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Filipinos have always loved comedy. Be it movies, TV, radio, and even theater, comedy, especially slapstick, you can count on Pinoys to be on it.

Thankfully, there’s another comedic form that’s slowly taking a foothold on the scene: Improv. It’s been around since 2002 and slowly, more and more people are talking about it. What it’s all about? Who started it? Where to watch? Allow us to answer your hard hitting questions about improv.

1. What is improv?

Improvisational theater or popularly known as improv, is a form of live theater in which the plot, characters and the dialogue of a scene are made up spontaneously. The improv artist or called the improvisers will ask suggestions from the audience and will start the show by using those suggestions and they will draw on some other source of inspiration to get started.

2. Who started it in the Philippines?

Silly People’s Improv Theater or known as SPIT is the premiere improv group here in the Philippines. Established by known actor Gabe Mercado and his friends in 2002, SPIT has already performed in many events all over the country. Composed of thespians, teachers, commercial models and professionals from various fields, the group also represented the country in the prestigious Los Angeles Comedy Festival in 2004, Hong Kong International Improv Festival in 2012, Improv Festivals in New York and Chicago, and Amsterdam Improv Festival in 2015.

3. What makes it different from stand-up comedy?

Unlike stand-up comedy, improv is basically unscripted and unrehearsed performance in front of an audience. Every action of the improviser is spontaneous and the scenes were co-created by the audience and the actors in real time. The audience holds most of the power and they will decide which way the story will start and end.

4. How to become an improviser?

Theater or acting background are not required if you want to pursue improv, but aspiring if you want to get serious on this, SPIT has actually put up an improv school in 2015. It’s called Third World Improv (TWI) and it’s open to anyone who would like to experience the joy of improvisation. Currently, TWI is home to over 100 students and gave birth to different improv groups.

5. Where to watch improv?

SPIT regularly performs around the city—check and follow its Facebook page for schedule announcements—but there’s a huge gig coming up. In partnership with Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), SPIT and TWI are cooking up the 3rd Manila Improv Festival, featuring improvisers from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Osaka, Tokyo, Mumbai and Brisbane together with the Filipino improvisers from Manila, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro.  It will run from March 22 to 26 at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City.

Check out SPIT Manila’s Facebook page for more info about the Manila Improv Festival 2017.

Photos by: Madel Crudo

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