Jonathan Pitts

Jonathan Pitts (Jonathan will teach at The Improv Shop in January 2017) has been doing improv and theatre since he was 20. He’s the executive director of Chicago Improv Productions. He’s the co-founder & producer of the Chicago Improv Festival (now going into its 20th year), and he’s also the founder & producer of the College Improv Tournament (now going into its 10th year). He taught at The Second City Training Center for 16 years. He’s also taught at improv theatres and festivals across North America and also in England and Norway. He’s created several improv forms & shows (The Collage; The Make Em Ups; The Silent Movie) and unscripted theatre productions (The Oracle; Storybox) that have performed in Chicago and around the world. He’s played in over 1,250 fully improvised shows. He’s a contributing writer to The Second City’s book on improvisation (The Second City Almanac), and been interviewed for several books and a few films on improvisation. He was chosen 3 times by New City as one of Chicago’s Top 50 Theatre Players, and selected as a Comedy Maven by The Chicago Reader.

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Nicole Parker

Nicole Parker (Nicole taught at The Improv Shop in December 2016) is an American actress and singer best known for her work on Fox’s sketch comedy show MADtv. In July 2009, she concluded her run as Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked, a role that she reprised on tour across North America.

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Paul Brittain

Paul Brittain (Paul taught at The Improv Shop in August 2014 and December 2016) is an actor, writer, comedian living in Los Angeles. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 2010 – 2012 where he performed such characters as “Sex” Ed Vincent, Goran “Funky Boy” Bogdan, and Lord Cecil Wyndemere and celebrity impressions including James Franco, Johnny Depp, and Ron Paul. Paul is a veteran of the iO, Annoyance, and Second City theaters in Chicago. Along with Jet Eveleth he improvised and created the sketch show “Ted & Melanie” at the iO Theater, and has performed it around the country. Paul can be seen in the film ‘Grown Ups 2’ as well as other upcoming TV and film projects.

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Michael Brunlieb

Michael Brunlieb (Michael will teach at The Improv Shop in October 2016) is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s been improvising in Chicago since 2007. He improvises on Monday nights at Quenchers Saloon with Sand, on Wednesday nights with Tone at the Mission Theater, and on Saturday nights at the CIC Theater with Papa Legba. He also performs in the Holy Fuck Comedy Hour on Friday nights at the Annoyance Theater. Mike trained at the Paul Sills Theater Center and at iO.

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Thomas Kelly

Thomas Kelly (Thomas will teach at The Improv Shop in October 2016) received a degree in theater from Rhodes College and attended a two year physical theater course at the London International School for the Performing Arts. In his ten years in Chicago, he’s studied and performed with iO, the Annoyance, Second City, and the Neofuturists. He can be seen performing in the Holy Fuck Comedy Hour ensemble at the Annoyance Theater and around Chicago with the improv team, Sand named “Best Improv Troupe” in 2015 by New City Magazine. He is represented by Paonessa Talent LLC.

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Bob Dassie

Bob Dassie (Bob taught at The Improv Shop in August 2016) is originally from Chicago where he studied with many improv luminaries including Del Close, toured with the Second City and co-created and performed in several long-form improvisation shows such as Trio and Quartet (at Improv Olympic) and Close Quarters (at Second City etc). He has appeared regularly in New York at the UCB hosted Del Close Marathon with Dasariski and his two-person show WeirDass (with his lovely wife, Stephnie Weir), ventured out to Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Baby Wants Candy and has appeared and taught at improv festivals around the globe.

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Rich Talarico

Rich Talarico (Rich taught at The Improv Shop in August 2016 and May 2014) took his first improv class from Stephen Colbert at Chicago’s Second City Theater in the late 1900s. Rich went on to tour with SC’s National Touring Company and also co-created five original revues for SC’s resident companies including The Psychopath Not Taken and the 40th anniversary revue: Second City 4.0. As a TV writer/producer Rich has worked for Fox’s Mad TV, NBC’s Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Rich has also written/produced Frank TV for TBS, The Sketch Pad for HBO and The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show, and Key & Peele for Comedy Central.

