Improv Asylum: Boston’s best comedy act

The Boston-based comedy improv group comes to the Film Center. —Courtesy M.V. Film Society

Improv Asylum comes live to the M.V. Film Center for one night, Saturday, July 22, at 7:30 pm. This successful improvisational comedy show has been performing for 25 years. The group’s title grew from the name “Inmates.”

Based in the North End of Boston, Improv Asylum jokes that it’s “below CVS,” and it has become known as “Boston’s best comedy show.” Norm Laviolette is the owner and CEO, as well as head creative director, responsible for the Asylum’s eight-week comedy training centers. Asylum also offers corporate education programs. Not for those under age 17, their midnight show is called “Raunch.”

The group performs two kinds of comedy. They offer prewritten sketches, like those on “Saturday Night Live.” They also do improvisational comedy, where they take suggestions from the audience and riff on them. For instance, they might ask, “What’s the last thing you bought at Amazon?” and respond with the audience’s answers in what is termed short-form improv. These five-minute segments will add up to a total of 90 minutes. “We’ve been described as ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ meets ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Asylum says.

“The cast were all really great at thinking on their feet, and the whole show was hilarious,” according to a TripAdvisor review.

The Martha’s Vineyard show, the first here in many years, will consist of exclusively improvisational comedy, featuring four actors and a keyboard musician. Kelly Dooley and Trevor Livingston, described as “a large man with an even larger stage presence and unbridled energy,” have been with the group for 12 years. Gerard Littlejohn and Samantha Carty have performed as part of Asylum for three years. “All seasoned performers, they’re a fun crew,” says the group’s managing director of comedy and producer Bryan Daley. “It’s fast-paced, and no one ever gets bored. The more people engage with Asylum, the more fun they have.”

Information and tickets for Improv Asylum are available at