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 every Monday night in the Armando Show at iO.
Bill Arnett has been a popular teacher at iO since 2005. He has traveled extensively teaching at improv festivals and in workshops around the country as well as in Canada, Australia and the U.K. As a performer Bill has been at iO for 12 years. He has performed with award-winning sketch group Maximum Party Zone and the iO house team People of Earth. He can currently be seen in the hit shows 3033 and The Armando Diaz Experience. He attended the University of Florida where he wrote and performed with Theatre Strike Force, the theater department’s sketch and improv group. He studied electrical engineering.
Check out Bill’s well regarded improv blog.
Dave Asher graduated with a BA in Drama from Northwestern University in 1999. At Northwestern, he performed in its sketch-improv group The Mee-Ow Show (1999) as well as in The Titanic Players troupe (1996-1997). While in school, he took the iO classes and then performed on the iO house team Valhalla from 1996 to 1999. After graduation in ‘99, he moved to Amsterdam in The Netherlands to perform improv and sketch in Boom! Chicago (1999-2004). In addition to hundreds of shows in the 300 seat home theater, he did Boom! shows at private events, music festivals, universities, and a week on the Second City main stage as part of the Comedy Swap in 2002. Dave returned to Chicago in 2004. He joined the company of Child’s Play Touring Theater and toured the country performing adaptations of stories and poems written by children (2005-2006). Dave has also worked in improv as a musician. He music directed with The Second City National Touring Company (2004) and has been the Music Director of The iO since 2006. As an improv teacher, he has taught classes and workshops at iO since 2006. He coached the harold team The Republic (2007-2008) and is currently the director of the iO musical house team The Del Tones. At Northwestern, he taught improv to theater majors. In Amsterdam, he served as Boom! Chicago’s head improv instructor for two years, training improv hopefuls as well as businessmen and women having their first taste of improv presented as team building.
Joe Bill is one of the co-founders of 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”. Bill has coached and performed with numerous ensembles at iO from 1985-1987 and 1995-present. Highlights include Georgia Pacific and the innovative lights out long-form, “The Bat”. He currently performs with the improv supergroup Weasilicious and co-stars with fellow Annoyance co-founder Mark Sutton, in the nationally touring production “Bassprov”, which headlined the 2003 Chicago Improv Festival with special guest Fred Willard. “Bassprov” has toured the United States since 2002, and also was named one of the top 10 comedy shows in Toronto in that same year. 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 started doing improv in 1977.
Marla Caceres has been improvising, writing, and teaching in Chicago since 2001. At iO, she’s on the Harold team Henrietta Pussycat, is a founding member of Whirled News Tonight, and plays regularly in the Armando Diaz Experience. At Second City, Marla’s performed with Second City Communications, aboard the NCL Dawn, and as part of the cast of El Show Mas Funny in Miami. Marla is also a company member of Barrel of Monkeys, a writer/performer in acclaimed sketch group PennyBear, and was in the Jeff-Award nominated cast of Piven Theatre’s Because They Have No Words. She loves playing with lady groups Mountain Dawn and Maria, and has taught improv to 8 and 9-year-olds and equally rambunctious Northwestern University MBA students.
Shows: Whirled News Tonight
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 with Quincy and The Improvised Shakespeare Company at iO, and also with Chrysalis Clark, The Big Yellow Bus, Homey Loves Chachi and The Beatbox.
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 can be currently be seen improvising with the Armando Diaz Experience. He 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.”
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 three theatres (CSz, iO, and SC) in town, 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.
Teams: Chaos Theory
Colleen Doyle grew up, and became terrified of professional sports, in Cleveland. There she wrote greeting cards and performed with The Second City. Since then she has had the good fortune to play all the way from Maine to Ireland to the waters of the Caribbean. Currently Colleen can be seen with the ensembles Mountain Dawn, Dummy, Ringo Starr and Virgin Daiquiri. She is very happy to teach at iO and grateful for all those who’ve gently shoved her along the way.
Teams: Virgin Daiquiri
In 1999 Todd W. Edwards moved from Richmond, Virginia to Chicago to study at the famed Improv Olympic Training Center. A decade after that move he is happy to join the faculty. Dreams do come true if you are tenacious enough. Todd can be seen downstairs in the cabaret space playing with Classic Thunder.
Teams: Chaos Theory
Jet understands her fortune to play and travel with The Reckoning. She also performs in The Armando Diaz Experience and in the scripted show Jet and Holly Present. She currently teaches level 4 at IO and level 3 at The Second City Conservatory. She also works with the Theater of the Oppressed to create a fusion between dance and theater. She is in the process of getting her masters to teach movement and improv at a university level.
Dina Facklis has been studying improvisation in Chicago since 1994. At iO, She has been fortunate enough to play with The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience, The Pat Shay Dancers, Cuffs, Virgin Daiquiri, & Stubs. Dina has also performed and directed for The Second City
National Touring Company.
