Improv Inferno, one of Ann Arbor’s most unique comedy experiences, will be celebrating its one-year anniversary in an unusual way. On Saturday, Improv Inferno will hold a 12-hour comedy marathon to raise money for disaster relief to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Mainly focused on improvisational comedy, Improv Inferno opened in Ann Arbor on Sept. 10 of last year. The majority of the club’s shows are completely improvised in front of audiences, similar to TV’s “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Only a few of the acts performed involve sketches or skits, like those on shows such as “Saturday Night Live.”

Dan Izzo, co-founder and artistic director of the improv theater, said that the idea for the benefit was originally the brainchild of Sabrina Harper, co-owner and managing director of Improv Inferno.

“She is originally from New Orleans, and her parents still live there,” Izzo said, “so it’s kind of an issue that’s really near and dear to her.” Both Izzo and Harper came to Ann Arbor from Chicago, where they were involved with the Second City improv troupe.

Izzo’s expectations for the comedy marathon are centered mostly on its potential to assist in hurricane relief. “It will be our one-year anniversary, so it’s … celebrating (it) in a way that will help people, instead of a self-indulgent way of celebrating. (Comedy) is really the only thing that we have at our disposal to raise money. It’s kind of one of those situations that everyone does what they can to help, and use every resource they have, and the resource we have is a comedy space … We have to marshal those resources to help out,” he said.

During the course of the event, many different performers, including local stand-up comedians such as Ann Arbor’s Jesse Popp, who has appeared on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” a variety of improv groups and some comedic magic will be featured to fill half-hour and 15-minute time slots.

Despite the short notice, planning the marathon went smoothly.

“The response from the performers was really great,” Izzo said. He added that more performers volunteered than could be fit into the event. “We’re running solid for 12 hours,” he said. “Really, the tricky part was just accommodating everybody who wanted to perform.”

It’s clear that Improv Inferno’s main goal for the comedy marathon is to make a strong effort to aid hurricane relief.

“It’s important that we kind of rally around the people in our society that are having problems right now,” Izzo said. “We had a 24-hour marathon to help the tsunami victims … but this is kind of closer to home. It’s really crucial that we, as a country and as a society, step up and help one another.”

Tickets to the event are $5 and allow access to all 12 hours of the marathon. Izzo said that a voluntary donation would be requested for each hour of the event attended. All proceeds will be donated to the Washtenaw County Chapter Red Cross.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.