Happy Hour with the Board 2015

Photo by Adam Iverson

Photo by Adam Iverson

August 13, 2015 – About 40 people attended this year’s Open House and Meeting, where Butch Roy, Jill Bernard, Molly Chase, and Nels Lennes presented. (Everyone enjoyed reminding each other that Butch had recently returned from being at sea.)

Adam Iverson took photos and Kevin Albertson presented tips for promoting your shows, events or groups via social media .

First up – an update on the Strategic Plan!

HUGE’s first years were guided by a three-year strategic plan, 2011-2013, and we’ve been guided by an updated plan covering 2015-2017. We held and documented a strategic meeting that bridged the year between, and laid out our plans for 2014.

The money

It costs about $40K per month to run HUGE Theater – even though we’re not yet paying people anywhere near what we would like. (More on that below.)

Income and Expenses so far in 2015 are much greater than they’ve been in previous years. Charts follow.

Notably, we currently have $30K in reserve funds, which is particularly significant coming out of summer, our slowest season by far.

This is how we’ve been spending in 2015

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Our major expense areas are rent and payroll. We expect payroll to grow while occupancy costs stay roughly the same over the coming years. Our rent has remained the same over the years but property taxes have increased steadily and we took on the Annex space, currently $11,264.93 for the 3037 building space and $3,500 per month for the Annex space.

We have big growth needs in payroll – we’re working hard to make sure we’re growing in a balanced way that serves the health and stability of the theater while still providing for artists as well. What we’ve known for a long time was affirmed by a funder, which is essentially: “If HUGE couldn’t hire replacements for salaried staff tomorrow if you were hit by a truck, at the same rate you’re being paid, then the future of your organization is at risk.”

Even though we know that we’re not yet hitting the market rate (as defined by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofit’s Salary and Benefits Survey), we have also continuously fought one another to NOT take pay increases in order to secure the stability of the theater. That said, we are going to have to make market payment a priority over the next few years, and will continue to make sure we’re doing so in as balanced a way as possible.

Currently the two full-time management staff (Jill and Butch) make $2,000 per month, Molly and Nels make $400 per month – exclusively for work performed as staff.  No one now or in the future is compensated for work as a director of the board of HUGE Theater.

*there is currently not a budget for Roofices

**Roofices are a running joke about installing offices on the roof of the building.

***or ARE they a joke?!?


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So far in 2015 we’ve earned $82, 507 in ticket sales. Tickets sales make up half our earned income. The chart shows ticket sales year over year from 2011 – present. The good news is that the peaks and valleys have been consistent enough that we’ve been able to learn over time where we need to push harder, which allows us to make decisions like the annual run of a Groupon to offset seasonal declining ticket sales in the warming months


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This is where our donations come from. Individual donations are not only important for keeping the theater open and giving us more stability, but also demonstrate that many people are invested in HUGE. This is meaningful to funders, humbling for us, and just a very powerful message.

Going back to the point about our reserve funds. In 2014 coming out of summer we had $7,000 in the bank, which is not even the building rent, and had to regain a lot of ground with ticket sales and the fall term of classes. The big leap back onto solid ground was absolutely accelerated by the Improvathon and allowed us to end the year in the black.

We will never forget how our donors gave $44,965 in one day! We’d hoped to raise $25k, but everyone’s dedication and generosity blew that estimate out of the water. It was amazing.

Oh, and we’re totally going to ask everyone to do something like this again this November. Stay tuned.

The big news for 2015 in contributed income is, of course,  the fact that we received two grants for General Operating support – from the McKnight Foundation and the MN State Arts Board.

The McKnight Foundation has been engaged in a long conversation since HUGE Theater began and has offered guidance along the way to help us know that we’re growing in the right direction as an arts organization. The recognition of the McKnight Foundation is something that means a great deal to us at HUGE Theater – it says to us and the rest of the world that we are a serious organization supporting serious artists at a serious art form. That is something that not only feels like the validation of a lot of hard work, it sends a clear signal of improv’s place among the arts in Minnesota.

The Minnesota State Arts Board funding is a 4-year commitment that recognizes HUGE as a highly capable nonprofit dedicated to supporting the arts for all Minnesotans. It is a big deal, and we could not be more excited.

This is where we thank Molly Chase for all her hard work (I can’t say “tireless” because we know how exhausting the process was – both writing the grants and managing us at HUGE) because we would not be where we are without what she has achieved. It’s amazing. She’s amazing. 


This is where we get into paying performers

Part of our current pay model has to take into account clearing certain levels of operating costs so we’re not jeopardizing the theater’s stability because we have a great month of ticket sales.

We are always considering ways to adjust the formula to favor higher payment for performers, and have this in mind when forecasting and budgeting. We feel performer payments are part of our responsibility in keeping the promise of our mission to support artists.

This is where we get to the future of The Board

The current overlap of our Board of Directors and staff members is more akin to a startup than to a traditional nonprofit. While we’ve found this structure has been very helpful for our first years of rapid growth, we fully understand the need to adopt a more traditional model.

This is an important part of our strategic plan for 2015-2017, and is going to be a shift away from the shorthand of “the board” to represent the general management of the theater. As we add more people to the board, it will mean there will be people on the board that improvisers might not know or have direct contact with.

We have already started work on expansion by forming an advisory board from which we’ll recruit board members. We have also recently attended a board recruitment event for people of color organized by Board Repair, which was a great event.

