Instructors

Ryan Archibald

Ryan Archibald

A member of the late-great Harold team People of Earth, Ryan has been an active member of the iO theater his entire adult life and has taught, directed and performed improvisation all over the world. Ryan is a Second Citizen and a part of the Boom Chicago family in Amsterdam.

You can see “Arch” perform at iO in The Armando Diaz Experience3033, and Search Engine.

Joe Bill

Joe Bill

Joe Bill is one of the co-founders of the Annoyance Theater, where he performed in and directed over 50 productions from 1987-2000, including smash hits Co-ed Prison Sluts, The Real Live Brady Bunch and The Screw Puppies. At iO, Bill has coached and performed with numerous ensembles since 1985, including the legendary team Georgia Pacific and the innovative lights out long-form, The Bat. Bill teaches improvisation for iO, the Second City Conservatory and Training Center, the Annoyance, the Playground and around the U.S., Canada, UK and Netherlands.

He can currently be seen performing at iO with The Armando Diaz Experience.

Jason Chin

Jason Chin

Jason R. Chin was the iO Associate Artistic Director, as well as the Director of the Training Center for eight years. He coached the Harold team “Deep Schwa” for 13 years and created/directed several longform classic shows such as “Dinner for Six” and “Whirled News Tonight” which is currently celebrating its tenth year of continuous performance.

He has taught and directed improv in the Phillipines, Australia, England and even Gainesville, Florida. He is the author of the book, “Longform Improvisation and the Art of Zen.” He can currently be seen improvising at iO with “The Armando Diaz Experience”

Griffen Eckstein

Griffen Eckstein

Griffen Eckstein is from Las Vegas and has been performing, directing and producing improv in Chicago for the last 8 years. His past teams have included “Coup de grace”, “Thank You Dr. Science”, and “Hunter Family Crest”. He currently performs with “Improvised Star Trek” (which he co-created) and with his Harold team, “Carl and the Passions”.

Dave Asher

Dave Asher

Dave Asher is a veteran teacher, performer, and musical director at the iO Theater. Dave performed on the iO house team “Valhalla” before moving to Amsterdam to perform improv and sketch in “Boom! Chicago”.

Dave has music-directed with The Second City National Touring Company and has been the Music Director of The iO Theater since 2006. As an improv teacher, he has taught classes and workshops at iO since 2006 and is currently the director of the iO musical house team “The DelTones”. (Click on image for full profile)

Andy Carey

Andy Carey

Andy Carey has studied improvisation with iO Chicago, The Second City and the Annoyance. After receiving his B.F.A. in Theater Arts from the University of Idaho he worked as an actor and teacher for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

He can currently be seen performing at iO with The Improvised Shakespeare Company, and around town with the teams “Chrysalis Clark”, “The Big Yellow Bus”, “Homey Loves Chachi” and “The Beatbox”.

Tara DeFrancisco

Tara DeFrancisco

Tara DeFrancisco was awarded “Funniest Person in Chicago” by the Free Press, “30 Under 30” in the Windy City Times, and “25 Funniest Females 2009” in Curve Magazine for her ventures in stand up, sketch, and improv. She teaches improv courses and workshops to people of all ages and backgrounds across this nation, and that’s about the most rewarding thing ever – traveling to elementary and high schools, colleges, and offices all over the country as both an introductory instructor and a professional Comedy Consultant. Tara has taught for all ComedySportz, iO, and Second City in Chicago, both in-house and on location. Tara is a 3-year veteran of Second City Touring Company, a decorated ComedySportz 3-time MVP, and an iO teacher, coach, house performer, and enthusiast. There are no words for how very thankful she is. She can currently be seen performing at iO with the teams “Chaos Theory” and “The Deltones”.

Todd Edwards

Todd Edwards

In 1999 Todd W. Edwards moved from Richmond, Virginia to Chicago to study at the famed Improv Olympic Training Center, now known as The iO Thetaer. A decade after that move he is happy to join the faculty. Dreams do come true if you are tenacious enough. Todd can currently be seen playing with the iO team “Chaos Theory”.

