Tour de Farce

What's worse than shoving your hand up a puppet's ass on national TV? Looking like a complete ditz as you struggle to improvise dialogue to distract from your humiliation. But don't let Real Housewife Teresa Giudice's epic fail on Celebrity Apprentice put you off seeing, or trying, real improv.

The Torch Theater, Dearing Studios, Mesa's National Comedy Theatre, and others will show you how it's done at the weekend-long 11th annual Phoenix Improv Festival, with performances continuing through Saturday, April 28, at Herberger Theater Center. Friday spotlights the locals, while visitors including L.A.'s Improv Utopia, ColdTowne Theatre, and HUGE Theatre of Minneapolis will tackle long- and short-form improv on Saturday.

Though audience suggestions are involved, not every troupe's performances resemble Whose Line Is It Anyway? "It's not about being quick-witted or coming up with the best line," says executive producer and performer Bill Binder. "It's about being honest. The best humor comes from when you're not trying to make jokes."

Fri., April 27, 7 p.m.; Sat., April 28, 7 p.m., 2012


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