The main thing to know is that HUGE’s board will be made up of members from diverse backgrounds and perspectives who are passionate about HUGE’s mission and who have specific skills that will help us grow.

The Education Update!

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This is a graph of our class enrollment over time, which represents both growth in interest in our program but also the growth of the program itself. We have expanded our capacity over time as we’ve been able and those classes have seen growth in enrollment as well.


We don’t run a summer term for our 10-week classes because of the natural fall off in enrollment in the summer time.

This year, we’re taking a new approach to the month of August. In the past we held one weekend intensive, with a focus on advanced skills. This year, we’re adding a second advanced skill weekend intensive as well as a brand new Summer Slam for beginners. The weekend Summer Slam is for beginners to come learn fundamentals in a short amount of time if they can’t commit to a 10 week process or have been unsure about signing up for a longer class session to get started. We’re happy to report that enrollment has had strong numbers for all three intensives. (With people traveling here from as far as Sweden!)

Class jams!

Students frequently tell us they wish they had more time for scenes, and also, having a single showcase at the end of class is too much pressure. In response, we’re trying out a weekly jam where classes will just have extra time to try out things they’re learning in class in an open laboratory environment with students from other levels.
Butch Roy
Daniel Jaquette
Drew Kersten
Hannah Wydeven
Jill Bernard
Joe Rapp
Mary Mangan
Michael Ritchie
MJ Marsh
Molly Chase
Nels Lennes
Rita Boersma
Samantha Pereira
Sean Dillon
Tane Danger
Adam Iverson
Beth Gibbs
Bradley Machov
Carolyn Blomberg
Casey Haeg
Ellen Jaquette
Erin Kennedy
Gubby Kubik
John Gebretatose
Kristen Anne Pichette
Lucas Vonasek
Michael Dallavalle
Sidney Oxborough
Sophie Brossard
Will Roberts
Dane Stauffer
Darwin Smith
James Detmar
James Rone
Phil Lusardi
Rita Boersma

Plus Drop In Class, of course, managed by Mike Dallavalle with Samantha Pereira.


This is an experimental evolution to our advanced curriculum to hopefully better address the needs of more experienced improvisers – who are already spending their improv time and energy in lots of others ways – to allow them to find and focus on topics they are interested in.

Corporate Workshop training!

Jill is going to train our teachers and TAs to lead a very simple low-cost one-hour workshop that organizations can hire. This will get HUGE out into the cities and give our teachers and TAs valuable experience.


Seniz organized a super teen summer camp in July with 25 students from all around the metro area. They practiced basics of improv and participated in specialty workshops with professional improvisers in the community. The 10-week fall session is now enrolling! Starts September 6th. For more info and registration, visit hugetheater/teens

Production Updates

Show Submission process clarification:  we have moved ALL submission conversations, ideas, etc that are to be considered for the HUGE stage to the Show Proposal Form. We’re happy to discuss ideas with anyone and love talking about cool new concepts, but it will not be considered unless it arrives through the Show Proposal Form.

Returning shows!

Creature Feature, Survivors of the Undead Plague and Star Trek: The Next Improvisation are all returning – with Star Trek being directed this year by Joe Bozic. Also this fall: The Bearded Men‘s improvised Dungeons & Dragons show returns, as does The Mess beginning in November. Family Dinner will run during in the holiday months (November and December) on Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM.

New shows!

In September and October, Interplanetary Appeal is opening their show Now What?!, where the audience gets to guide the characters’ decisions along the way.

Wonderful Wonderful will be doing It’s a Wonderful Wonderful Life on Fridays at 9:30PM in the holiday months as well for another holiday genre show.

Special Shows!

Rob Belushi and Jon Barinholtz are bringing their workshop and improvised duo show Sheldon to HUGE the first weekend in November — workshop registration will be posted soon!

Auditions and 2016

Throwback Night will be returning, along with the complete Throwgram series that follows, in January 2016. Auditions will be posted for Throwback this fall.

Special thanks to Zoa Green for all of her help as Nels’ assistant in the Throwgram process, helping keep things organized, scheduled and running smoothly!

The Neutrino Video Project is finally in motion. Auditions are being held October 10 and 15.  Applications for auditions are currently being accepted HERE.

The New Website!

The last bit of news we announced was the new HUGE site, which has obviously launched since then, but Brian Smallbeck put together our new calendar-centric website and is still in the process of hunting down all the bugs and completing our performer-facing pages where improvisers can find all the “official” answers to questions they might have about being a performer at HUGE.

Fringe 2015 and Happy Hour with the Board


Fringe dates to know:

July 25th-29th – HUGE is CLOSED for Fringe tech week

July 30th – August 9th – Fringe Shows. CLICK HERE for schedule and tickets

August 10-13th – Annual cleaning, repair, maintenance, TLC for HUGE Theater.This is one of the only times we get to give the place a good top-to-bottom checkup.



Happy Hour with the Board of Directors

August 13th at 5pm – Annual Happy Hour with the Board of Directors.  Come have a beer (there will be drink specials) and we will riff on our agenda.

This is one of my favorite traditions and a very important way for us to hear from the people we serve as well as report to them how we are doing – We need to hear from you!


If you have questions, suggestions, stuff you wish HUGE would do better, complaints, ideas, send them!  We will address anything that is sent –  either at the meeting or online – but we cannot answer questions that aren’t asked or improve on things we don’t hear about.  You can send your thoughts anonymously or leave us your name an email if you’d like someone to follow-up with you directly.