Jorin Garguilo

Jorin Garguilo

Jorin Garguilo began improvising in 1991 in North Carolina at the age of 17. Since moving to Chicago in 2004, he has performed, coached, and taught around the city and country. At iO, Jorin has performed on and in a variety of teams and shows, including “Felt”, “Dinner Bell”, “The Scene”, “Our Feature Presentation (The Improvised Movie)”, “Lindberg Babies 2.0″, “Swim Buddies” and the Harold team “Revolver”, which he is  a founding member of. He has also coached the Harold teams “Mrs. Dad” and “Cutlass Supreme”.

He can currently be seen playing with “Felt”, “Dinner Bell”, “The Scene”, and “Revolver”.

Jeff Griggs

Jeff Griggs

Jeff has taught and coached at iO for several years and is a long standing member of the house team, “Deep Schwa”. Among other groups, Griggs performs with “Meta Five” and “Aphasia” at venues and festivals around the country.

Besides acting and directing, Griggs has also written several stage plays that have been produced in theaters around Chicago. His book Guru: My Days with Del Close is available from Ivan R. Dee Publishing.

Charna Halpern

Charna Halpern

Charna Halpern is the founder and Artistic Director of the iO Theater. She has been teaching performers how to work together for more than 25 years. Having founded the world famous iO (formerly known as the “ImprovOlympic”)in Chicago and Hollywood, Halpern’s theaters are the meccas of training in the art of improvisation and act as a recruiting stop for television shows like Saturday Night Live, CONAN, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and countless other shows, supplying Hollywood with writers and performers. She is the author of the improv training manuals Truth in Comedy and Art By Committee

Matt Higbee

Matt Higbee

Matt has been a part of the iO family for alnost 10 years and has been teaching at iO for over 4 years.

At iO he has performed with several teams and can currently be seen performing with the Harold team “Beans” and with “The Armando Diaz Experience”.


Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Mike Johnson is a Chicago native, a graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago and holds a degree in Finance, and has studied and performed improv for 14 years. He’s taken classes and performed at iO, ComedySportz, CIC Theater, The Annoyance Theater, The Playground Theater and Second City. At iO, Mike has performed with “Our Feature Presentation Presents the Improvised Movie”, “Dinner for Six”, “Sears Tower”, and last but not least a short stint as host of “The Jam”.

He coaches the Harold team “Meridian” and can currently be seen playing with “Dinner Bell” and “Felt“.

Noah Gregoropoulos

Noah Gregoropoulos

Noah has been performing, directing and teaching improvisation for over 20 years. He began teaching at iO in the late 1980’s, and in 1999 he took over the Performance Level workshops when his predecessor, Del Close, passed away halfway through a class session. Gregoropoulos has also taught improvisation at iO West, Second City and Columbia College. (Click on image for his full bio)

As an improvisational performer, he has played on several house teams and currently be seen at iO performing with his current Harold team, “Carl and the Passions” and in “The Armando Diaz Experience”.

Paul Grondy

Paul Grondy

Paul Grondy has been improvising for 15 years. At iO he has performed with several teams and has been teaching for over 10 years. He can be seen improvising each Wednesday night at the iO, with “Carl & The Passions”, and on Monday nights with “The Armando Diaz Experience”.

He can also be seen in the Mission Theater’s first revue, “Trap”, directed by TJ Jagodowski & David Pasquesi.

Nate Herman

Nate Herman

Nate Herman has been writing, performing and directing comedy professionally since 1967, starting at The Second City (cast member and Jeff Award winning director) and going on to National Lampoon’s Lemmings (at the Village Gate in New York and on the road), The National Lampoon Radio Show (writer and performer), National Public Radio (weekly topical comedy pieces on All Things Considered with Warren Leming), and Saturday Night Live (staff writer: four seasons; Emmy nominated writing staff). His band, Wilderness Road, recorded for both Columbia and Warner/Reprise records. Nate is currently Director of Films For The Ear,which produces staged readings of such classic movies as Dr. Strangelove and His Girl Friday.