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Craig Cackowski

Craig Cackowski (Craig taught at The Improv Shop in August 2016) 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 frequently at iO West improvising with Bob Dassie and Rich Talarico in Dasariski (celebrating 17 years together in 2016!) and with Bob Dassie, Jack McBrayer and Jean Villepique in Quartet. He and his wife Carla Cackowski have played numerous improv festivals around the U.S. as Orange Tuxedo. In Chicago, Craig performed with the Second City Mainstage and ETC, and in such ensembles as Baby Wants Candy, Carl and the Passions, Close Quarters and The Armando Diaz Experience. Film and television appearances include Drunk History, Community, Veep, Bajillion Dollar Properties, Son Of Zorn, Girlboss, 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 (late, lamented) podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour, playing such characters as Colonel Tick Tock and millionaire hobo Banjo Bindlestuff, and on Paul F. Tompkins’ all-improvised podcast Spontaneanation.

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Pat Niday

Pat Niday (Pat taught at The Improv Shop in June 2016) is a St. Louis native who began at The Improv Shop in 2011 where he was a performer, coach, and instructor until he moved to Chicago in 2015. He is currently studying improv at both iO and The Chicago Improv Studio and can be seen performing all over Chicago with indie teams Rookie Card (Compass Improv Fest, Endurance Improv Fest, CIF19) and Most Smartest.

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Matt Higbee

Matt Higbee (Matt taught at The Improv Shop in June 2016) is an actor, storyteller, director, and educator living in Chicago. He is a proud member of the iO Theater, where he performs, coaches, and teaches improvisation. He is founder of The POOL, a development and continuing ed program for student talent at iO Theater. For the past seven years Matt has acted as technical director for the TJ & Dave show. The lessons learned watching these great players has become an integral part of his coaching and direction. Matt spent several years as a working actor before turning his knowledge of improv to the world of corporate training and education.

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Piero Procaccini

Piero Procaccini (Piero taught at The Improv Shop in March 2016, January 2013 and March 2012) has been studying improv and sketch comedy in Chicago for over 15 years. He has completed programs at Second City, IO and the Annoyance and has gone on to teach at IO and Second City as well. He was Assistant to the Director for From Fear to Eternity on the Second City ETC stage and has directed a number of groups around the city as well, including Otis, the Crying Diamonds, Carl and the Passions and more recently, the Golden Baby ensemble out of New York City. Performing credits include American Dream, Johnny Roast Beef, Mr. Sir and his two solo shows, One Man Show, a sketch show where he does everything himself (including lights, sound, and taking tickets at the door), and Army of One, an improv show where he does a scene with every member of the audience. He also spent several years as a part of Second City ensembles aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines, performing sketch and improv and he has recently returned from Amsterdam where he assisted in the direction of the latest Boom Chicago review out there. Piero loves teaching, directing and performing improvisation, and practicing it in everyday life.

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Andel Sudik

Andel Sudik (Andel taught at The Improv Shop in February 2016) is a veteran of the Chicago sketch and improv community. She wrote and performed in the Jeff Award award winning Second City revue “We’re All in this Room Together” as well as produced countless successful and well-received two-man shows as Arch&Anděl (The Public House, Chicago Sketch Fest, OoB Festival, Austin, The Annoyance Theater, etc) She lived in Amsterdam for two years where she wrote and performed in Boom Chicago’s Mainstage shows and was a staff writer for Comedy Central News: Netherlands. She is a Chicago based teacher, director and actor. (Faculty member of the Second City Training Center programs; A-E, Conservatory, Advanced and teen and youth program. Notable recent workshops: Monkey Business Institute, OLLIE Northwestern, CLIP U of C, Thy Neighbor’s Goat, Bucharest.)

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Mark Kendall

Mark Kendall (Mark taught at The Improv Shop in February 2016) first got into comedy while studying film at Northwestern University. He had a chance to work at Comedy Central through the Chris Rock Summer School Program for up and coming comedy writers of color. During his time at Comedy Central, he got to pitch jokes to the writing staffs of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Mark performs comedy in Atlanta at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company and Highwire Comedy. He also teaches improv and sketch writing. He is currently touring with his one man show “The Magic Negro and Other Blackness” a sketch show that examines the depiction of black men in the media. For his work with the show, he was recently awarded “Best Professional Funny Man” by Creative Loafing Atlanta.

