Dave Razowsky joins Whit for the finale episode of Season 1 -- and it's a great conversation! Dave shares from his long, deep history and thoughtfulness in the art of improv and acting -- with his history going back to Geese Theater Company and its programs for prisoners, moving on to Second City, Improv Olympic, an involvement with the predecessor to the Annoyance and so much more. We also get a sneak peek into Dave's upcoming book - "A Subversive’s Guide to Improvisation" - and how it pulls together Dave's philosophy and methodology related to improv.
Be sure to check out Dave's website at www.davidrazowsky.com for further information, video clips and more. You'll also want to check out his award winning podcast - A.D.D. Comedy with Dave Razowsky - which can also be found just about anywhere you'd get your podcasts.
Michael Golding visits with Whit in episode 14 - and it's a deep dive into the history of improvisational theater in the US. In particular, we discuss Michael's mentor, David Shepherd, and his role in the very beginnings of the Compass Players, Second City, iO and the Canadian Improv Games. Michael has a wealth of insight into these early days and the mind of one of the more important people from the very beginnings of improvisational theater in North America.
Andy Goldberg is one of the founding member of Off the Wall — a short form team that has been performing since 1974! — and is also the author of Improv Comedy which is now in its second edition. Andy and has been featured in such TV and films hits as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Golden Girls, The Goodbye Girl, Full House, and the Practice.
Over the course of his improv career, Andy has improvised with scores of fantastic improvisers and well known entertainment personalities. One of them, Robin Williams, comes up a bit in this conversation — which gives an interesting window into the experience of working with someone who might not exactly follow the traditional improv performance models.
Andy continues to teach workshops, and you can find the most current info on those on Facebook.
Ken Davis joins Whit for episode 12 of the podcast. Ken has been a motivational and inspirational communicator, comedian, humorist, trainer, and mentor who has impacted millions of lives over the course of his 50 year or more career. With respect to communication, specifically, Ken has developed the SCORRE Method and related materials to help speakers communicate more clearly and powerfully. While the focus of communication and improv or stand up might be different, establishing goals for a show or performance can be just as important for setting things up for success. It’s a real treat to get a generous amount of wisdom and insight from a successful, veteran communicator like Ken.
Ken’s main website is at www.kendavis.com. There you will find links to SCORRE Training, an archive of episodes for the Secrets of Dynamic Communication podcast, information on his 12 books, at least as many DVDs, and his one man performance of Fully Alive! which you can also find on Netflix, and much more.
You can Ken on social media at Facebook and Twitter.
Holly Mandel has a diverse career — she is a speaker, inspirer, creative consultant, improviser, director, teacher, writer and entrepreneur. One town isn’t big enough to contain her, so you she splits her time between LA and New York.
In this episode, we start with a conversation about improv — including an exploration of character-based improv, which Holly grew up in at the Groundlings and continued in Improvolution in New York and Los Angeles. This episode also goes into Holly’s highly-regarded Good Girls Aren’t Funny workshops and presentations, which explores and seeks to understand differences in gender experiences in improv and beyond.
A great place to survey all the things that Holly does is at hollymandel.com, where you can also get links to Good Girls Aren’t Funny and Improvolution.
Jules Munns in an improviser, teacher, and co-founder of both Slapdash International (London's longest running festival of improvisation) and The Nursery Theatre in London, UK, and also director of Impromptu Shakespeare. He has performed and taught at festivals across the UK and in countries including the US, Pakistan, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Finland. He also hosts an excellent podcast for the Nursery.
In this episode, we discuss the rapid growth of improv in London, various styles and influences on the art there, and even the purpose of improv itself. The conversation may be a bit intellectual and improv nerdy, but it also explores the notion of improv perhaps being at its best when it feels like "coming home."
You can connect with Jules at julesmunns.com or the Nursery Theatre at thenurserytheatre.com.
Our ninth episode is our first with someone from outside of improv. Bone Hampton joins Whit to discuss comedy more broadly, and his experience and approach to stand up comedy. There are a number of insights that Bone shares that are applicable to any performer, and he also shares some great career advice along the way.
Bone was on Season 13 of America's Got Talent, a recurring guest on The View, and has many other comedy credits on his resume along with roles in film, including in All About Steve and Woodlawn. Bone’s has also appeared on ABC’s “Less Than Perfect,” NBC’s “My Name is Earl,” BET’s “Comic View,” and Comics Unleashed.
You can find a lot of information about Bone at bonehampton.com, including his upcoming show calendar. And be sure to follow Bone on FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Episode web page
Laura Hall is someone who improvisers, in the US anyway, will all know. She’s been a consistent and amazing presence as an improvising musician on Whose Line is it Anyway? in the US right from the start of the series. But Whose Line wasn’t her first gig, and it’s not all she does. In Episode 8, Laura shares more of that story, about music and improv, and so much more.
You can find a lot of information about Laura at laurahall.com, including information about the workshops see and her husband, Rick Hall, do on Music Improv, her Improv Karaoke tracks for download and use in improv performances, and her book, The Improv Comedy Musician, which should be required reading for any improv musician – but also any troupe leader where music will be a part of the troupe’s performances. You can follow Laura on FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter, too.
