Instructors

Mark Amato

Mark Amato

Mark Amato’s credits include writing for “Saturday Night Live,” “Son of the Beach,” and “Suite Life on Deck with Zack & Cody”, “Baby Daddy”, as well as a spec comedy feature turned ABC/Family hit “Revenge of the Bridesmaids”. Mark began his career working as an assistant at ICM, then at management powerhouse Brillstein-Grey where he quickly ascended to the ranks of executive before heading to Sony Television as Director of Comedy Development. Quickly making the segue to full-time writer, Mark has written in almost all fields of television including sketch, half-hour, Sci-Fi, animation and movie-of-the-week. Having pitched and sold three network pilots before even becoming Story Editor, Mark knows a thing or two about getting executives to turn their heads and take notice. Mark has written television abroad as well, working in Toronto, Montreal and the U.K. Beyond earning shekels for the written word, Mark consistently finds new ways to tickle audiences like co-creating the hilarious showbiz skewering website DAILYANXIETY.com (which Entertainment Weekly dubbed, “wickedly mischievous”), wrote and starred as Jerry Lewis in “The Last Telethon” at the Comedy Central Theater last December, as well as winning the dubious title of “Best Christopher Walken impression” after his YouTube video “Christopher Walken as a Nursery School Teacher” went viral. When not writing, Mark works tirelessly at finding fresh ways to get his kids to roll their eyes at him.

Colleen Doyle

Colleen Doyle

Colleen Doyle grew up in Cleveland where she wrote greeting cards and was a part of the cast that opened The Second City Cleveland. She has made appearances in the indie features Close Quarters and Open Tables as well as the NYTVF Best Comedy Pilot, Shrink. Colleen taught at iO Chicago for the past five years (Teacher of the Year 2014) and performed with the lovely ladies of Virgin DaiquiriBabymakers, and in the first sketch revue at the Mission Theater, Trap. In LA, Colleen can be seen every week with Dummy and Wheelhouse at iO West where she continues to teach and also serves as the Co-Artistic Director. For more information, please visit thecolleendoyle.com.

Molly Erdman

Molly Erdman

Molly Erdman has been learning, performing, and/or teaching at iO since 1996: in Chicago for eleven years, and then in Los Angeles starting in 2007. In addition to iO, she has taught at The Second City, YADA, UCLA, Duke, and all over the country for dozens of businesses. At iO Chicago, Molly was a member of two long-running groups, the house team Valhalla and the Del Close-directed ensemble The Lindbergh Babies, and she also performed in the two-person shows Pie and Deathstorm. She is an alum of The Second City Chicago, where created and performed in three Mainstage revues.

For five years Molly co-starred in a commercial campaign for Sonic Drive-In and has since appeared in numerous national spots as well as television (The Millers, Arrested Development, According to Jim, Jimmy Kimmel Live) and film (The GoodsAll Stars). She is the author of the book Catalog Living at its Most Absurd and a contributing writer for the Bugs Bunny reboot Wabbit. Molly is one-third of The BreakWomb, a weekly sketch comedy web series about the ups and downs of motherhood. She currently performs withVillage Bicycle and coaches the Mainstage Harold team Dinner Jacket. Find out more than you ever wanted to know at mollyerdman.com

Kara Lee Burk

Kara Lee Burk

Kara Lee began writing while working with The Second City-Detroit and various sketch comedy troupes in New York City. Her spec of The Sarah Silverman Program got her chosen as one two comedy writers for the Warner Bros Television Writers Workshop. Since completing the WBWW, she has been staffed as a writer on Romantically Challenged (ABC), Melissa & Joey (ABC Family) and The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show (Dreamworks / Netflix).

She is a member of the Writers Guild of America, The Animation Guild and a proud alumni of the Producers Guild Power of Diversity Workshop. She is currently developing pilots and digital series as well as writing on a few top-secret Hasbro projects that she can’t wait for you all to see!!

