Since 2016, local improv troupe The Kinkonauts have held 26-hour improv marathons to raise awareness of the artistic expression that is improv. It runs for 26 hours straight, meaning the troupe performs throughout the night and the next day as different audience members roll in every hour to watch — even at 3 a.m.
Jess Lindal, co-artistic director of The Kinkonauts, says it’s a chance for actors to push the limits of what they can do. “There’s a beautiful thing that can happen when you’re a bit sleep deprived,” she says. “It takes your ego out of the picture and you can express your ideas in totally new ways.”
Held at The Alexandra Centre in Inglewood, this year’s marathon begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 28 and runs until Saturday, February 29 at 10 p.m. Admission to the marathon is by donation, with all proceeds supporting the Reactor Improv Festival. Find out more at kinkonauts.com.
Here are five fun facts about The Kinkonauts’ annual 26-hour improv marathon
It’s streamed online
All 26 hours of the improv marathon are streamed online — technology permitting — for those who are unable to make it in person but still want to support The Kinkonauts. However, Lindal says there is no replacement for feeling the energy of the show in person.
You’re welcome to come in your pajamas
Lindal says audience members wouldn’t be turned away if they showed up looking like they were getting ready to binge watch a Netflix series. “You’re welcome to wear whatever you feel comfortable in,” Lindal says. “No shame if you want to show up in your pajamas.”
Some actors perform for all 26 hours
Marathon participation is completely voluntary and open to all of the approximately 60 members of The Kinkonauts. There is a marathon schedule and many actors will sign up for all 26 hours to push themselves physically and creatively. In 2019, seven actors lasted all 26 hours of the marathon and were nicknamed the “Marathon 26ers.” That said, The Kinkonauts’ priority is safety and there are plenty of actors on-deck should someone need to take a break.
This year’s marathon has an old-school TV guide theme
The loose theme for this year’s marathon is meant to evoke memories of flipping through the TV guide, but with a twist. “We challenged our cast to create new stuff and test out those ideas that they’ve had percolating in the back of their minds,” says Lindal. With plenty of new shows not seen in their regular programming, including three hours of family-friendly programming, audience members are in for an exciting marathon.
Some spectators get so inspired that they end up joining The Kinkonauts
Lindal says one of the biggest benefits of the marathon is that it sparks an interest in improv for many people and it exposes more people to the art. “At least one person for the past two marathons has stayed for the full 26 hours” she says. It’s not uncommon to see people who came to view the shows sign up and become a performer themselves by the next improv season.