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Katy Paul

Katy Paul (Katy will teach at The Improv Shop in February 2016) is proud to have graduated with the first class of The Improv Shop’s training program in October of 2010. She received both her BA and BS from the University of Missouri–Columbia where she studies Education, History and Theater. Aside from the fabulous instructors and coaches at IS, she had the opportunity to learn from Susan Messing, Jill Bernard, Jimmy Carrane, Bill Arnett, Bill Chott and Laura and Rick Hall as well as many other visiting instructors. As an improv teacher, Katy has worked with CORE Improv and Compass Improv, where she is the past-president and a current board member, and as a coach for local independent teams. Katy has performed with several local troupes including Magic Ratio, Strange Bedfellows, Timequake and Let’s Make a Scene: The Improvised Game Show. She currently takes to the IS stage on house Harold team Burnside. Katy is an enthusiastic member of the St. Louis improv community and cherishes the joy and love it has brought to her life.

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Cooper Shaw

Cooper Shaw (Cooper will teach Acting for the Improviser in February 2016) holds her MFA in Performance from The Actor’s Studio Drama School in NYC. She studied at Chicago’s Second City Conservatory Program, The Improv Shop and has trained in Improvisation and Physical Comedy with Gary Austin, Michael Gellman, David Razowsky, Ali Farahnakian, Scotty Watson and Kenny Raskin. She received instruction in Acting from Susan Aston, Gene Lasko, Andreas Manolikakis, Stuart Vaughan, T.V. Writer Digby Wolfe (Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In), and Musical Theatre Performance with Danny Burstein & Rebecca Luker. Cooper’s acting and writing has appeared in film, television, commercials, voice-overs, and many stages across the U.S. She has taught at William Jewell College (MO), Second City, New Dance Group, Arias Dance, Artistic New Directions and The New School in NYC.  As an improviser, she has performed at The Gotham Comedy Club and The Living Theatre with her duo “Martin & Shaw”, and in sketch comedy as a founding member and writer with STuFF FiLMS. Cooper is a faculty member at STAGES Performing Arts Academy, is a private Acting coach and is thrilled to be a part of the Improv Shop family.

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Jo Firestone

Jo Firestone (Jo taught at The Improv Shop in November 2015) is a comedian and producer based in Brooklyn, NY. She creates and hosts several alt. comedy shows including The Incredible Game Show Showcase, Punderdome 3000, and Friends of Single People, among many others. Jo was recently named one of Brooklyn Magazine’s 30 Under 30, and Splitsider calls her on of the Top Up-and-Coming Comedians in New York. She is a regular contributor to The Chris Gethard Show on Fusion and her radio show, Dr. Gameshow, can be heard every Monday night from 6-7pm EST on WFMU. Jo is a 2015 Comedy Central Comics to Watch.

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Dylan Rohde

Dylan Rohde (Dylan taught at The Improv Shop in October 2015) is founder of The Backline Comedy Theatre in Omaha. He received his training in LA, and is an Alumni (and former intern) at both UCB and iO West. He’s performed in the Del Close Marathon, the Los Angeles Improv Festival, the Chicago Improv Festival, the Second City (LA) 24-Hour Improv Festival, and founded the Omaha Improv Festival. He has also taught in Denver, KC, and Des Moines, and was recently interviewed on the Improv Nerd podcast. He will also be teaching at the Crossroads Comedy Festival the week before in Indianapolis, and is passing through to teach and perform at the Third Coast Festival in Nashville. His teaching focuses on trust and listening, and most importantly getting laughs.

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George McAuliffe

George McAuliffe (George taught at The Improv Shop in August 2015) is a writer and improviser living in Los Angeles. He started at the Annoyance and iO in Chicago where he improvised and wrote in a number of critically acclaimed shows. He is a founding member of the critically acclaimed sketch group Sad On Vacation and the iO Chicago team Revolver. He has contributed writing to The Onion News Network and has written and performed in pilots and films that have screened at the New York Television Festival, Sundance and South By Southwest Film Festivals. George has been a featured performer at TBS Just For Laughs Festival and in Bob Odenkirk’s Not Inappropriate Show. He is currently the artistic director of the iO West Training Center in Los Angeles.