– Open House from 5-6pm – come see the space!

– Meeting from 6-7:30pm – You can come for all of it or just drop in when you can!

August 13th at 8pm – a very special Positive TERI reunion show!!

August 14th – HUGE shows resume as normal. Like it never happened.

Dime for a dozen if it's what you're after

BIG NEWS: HUGE Improv Theater just received a Minnesota State Arts Board grant! For $34,706! It’s the first year of a 4-year commitment. It’s for general operating. It’s incredible.

So many people contributed to the work necessary to apply for the grant. That’s in addition to all of those who contribute to the programming, administration, artistic quality and overall strength of community we serve. It all was part of persuading the grant panel. Thank you!

HUGE is one of 167 organizations of all sizes in Minnesota that were approved to receive grants. See the Arts Board’s Web site for the full list:

This is all made possible by the voters of Minnesota, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. So thanks to voters for passing the Legacy Amendment, and thanks to our legislators for making sure those funds get to arts organizations of all sizes via MSAB and the regional arts councils.


Me and my friends are like the drums on Lust For Life

TCIF 9 : In progress

Every year I swear I am going to post some kind of recap for each night, every year I get started and then remember that just repeating “IT WAS SO AMAZING AND FUN, YOU JUST HAD TO BE THERE” isn’t really very good reading.

Waiting until the end of the festival to post a recap has also yielded poor results, as my brain has stopped working by then and the blurry recollections of someone that just overdosed on their favorite fun thing isn’t very good reading either.

If there’s one thing that never changes, it is how I feel about TCIF and what TCIF means.

I started working on a Twin Cities Improv Festival more than ten years ago (the first year started production 19 months in advance) because I love the Twin Cities improv scene, I am the biggest fan of the unscripted work I see all around me and I thought it was a shame how few people I talked to (both in Minnesota and at festivals around the country) knew about it.  I want everyone, both locally and nationally, to see it AND get a chance to see all the incredible groups we could bring here.

It is so powerfully fun that I want to share it with everyone, all the time – That’s it. It’s that simple and it always has been – That is the foundation of the festival and of HUGE theater.

We don’t want you to see more improv because we opened a theater – we opened a theater because we want you to see more improv. 

That is the one thing that makes sense of all the hard work and stress and scary times and financial risk over ten years and tens of thousands of hours. The answer to all of those things was and still is the question “HAVE YOU SEEN HOW AMAZING THESE PEOPLE ARE?!?”

And not nearly enough people have – so we created a festival to give people that don’t live here a chance to come see it and built a theater to give the people that live here a place to find it and the performers around us a place to do it – and getting to stand in the back of the theater and watch it every year makes it all worth it.  That’s how amazing these people are.

You just have to be here.



Anonymous Feedback Reply from the Board – the size of things

We received an anonymous message via our contact form:

“Is there a chance that TCIF [Twin Cities Improv Festival] would ever expand to multiple venues? I feel like that could be a good way to support an inclusive improv community outside of just HUGE, and a way to give more groups the opportunity to participate, but I could understand other theaters not necessarily liking the idea of putting their schedules on hold for the festival.”

This is Jill Bernard writing. Although I am not a member of Five Man Job, the improv team that produces TCIF, an annual improv festival now in its ninth year, I can answer in my capacity as a member of the HUGE staff, as TCIF’s former Director of Education, as an independent improvisor who has attended dozens of improv festivals around the country and the world, and as someone who has had a show or two not make it into TCIF over the years.

Thank you for your question. Let’s set aside the economics and pretend an angel investor made it possible to buy out several theaters around town, guaranteeing the rent, salaries, insurance, and marketing costs. Let’s pretend also that somehow we have the human resources to multiply the workload. We still would not add an additional venue or venues to TCIF. Here’s why.

A single-venue festival and a multi-venue festival are two very different beasts. What we love about TCIF is that everyone is all together all the time. I have been to improv festivals in other cities where no one really seems to notice or care that I have travelled hundreds of miles to be there. I see my friends’ Facebook photos of the same event and it looks like we were at two different improv festivals. Often adding more venues doesn’t mean increasing your audience numbers, it means giving some groups the shaft. I have travelled to a festival on the coast on my own dime to perform for eight people. It did not make me feel valued. There is a concept called “Dunbar’s Number” that Wikipedia describes as “a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.” That number is about 150 people (that’s one of the reasons why HUGE has 100 seats). We want everyone involved with TCIF to have a shared experience and forge an amazing connection to each other. We aren’t out to be the biggest improv festival in the world.

A misconception you have is that the festival supports only HUGE. The festival was created five years before there was a HUGE Theater and has always been an open application. Of the 25 local groups performing at this year’s festival, only HUGE is produced by us. Nine are groups that have proposed a show and produced it at HUGE1, 13 are independent teams2, and the other two are the Brave New Workshop and ComedySportz, which have their own theaters. The festival has always welcomed and taken applications from all local improvisors, and communicated application dates through all possible means.