Craig Cackowski

Craig Cackowski

Craig Cackowski has been involved with the iO and iO West Theaters as a performer, coach, teacher and director since 1992. As a teacher, he is the three-time winner of the Del Close Award as Teacher of the Year. As a performer, he can be seen weekly at iO West improvising with Bob Dassie and Rich Talarico in Dasariski (celebrating 15 years together in 2014!). In Chicago, Craig performed with the Second City Mainstage and ETC, as well as with Baby Wants Candy, Carl and the Passions and the original cast of Close Quarters. Film and television appearances include Drunk History, Community, Veep, Newsreaders, Comedy Bang Bang, The Mindy Project, How I Met Your Mother, Trust Us With Your Life, Workaholics, The Kings Of Summer, 21 And Over and Year of The Dog. He may also be heard on the long-running podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour, playing such characters as Colonel Tick Tock and millionaire hobo Banjo Bindlestuff.

He can currently be seen performing at iO with The Armando Diaz Experience, Quartet, and Dasariski.

Bente Engelstoft

Bente Englestoft

Bente Engelstoft is an actor, writer and recent Chicago transplant. While in the windy city, Bente wrote and performed for the stages of iO Chicago, Second City and The Annoyance Theatre, where she produced Chicago Tribune acclaimed storytelling show ORAL: A storytelling hour. At iO Chicago Bente improvised with the incredible people of Big Spoon and Heraldo. Now in LA, you can catch Bente every week with Pockets at iO West. When not performing, Bente spends her time teaching people how to pronounce her name. It’s like “Brenda” without the R.

Peter Fluet

Tamara Federici

Peter Fluet is veteran improv performer who has performed at IO West since 2007. He has trained with IO West, UCB, The Groundlings, and the Second City Conservatory. He was part of Groundlings Sunday Company, part of a house team at Second City for several years, and has been on many, many, long running main stage IO West Harold teams such as Bandit, Johnny Astronaut, and the La Fontaine Players. Peter has coached teams for the DCT stage, and several independent teams. He is currently a producer for Sacred Fools Theater long running late night show Serial Killers.

Peter can be seen performing at IO with HeyDay the 3 time Del Award Winner for Best Harold Team and is a member of the cast of Armando.


Greg Hess

Greg Hess

Greg Hess has been performing at iO since 2003, where he has also instructed. As a performer his credits include Cook County Social Club, the Improvised Shakespeare Company, the Second City national touring company, and Baby Wants Candy, among others. He has been a featured performer at the TBS Just For Laughs Festival, Moontower Comedy Festival, the Chicago Improv Festival and Picollo Spoleto. On screen credits include Playing House, The Soul Man, Key & Peele, and he has also created a recent pilot for Comedy Central. He has trained at the Second City, iO and the School at Steppenwolf.

Greg can be seen performing with Cook County Social Club


Barry Hite

Barry Hite

Barry Hite is a senior writer for Second City Network. His web series Get Swole was selected for the 2015 LA WebFest. He was also a staff writer for Tough Season, a web series from The Onion Labs featuring NFL players like Andrew Luck and Doug Flutie. He also co-created the web series “I’m a Fan” in partnership with YouTube Space LA, Second City and The NFL.

He has performed sketch and improv at Second City, Chicago Sketch Fest, TBS Just For Laughs, iO, UCB, and Rahm Emanuel’s inauguration (it was uncomfortable). His first one-man shows: So Very Important and Barry Hite: Charisma Machine were Time Out Critics Picks. He thinks false bravado is only funny in people who aren’t actual dickheads.

Select credits include: Family Tree House Boat Accident, Holy Fuck Comedy Hour, and the Second City National Touring Company.

