A Harold Night improv performance from Washington Improv Theater
Credit: Allison Freed

Most improv comedy theaters around the country host some version of a “Harold Night.” Washington Improv Theater is no exception, offering a free evening of spontaneous, unscripted comedy every Wednesday. You may be thinking: Who is Harold and why should I care? Skipping the history lesson (spoiler alert: a guy named Del, not Harold, gets the credit), The Harold” is a popular improv format that starts with a single audience suggestion, meant to help improvisers easily call back funny characters and premises. The content is made up on the spot, but the structure is predetermined. In other words, the pie filling is new every time, but the crust is the same (OK, you get it). Improv comedy is purposely scrappy, using no props, costumes, or set pieces. Harold team “And Beyond,” coached by veteran improviser Krystal Ramseur, starts with an opener called Scene Painting. Improvisers describe in detail “the items” in a room, effectively teasing the crowd’s imaginations, challenging them to visualize an entire world on a bare stage. Ramseur says that “every item has a story” and it’s the improviser’s job to “bring life to the inanimate objects that they are describing.” This imaginative opener jumpstarts the rest of the Harold, linking together diverse worlds featuring both goofy and grounded characters. The evening concludes with an improv jam, where anyone, including curious audience members, can perform. From start to finish, this show has big community energy, bringing together seasoned performers hungry for stage time after a long pandemic, and those fresh from graduating from WIT’s five-level training program. It’s the perfect show for dipping your toes into the local improv comedy scene. Harold Night starts at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at Studio Theatre. witdc.org. Free.