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Susan Messing

Susan Messing (Susan taught at The Improv Shop in August 2015 and taught in July 2014) a Chicago Improv Festival Artistic Associate, is also a New Jersey native and a graduate of Northwestern University. She has performed for over twenty years with Chicago’s iO Theatre, and created and teaches their Level Two Curriculum which is used in Chicago and LA’s iO West.At the legendary Second City, Susan wrote and performed in two main stage revues and directed their National Touring Company. Susan 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. Currently she can be seen there every week in the hit show Messing with a Friend. 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. Susan is an adjunct professor for Loyola University, DePaul University’s Theatre School, and The University of Chicago. Her stand-up act with her puppet, Jolly, was 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 which was a sure crowd pleaser.

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Rachael Mason

Rachael Mason (Rachael taught at The Improv Shop in August 2015) began her career in improvisation at Skidmore College, home of the National College Comedy Festival, with the Ad-Liberal Artists. After graduating with a degree in English Literature, concentrating on Shakespearean Studies, she moved to Chicago to study improv with Del Close. She trained at iO, The Annoyance Theatre, and The Second City. Her credits include an almost 4 year stint with The Second City National Touring Company, “WWW.com All Over My Face”, “Big Trouble at Hairy Gulch”, “Donkey Improv”, and “Screw Puppies” at the Annoyance. At iO she has played with “The Armando Diaz Experience, Theatrical Movement and Hootenanny”, Monster Island, Jane, Preponderate, Genealogy, The Lindbergh Babies, Swanel, The Deltones, Baby Wants Candy, the iO Road Show Touring Company, and Children of a Lesser God. She was Director of the iO Training Center from 2005 to 2010. She has also been seen in ComedySportz’s The Hot Karl, Second City’s Jewsical the Musical, and The Second City Norwegian Dawn Cruise Cast.

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Dina Facklis

Dina Facklis (Dina taught at The Improv Shop in June 2015 and May 2013) currently serves as owner and creative director of The Chicago Improv Den where she teaches and regularly performs. She has toured with and directed for The Second City National Touring Company and has taught/performed/directed all over the great city of Chicago. In 2011, Dina was honored to headline the Denver Improv Festival as a representative of Virgin Daiquiri; that same year, iO Chicago graced her with the title of Improviser of the Year. In 2012, Dina executive produced Virgin Daiquiri’s first album FOOD BABY, now available on iTunes. Dina now performs regularly at iO Chicago with the critically acclaimed Virgin Daiquiri at iO – where she also co-created CUFFS & DBAG. She has also had the honor of working at Steppenwolf and ATC.

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Alison Gates

Alison Gates (Alison taught at The Improv Shop in June 2015) improvises and plays guitar with Virgin Daiquiri at iO Chicago. She also performs with Casual Encounters (iO Chicago), Shinbone Alley (Chemically Imbalanced Comedy) and the Fallen Elegant. Born and raised in Massachusetts, she too is small and historic.

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Katie Klein

Katie Klein (Katie taught at The Improv Shop in June 2015) began her improv career in Washington DC, where she trained with the DC improv comedy school and performed with Comedy Sportz and iMusical. Now in Chicago, she has trained with iO and The Second City. She currently works with Second City’s biz co, and at iO she is on a Harold team The Late 90’s and performs weekly with Virgin Daiquiri and Superhuman. She is a cast member of the Laugh Out Loud theater and performs at the Chicago Improv Den with her partner-in-crime in their tag-team duo, Ed and Kath . Katie has coached, directed and taught improv and sketch around town as well as in other towns. She also just got really into herbal tea!