The festival has about twice as many submissions as there are spaces in the Festival, and Five Man Job reviews them each several times based on their own merit, not in comparison to any other submissions. At the end of the review, they always have more groups that have unanimous “yes” votes than there are spaces, which means culling groups that would be fine additions to the festival. It has to happen, and Five Man Job does not take these decisions lightly or apply anything but the highest scrutiny. Butch Roy, the executive producer, writes: “In the end, making that final decision and finally clicking ‘publish’ feels like slamming the door in a lot of faces and it is a day that I dread intensely. But it’s one bad day that marks the beginning of putting on the most amazing weekend that I look forward to all year long, and that one job I hate seems like a small price for all that awesome.”

When Five Man Job started the festival, there were very few other opportunities for improv groups to perform regularly. You had to be scrappy and find a back room at a restaurant or a bar, or put your name into the Improv A Go Go lottery and hope for the best. Currently in the Twin Cities there are ample opportunities for groups to perform. There has never been a better time to be a rehearsing, performing group in Minneapolis. In a lot of ways running TCIF was our practice for opening HUGE Theater. When the theater opened I said, out loud, “Oh my god, it’s like having an improv festival every day.” That’s what we have now. Not being in the improv festival doesn’t mean you’re locked out of the improv scene, it just means you have to pursue a different opportunity and put together a really killer submission package for next year’s festival.

TCIF is the bait that gets audiences interested in local improv. It is the gateway. It is not intended to be a grocery store, it is just the sample lady at the end of each aisle sending audiences in the direction of the teams and shows they will fall in love with during the other 51 weeks of the year.

If you have questions, concerns, complaints or feedback of any kind for the Board of HUGE please know that you can always talk to us or contact us directly, but if you prefer, you can always use the anonymous form.  Click HERE to go THERE.



1 Bearded Men Improv, Clue, Horseface, Interplanetary Appeal, KINGS, Ladyfriend, Mayhem, The Away Team, The Mess

2 Drew & Matt, Feel Good About Yourself Orchestra, Ferrari McSpeedy, Foterson, Gay/Straight Alliance, Kiss Kiss Slap, License To Krill, Liv & Bradley, MN Snow Job, Polar Bear Centric, The Houlihans, The Painters, Where I Am Now

Solo Improv Advice from Jill Bernard

Jill Bernard here!  People often ask me how to do solo improv, which is one of those questions you have to answer yourself because solo improv is uniquely you, it doesn’t have to work like group improv. You have no obligation to do anything but weave together a piece that highlights everything you love about improv and life, everything you’re curious about, everything that makes you happy.  All your weaknesses become your strengths, all your strengths become your superpower. You have every permission in the world to build something just for you.  Take some time and 1) Write down three pieces of art or music or television shows or movies or books that you love and *why*.  2) Write down what you are a nerd about, and what your special and unspecial skills are. 3) Write down what your favorite thing to do in improv is.  4) Think about whether you want the audience involved and how. 5) Think about whether you want one long story or lots of little stories or maybe just a lecture.   6) Put the answers to 1-5 in your head and swish them around, start to think of images and templates and possibilities until something curious occurs to you that would be terrifying but incredible to try.

Please do not do anything in your solo show out of obligation.  Also, there may be things that feel like “cheating” or “crutches” for example, knowing there will always be a song in the middle or “only” playing one character.  None of that is cheating. Take super-good care of yourself and respond to any fussy little baby sounds from your psyche with compassion.

Q:  Isn’t it arrogant to do solo improv?  A: Oh hells yes. You are saying to the world I don’t need these other jerks. Own that little piece of naughtiness, it’s okay. You can be totally humble off-stage for marketing purposes but know in your heart that all human beings are interesting enough to be alone onstage, and you are compelling. It’s all right.

Find someplace to test your piece – a cabaret, a friendly open mic, in between some group improv pieces. Once you’ve done a small test, the piece will tell you what it wants to grow up to be. You have to just try it and see.

Other advice: *most* but not *all* solo improv pieces involve switching characters. There are unlimited ways to switch characters, but three easy ones are the CHARACTER SLIDE, the CHARACTER POP and the CHARACTER ABSENT. Whether you prefer the Character Slide or the Character Pop will depend on whether you’re more interested in preserving time or space – one of which has to be suspended for you to play more than one character.

· In the character slide, I play the character of Janey, then go neutral and walk over to another spot on the stage and play Ralph. Time is suspended – normally dialogue would continue without the dead space. The audience accepts the travel time as neutral and ignores it, if you can make it truly neutral – the expression in your face or body should not be Janey or Ralph.

· In the character pop, I play the character of Janey and then shift positions while staying in the same space. It works on a pivot. If we pretend I’m standing on a clock on the floor, when Janey’s talking I look at 11 o’clock, and when Ralph is talking I look at 1 o’clock. For some reason, we as viewers accept that the two are standing straight across from each other as you would be in an actual conversation, even though you’re portraying them at a 45 degree angle away from each other. A variation is the totem pole: I shift characters by changing my physicality and voice, but I stay looking in the same direction. The totem pole is nice for creating crowd scenes.

· In the character absent, I talk to the empty space where another character would be. If I choose, I can do a “fill” where eventually I run over there to fill in as that second character, often as a punchline. Leave space in your dialogue where that character would “answer” you.

All of these can be used in combination with each other, and there might be a fourth way that’s unique to you. Like anything in solo improv, you’re the expert.

Things you may want to watch for in playing multiple characters:

· Use realistic eye lines. If I’m playing a little kid talking to an adult, I should look up when I’m the kid and down when I’m the adult. This is especially tricky when using a chair, the temptation is to talk to the chair back, but a human’s eyes are about a foot and a half higher.

