Funny guy Brian Posen has a seriously full schedule: The Lincoln Park resident is the head of Beginning Improvisation at The Second City and an adjunct theater professor at Columbia College Chicago, and every Saturday he and The Cupid Players perform Cupid Has a Heart On, the city’s longest-running musical comedy, at Stage 773. Posen is also the founder and executive producer of the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (aka Sketchfest), the nation’s largest festival of its kind. Here, the self-proclaimed “sketch geek” shares how the event continues to celebrate the next big thing.
What are you most excited about for Sketchfest 2016? “The talent is going to be incredible because we took the best groups over these past 15 years, invited them back, and almost all of them are coming. The biggest problem this year is going to be, ‘Which show do I see?’ There is not going to be a weak link—everything will be exceptional.”
You’ve said that the first Sketchfest was a fluke. How has your vision evolved year after year? “It keeps evolving because how the industry has changed in 15 years is huge. Fifteen years ago, you didn’t have video capability like you do now; there’s now a huge explosion of solo sketch, which is a new subsection of sketch comedy; women are being a hell of a lot more dominant in the industry, which is wonderful; college groups are now part of creating sketch comedy as well as high schools and junior highs.... There was a time [when] we had to make the decision: Do we expand, do we go to bigger stages? And we said, ‘No.’ I’d rather turn people away, because once you get this intimate art form on a stage [in front of] 800, it loses some of its beauty.” January 7–17, 2016, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., 773-327-5252