Los Angeles Improv Comedy Fest underway this weekend

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Los Angeles' Improv club

If you could use a few laughs this weekend, the 9th Annual Improv Comedy Fest is on. Lovers of sketch comedy and improv comedy have a lot to choose from each night, and there are workshops during the day for aspiring performers or simply curious.

James Grace is artistic director of i-O West on 6366 Hollywood Blvd, where the festival is taking place, and executive director of the festival itself. He says "this year is the largest one we've had so far," with more performances and workshops than ever.

He says being in the audience to watch improv live is like going to a sporting event. Like in basketball, you know they are going to score. You just don't know how they are going to do it each time. So in the theater audience, you are in on the discovery process, watching the game unfold on stage.

Two simple words define the foundation of creating an improv scene spontaniously on stage. Those two words are "Yes, and..." The actors listen, agree and then add to each other's creations. Grace says some of the skills of improv apply directly to life.

"Improvisation is all about relationships and hopefully that's what you're life is about as well," he says. "You listen to the other person, support their idea and add onto it."

Applying that in the workplace can lead to more innovation and stronger teamwork.

"When you are in the moment, you are available for any possiblity that comes but you are also grounded," Grace says. And "that's really great in life, too."

Actor/comedian Jeffrey Tambor is receiving the Del Close Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's festival.

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