Recently my improv team, Sophomore Album, competed in Improv Gladiators at Cornservatory. I'm going to be honest and say that I really wasn't looking forward to it at all. I thought it was going to be a bunch of lame short form games with a few weird performers. It turned out to be the most fun I've had performing improv.
Improv Gladiators is a long and short form improv competition between 8 improv teams (4 teams perform on Friday and the other 4 on Saturday) with a set of "Gladiators". Each team gets 8 minutes to perform a long form improv set and once finished they are scored by three veteran improviser judges. After all 4 teams perform there is an audience vote for points and you move on to short form games (also for points). The top 2 teams battle it out in the Finals and the winner is awarded run of shows at Cornservatory.
The short form games are where the Gladiators come into play. You will play games like "Rap Battle" or "No P" against the Gladiators for points. The Gladiators consist of about 10 ridiculously dressed veteran improvisors that are over the top and hilarious. Each have their own persona and they never break character. Basically it's Who's Line is it Anyway with lots of drinking and people dressed like idiots.
The improv space at Cornservatory is fantastic and gives you a lot to work with. The audience has stadium seating and the stage is elevated about 3 feet. The stage itself has a second raised level, two boxes that are mostly used as chairs, and two entryways. It gives you a lot to work with and it's a ton of fun to discover new ways to use the stage.
My team ended up winning the competition and our prize was a 4 week run at Cornservatory at 11pm on Fridays. Each night we did something different and used our time to experiment with sketch, improv, solo works, and drinking games. It turned out to be very successful for us.
My advice: If you're an improvisor looking for a fun show with a lot of talented people I suggest signing your team up for Improv Gladiators. The best way to win is have fun and bring a lot of people to cheer for you, but it should never be about winning. Having a blast with a bunch of other improvisors and making new friends was enough for me.
Cornservatory is located at 4210 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60618