Where to Find The Best Improv Shows Near Downtown San Diego

Check out unique entertainment–made up in the moment–at Finest City Improv, Mockingbird Improv and National Comedy Theatre

It’s safe to say you’ll never see the same improv show twice.

That’s because Improvisation is a form of live theater where characters, plot and dialogue are made up in the moment. Often, an improv show is kicked off by a random suggestion from the audience.

There are three venues near downtown San Diego where you can watch spontaneous ensemble theater. All locations also offer classes where you can try to tap into your inner Wayne Brady, or seek to gain confidence in social settings).

Improv shows are regularly scheduled at Finest City Improv (Hillcrest), Mockingbird Improv (Liberty Station) and National Comedy Theatre in Midtown.

At Finest City Improv, audiences can drop in on shows by regularly scheduled house teams, musical performers or groups doing holiday-themed material.

Full disclosure: My improve team “Breaking The News” (pictured, above) will compete on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. in FCI’s Community Cagematch.

Mockingbird also has a regular show lineup, a musical ensemble and a soap opera offering.

National Comedy Theater has been in existence since 1999, and has notched more than 6,000 performances.

See some shows!

It might take longer than today’s average attention span to describe all the improv offering available near downtown San Diego. Here, then, is a representative sampling of three shows worth taking a closer look at:

Voicebox San Diego

Voicebox San Diego performers at FCI.

The premise is storytelling combined with improvisational songwriting. Voicebox is three performers telling personal stories that are a combination of funny, vulnerable and inspiring. Talented singer/guitarist Dave Bowers makes up a song on the spot about each story. Hosted by Jean Diedrich and musical co-host Kimmy Justice, this Finest City Improv monthly show is done in conjunction with performances in Chicago and Ireland, and all the stories ’round the world are themed by a common song.

Showtime: Sunday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m.

Ticket info: Voicebox

IFL San Diego

The IFL onstage at Mockingbird Improv.

The popular short-form improv TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? gives out points to competing artists but the host note: “The points don’t matter.” Well, at IFL San Diego, the points do matter. Mockingbird Improv is the site of a new weekly show in which regular teams try to out-improv each other. It’s competitive and they keep score. The playoff and championship rounds are happening in December. It all comes down to the game-winning joke in the Improv Fun League (not an official name).

Showtimes: Sunday, Nov. 6 at 8:15 p.m., recurring weekly until the Sunday, Dec. 11 World Series-Bowl-Cup-Finals!*

(*not an official trophy name)

Ticket info: At the door at Mockingbird

Happymusicfuntime! A Musical Comedy Revue

Happymusicfuntime! at FCI.

This limited-run show at Finest City Improv has a little bit of everything (as the title suggests). It’s billed as “a comedic musical journey through rock, jazz, bluegrass, musical theater and a little bit of lord knows what with some razzmatazz sprinkled on top.” It’s a post-pandemic variety show and a love letter to the music that impacted writer/director Kristen Baum Wilcox.

Showtimes: Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.; Sunday Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.; and Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. (benefit show for Fair Vote)

Ticket info: Happymusicfuntime! SDSun


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