· Make your characters distinct in voice, physicality, tempo and emotion or you’ll lose track of who’s who. Especially when shifting characters, make sure the change is complete from head to toe. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve switched characters and looked down to see I still have the other character’s feet. Or god forbid their wine glass.

· Audiences get boners for when you make physical contact with invisible characters. Fights, dances, even a simple shoulder touch are so pleasing because they define the imaginary.

There are some solo improv warm-ups I can teach you even though it makes me giggle. The first is a variation on WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Find two initials in the room you are, like L.B. Then just make little verb/object or adjective/verb combos out loud, i.e. Lighting Bridges, Losing Brian, Listening Boringly, Limiting Barry, Lightly Baking, Listlessly Burying, etc. The second is a one-word story where you blink to separate the thoughts for yourself. [Eyes open] “once” [eyes closed] “there” [eyes open] “was” [eyes closed] “a” [eyes open] “grandmother” [eyes closed] “who” etc. This is hard to sustain for long because your brain catches up and starts unifying your thoughts into one thinker. The third is to do four little mini character monologues with the same first line of dialogue, spreading out around the room and taking different physicalities – that one comes from Andy Eninger, the golden god of solo improv. The fourth is to put on your headphones and dance around to your favorite song completely unleashed and free of inhibition. The fifth is to think of a way to adapt your favorite group warm up. There are other great suggestions in the book “Improvise” by Mick Napier.

1-2-3 go do it!!

State of HUGE – Spring 2015

Once again I have been trying to put this together for way too long but kept waiting so I could include something that was coming up, once again that means posting the State of HUGE in the springtime.  Call it an annual thing.

There is always something big coming up that I can’t post about yet and springtime, when the weather finally gets warm and everyone wants to be outside,  is when things feel like they slow down a little bit  so we can have a recap and a look ahead.

This includes a lot of things across the different areas of HUGE but not everything – there are always more schemes being schemed.

McKnight Foundation grant

The biggest news of 2015 (so far) is that HUGE received a grant from the McKnight Foundation of General Operating funds totaling $60,000 over the next two years – I wrote a post about that a little while back but it would be really impossible to overstate how excited we are about it, how much HUGE Theater really needs and appreciates it and how hard Molly Chase worked on pushing that boulder the rest of the way up that very steep hill.

This grant allows us to start moving on some things – both much-needed investments in the space as well as repairs and upgrades we’ve known that we needed for quite some time – as well as gives us an extra boost going into the summer months that we have never had before.

Investments and Improvements

There are numerous smaller repairs and improvements being made around the theater – as there always have been ever since we opened, the space has continued to evolve and improve to suit the work, the shows, the classes and the audiences as best we can – here are a few of the bigger projects that may be more noticeable coming up:

Piano : Jack Barrett was actually assembling his own Kickstarter campaign to get a real, working piano for the theater when we found out about the grant and we were able to let him know in time to stop it and fund the purchase ourselves – it’s important to us that we don’t ask our donors to do things for us that we can do ourselves and when we do ask our donors they know the needs and reasons are real.

The new piano sounds amazing and the music Jack is able to create with it is always such an important addition to our shows.

Awning : This is something we’ve known we needed to do for a couple years but couldn’t make room in the budget until now – We’ve started work to replace our aging awning over our front door and windows,  the existing unit should be taken down and the replacement should be installed in the next couple weeks.

Exit Door / Bike parking : We’ve been making smaller changes and improvements to the space over the last few months to better serve anyone with special needs and while talking with our landlord about our side door, he proposed a really great improvement.

The side door to our lobby has always been our “extra” exit but the gravel outside makes it hard to shovel and maintain and the uneven ground makes it a more difficult proposition for anyone with special needs – When I spoke to Julius about it he not only volunteered to have a sidewalk put in from the door to the blacktop to make it a fully accessible exit, he proposed the addition of a bike parking area!

A 10 foot bike rack has been ordered and once it arrives, the work will begin to create the new bike parking area between the building and the blacktop, in addition to the sidewalk racks and the parking meter racks that HUGE sponsored.

Roof Offices : Ask Molly Chase.


Hangout Auction

On the heels of the McKnight Grant we had our annual Hangout Auction, which is not only one of the most fun parts of our fundraising calendar, it has also grown every time – both in number of fun auction ideas and funds raised.   The full list of items and winners is posted and the winners have already started hanging out with their favorite improvisers.

Thank you to Bree, Joshua, Bradley and Jane for creating and nurturing this weird thing over the years. Seriously.


Our education program continues to grow and evolve and the biggest change to it was the creation of our 401 “pods” in place of the existing 401 curriculum – which focuses on forms and structures and typically would mean spending 2-3 weeks on each structure – by grouping each structure in 3 week pods and allowing students to enroll to learn the forms they are most interested in.

As a teacher that has focused a lot on 401 classes, I’m really excited for this change – not only because it allows students to get right to the form that most interests them, but also because it brings together students over a common interest and I’m hoping we’ll see the formation of groups with a shared desire to perform Harold, Deconstruction and more.

Annex growth

Our Annex is a big part of growing the education program (as well as being able to offer rehearsal space during shows to improvisers) and our Annex Member program has expanded steadily – we are looking closely at the future of that space and will be rolling out some improvements to make it more comfortable as well as some ambitious changes over the next year.