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Dana Quercioli

Dana Quercioli (Dana taught at The Improv Shop in June 2015) is a teacher, writer, actor and improviser at The Second City Chicago, an alumna of the Second City Cleveland Mainstage, and began her improv career as a cast member of Something Dada Improvisational Theater Company. Since moving to Chicago, Dana has been a member of The Second City Touring Company and has been to forty-eight states and four countries outside the U.S. She is an understudy to the MainStage and ETC Theaters, and has written a number of both touring and local shows under The Second City umbrella. Dana is also a long-time member of The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience and Hootenany, and the all female phenomena Virgin Daiquiri. She is also proudly a member of three different two-women shows, BabyMakers with Colleen Doyle, Bogota with Cecily Strong, and The Fallen Elegant with Alison Gates. Dana has been teaching at the Second City Training Center for over fourteen years, and she loves it. She also loves Cleveland and her family very, very much. If you have some time to kill, you should ask her about her nieces and nephews.

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Jacob Schneider

Jacob Schneider (Jacob taught at The Improv Shop in March/April 2015 and November 2011) has played with Storyteller, Knuckleball, Tre, San Cliche, and also, ICW, Empty Full of Sorrows, Compass Open Court, Let’s Make a Scene, and also, Reckoning, iO, ComedySportz, The Playground, Annoyance, ISC, Second City Theatricals and also coaches GALAXANDER and also attended Webster University, MIZZOU, & Aquinas Mercy. Jake lives in North County, loves his family, sports, history, and the Lou.

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Bill Chott

Bill Chott (Bill taught at the Improv Shop in April 2015 and June 2014) was voted “Best Improv Coach 2012” at the Inny Awards. He starred as “Thomas” in the Farrelly Bros. top ten film The Ringer, and appeared with Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary. He also makes cameo appearances in the films Galaxy Quest and Dude Where’s My Car? Kids know him as “Mr. Laritate” from his four seasons on Disney’s Emmy-winning Wizards of Waverly Place. Bill performs in LA at iO West and UCB. He’s a founding member of the Armando Show and A.S.S.S.C.A.T.

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Tara DeFrancisco

Tara DeFrancisco (Tara taught at the Improv Shop in May 2015 and March 2015) is a headlining performer at iO Chicago (on the Deltones, Chaos Theory, Armando, defrancisCo), ComedySportz (Mainstage), and a three year vet of the Second City Touring Company. She’s taught for those theatres and independently, at home and internationally. Media-wise, you might see her in a Las Vegas commercial campaign, on Delusions of Grandeur (ABC Family/Blip TV), soon in the new feature film The Life & Death of an Unhappily Married Man (2015), or in several projects filmed for the satirical newspaper, The Onion. She is also the founder and president of The Improv Retreat (http://theimprovretreat.com), the acclaimed and beloved summer camp for adult improvisers in the midwest. In March of 2015, weekly residency of Here (a two person musical performed with Rance Rizzutto) is scheduled for Thursdays at iO around their worldwide tour dates. Tara has won numerous Chicago awards, including Top Performer in Chicago from New City, Funniest Person in Chicago by the Free Press, Top 25 Of Comedy in the US by Curve Magazine, as well as Chicago Tribune Show of the Season for the renegade feat, defrancisCo. Hey – you might’ve guessed by now, but she loves comedy.

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Rance Rizzutto

Rance Rizzutto (Rance taught at the Improv Shop in May 2015 and March 2015) has performed, coached and taught improv for years. Long-form with iO Chicago (Chaos Theory) and other various independent groups. Short-form with ComedySportz and Second City Theatricals (aboard NCL ships). Musical and hip-hop/rap with The Deltones, Baby Wants Candy, and The Beatbox. Even silent improv in The Silent Treatment. Rance has coached and designed team building and provided services for Intel, Nike, AT&T, Wells Fargo, IBM, Hewlett Packard and more. He’s even done improv all over the world, mostly in Here, a two person musical with Tara DeFrancisco herself! He is also known for his photography, hypnotism, and hosting.

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Bill Arnett

Bill Arnett (Bill taught at The Improv Shop in February 2015) is the former Director of the Training Center for the iO Theater in Chicago. He has traveled around the U.S. and internationally teaching workshops in improvisation. Bill also writes and performs with the award-winning sketch group Maximum Party Zone. He can be seen in Chicago where he performs with Armando Diaz and with the critically acclaimed 3033. Bill is from Florida and got his start with Theatre Strike Force at the University of Florida. You can follow his improv blog at billarnett.com/wordpress.