Teams: Virgin Daiquiri
Noah Gregoropoulos has been performing, directing and teaching improvisation for over eighteen 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, as well as free-lance workshops throughout the U.S. and Europe. As an improvisational performer, he has played on several house teams at iO including his current team, Carl and the Passions. He was a founding member of the critically acclaimed troupes Jazz Freddy and Atlantis, toured much of the English speaking world with “Modern Problems in Science” and was part of the original cast of iO’s “Armando Diaz Experience”, in which he still performs every Monday. As a director, Gregoropoulos mounted “Lois Kaz” the first-ever long-form improvisation show at Second City, “Close Quarters” which has become a standard form for advanced improv classes and troupes, and the first Atlantis show, along with several other lesser efforts that don’t warrant mentioning. he directed the revue “If the White House is a Rockin’, Don’t Come a-Knockin’” at Second City’s e.t.c., as well as two of The Second City National Touring Companies. Gregoropoulos has appeared in films, plays and on television and radio (big whoop), and was a staff writer on the ABC sitcom, “Dharma and Greg.”
Teams: Carl & The Passions
Jeff Griggs 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.
Teams: Deep Schwa
Paul Grondy has been improvising for 15 years. While performing each Wednesday night at the iO, with Carl & The Passions, Paul can also be seen improvising on Monday nights in The Armando Diaz Show.
Teams: Carl & The Passions
Lyndsay Hailey is proud member of the iO family. Lyndsay has written, produced and directed a number of sketch shows at iO, most notably 30% Chance of Hailey, 40% Chance of Hailey, and The Lyndsay Hailey Variety Hour. The Chicago Reader named 30% Chance of Hailey Critic’s Choice in 2009, calling the show “one of the best, most inventive solo productions in years.” Lyndsay recently retired from The Second City National Touring Company and is looking forward to producing more videos with her production company, Chance of Hailey Productions. Check out Lyndsay’s website www.chanceofhailey.com or her youtube channel www.youtube.com/chanceofhailey. You can catch her improvising at iO in The Deltones and Armando. Oh and she loves and respects her family, her friends, and the supportive Chicago comedy community, who are also her family and friends.
FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF THE iO THEATER
Charna Halpern has been teaching performers how to work together for more than 25 years. Having founded the world famous iO 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, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and MADtv, supplying Hollywood with writers and performers. She is the author of the improv training manuals Truth in Comedy and Art By Committee.
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. He has headed the iO Comedy Writing Program since 2008.
Teams: Gold Star
Barry hails from tiny, pastoral Mechanicsville, Virginia. He has been learning, performing and directing at iO for the last few years. A founding member of the house team Bullet Lounge, he has also been lucky enough to perform in smaller, scrappier outfits with names like Swim Buddies, Black Ted Williams, Tha Weave, Davey DickRocket and Traffic & Weather. He has also performed at The Chicago Improv Festival, The Del Close Marathon, The Toronto Improv Festival and Chicago Sketchfest. He was most recently involved in a remount of Close Quarters and is proud enough of that fact to place it at the end of his bio.
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 Del Close, who directed Cesar in the group “The Lindbergh Babies”, the first graduation class to have an actual run of shows that went on for two and a half years.
He has coached and performed with numerous teams and also teaches improv around the country in academic and corporate workshops.
His performance experience includes playing with The Playground Theater, The Noble Fool Theater, ASSSSCAT (UCB-LA), iO West, and he’s also an alumnus of The Second City Touring Company.
Cesar currently plays with the critically acclaimed show “Felt” and iO’s most popular show, “The Armando Diaz Experience and Hootenanny”.
He is very honored and grateful to be teaching at iO.
Teams: Smokin' Hot Dad
Mike Johnson is a Chicago native that 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. He currently performs at iO with Dinner Bell, Felt and Sears Tower and is the current coach of Meridian. Past shows include Our Feature Presentation Presents the Improvised Movie, Dinner for Six and last but not least a short stint as host of The Jam. Mike is a graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago and holds a degree in Finance
Teams: Sears Tower
Michael Lehrer’s solo appearances include Chicago Underground Comedy, TBS Just For Laughs Festival, the Andy Kaufman Award (Semi Finalist), ESPN Radio, and the nationally syndicated Sports Action Team. Past solo shows include C’mon (Miami Improv Festival), Heartbreaker (iO Del Award Nominee), and Karate Ain’t Karate If You Don’t Hit Nobody (iO Del Award Nominee). He currently appears in Armando at iO Chicago and recently received a Jeff award for Best New Work and Best Revue with the cast of The Second City e.t.c.
