1. Where are you originally from and what was the improv scene like there?
I’m originally from St. Louis. I was not aware improv existed until I moved to Chicago. And it wasn’t until I moved to LA that I was aware of improv players and theatres in St. Louis. They have a nice community of players there. It just took moving across the country to learn about it.
2. What made you want to start doing improv?
I went to see a Second City Mainstage show for the first time about 10 years ago with about 20 college friends over Christmas break. I was enamored by it. Completely hooked about 4 minutes into watching that first show. I was watching it in awe and had this nagging desire to get up on stage and try it myself but I was too filled with doubt. As soon as the lights came up, my table of friends all turned to me and said, You HAVE to do that!” That’s all I needed. Someone else to believe in me. I signed up for classes as my new year’s resolution to do something that scared me.
3 What stumbling blocks did you have to overcome when you first started studying improv?
I had to get over fear. I still do. I had to get out of my head and trust myself. And I had to stop trying to be funny. I’m a hell of a lot funnier when I’m not trying so hard.
4. How long have you been doing improv?
I’ve been doing it for 9 years now
5. What’s your favorite part about improvising?
My favorite part of improv is the teamwork and the trust you lay on a sometimes perfect stranger. I love when I feel like a scene partner trusts me. I love being surprised. That was more than one answer. I guess I like a lot about it. And another thing, I really get a thrill out of just going on stage without a script with a bunch of people and we have no idea what we’re going to do and we make something happen. It’s really hard and I have a lot of respect for those who do it fearlessly and do it well.
6. What is one of your best memories on stage at iOWest?
I was recently pimped out on stage. My scene partner basically announced that my character was the world’s best stand-up comic and handed me a fake microphone and introduced me. I was a deer in headlights at first. I’ve always wanted to try stand-up comedy but not like this. Not without a single written joke. I had nothing. But my scene partner supported me 100% by heckling me from off-stage and piling on gift after gift so what could’ve been a nightmare scene for me turned into a really funny scene all due to an incredibly supportive partner.
7. What’s some advice you would give to someone that’s starting out?
When you’re in a scene just react to the last thing you’ve heard. Don’t get ahead of yourself and try to script this whole scene out. That never works. Just listen. And react. And go see shows. A lot of them.
8. Who is someone you really look up to in the improv world and why?
Craig Cackowski is brilliant. He was in the aforementioned very first improv show I ever saw at Second City. I’ve been a huge fan of his ever since. He gives gifts like Santa Claus. He makes it look so easy. He’s a very supportive and always entertaining player.
9. Other than your own, what is your favorite show at iOWest?
Trophy Wife. That’s a solid team. With particularly strong female players. I could watch Zabeth Russell sit in silence on stage and I’d be keeling over laughing. ( I hope she doesn’t actually do this)
10. How do you use improv in your professional life?
I use it everyday in coming up with ideas for the show. I’d be screwed without it. As a comedy writer on Jimmy Kimmel Live, you are expected to crank out ideas and jokes all day everyday. Improv has taught me how to heighten, to surprise, to be a supportive team player.
11. If you could sum up iO in one sentence, what would that be?