Cesar Jaime

Cesar Jaime

Cesar has been with the iO theater for over 15 years. In that time, he has had the pleasure – and honor – of studying and playing with some of the best improvisational teachers in he world, including the late Del Close.
He has coached and performed with numerous teams and also teaches improv around the country in academic and corporate workshops. (Click on image for his full bio)

He can currently be seen playing at iO with the teams “Felt”, “Heraldo”, “Smokin’ Hot Dad”,  and with iO’s longest running show, “The Armando Diaz Experience and Hootenanny”.

Irene Marquette

Irene Marquette

Irene starting studying improv and performing with Second City in Las Vegas and has been part of the iO family since moving to Chicago in 2005. She is the creator and host of “The Curio Show” which was originally running at the Upstairs Gallery and has performed solo material at venues including Salonathon, Making Out with Wes Perry and Friends, Chicago Home Theater Project and Core Project. She directed acclaimed reviews by “The Mary Kay Letourneau Players” (Katie Rich and Kate Duffy) that ran at iO and an award winning musical about Lizzie Borden, “40 Whacks.

She can currently be seen improvising  at iO with “Super Human” and “Improvised Star Trek” and the Mission Theater’s new revue, “Trap”, directed by TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi.

Charlie McCrackin

Charlie McCrackin

Charlie has been a member of the iO family for over 10 years and has been teaching at iO for over 6 years.

He has performed in several ensembles at iO and is a founding member of the legendary Harold team, “The Reckoning”.

He can currently be seen performing at iO with his Harold team, “Smokin’ Hot Dad”.

Eric Muller

Eric Muller

Despite being a native Chicagoan, Eric had to move to Houston to start learning improv. He eventually came back home, and has been performing at iO ever since graduating the Training Center in 2008.

He can be seen at iO performing with a new Harold team currently and tentatively called #iOMemories, as well as with the musical improv group The Deltones. Eric is also an ensemble member at ComedySportz Chicago, a creator and founding member of “Thirsty!”, and one-half of the group “Mean People”.

Adal Rifai

Adal Rifai

Adal has been a part of the iO family for over 10 years and has been teaching at iO for over 5 years.

He has coached and performed with several ensembles at iO, and can currently be seen performing at iO with the Harold team “Revolver”.


Jessica Rogers

Jessica Rogers

Jessica Kelley Rogers began performing in her hometown of Miami, Florida. After falling in love with improvisation at the University of Florida (Theatre Strike Force and A.C.I.I.), Jessica moved to Chicago to study and perform improv while pursuing her other passion, elementary education. A graduate of The iO (formerly the ImprovOlympic) and the Annoyance Theater, Jessica, an 8th grade math teacher, also teaches improv to adults at The iO and The Second City. Jessica has been directing The Second City’s Teen Ensemble since 2007. (Click on image for her full bio)

Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy

Michael C. McCarthy has worked professionally as an actor, writer, director, and producer. His professional writing career began at the age of 24 when he became a staff writer for “Saturday Night Live,” followed by two seasons at “Sesame Street”. He began working as an actor/improvisor at The Second City in Chicago, where he performed in 3 revues on their Main Stage. While at Second City, McCarthy started their writing program which currently boasts an enrollment of 1.5 million students. At The iO West Theater in Hollywood, McCarthy created a second writing program (The Comedy Lab) with four separate classes teaching students how to compile exactly what literary agents want to read, thus increasing their chances of working professionally. (Click on image for his full bio)

Former students include: Jon Favreau, Tina Fey, Brian Stack, Peter Murietta, Vanessa Bayer, Matt Walsh, Kay Cannon, Travis Bowe, and Matt Kuhn (and many, many more). And there’s more…

Susan Messing

Susan Messing

Messing, a New Jersey native, is a graduate of Northwestern University. She has performed for over 25 years with Chicago’s iO Theatre, and created and teaches their Level 2 Curriculum which is used in Chicago and LA’s iO West.

At the legendary Second City, Messing wrote and performed in two mainstage revues and directed their National Touring Company. Messing is a founding member of the infamous Annoyance Theatre where she has created roles in over thirty original productions, including “Co-Ed Prison Sluts”, “The Miss Vagina Pageant”, and “Your Butt”.