For more self promotion go to thebarryhite.com


Eric Hunicutt

Brian Jack

Eric Hunicutt has been performing scripted and improvised theatre continuously since he was 15 years old: everything from Shakespeare at Lincoln Center to sketch comedy in dive bars (with a lot of improv shows throughout). Eric has studied and performed with Improv Olympic (iO) Chicago, The Second City Chicago, Comedy Sportz, Steppenwolf, and is a proud alumnus of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a working actor and director in film, TV, live theatre, and performs weekly at iO West, as well as touring nationally with the acclaimed Chicago-based ensemble The Reckoning. Directing credits include shows at The Comedy Central Stage, iO West, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, The Second City (L.A. & Chicago),The Upright Citizens’ Brigade Theateres (NYC & L.A.), and the University of California San Diego. In addition to iO West, Eric teaches at Steppenwolf Classes West, Warner Loughlin Studios, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Cal State University’s Summer Arts, and recently served as a Guest Faculty/Director at UC San Diego.

Eric could be seen performing with  The Reckoning, The Armando Show


Holly Laurent

Holly Laurent

Holly Laurent is an actor, writer, improviser and instructor living in Los Angeles. She holds a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College, and is a founding member of the longstanding improv group The Reckoning.  Holly is an alumni of the Second City main stage in Chicago where she wrote and performed three critically acclaimed reviews. She trained at iO, Annoyance, Second City, Columbia College, Steppenwolf, with Paola Coletto and 500 Clown.  As a teacher, Holly has taught at iO Chicago and LA, the Second City, and independently at festivals and theaters across the country.  Holly has been a featured performer at the TBS Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, the Chicago Improv Festival and Picollo Spoleto.  Television appearances include Key & Peele, Drunk History and Barely Famous.

www.hollylaurent.me

She can currently be seen at iO performing with The Reckoning and Jet&Holly

 

Dave Hill

Dave Hill

Dave Hill is a Chicago native and veteran improvisational performer, writer and actor who has been performing at IO (Chicago and West) for several years. Trained at ImprovOlympic, the Annoyance Theater and the Second City, he was a member of the celebrated house team People of Earth at IO Chicago in addition to performing with numerous other wonderful ensembles including Atlantis and Jimmy Jimmy Do. Here at IO West he performs with King Ten and Cog as well as regularly appearing in the Armando show and the occasional sketch affair. He has done several commercials and TV and film work, but he does not think it germane to this biography.

Dave can be seen performing with King Ten, The Cherry Pick, The Armando Show, Hill / Jones


Zach Huddleston

Zach Huddleston

Zach Huddleston is the Co-Artistic Director and Training Center Director at the IO West Theater where he’s been studying and performing improv and sketch comedy for over 10 years. He performs with HeyDay, the 3-time Del Award Winner for Best Harold Team and he’s a member of the cast of Armando.


Brian Jack

Eric Hunicutt

Brian Jack is an actor, improvisor and writer born and raised in the greater Chicagoland area. He got his start improvising & performing sketch comedy at all the top comedy institutions like Columbia College, Improv Olympic and Second City. He even spent a few years abroad performing comedy with Boom Chicago. He has appeared on television shows such as “Mad Men”, “Cougar Town” and a commercial or two. Brian teaches improv workshops several times a year at theaters & universities throughout the country and of course at iO West!

Brian performs regularly at iO West with The Reckoning on Thursday nights and with Armando on Saturday nights.



Margot Leitman-Curry

Margot Leitman

Margot Leitman-Curry is a four time winner of The Moth Storyslam, and was the Moth Grandslam winner in New York City. Her first book “Gawky…Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase,” comes out this May from Seal Press. She is the co-host of the storytelling shows “Stripped Stories” and “Small and Tall Tales” and has written online for the Lifetime Network, College Humor.com, EHow.com, the Frisky.com and in print for Playgirl Magazine and the NY Press. She is the co-writer of the made for TV movie “Cupid’s Bed and Breakfast,” starring Haylie Duff, airing soon on the Hallmark Channel. www.margotleitman.com

George McAuliffe

Brian James O'Connell

George is an improviser and writer living in Los Angeles. He started in Chicago with the iO team Revolver and is a founding member of the critically acclaimed Chicago sketch group Sad On Vacation. He currently contributes writing to The Onion News Network. George has written and performed in pilots and films that have screened at the New York Television Festival, Sundance and South By Southwest Film Festivals. He has been a featured performer at TBS Just For Laughs Festival, in Bob Odenkirk’s Not Inappropriate Show and has written five critically acclaimed comedic plays at The Annoyance Theatre. George can be seen performing with the harold team Boy at iO West, The Blank Experience Sketch Show and Single’s Motel.