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Chris Gethard

Chris Gethard (Chris taught at The Improv Shop in September 2014) has been seen in The Office, Louie, The Other Guys, Iron Man 3, The Heat, Bored to Death, and in a whole bunch of commercials and College Humor videos. But most importantly, he’s the host of The Chris Gethard Show, a weekly live call in fiasco that goes down on New York’s public access airwaves (and that began as a monthly stage show at the UCB Theatre in Chelsea). The New York Times said Chris is a “short, unassuming fellow with the sneaky intensity of someone with a chip on his shoulder” and New York Magazine has referred to him as “The Carson of Cable Access”. Chris was named one of Variety’s Ten Comics to watch in 2010, was named one of the funniest people of 2012 by Huffington Post, and Flavorwire classified him as one of New York’s 50 Up-and-Coming New York Culture Makers to watch in 2013. In 2012, IFC television “adopted” Chris, making him a public face of their network online, on air, and at festivals, and optioned his book A Bad Idea I’m About to Do for a television adaptation.

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Kevin McDonald

Kevin McDonald (Kevin taught at The Improv Shop in September 2014) is a comedian, actor, writer and director who founded “The Kids in the Hall” with friend Dave Foley, after they met in Toronto at Second City, and the television series ran from 1988-1995. In the troupe’s television series and stage shows, he portrays several popular recurring characters, such as the King of Empty Promises, Sir Simon Milligan, and Jerry Sizzler. McDonald went on to appear in a variety of films including Boy Meets Girl, Lilo & Stitch, “Lilo & Stitch: The Series”, and Epic Movie. On television, he has appeared on “The Martin Short Show,” “Ellen,” “That ’70s Show,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “NewsRadio,” “MADtv,” “Arrested Development,” and “Corner Gas.” McDonald has also done voice work for various animated series, including Nickelodeon’s “Invader Zim,” “The Angry Beavers,” “Catscratch,” and “Clerks: The Animated Series.” He also played an imaginary friend named Ivan in the episode ‘Sight For Sore Eyes’ on “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” appeared in the music video for “Roses” by Outkast, and made an appearance in “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show.” In 2006 McDonald hosted a CBC Television special, featuring several of Canada’s best-known sketch comedy troupes. “Sketch with Kevin McDonald” won a Canadian Comedy Award (Best Taped Live Performance – The Minnesota Wrecking Crew). He was recently at the Just for Laughs Festival with the reunion of Kids in the Hall, and also with his show “Hammy and the Kids” with Craig Northey, based on his two dysfunctional families, his father (“Hammy”) and the Kids in the Hall, as well as “Death Comes to Town” on CBC.

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Laura Hall

Laura Hall (Laura taught at The Improv Shop in July 2014 and June 2013) is best known as the improvisational pianist on television’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?. She was also on the Drew Carey Show live episodes, and has toured the country doing live performances with Drew Carey and The Improv AllStars.

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Rick Hall

Rick Hall (Rick taught at The Improv Shop in July 2014 and June 2013) was a founding member of Chicago’s Improv Institute. After touring with The Second City, Rick opened two main stage shows, John Paul Sartre & Ringo and Catch 27. Rick has used his improv background on the improv based television shows Curb Your Enthusiasm and as a series regular in The Factory. He’s been seen on many other television shows as well, including Saving Grace, 24, The Middle, According To Jim, and Seinfeld.

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Greg Hess

Greg Hess (Greg taught at The Improv Shop in March 2014) is an actor, writer and improviser living in Los Angeles. He has performed for over a decade in Chicago with some of the best: Cook County Social Club, the Improvised Shakespeare Company, Baby Wants Candy, The Second City, and has taught at iO and independently for much of that time. Recently, he has written for the Onion News Network and sold a pilot to Comedy Central. He has trained at iO, the Second City and the School at Steppenwolf.

