I’m not going to lie — 2016 was an extraordinarily tough year. When we woke up on Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, 2016, the last thing on our minds was “Hey, let’s go do some improv.” That afternoon, I arrived at the Source Theater around 3:30pm and just focused on setup.
Any distraction to latch onto was welcome at that point. Anything to feel useful and needed became a necessity. I had awkward middle school arms where I simultaneously didn’t know where to put them and also flailed them over EVERYTHING. At the end of the setup, I stood back and looked at the lobby. I was finally ready. We were finally ready to open this festival because the following people made amazing commitments to us.
- Super volunteers: Lindsey Boyle, PJ Tabit, Lauren LaVare, Mari Sakai, Colleen O’Connor, Elizabeth Fulton, Julie Powers, Jeff Salmore, Ginnie Seger, Matthew Strote, Emily Horgan, Katie Honerkamp Lazo, Susan Jacob, Raymond Simeon, Dana Koffman, Heather Marie Vitale, Dan Koffman, Matt Mansfield, Kristen Ruga, Nina Hsu, Cat Bugayong, David Thornhill, Patrick Murray, Diego Hernandez, Tony Lazzeroni, Jess Lee, Molly Graham, Tonya Jordan, Analia Gomez Vidal, Rich Casey, Sarah Spell, Nick Martinez, Jason Re, Carlic Huynh, and Mary Coy.
- The fantastic job of our new board members: Alex Beard, Amy Purcell, and Rob Miller.
- The BEST photographers: Jeff Salmore, Julie Powers, and Ginnie Seger.
- Special thanks again to the Saloon on U Street for our after party. They do amazing work building schools for one month a year, and the other 11 months they’re a killer bar.
- Emma and the crew at Port City Brewing Company! If you had a free beer, then please continue to support Port City. They are always my FAVORITE people and they make incredible beer.
- Mark Chalfant and Washington Improv Theater for their continued support.
- Shawn and Kathy Westfall and the Unified Scene Theater for their new and amazing support. Getting them to join DIF this year was a bucket list item, and I could not have been prouder of the work that took place on Friday at TUS.
- The audiences who came out every night and wanted to laugh. I can’t describe how happy that makes all of us.
- ALL of the new friends we were able to make this year from locals to out of towners! Everyone was amazing.
- Colleen Doyle and Jason Shotts of DUMMY! Just beautiful people and a joy to hang out with after their fucking killer show.
When I woke up Sunday morning, I was quickly reminded of all of the people listed above. The sum total of everything from 10 months of planning and hard work is pushed through the sieve of four days of shows and two days of workshops. It’s an incredible amount of phone calls, meetings, and emails that flood us for those 10 months only to have everything end in only 96 hours.
After getting out of bed, I realized that this wasn’t a distraction. This was something I loved. It passed by quickly, and I want to say that I appreciated every minute of it — from the big belly laughs delivered on stage to the little moments in between with friends, old and new. Time, love, and energy went into every moment. That is the reason to continue, and I’ll never stop working towards those moments.
I’m ready for this year to be over and I’m also excited about what’s in store for 2017. See you next year? Of course! See you next year!
Our deepest gratitude, thanks, and love,
Sean Paul Ellis, festival producer
On behalf of the DIFest board: Alex Beard, Sabahat Chaudhary, Brianna Lux, Dan Miller, Rob Miller, Jordana Mishory, Amy Purcell, and John Windmueller
*John Oliver will not be here for DIF 2017. **
**We’d LOVE to have him, don’t get us wrong. I’ve over explained this again. Fair enough. ***