New (kinda) improv festival hits Tampa in August

The Countdown Improv Festival — formerly the 321 Improv Festival — runs Aug. 16-18.

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Aug. 16-18

HCC Studio Theatre, 1411 E. 11th Ave., Ybor City

Tickets: $25 per night or $40 for weekend pass

Workshops held Aug. 17 and 18. Tickets are $25 each.


For workshop locations, showtimes and more event details, visit

click to enlarge Kelly Buttermore and Justin Peters created and will perform at the Countdown Improv Festival, held Aug. 16-18 in Ybor City. -
Kelly Buttermore and Justin Peters created and will perform at the Countdown Improv Festival, held Aug. 16-18 in Ybor City.

In improvisational comedy, things change quickly and you just go with it. So why shouldn't their festivals do the same?

Last year's 321 Improv Festival is now called the Countdown Improv Festival. It's still run by Justin Peters and Kelly Buttermore (also known as the improv duo From Justin to Kelly) and it still showcases one, two and three-person improv teams. And it will be back at Hillsborough Community College's Studio Theatre (Ybor City campus) Aug. 16-18.

According to Peters, the new name better reflects what Peters and Buttermore are doing in the improv world (they run the Countdown Theater in New York, and the festival is an extension of that venue). Plus, there's already an improv group with the former name. So now it's Countdown. 

So what else is different? The lineup, of course. This year's festival has some returning performers, but many new faces and a lot of local talent. One Show/Two Guys is a Tampa-based group featuring Matt Eyre and Andrew Springer. Okay Google is a trio (Kristofer Atkinson, Kristopher Hernandez and John Lasavath) working out of St. Petersburg who use the popular search engine as a launching pad. And Improv4Lawyers is actually just one lawyer — St. Pete's Jennifer Strouf, who uses her courtroom experience to fuel her improv show. 

Another act on the bill has ties to an improv comedy group that has won numerous Best of the Bay awards. Got Jokes? is known for winning many accolades over the years. They're too big a group to be part of a festival of acts with three or fewer members, but longtime member (and stand-up comedian) Chuck Glass will participate as half of Before & After, along with Mike Soviero. Groups from Miami, Madison, Baltimore and Chicago are also on the bill. 

And, like almost all improv festivals, Countdown will host a number of workshops during the day, covering areas such as improv habits, creating characters and how to work better with scene partners. So there's something at the festival for performers, fans, and fans who are thinking about becoming performers. And since performers are already fans, we've probably covered every permutation by now. Unless there are fans who became performers and went back to just being fans. But then they're technically just fans again, so we're good. 

Anyway, there are tickets available for each evening, or a weekend pass if you plan on going more than once and want to save some money. Workshops are extra. But with nearly 40 acts, there should be enough content to satisfy the most fervent improv fan. Or performer. Or fan that wants to be a performer. You know what we mean, right?  

Countdown Improv Fest | HCC Studio Theatre, 1411 E. 11th Ave., Ybor City | Aug. 16-18; Aug. 17-18, workshops. | $25 per night; $40, weekend pass; and $25, workshops |

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