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Spotlight On: Rach Granillo, iO Theater’s New Marketing Intern

A Quick Note from Caitlin Mahoney, iO Theater Marketing Manager:

I was adding this post to the website, eating my usual Panic at the Wh*le F*ods Dinner (bag of sliced cheese) when it occurred to me that I should pop in and introduce the idea behind our new Student Spotlight series and ‘warm up the crowd’ a bit for Rach – can’t have them coming out here cold! As I peeled another slice of wet swiss from the bag and shoved it down my maw, I couldn’t help but wonder…was I really about to kick this off by calling improv ‘brave’ …unironically?

In its very essence, improv is unpolished and imperfect. It takes real guts to make yourself vulnerable to the possibility (read: “guarantee”) you won’t be perfect when other people are watching. I’m so impressed with the younger generation of up-and-coming comedians I see at iO who are, yes, BRAVE enough to play, learn, and practice with a brand new community. And I know from my experience here that they’re in the first stages of building real, tangible friendships and creative partnerships that last a lifetime. Rach boldly jumped on the scene with a ton of enthusiasm, great ideas, and a warmth that makes it feel like they’ve been here forever…I am so stoked to get to work with them, and so excited to see what they go on to create here. And now, let’s welcome to the page: Rach Granillo!

Hello, my name is Rach Granillo and I am the iO marketing intern. Since I’ll be introducing you to our community I wanted to take the time to properly introduce myself first.

My comedy journey started at a young age but I’ll spare you all the years and skip to the good part. In 2021, I was a year into a graduate degree at UCLA for documentary production and directing. I’ve always been someone who is curious about folks, someone who always wants to know more, hear stories, and connect with others. That’s what led me to documentaries and it’s also what led me to comedy. I was in a major depressive episode living at home with my parents, driving in two and half hours of traffic just to get classes I didn’t care about, and felt utterly lost with no direction. Basically since the creation of YouTube, I have been prone to getting stuck on one or two people and watching every single thing they have ever been in, every clip, every interview they’ve done. During this particular time I had been on a Bill Hader binge which led me to learning about Second City and inadvertently led me to moving to Chicago about 7 months later.

I dropped out of school, started to work in college sports broadcasting, and worked on my first tight five every chance I had. In my commutes I started listening to biographies of different comedians. I learned about Upright Citizens Brigade and iO Theater through Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. Every minute that I wasn’t working I was studying comedy, watching special after special, taking classes, reading books. Then summer came around and I needed a job. One night at two in the morning I applied to a summer job as a camp counselor at Second City thinking there was no way they would hire someone applying from across the country. Little did I know at the time that I had just changed my life forever. Having only done standup a handful of times and one online improv class, I still knew comedy was where I wanted to be. I knew there was somewhere out there where I belonged. By the time my first summer in Chicago came to an end, I knew my place was somewhere in this city. Over my first year and a half of living here I tried out Second City and The Annoyance, being a student and performer at both theaters; I felt close but I didn’t feel at home.

My best friend and roommate had already been working at iO since reopening and now they were hiring. Needing a job yet again, I applied and I’ve been working here as a host and server since February of 2024. In the four months I have worked here I have made more connections, laughed harder, and loved life more than any other time in my life. When I am at iO I feel at home. Working here feels like the start of a really great story.

Sure, I’m just an iO intern and server right now. But Ben Schwartz was just a page, Stephen Colbert was just a SC Training Center student then teacher, and Amy Poehler was just doing weird shit with her friends on stage. Hopefully one day, the goal at least is that I’ll be more than an intern and server. I would say that my inspiration for comedy comes from many places and the “professionals” I enjoy watching perform the most include all three of the formerly listed, Lauren Lapkus, Sabrina Wu, John Mulaney, Kathrine Blanford, Emily Wilson, Bo Burnham, and James Acaster. But that list also goes on to include some amazing folks at iO who I would like to give their flowers now if that’s okay: Sage Houston, Katie Rae Horn, Tyler VanDuvall, Anthony Rossi, Juliana Zepeda, Lucas Pollitzer, and of course, no one makes me laugh harder than the genius, who is my best friend, Morgan O’Dell. Each of these folks, famous or not, have unmatched intelligence and a true, deep understanding of comedy. It’s just one reason why I love being a part of the iO community. The best part of it all really is the people. I get to be surrounded by some of the funniest people in Chicago. I get to see performances five nights a week from the best improv groups in the city and — maybe this is wild of me to say but also — country. Some of my favorite groups are Big Deborah, Voila, Kismet, Dumb John, Swim Test, Sand, and Devil’s Daughter. Each of these groups are filled with individuals that are all killers on the stage that I am in awe of constantly. I leave iO every night thinking two things, “I love my friends,” and, “Holy shit, I can’t believe I know these people.”

I’ve come a long way from watching Bill Hader interviews in my parent’s house, both metaphorically and literally. I miss California all of the time, I miss my family, and I try to get back as much as I can (especially in the winter). But, nothing in my life has ever felt more right than Chicago and the community I have found at iO. I am excited for our growth and to grow with it as an individual. I am excited to see what we do next. I am excited to be a part of it all.

To wrap up, I was told to plug some shows. I recently had a run at The Annoyance of my first solo show titled Dirty Laundry which I will hopefully get to put up again soon. At this exact moment in time I have not been voted out of Improvised Survivor: Battle Royale yet so check us out at iO on Thursdays. I also perform with Girl Party at The Annoyance on Friday nights. My love for comedy is ever evolving, but my first love is standup so I take every chance I get to do it (just in case you want to book me). Feel free to follow me @rachgranillo on Instagram for updates or to reach out.

There is more to come. This is just the beginning. For me. For iO. For all of us.