With a few months of games and performances at its Oak Street location under its belt, Empire Improv is ready for its grand opening. On Saturday, performers from Bakersfield and throughout the state will take the stage for comedy in three shows.
Michael Lewis started the local chapter of Empire Improv, which he founded while living in Reno in 2007 after moving back to Bakersfield in 2017. He lived in Bakersfield from ages 8 to 18, first performing improv with Hermit Colony, then ComedySportz and iO West. Since coming to Bakersfield, he has put his 20-plus years teaching and performing improv comedy to use building up Empire.
The new comedy theater and improv school debuted to the public last year with the First Annual 37 Year Bakersfield Improv Reunion and Bake Sale at The Empty Space. Since settling in at its own location at 1220 Oak St., it has offered foundation classes, weekly improv shows, the weekly improv workshop The Playground and The Games Show, a monthly family-friend improv show.
Lewis said down the line that the venue will also host stand up and sketch shows.
Saturday's festivities will consist of three performances:
The Games Show: Performed in a "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" style, “contestants” will compete for laughs in a winner-takes-all competition based on audience suggestions. The show, appropriate for comedy fans of all ages, will feature Lewis, Matt Borton from The Revengers, Justin Ebrey of Made Up Theater, Betsiada Lebron from The Comedy Spot, Alex Marino from Magnet and Jeff Perkins from Script Tease.
The Playground: The improv workshop is open for those at any level. Warm up with ice-breaking games then move onto improv or just watch the fun. Participants must be 18 or older.
True Story: All of the improv scenes in this show are inspired by true stories told by the performers (Ebrey, Lebron, Lewis, Marino and Perkins). Recommended for audiences age 17 and up.