Teams: Deep Schwa
Irene Marquette 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 can currently be seen improvising with Super Human and Improvised Star Trek. She is the creator and host of The Curio Show 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. Her latest directing project, a play about a feud between cult leader Jim Jones and Father Divine, will be opening at the new Annoyance space in February 2014. www.irenemarquette.com
MICHAEL C. McCARTHY has worked professionally as an actor, writer, director, producer and has been “special thank’d” in several small, independent films! 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” (the antidote for SNL). After becoming frustrated with actors messing up his brilliant sketches (that damn Bert and Ernie), he began working as an actor/improvisor at The Second City in Chicago, including three shows on that venerable institution’s mainstage! While at Second City, McCarthy started their writing program which currently boasts an enrollment of 1.5 million students. In Los Angeles he continued to write for the likes of “Drew Carey,” Chuck Lorre and many, many Comedy Central projects. He also continued to act in everything from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” to “According To Jim,” to “The Gilmore Girls”—always playing a priest. At The iO West Theater in Hollywood, McCarthy created a second writing program he called 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. 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…
Shows: The Reckoning
Messing, a New Jersey native, is a graduate of Northwestern University. She has performed for over eighteen 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. In addition, she conceived, co-adapted (with Mary Scruggs) and directed the critically acclaimed What Every Girl Should Know…An Ode to Judy Blume for the Annoyance stage, where she also continues to teach. You can see Messing’s critically-acclaimed show, Messing with a Friend, now in its third year, every Thursday night at The Annoyance. Messing is an adjunct professor for Loyola University, DePaul University’s Theatre School, and The University of Chicago. Her standup act with her puppet, Jolly, has been featured at the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend and NBC’s Late Fridays. You can hear her voice on radio and tv ads. Susan has been cut from several blockbuster films, but her recent movie role in Let’s Go to Prison! as a bad stripper in a halo brace, made her very happy. Her daughter, Sofia Mia, is very four, very ridiculous, and very awesome.
Shows: Whirled News Tonight
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. At iO he can be seen in both the musical improv show The Deltones, and the house team Chaos Theory. He has also had a fun time performing with his wife on several NCL ships for Second City, and in their two person wordless improv show “Silent Treatment.” When not teaching, performing, or coaching, Rance also is a headshot photographer! www.rancerizzutto.com
Teams: Chaos Theory
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 Improv Olympic) 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.
The new Artistic Director of the Teen Comedy Fest (CIF Production), Jessica can currently be seen performing with The Playground’s Member Ensemble International Stinger. Since her move to Chicago in 1999, Jessica has performed in and taught at a variety of improv / comedy festivals around the country, including the Chicago Improv Festival. She has played with several improv ensembles at iO, The Annoyance, and The Playground. A former performer with The Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, she has worked with teens at the Audition Studio North, Beverly Arts Center, and several Chicago Public Schools. She developed curriculum for The Second City’s improvisation program and their Educational Touring Company, formerly EdCo. Jessica’s directing credits include teen and adult productions at Sketchfest, Donny’s Skybox, and The Bailiwick Theater.
Kevin Sciretta has been improvising, writing and performing in Chicago for 6 years. In the past he’s performed with pH Productions, DSI’s The Beatbox, Ghettoblaster and for The Second City abroad the Norwegian Pearl. Currently, he improvises with The Deltones, Bullet Lounge and the New American All-Stars, while writing/performing with the Cupid Players and Hot Toddler. He is very happy to teach here.
Teams: Chaos Theory
Jason Shotts has been a part of the iO Theater for the past eight years. He’s been lucky enough to play with the groups Dummy, Henrietta Pussycat, Armando Diaz, OTIS, Willie Nelson Slept Here, Cougars, FELT, Brad Renfro, Mayhem, Chesterfield, Dr. Shotts and Big Rig. At the 2011 Del Awards, he received the Del for “Excellence in Teaching”. He knows that awards mean next to nothing and you should never take them seriously, but he still thinks that one is pretty cool. Meow, meow
Teams: Smokin' Hot Dad
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. Some of other 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.
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 team Deep Schwa and later a member of the house team Valhalla. Craig still plays on Deep Schwa and following a six year run in the two man show Middle Age Comeback, he now plays every week with Prime. Craig toured with the Second City for over two years culminating with a tour of Kuwait and Iraq for the USO. Craig spent the last two years in Las Vegas performing for The Second City at the Flamingo, as well as teaching there too. Craig also played with ComedySportz Chicago in the 2000’s, and has hosted iO’s Jam on at least three separate stints starting all the way back in ‘97. Jam.
Teams: Deep Schwa
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, and is very lucky to be part of the cast of 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.
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. He can be seen performing at iO with the house team Bullet Lounge, Whirled News Tonight and The Armando Diaz Experience. Steve also performs at The Second City and has appeared in plays such as Amnesia and Other Means of Escape as part of the Potomac Theatre Project in Washington, DC. He is proud to be teaching at iO.
Teams: Chaos Theory
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 be seen performing every Friday night with the iO house team Revolver.
Shows: Whirled News Tonight