Throwgram Series :  The second year of our Throwgram series is underway – starting with Throwback Night in January and February and continuing with each cast creating a brand new show. The March/April (The Reconstruction) and May/June (Zoom) shows have launched and work has started on the final installment to run July/August (Title TBA)

Monday Series :  Monday nights have featured Show X since we opened – this January, Jill Bernard did a short run of her solo show Drum Machine on Monday nights at 7pm and that began a conversation around shorter runs of shows that are made up of the cast of Show X.

It is a way to take some pressure off our weekend show proposals as well as a way to make those shows more possible for groups like Ferrari McSpeedy and Drum Machine that might take all year to schedule for a weekend show.   They are a limited run of one month and happen no more than every-other-month.

Happy Hour Show : Nimblicity is the other new time slot that has launched and I am so excited for it – they proposed a show centered around an office with a cast of improvisers that could represent your office….if your office was staffed with funny, talented people.

I have wanted to have a Happy Hour show at our theater since we opened and when I came back asking if they were willing to take on a new time slot they attacked the project.  A new show in a new time is no small endeavor and often means putting in a lot of work and to do great shows in front of small crowds while the new time grows (or sometimes doesn’t) and I am so grateful they are doing it.

Ongoing shows: One major change we made this year was to break up ongoing shows (shows without a set closing date) to make more room in our calendar for shows and to give groups like The Mess and Bearded Men some well-deserved time off during the year – people often ask about how their show can propose an ongoing run and the answer is “Are you ready to take on a 3rd job or run a small business?” because that is the level of effort and commitment that goes into one.

Each ongoing was asked to schedule out 2 blocks of 2 months each – making room for 4 additional shows on our stage this year.

2015 : We have been working constantly on booking shows to try and keep up with the numerous proposals that come to us – always trying to balance between scheduling too far out and working to give upcoming shows as much time to prepare and produce as they need – and I’m happy to announce that our weekend shows are almost completely booked for the rest of the year!

The upcoming weekend schedule includes Drew & Matt, Think Fast, Horsetown, more Off Book, Bearded Men and The Mess, a “Triple Double” of Kiss Kiss Slap/Liv&Bradley/Polar Bear Centric, The Painters, the traditional shows like Creature Feature, Survivors of the Undead Plague, Star Trek, Interplanetary Appeal’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” as well as the return of Family Dinner and Poivre – and more!

We are still scheduling Wednesday shows, which have become the best testing/proving ground for shows, as well as the ongoing Improv A Go Go on Sundays.

Neutrino : One title that is purposely missing from the list above is the Neutrino Video Project – it is an improvised movie that is performed outside the theater, shot and projected while the audience watches it happen.  HUGE was granted permission to produce the show but it is something we’ve had to delay due to a number of factors, not least of which was the need for new/upgraded equipment to make the show possible – which meant holding while we awaited word on things that have a large impact on our budget, like General Operating support – and then we had to look ahead at not only scheduling enough of a rehearsal process to launch the show, but also timing it so we weren’t launching a show that shot outdoors in the dead of winter.

When everything came together, the timing was wrong and we are going to do this right rather than rushed so we made the call to wait – which is as difficult for me as anyone – but I can announce that we are going to hold auditions for Neutrino this September.

Dates and specifics of Neutrino auditions and shows will be announced and posted on August 13th – the day of our annual Happy Hour with The Board after the Fringe Festival. 

IAGG Anniversary – May 17th

This May we celebrate THIRTEEN YEARS of the Improv A Go-Go with performances by Ferrari McSpeedy, Five Man Job, Horseface and Local Music Scene!

As always, our thanks go out to John Sweeney, Jenni Lilledahl and the Brave New Workshop for giving the IAGG a home on their stage and a place to grow. So many wonderful things have resulted from their amazingly generous gift.

Twin Cities Improv Festival (TCIF) – June 24-28th

The ninth annual Twin Cities Improv Festival is almost upon us – the final round of local selections is underway and will be posted this week!  The workshops were posted and began filling up in record time, there are still spaces left in two of the workshops but those will not last so do yourself a favor and register NOW

We are happy to announce that the TCIF drink specials, after parties and events are once again sponsored by the Minnesota Fringe Festival!

TCIF tickets will be on sale starting June 1st

Fringe Festival – July 30th-August 9th

(HUGE closes and tech begins July 25th) 

We are once again a venue for the MN Fringe Festival and love partnering with the Fringe – they take over the building on July 25th and we shut down for some much-needed rest until mid-August!

New Website

Our own Brian Smallbeck – who designed and built the existing website as well – has been working on a new website for HUGE that can better adapt our content to mobile devices, rid us of our nagging problems that affect our search results (yes, we know about it), help people write reviews of shows,  put our calendar front and center and add a search function.

Things should hopefully be launching soon.  Brian is busy custom-making the calendar functionality, which we’ve found to be the central thing that our customers use to purchase tickets, but allowed me to grab some screen shots of the new design (there will be show images and information as well – this is very much work in progress)

Front page

New Site Front Page


About us page

New HUGE site


Growing up

One last area – and it’s a weird one to try and sum up clearly – one I tried to talk about very briefly at our Anniversary Show in January as well.   We are growing up as a theater and as an organization.  This is not meant to say we’re getting boring or less fun but instead that just like the space has continued to grow and shape up to suit what we want to do, so has the company.