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Monique Madrid

Monique Madrid (Monique taught at The Improv Shop in October 2013) started improvising in Kansas City and soon moved to Chicago in 2004. She’s performed with Second City on Norwegian Cruise Lines, at iO, ComedySportz and The Annoyance (with Susan Messing in ‘Messing with a Friend’ as well as a writer for ‘Weirdos’ and director for ‘Zahara’s Wake’). She’s part of the comedy duo “The Union” with her husband Corey Rittmaster. Together they’ve traveled across the country for festivals and created marriageisajoke.com, which is soon branching out as a podcast. She’s a writer for the late-night talk show “Talk Hard”, plus her writing has been seen on mcsweeneys.com, rebelliousmagazine.com and theimpersonals.com. She’s also the managing editor for the popular online magazine serialoptimist.com. Monique teaching sketch comedy writing and improv at The Second City, Laugh Out Loud Theater and in festivals and for corporate clients around the country. She can also be seen doing standup, in her improvised talk show “Bitch, I’ll Cut You” and in the occasional TV commercial. More at moniquemadrid.com.

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Corey Rittmaster

Corey Rittmaster (Corey taught at The Improv Shop in October 2013) has been improvising for over 20 years, beginning at ComedySportz in Kansas City, where he also co-founded the sketch group ‘Der Monkenpickl’ with Jason Sudekis (SNL), Jeremy Carter (SuperEgo), Ed Goodman (Second City) and Eric Davis (Cirque du Soleil). He’s continued his career in Chicago where he’s performed with The Second City on Norwegian Cruise Lines, at iO Chicago, the Annoyance Theater, as a “friend” in Susan Messing’s ‘Messing with a Friend’ show, as well as with his wife Monique Madrid as “The Union.” Together they have been all over the country performing in festivals and created marriageisajoke.com, which is soon to be a podcast. He has taught improv at The Second City, Laugh Out Loud Theater, ComedySportz and at festivals in Kansas City, Rock Island and for corporate clients around the country. He’s also a standup comedian, writer for the live late-night talk show “Talk Hard” and can be seen on your TV in commercials for Payless, The NFL Network, Le Cordon Bleu and others.

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Rick Andrews

Rick Andrews (Rick taught at The Improv Shop in August 2013 and August 2011) is an instructor, performer, and Associate Artistic Director at The Magnet Theater in New York City, and has been studying, performing, and teaching improvisation since 1999. He began with Improv Boston, and continued with a stint in Saint Louis, MO. He has been fortunate to learn from many improv greats, including Armando Diaz, Ed Herbstman, Joe Bill, Mark Sutton, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Will Luera, Jill Bernard, and more. He performs around the country with the Magnet Theater Touring Company, The Cascade (Official Selection, CIF 2011), and is a producer of Duofest, an annual festival in Philly, PA devoted to improv duos. Rick has taught workshops at improv festivals across the country, including the Boston Improv Festival, Baltimore Improv Festival, Black Box Atlanta, and many more. He has taught improvisation to people as old as 70 and as young as 6, and has done workshops for Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, and zoos. He enjoys running, putting words on pages, thinking about the brain, and he loves improv more than anything.

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Derek Miller

Derek Miller (Derek taught at The Improv Shop in January 2013) who can currently be seen on the TBS comedy “Wedding Band,” is a 20-year veteran of the improv community. He began in Chicago training at iO and Second City, then took his talents to London and Los Angeles. He has been an improv instructor for the last 15 years and has used his talents as a casting session director, personal coach and a commercial director. As an actor, he has starred in Scrubs, Transformers 3, and Comedy Central’s “Secret Girlfriend” (for which he also wrote) He has appeared in over 50 national commercials (and used improv in every one!)

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Farrell Walsh

Farrell Walsh (Farrell taught at The Improv Shop in September 2012) is the Artistic Director of CIC and a member of its house ensemble Rainbow Deli. He is also a performer and instructor at the iO Theater, where he performs on Revolver, The Armando Diaz Experience, and The Scene. Farrell produced and was a cast member of a 2009-2011 run of Close Quarters at iO that received critical acclaim. He studied at both iO and The Annoyance Theater.