Episode 7 of the Improv Comedy Connection features Will Hines! Will has been improvising with the UCB since 1999, where he started with them in New York. He's now in LA, and performs, teaches and coaches improv with the UCB in LA while also acting, writing, and doing a lot of other things as well. Recently, along with Billy Merritt who was on epsiode 2, Will released the book Pirate Robot Ninja - An Improv Fable -- a very different book from his highly regarded How to Be the Greatest Improviser on Earth. They're both great, so be sure to pick them both up!
Will shares some great stuff in our conversation that will be interesting and meaningful for the working improviser, as well as someone earlier on in their journey. Some great insights on teaching are shared in our conversation as well, so you'll want to listen to this one more than once!
You can find Will at www.willhines.net, on Twitter @willhines, and Instagram @williebhines. We also talked about his Tumblr account and how it was being ignored -- but you can help solve that problem by visiting his site there at improvnonsense.tumblr.com.
In Episode 6, Season 1, Whit chats with Neil Mullarkey of the Comedy Store Players in London. Neil shares the story of starting what has become the longest running comedy show with the same cast along with Mike Myers and others. Since 1985, their team has performed with a remarkably consistent team of six improvisers at the same location with pretty much the same lineup of short-form games.
In addition, Neil and Whit discuss corporate training and using improv to improve interpersonal communication, and the importance of listening and affiliative humor.
You can learn about all that Neil does at www.neilmullarkey.com, and find him on FaceBook and Twitter. To learn more about his book, Seven Steps to Improving Your People Skills, click here.
Lastly, if you are reading this right after the episode drops and can get to London, look for the Comedy Store’s annual show at the Globe Theatre.
Episode 5 of the Improv Comedy Connection features Paul Vaillancourt! Paul’s been improvising since college and grew up in the artform at a really interesting time in Chicago before moving to LA to co-found iO West. He’s an author of the book the Triangle of the Scene and has a rich catalog of tips on improv on YouTube. In other words, Paul has tons of content that he’s produced that can help you grow in improv and you should take advantage of all of them!
The conversation in this episode covers a lot of ground — from the basic, atomic level of improv to the artform in general. In it, you’ll find a lot of rich insights and things to think through.
You can connect with Paul on social media at:
Check out http://improvcomedyconnection.com/2019/09/22/paul-vallaincourt-se01-ep05/ for more info.
Morgan Phillips joins us for this, our fourth episode. Morgan is based out of New York and performs and teaches with the UCB there. He’s been an improviser for 25 years, and to celebrate, he has started a new project called Not A Bit Comedy Theater.
In this episode, Morgan shares thoughts about what makes for good improv, as well as how growth as an improviser changes after you’re in it for a long while.
You can find Morgan at:
His new project to celebrate his 25th — Not a Bit Comedy Theater — is on Twitter @NotABitComedy.
Episode Webpage: wp.me/paJcZS-bj
Nnamdi Ngwe is an actor, model, improvisor, teacher, and writer. He studied and teaches at iO Theater and The Second City and was recently awarded teacher of the year at iO Theater. He and his twin brother and writing partner, Amechi, wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed show Julius which earned him a trip to the New York Television Festival and a nomination for Best Screenplay at the Best Of The Midwest Film Awards among others.
Along with the rest of the cast of 3Peat, Nnamdi co-wrote and starred in The Blackening on Comedy Central. He can be seen as a cast member in You’ve Been Had Celebrity Edition and can also be seen in sketches for The Ringer. In addition to Film, TV, and Commercials, Nnamdi can be seen across the world touring with the award winning improv/sketch group 3Peat, and iO Theater.
To connect with Nnamdi, visit his website: thennamdi.com.
Find Nnamdi on Twitter at @NnamdiNgwe or on Instagram at instagram.com/nngwe17/.
Billy Merritt, along with Will Hines, came out with a book called Pirate Robot Ninja: An Improv Fable. The book expands and explains a theory that Billy developed in his teaching that improvisers are either naturally Pirates (driven more by the right brain/emotion) or Robots (driven more by the left brain/logic and facts) — with the Ninja one who was able to access either tendency when needed in the moment. It’s much more, though, than a discussion of that topic. In fact, it’s almost an improv workshop in book from from two high level instructors.
This episode includes a discussion of Billy’s early days in improv, trying to figure out improv with some college friends out of Spolin’s book, Theater Games, and then with the National Improv Theater before connecting with the UCB. Billy continues to improvise and teach at the UCB in LA — although he first began with UCB in New York. He was a founding member of The Swarm, one of the best regarded improv teams from UCB in New York, and now performs with The Smokes at UCB LA.
You can find Billy on social media at:
Pirate Robot Ninja is available at Amazon in both a hardcopy and a Kindle version. You can also learn more about the book at www.piraterobotninja.com.
Our very first episode of Improv Comedy Connection features Andel Sudik! Andel is an improviser and actor out of LA and Chicago, and also does sketch comedy. She’s a sought after teacher of improv and sketch, and you can find her giving workshops all over the world. She got her start at iO before getting cast with Second City’s touring company and then for one of their stages, but also spent time in Amsterdam with Boom Chicago. She’s had an interesting journey along the way – more than can fit into a single episode – but I know you’ll appreciate hearing from Andel.
Find Andel on the web at www.yesandel.com.
She’s on Facebook at facebook.com/andel.sudik, on Twitter @AndelSudik, and Instagram at Amsudik. She also has a YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/AndelSudik.
Episode webpage: improvcomedyconnection.com/2019/09/01/andel-sudik-se01-ep01/