Charlie McCrackin

Charlie McCrackin

Charlie McCrackin is a writer, improvisor and actor from west-central Wisconsin. He studied improv in Chicago at the Players Workshop, iO and Second City. He understudied at the Second City, and at iO he played with the long-running and critically acclaimed house teams, the Reckoning and Carl & the Passions, among others. He co-created original comedy shows The Pilot, Improvised Star Trek, and In Through the Out Door: the Improvised Farce. For the Annoyance Theater in Chicago, he wrote script and book for a musical comedy about cult leader Jim Jones, “The Raven & The Messenger.” He’s been teaching improv at iO since 2005, and worked as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University for three years. He recently assisted the executive producers in the relaunch of MADtv on the CW and is the voice of recurring character Spintax the Green on the popular Earwolf podcast Hello, from the Magic Tavern.

He currently teaches at iOWest and can be seen playing with the Reckoning on Thursday nights and in the Armando Show on Saturdays.

Jason Shotts

Jason Shotts
Jason Shotts has been performing improv for audiences since 2003. He performs in the two-person improv show Dummy (winner of the iO Chicago’s Del Award for “Best Improv Show” in 2013 and 2014) as well as the Harold team Sean & Alex and The Armando Diaz Experience. He’s been teaching improv at iO since 2006 and received the iO Chicago’s Del Award for “Best Teacher” in 2011 and 2013.
He’s performed and taught improv in London, Rome, Copenhagen, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, San Diego, Austin, Houston, Washington DC, Phoenix, Tucson, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Atlanta, Traverse City and Gainesville.
For more information, please visit jasonshotts.com

Irene White

Irene White
Irene White hails from Texas where she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. Hook ‘em Horns! She has studied at the Second City in Chicago and iO West, Steppenwolf West, The Groundlings, and UCB-LA.  She currently studies with Risa Bramon Garcia and Steve Braun at the BGB Studios. Her theatre credits include August: Osage County, The Importance of Being Earnest, In the Next Room, Blue Window and The WomenIrene can be seen in lots of commercials and currently recurs as Carol on the NBC show “Superstore.” She can also be seen in episodes of Modern Family, The Middle, Gilmore Girls (2016), Major Crimes, Friends, Will & Grace, and the upcoming Girlboss on Netflix.  Her recent film credits include “Parkland,” “Dear Sidewalk” as well as Jason Reitman’s “Men Women and Children.”

http://irenewhite.com

@theirenewhite

Nate Sherman

Nathaniel Sherman

Nate Sherman is an actor, writer, and teacher born and raised in Southern Ohio. He’s a founding member of the long-standing iO Chicago Harold Team “The Late 90’s”, Solid Gold Duets with David Montgomery, 3Peat, and has performed in numerous Theatricals with The Second City Chicago. TV credits include spots on TLC and various commercial work. You can find the Dark Fantasy novel he wrote, “Smitten”, on Amazon.


Paul Vaillancourt

Paul Vaillancourt

Paul Vaillancourt is the co-founder (with Charna Halpern) of the iO West and has been teaching and performing improv for over 20 years. In that time he has appeared all over the country including such notable venues as HBO’s Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Chicago’s iO (where he studied with the immortal Del Close), New York’s UCB Theater, and the iO West here in Los Angeles. As an actor Paul has appeared on such shows as “The Drew Carey Show”, the UPN sitcom “Half & Half”, and the Oxygen Network’s stand out “Girls Behaving Badly”. Paul has also had success as a writer and producer, co-creating and serving as supervising writer for the MTV hit “The Blame Game” as well as lending his writing and producing talents to a score of other shows for MTV, VH1, USA, Oxygen, Bravo and AMC. Paul currently lives in LA with his wife Lindsey and his two children.