You can see Messing’s critically-acclaimed show, “Messing with a Friend” every Thursday night at The Annoyance, where she also teaches. Messing is an adjunct professor for Loyola University, DePaul University’s Theatre School, and The University of Chicago. (Click on image for her full bio)

She can currently be seen performing at iO in her two-person show “Blessing”, starring herself and Blaine Swen.

Nnamdi Ngwe

Nnamdi Ngwe

After performing and teaching in Denver, CO, Nnamdi moved to Chicago and has studied and performed at iO, The Second City, The Annoyance, The Playground Theater, and others.

He can currently be seen at iO performing with the “The Deltones”, “Chaos Theory”, and “The Armando Diaz Experience”. He is honored to be performing and teaching at iO.

Rance Rizzutto

Rance Rizzutto

Rance got his start long ago and far away with ComedySportz in Portland, OR. Since moving to Chicago in 2003 Rance has performed and taught for ComedySportz and iO. When not teaching, performing, or coaching, Rance also is a headshot photographer!

He can currently be seen performing at iO with “Chaos Theory” and the musical improv show “The Deltones”.

Kevin Sciretta

Kevin Sciretta

Kevin Sciretta has been improvising, writing and performing in Chicago for over 10 years. In the past he’s performed with pH Productions, DSI’s The Beatbox, Ghettoblaster and for The Second City abroad the Norwegian Pearl.

Kevin can currently be seen at iO performing with the musical improv group “The Deltones”. He is very happy to teach here.

Craig Uhlir

Craig Uhlir

Craig Uhlir has been learning/playing at iO since 1996. He was on teams with names like “Varmit” and “Spank” until becoming an early member of the house teams “Deep Schwa” and “Valhalla”, and later with “Prime” and the legendary two-person show, “Middle Age Comeback”. Hes also has hosted iO’s “Jam” on at least three separate stints starting all the way back in ‘97. (Jam!) Craig has played with ComedySportz Chicago, toured with the Second City (culminating with a tour of Kuwait and Iraq for the USO), and he has spent time in Las Vegas performing and teaching for The Second City at the Flamingo.

He can currently be seen at iO performing with his Harold team, “Deep Schwa”.

Steve Waltien

Steve Waltien

Steve Waltien began improvising and acting at Middlebury College in Vermont where he majored in Philosophy and Theatre. He is a graduate of the iO Training Center and the Second City Conservatory Program and has taught many classes and workshops for both institutions as well as independently. Steve has appeared in plays such as “Amnesia” and “Other Means of Escape” as part of the Potomac Theatre Project in Washington, DC, and has performed with the Second City’s National Touring Company, as well as in three of their Main Stage Revues.

He can currently be seen performing at iO with “Whirled News Tonight” and “The Armando Diaz Experience”.

Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas has performed his critically acclaimed solo sketch show “Comedogenic” or parts of it at the New York Sketch Comedy Festival, Chicago Sketchfest, iO Chicago, SketchfestNYC, the Public HouseTheater, Just For Laughs Chicago, and the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. His epic web series “Ped Crossing”, based on one of his solo sketches, was featured by The Onion’s AV Club and his moving picture work has screened at the Just for Laughs Festivals in Montreal and Chicago, the L.A. Comedy Shorts Festival, and the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, amongst others.

Paul is also a stand-up comic, and is a cast member of Chicago Underground Comedy.

Farrell Walsh

Farrell Walsh

Farrell Walsh is honored to be an instructor at iO. Farrell has studied at both iO and The Annoyance Theater. He is a founding member of the iO house team “Revolver”, was considers himself very lucky to be part of the cast of iO’s last incarnation of the legendary long-form show, “Close Quarters”. Outside of iO, Farrell is the Artistic Director at CIC Theater, and is part of CIC’s house ensemble “Rainbow Deli”. He also makes up one half of the sketch group “White Fudge”.

He can currently be seen at iO performing with “Revolver”, “The Scene”, and with “The Armando Diaz Experience”.

Rob White

Rob White

Originally from Pittsburgh, Rob has been performing at iO since 2005. He’s been lucky to perform in several great shows including: “Close Quarters” , “Our Feature Presentation Presents the Improvised Movie” , and “Dinner for Six”.

Rob can currently be seen performing at iO the iO house team “Revolver” and with “Whirled News Tonight”.