shakes except for Passover boy who got measly fries. The burgers were AMAZING and well worth the drive. After In-N-Out Burger, Marisol drove us back to the hotel, the car ride back was completely the opposite of the ride there.

That night, we went to an after party at a beautiful house with an outdoor bonfire and a delicious layout of food and drinks. Half-way through the party, all attention was brought to the backyard where an award was going to be given away. It was the annual ‘Balls Out Award’ which is given to someone who plays the biggest and the boldest during their show. Past winners came forward to talk about their previous experiences until the winner was announced. It was our very own David who won the award because he tore his pants in the show but continued to perform til the end.



In the end, this was a fantastically run festival and we had the time of our lives. Everyone was so supportive and loving. It was a great feeling to be surrounded by people who were there because they loved to perform, nothing else. There was no “this is going to make me famous” or “I need to do this to get to here” going on. Instead, it was “I’m here because I love improvisational comedy and I want to perform with and support like minded individuals.” That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it should always be about. We are happy that we were apart of this and look forward to coming back in the future. It was honestly some of the most fun we’ve had yet in the festival circuit and had some of the most memorable moments. If you’re an improv group and looking for a festival to attend, this one should definitely be on your list.

Thank you Phoenix Improv Festival for being so accommodating and just plain awesome. Everyone did an amazing job putting together a fantastic festival.


Warming Up For An Improv Show

warming up for a show

How do you warm up for a show? Every improv , sketch, theater, or team in general (ex: sports)   does something before a show to get themselves mentally or physically prepared. It is entirely different for everyone. It’s even different on an individual level. For improvisers, groups typically do a warm up of some kind to get their brains working or to untangle their tongues so to say. Like saying, “tip of the tongue, teeth, and lips.”  It’s the same process for the beginning of a class or a rehearsal. At a basic level, it’s something as simple as Zip, Zap, Zop and it can ramp up to a Beastie Boys rap. For this post, we thought we’d share what exactly Switch Committee does before a show to get ready. If you’ve ever performed with us or been at iO in the alley prior to our Thursday night shows, you’d know it’s pure and utter insanity. There’s a lot of screaming and jumping all over the place and all over each other. It looks like a bunch of wild animals in ties running around aimlessly without any plan or action. However, there is somewhat of a game plan going on. Specifically, this is what we do:

1. We immediately start killing each other once we step into the alley. No joke. We start slaying each other left and right in every possible way imaginable. Why? Because it’s hilarious. Really why? Because it’s big and physical. It’s a fun way to get out of your head. Getting to strap a  rocket on Schwartzbaum’s back and firing him into the dumpsters or stabbing Ryan with a Katana sword and throwing him under a tank that Dave’s joyriding while Collin snipes Alan who’s juggling molotov cocktails is…glorious. We beat the living hell out of each other yet we love the living hell out of each other. The fun here is that anything is possible (duh it’s improv). Really though, if I wanna have panda hands (literally hands that are snarling pandas) than I’m going to do it. More importantly, I’m going to kill my friends with my panda hands and they’re going to love it. In short, find the people you can kill with panda hands before you go on stage and you’re set for life.

2. We pass some patterns around after everyone is good and dead. We do the word association game or theme association through patterns. So with word association, for example, if I point at you and say “Holidays” you may say “Christmas” and then the next person may say “Santa” and then the next person may say, “Gifts!” and the person after that may say, “Birthdays.” You see what we did there? Yes, us too, it was magic. So, we do that, and we try to do at least 3 patterns. That’s the minimum. The more you do it the better you get at it though (just like anything in life). At the moment, we can do 5 patterns without all hell breaking loose. It’s tough, but it can be done. Tip: Try to increase the number of patterns you do. Not only is it fun, but it’s also challenging. It’s tough as hell but hilarious when everyone is rapid fire throwing patterns at your face. If you don’t keep the pattern going, the game is over and all the patterns will be waiting on you. You fail. You die. You’re a disgrace to the group and your family back home. Just kidding, it’s not that serious. It’s just a fun way to get your brain ready for anything that is thrown at you and the ability to juggle multiple mental balls at once. It helps you focus on what’s important at the moment.

3. We find out what’s up our butts…  (LONG DRAMATIC PAUSE FOR THE NON-IMPROVISERS WHO HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY JUST READ). Well, ‘up your butt’ is a rhyming game and it goes as such:

Ryan: I’ve got a bat up my butt

Dave: I’ve got a cat up my butt

David: I’ve got a hat up my butt

Alan: I’ve got a thermoSTAT up my butt (this one actually makes sense)

Collin: I’ve got an aristoCRAT up my butt

Ryan: I’ve got a diploMAT up my butt!

We got around in a circle and everyone starts and finishes a rhyme. So, as you can see from the above, Ryan started and ended that sequence. You get it. Duh. Why are we explaining this? You’re probably sitting there thinking, “I’m getting too old for this shit” with the voice of Roger Murtaugh in your head. Right? Nope? Just us?

Tips for your Pre-Show Activities: 

  • Do something. Anything. Seriously do anything to prepare yourself for a show. It doesn’t matter what and you shouldn’t be worried about people judging you.  If you wanna lay down on the floor and kick your feet into the air like you’re riding a unicycle, go right ahead, that’s your thing. The hell with anyone who think’s that’s ridiculous. If you wanna sit in the green room and watch inspirational or motivational speech videos like this on YouTube than do it. If that’s what gets you ready for your show than by all means do it. The important part is that you’re mentally prepared. The green room is the calm before the storm.
  • Be physical. We’re not saying run a marathon and make the stage your finish line, but get your legs, arms, and groin (especially your groin, wink wink) moving so you don’t end up walking on stage later that night and just standing there like a scarecrow the whole show. Talking heads…the worst. For us, we kill each other. That’s our thing. If you wanna do that too go right ahead. Whatever you need to do to get your blood pumping. Then, pump your friends….wait what?
  • Connect. Right before we get on stage we huddle up like we’re the Permian Panthers. We each look into eachother’s eyes, touch each other’s backs and simply say, “I’ve got your back.” So simple. So basic. Yet this is ESSENTIAL. It might even be more important than everything else we’ve done prior to that moment. It’s the time where we all know that we’re on the same page together and that no matter what we’re going to support one another. You need to connect with your partners before you step on stage. Even if you’re on stage and just got a suggestion, take a second to look into your partners eyes to express “we’re in this together.” Too many times (usually during auditions), Wally Wackadoo will just run onto the stage without connecting with his partners and just start doing his own thing without even acknowledging or listening to anyone. He’s just sitting in all the seats, breaking the fourth wall, and throwing out one-liners galore. Don’t be that asshole. Connect with your partner. It will change the entire way your partner and you work together (stress work together) to create art.