When we had our last strategic planning session, that was the phrase that kept coming back – we’d like to have a “grown up” plan for touring shows instead of scrambling every time, we would like our staff to have a “grown up” system for scheduling instead of a collection of haphazard, overlapping patches and fixes. That kind of stuff.

It is harder to see and doesn’t always get a reaction, since it doesn’t add a bike rack or anything to the building, but it’s the kind of things that our staff and volunteers and teachers and students and performers and donors deserve from us – and should demand from us.

We recently hired Adia Morris to help in a part-time administrative capacity – she is already going through our systems and manuals and creating some clearer training documents and helping with the multitude of things that would otherwise add up to “we wanted to do that but couldn’t” far too many times – all so we can do this better.

I know there’s fun in being the scrappy, irreverent upstart company that is too busy doing the impossible to answer the phone – there’s also plenty of time and energy lost along the way being far too busy to do even one thing more that we could be spending on doing the impossible even better.

If we are going to ask people to give time and talent and money to this place (and we are, in November – oh yes we are) then they should know that they are giving to a company that can be organized, use what people give to us wisely and respectfully, have a vision for the future, make ambitious plans, have the facilities and equipment to make it happen and give people the support and tools they need while they are doing it.

We can do that AND we can have more fun than anyone else at the same time – That’s what I love so much about this place and all the people here.



WHEW. That’s it…for now.

Thank you for reading this far – again, this isn’t everything, but it’s certainly more than enough to expect anyone to read through.  If you have any questions or concerns or comments, always feel free to email me at butch (at) hugetheater (dot) com.


Thank you all, for everything.

Butch Roy

Executive Director, HUGE Theater

Humble servant, Twin Cities improv community

Hangout Auction Winners

Complete list of Hangout Auction winners – this year the Hangout Auction raised just over $7,000 to support HUGE Theater and keep the fun going!

Thank you to everyone that participated in the Hangout Auction and to our amazing fans that make it happen, you are all awesome and we love you.

A Day at the Zoo with Cicely Robin Laing! Elizabeth Flomo
A Day at the Zoo with Squash Banana! Phillip Schramm
A Day of Chipper Happy Things with Breanna Cecile and Mary Kane! Abraham vanderBent
Apocalypse World with Alex Carlson & Adam McConnaughey Mark Jelinek
Appearance on Next At Bat! Adam Litz
Babysitting with Joe McGowan! Drew Kersten
Bad Headshots with Sally Foster! Heather Humphries
Bad Headshots with Sally Foster! Amy Zajack
Baking Time with Karina & Rosie! Sean Sittnick
Bass/Guitar Lessons with Will Roberts! Lauren Chesnut
Be Awkwardly Stared at by Richie and Bradley! Bree Dalager
Best First Date with Mary Kane! Chad Anderson
Blizzards with the Blizzard Wizards! Liv Anderson
Boozy Brunch with The Brunchy Bunch! David Lipkin
Breakdancing 101 with Joe McGowan! Amy Burge
Chasin’ Waterfalls with Blake Wanger! Heather Baldwin
Choose Your Own Donut Adventure! Jim DeSimone
Coffee and Records with Nathan Rouse! Douglas Cox
Color and Draw with Happily Ever After! David Hadley
Crafternoon Delight with Anna & Meghan! Erin Kennedy
Dining Experience with Bradley Machov! Thomas Cohen
Dinner and Theatre w/ Heather Baldwin: Peter Pan @ CTC – Performance date open! Cynthia Rodriguez
Dinner and Theatre with Heather Baldwin: Jungle Theater! Amy Zajack
Dinner and Theatre with Heather Baldwin: Peter Pan at CTC! Mary Strutzel
Dinosaur Nerd-Out with Sean Dillon! Liv Anderson
Double Date with Liv & Bradley! Drew Kersten
Drunken Milkshakes with Amy Zajack! Kathryn Walby
Eat a Vermonster with Ladyfriend! Dan Ruby
Fingerpainting and Hard Liquor with Horseface! Robert Wagner
Flojack Day of Fun! Nathan Bier
Fountain Tour with Mark Jelinek! Mary Strutzel
Fun French Tutoring with real live Frenchwoman Sophie Brossard! Matt McCloud
Get Your Ass Kicked on Playstation 1 Games with Sean Sittnick! James Magnuson
Ghost Hunting Adventure with Sally Foster & Lauren Chesnut! Debi Summers
Go to a Gas Station with Kiss Kiss Slap for a Treat! (not to buy gas) Kate Brown
Grand Slam with Lipkin and Tweet! Neil Hutson
Group Bad Headshots with Sally Foster! Amy Burge
Group Dance Lesson with Rhett Romsaas! Chad Anderson
Guest Star on Minimum Fare! James Satter
Happy Hour with Nick Rindo’s Downtown Happy Hour Group! Gurayn Sylte
Headshots with Clay Maccartney! Tamara Bredemus
Homebrew Hangout with Colin Ernst! Rachel Ernst
Horror Makeup Application with Carolyn Blomberg! Amy Zajack
Hudsucker River Valley’s NY-style Sausage Pepper & Onion with Cocktails! The Away Team
Hug From Clay Macartney! Eric Heiberg
HUGE Golden Ticket! Tamara Bredemus
HUGE Golden Ticket! Matt McCloud
HUGE Golden Ticket! Abraham vanderBent
Important Shopping with the Gay/Straight Alliance! Svetlana Green
Improv Duo with Jill Bernard! Anonymous Winner
Improv Duo with Mike DallaValle! James Satter
Instagram Adventure with Laura Posterick! Kate Novak
Jack Barrett Will Underscore Your LIFE! Joe McGowan
Juggling with Joshua Krauskopf! Rosie Malcolm
Khan’s Mongolian BBQ with Carolyn & Jill! Meghan Wolff
Learn to play Dwarf Fortress with Andy Turbes and Joe Halvarson! Will Roberts
LEGO Custom Design and “Block” Party with Block…er, Blake Wanger! Amy Burge
Lipkin’s Doodle of the Month Club! Emily Larkin
Math Tutoring with Amy Burge! Jeremy Olson
Mojo Kickball in YOUR Honor! Bree Dalager
Murder Mystery Dinner with Clue: The Improvised Murder Mystery! Jeff Gyllen
Northeast Taproom Bike Tour with Polar Bear Centric! Andrew Kerkow
Penpals with Lipkin! Kristin Warfield
Picnic and drawing with Cicely Robin Laing! Cicely Laing
Pilates with Karina! Jill Bernard
Pizza & Game Night for Horrible People with Cards Against Humanity – Improvised! Tamara Bredemus
Plastic Model Building with Mark Jelinek! Phillip Schramm
Private Dance Lesson with Rhett Romsaas! Elizabeth Flomo
Record Music with Erik Ostrom! Barry Hayes
Red Lobster Feast with License to Krill! Erik Nielsen
Road Trip with Mayhem! Breanna Wilczek
ROCKETS with Jelinek & Halvarson! Rosie Malcolm
Running Coaching with Adam Iverson! Amy Napleton
S’Mores and More with (Un)Happy Campers! Nicholas Muellerleile
Shadowrun Roleplaying Night! Mike DallaValle
Silent Donut Eating with Mike Fotis! Zach Curtis
Skype Date From Home with Emily Larkin’s “Maleias” Emíl! Abraham vanderBent
Snack time with Snack Time! Joe McGowan
Soccer and Drinking with Bree Dalager! Mark Abbott
Storytime with Kristi Kremers! Amy Burge
Sunday Funday with Drew & Matt! Patrick Tracy
Superhero Night with Dilly Dally! Jeff Gyllen
Tabletop Game Night with Matt, Erik, Abe, and Will! Tom Ferrara
Tacos with The Away Team! Joseph Kapper
Tea Time with the Beards! Paul Barrett
Terrible T-shirt Deezign with Terrible Origami! Nate Morse
Theme Park Experience with Bryan Pierce! Amy Burge
Visit the Walker Art Center with The Painters! Rosie Malcolm
Weird Portraits with Adam Iverson! Matt McCloud
Worst First Date with Erin Kennedy! Trent Hanson
Zombie Pub Crawl/Halloween Makeup Application with Carolyn Blomberg! Mike Trost

