Submission guidelines

The Countdown Improv Festival is returning to the HCC Ybor Performing Arts Building in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Florida, for its fourth year. The festival will run from August 13-15, 2020. It promises to be our biggest and best yet, and we couldn’t be more excited.

The submission window will be open through May 15. Due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic and its corresponding effect on the economy, we have decided to waive all submission fees this year. Accepted performers will be notified by no later than June 1.

Before submitting your troupe to the festival, please take three minutes to read these submission guidelines. Thank you for your interest in the Countdown Improv Festival, and we look forward to reviewing your submission!

Troupe size

As the only national festival dedicated exclusively to small-group improv comedy, the Countdown Improv Festival accepts groups in configurations of one, two, and three performers only. If your group contains more people than that, we can recommend some other top-notch festivals to which you should apply. All submissions (including videos) should reflect the group’s lineup as it would appear at the festival if accepted.

Early vs. regular submission window

We encourage you to submit early! That said, submissions will be not be judged until the end of the submission period. (In other words, early submissions are not privileged over later ones in the evaluation process.) Early acceptances will not be provided.

Countdown Improv Festival and COVID-19

As stated above, we have decided to waive all submission fees this year due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. As of April 18, we are still tentatively planning to hold this year’s festival in August, despite the novel coronavirus pandemic. Our team is assessing the situation every 15 days, and will make its final decision by no later than June 1. At that point, we will either decide to proceed with the festival as planned, cancel it entirely, or postpone until later this year. Our primary concern is the safety of all participants, and we will only proceed in August if we feel confident in our ability to do so in a safe and sanitary manner, corresponding to the latest public health guidelines. Whatever we decide, we will notify all applicants and post about our decision here and on all festival social media channels. Thank you for bearing with us.

“Playtime with Patrick and Preston have found a new favorite festival. Countdown Improv Festival was one of the most, if not the most, fun times we’ve ever had at a festival.” –Patrick Newson, Chicago

Experiments welcome

The Countdown Improv Festival welcomes and celebrates experimental work. If you’re wondering whether or not your show is too weird for us, don’t worry, it probably isn’t!

Performance video

It is important to include a representative performance video with your submission. A video, more than anything else, gives the selection committee the best sense for not only the caliber and quality of your show, but how to program your troupe/solo act within a lineup if you are accepted. Please know that your submission will be at a disadvantage if it does not include a video.

***NOTE: We realize that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it much harder for many troupes to get a good performance video this year. If you find yourself in this situation, never fear: We’re willing to work with you. Just note your situation on your application, and give us as detailed a description as possible of the sort of show you hope to perform at the festival. We’ll do our best to give your troupe all due consideration.***

Tips on preparing your video

  • Above all else, if you’re choosing from several videos, pick the one that you like the most. Give us a video that you think best represents your troupe and the sort of show you would be excited to perform at the festival.
  • Test your video quality, camera angles, and sound quality beforehand. If any of those three factors strike you as unsatisfactory, please consider submitting a different tape. We’ve gotten more than a few videos with really poor production values, and it is hard to accurately evaluate a tape where you cannot hear or see the performers.
  • Make sure your entire cast is in the video you’re submitting. We want to see your show as it would appear on the HCC stage.
  • We’re looking for full-length performance videos; no clips, highlight reels, or trailers, please. Film your entire show, from intro to blackout.

Thank you for submitting your troupe to this year’s festival! If you have any questions that weren’t covered here, please email us at countdownimprovfestival at gmail dot com.

Click here to go back to the submissions page.