The Winnipeg If… Improv Festival connects improv artists from across Canada

BY: Christina Burridge


Stephen Sim, the co-founder of the Winnipeg If… Improv Festival, believes the week-long festival has helped the city develop its own comedy style.


“The festival has introduced and connected local improvisers to national and international performers and theatre companies,” said Sim. “This does nothing but add to the unique Winnipeg improv style that we are proud of.”


The annual Winnipeg If… Improv Festival was founded in 2000 by Stephen Sim and his partner Caity Curtis, two comedians with extensive backgrounds in improve. Both created shows and performed at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and hosted at TEDxWinnipeg. They have also travelled far, bringing their special brand of humour to various provinces and festivals.


This October, the festival once again welcomed performers from Winnipeg and out of town. And it hit a first when an all-female ensemble performed at the Thursday sketch comedy night.

Ashley Burdett, Jessina, Taylor Owens, Cathy Herbert, Sarah Jane Martin and Angie St. Mars perform their advertisement sketch for pumpkin spice energy drink.

“Improv has been through many evolutions since the festival was formed in 2000,” said Sim. “Winnipeg has certainly benefited and been influenced by the different improv guests, ideas and techniques that have made their way here through the festival.”


The festival also collaborated with Winnipeg Writer’s Festival THIN AIR for one of their shows.


There is the old saying that “laughter is the best medicine”, which can be a great way to de-stress, especially in the case of college students who are into performing.


“Improv is a really fun form of comedy, I like watching it,” said Amery Giesbrecht. “I have never been [to the festival], but I’ll definitely think about it.”


The festival will return next October for its 19th year.