Big news for the future of HUGE

This post proved surprisingly difficult to begin as I think we’re all still reeling a bit from the news ourselves, even though it’s something we have always included in our strategic vision, took deliberate steps to make possible, worked for years to achieve and never had any doubt that we should be doing….things like this can still be overwhelming when they arrive.

One of the things we did early on when we first secured a space was begin a conversation with The McKnight Foundation to discuss our future and make sure we had some guidance on how best to grow into the kind of organization we really wanted HUGE to be.

That conversation has continued over the years as we pass big milestones and I’m proud of how we’ve attacked some of the more difficult aspects of maturing into that theater — usually the invisible, unglamorous work like growing an infrastructure that works both now and in the future as well as committing to paying artists in a way that can still allow us to grow without putting the work of that growth on the backs of artists any more or longer than needed.

For the working board of a young theater with big, big plans, having a foundation like McKnight that can help us see further ahead has been incredible – and now I’m excited to be able to announce that The McKnight Foundation is helping to support the next steps in the growth of our theater with a grant of general operating funds!

Molly Chase worked tirelessly to prepare and distill all of our big ideas and future plans and dreams into a cohesive vision — we submitted our application and waited nervously but hopefully — and recently got the official word that The McKnight Foundation is granting HUGE Theater sixty thousand dollars in general operating support over the next two years.

I still struggle to put words around “what this means to HUGE theater” but the simplest impact to understand is obviously the numbers themselves. Know that HUGE really does need, feel and appreciate every $30 per month membership donation – and that continues to be true. So having $30,000 per year in general operating support for two years gives us the ability to make small investments in things we really need. This is extraordinary.

But the support of the McKnight Foundation also means so much more to us – including a measure of validation to the very idea that HUGE Theater is built around, something we’ve known all along. The people we are serving are artists and what they create is art.

Ultimately, that is what makes this announcement so exciting for me – knowing how much it will help HUGE Theater to continue to support this art form and the amazing artists that call HUGE Theater their home.

Thank you all – for all your time, energy, support and patience – it means everything.

You make all this possible.

– Butch Roy

Executive Director & Humble Servant



The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grantmaking, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based family foundation had assets of approximately $2 billion and granted about $86 million in 2013. We invest in people, place, and possibility through our support for the arts, education and learning, the Mississippi River, regional economic and community development, Midwest climate and energy, international collaborative crop research, and neuroscience research. Our primary geographic focus is the state of Minnesota, with significant support also directed to strategies throughout the U.S. and in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Learn more, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.