Thirteenth Annual WaffleFest will host UT improv troupe Gigglepants

Mary Cantrell

Stacks of fresh waffles, unlimited toppings and hours of comedy will take the center stage at The Hideout Theatre for this year’s WaffleFest improv festival.  

The Hideout Theatre will host more than 25 improv troupes from every corner of Austin at Wafflefest. The event will take place from Thursday through Saturday, and UT’s Gigglepants Improv Comedy Troupe will perform at the event. 

Mathematics senior Nicholas Marino will perform with Gigglepants at WaffleFest for the third time. He said improv has gained popularity with the help of events such as WaffleFest.

“We have seen our audience grow throughout the years,” Marino said. “This year we had over 100 people audition. You can definitely see how interest is growing.” 

Marino said Gigglepants has 23 members, and it’s a fun challenge to perform with new members.

“We are never the same troupe; every year we change and grow. Its kind of a beautiful thing,” Marino said. “You can play off each other’s energies in a very comfortable way, and that comes across very well.” 

According to Marino, many troupes at WaffleFest will perform long-form improv — performing one topic for a continuous amount of time. Gigglepants prefers short-form, using suggestions from the audience to conduct quick games, similar to “Whose Line is it Anyway?” 

“It’s refreshing for them to see a different format and different styles of scenes,” Marino said. “We have things unique to us that I think people haven’t seen before.”

WaffleFest producer Paul Normandin said the goal of the event is to get people excited about improv. 

“It’s less about competition,” Normandin said. “It’s that concept of engaging everyone and teaching about improv.” 

Normandin said The Hideout Theatre orders waffle mix and has volunteers from all over the city make waffles continuously during the festival. 

“Just like in improv, everything is made up the day of the event,” Normandin said.

The theater will provide waffle pairings for guests based on the flavor of the show one is about to attend, according to Normandin.

While the waffles offer a tasty incentive, Normandin said the real treat is getting to see some of the best improv teams in Austin.

“Not only is it live theater with live people, but it’s live theater with live people who have no idea where the story is going to go or the show is going to take them,” Normandin said.

Hope Carew, theatre and dance junior, has been a member of Gigglepants since her freshman year. She said improv offers her the creative outlet she needs as an actress. 

“To me, improv is just the purest form of performance,” Carew said. “It’s such an amazing experience to be with people that are your friends and just make something together out of nothing.” 

Unlike the cutthroat improv scenes of New York and California, Austin is more laid-back, according to Carew. 

“It’s a cool way to experience the different sides of Austin,” Carew said. “You get to meet a lot of eager, friendly people who are excited you are there.” 

Carew said having a humorous approach to art makes it more accessible and relatable.

“I think that humor is the most effective tool for social change,” Carew said. “With dramatic works, people get their guard up and distance themselves from it, but, with humor, you can’t help but laugh.”