The Improv Embassy is a theatre company dedicated to growing and showcasing improv and sketch comedy in the capital. We teach classes for those looking to have fun and for those who wish to become performers. We produce shows in venues across the city and run the annual Ottawa Improv Festival each spring. We are a nonprofit founded and run by volunteers.
The seeds of the Improv Embassy were planted with Experimental Farm Theatre, founded by Dani Alon and Chris Hannay in June 2014 when they moved to Ottawa from Toronto. A few months later, Val Perelshtein, who had performed with EFT since shortly after its launch, proved indispensable as the fledgling company’s business director. Over two years, EFT produced a monthly show at Pressed cafe (the “EFT-up Comedy Show”), a successful sketch revue called “EFT-up: Just Like You” at the 2015 Ottawa Fringe Festival, and the sold-out 2016 Ottawa Improv Festival. Eventually a second monthly show called the “Improv Game Show” was added at Live! On Elgin. The performing arts space, Live!, was also host to EFT’s improv classes, which grew from one workshop every other week to four or five courses running at the same time.
Eventually Live! and the other venues weren’t big enough to contain us so we needed a space of our own. In the summer of 2016, the theatre company renamed itself the Improv Embassy, secured a studio in the downtown Rideau neighbourhood and officially incorporated as a non-profit.
Our comedians have been invited to perform in the Del Close Marathon in New York City, Toronto’s Big City Improv Festival, the Toronto Haroldfest, the Montreal Improv Festival, Montreal Sketchfest, Halifax’s East Coast Improv Festival, Ottawa’s Fresh Meat DIY Theatre Festival and the Ottawa Improv Festival, which we now produce.
We are also committed to helping the wider Ottawa community through workshops and fundraisers. We started the annual SHElarious showcase that features female comics every March (around International Women’s Day), and have raised money for distress centres, charities and the Canadian Improv Games.
Throughout our history, we could not have accomplished anything without the hard work, dedication and talent of the improvisers in our fast-growing community. Below is the current team making magic happen at the Embassy. If you see any of us around, say hello!