 

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Kristen Studard

Kristen Studard (Kristen taught at The Improv Shop in July 2012) has been performing and teaching comedy in Chicago for 8 years. She trained at iO Chicago, Second City, and the Annoyance and performed all over the country. Kristen has performed her solo show, Small Victories, in the TBS Just For Laughs Festival, SF Sketchfest, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and the Comedy Central Stage in LA. In addition to solo work, she performs with the improvised puppet show FELT, the all-girl supergroup Mountain Dawn and the vets of Mike Helicopter.

 

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David Koechner

David Koechner (David taught at The Improv Shop in October 2011) David is an American comedian, musician, and character actor. Koechner began studying improvisational comedy in Chicago at the ImprovOlympic, under the teachings of Del Close, before joining the Second City Northwest. After one-year stints of doing sketch comedy on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, he began taking small parts in films such as Man on the Moon and Wag the Dog. While filming the country mockumentary Dill Scallion, Koechner befriended Dave ‘Gruber’ Allen, forming The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show. The act became a hit at Hollywood clubs such as Largo, and the duo were invited to open for Tenacious D. Koechner appeared frequently with larger supporting roles in many high profile comedic films including Anchorman, Talladega Nights, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, and Extract. On January 17, 2007, Koechner’s Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show premiered on Comedy Central, giving him a starring role and full creative control. His first leading role, as Coach Lambeau Fields in Fox Atomic’s sports comedy, The Comebacks opened on October 19, 2007. Recently, Koechner has signed a talent holding deal with NBC. Under the pact, he is attached to star in Greg Daniels’ comedy project Friday Night Dinner and possibly do more episodes of The Office, where he has appeared occasionally since the second season. The deal expands Koechner’s relationship with The Office showrunner Daniels.

 

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Jimmy Carrane

Jimmy Carrane (Jimmy taught at The Improv Shop in June 2011) Jimmy Carrane is the co-author of “Improvising Better: A Guide to the Working Improviser.” He is the host of Studio 312 on Chicago Public Radio. He has taught at The Second City, IO-Chicago, The Annoyance and Victory Gardens. Jimmy was recently seen in the films “LOL” and “Public Enemies” with Johnny Depp. His other film and TV credits include “ER,” “Natural Born Killers,” “Early Edition,” “The Untouchables,” “Stash” and “Tapioca.” He was an original member of The Annoyance Theater, Armando at The iO-Chicago and was a member of Carl and The Passions. He currently performs with Burning Desires. He has performed in some of Chicago most innovative and ground-breaking long-form improv shows, such as “Jazz Freddy” and “Naked” (a two-person one-hour improvised scene with MAD TV’s Stephnie Weir.) Other theater/improv credits include: “I’m 27, I Still Live at Home and Sell Office Supplies,” “Godshow,” “Every Old Man,” “Living in Dwarf’s House” and “Summer Rental” at The Second City ETC.

 

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Kevin Mullaney

Kevin Mullaney (Kevin taught at The Improv Shop in June 2010) Kevin studied at ImprovOlympic in the 1990s with Charna Halpern, Miles Stroth, Adam McKay, Matt Besser and Del Close. He performed on the iO house team Frank Booth for four years, as well as numerous other groups including Inside Vladimir and Lazlow. He founded and directed the iO Road Show, the original touring company for the ImprovOlympic. He taught for two years at iO before moving to NYC. For almost eight years, he taught for the UCB Theatre in NYC where he was also the Artistic Director and the Improv Chief. He helped write their curriculum and ran their school while also directing numerous shows and coaching many of the top groups including the Swarm, The Stepfathers, Optimist International and Neutrino. Kevin hosts the Improv Resource Center Podcast, blogs about improv atKevinMullaney.com and you can probably find a lot of things he’s written about improv in the Improvisation forum on the IRC.

 

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Rob Belushi

Rob Belushi (Rob taught at The Improv Shop in December 2009) The son of Jim Belushi and nephew of John, Rob Belushi has performed sketch and improv comedy at The Second City as an understudy for the mainstage in Chicago, as a member of the resident stage in Las Vegas (where he wrote the last revue produced) and as understudy for the National Touring Company, as well as The IO Theater, The Annoyance Theater, Atlanta Improv Festival, Chicago Improv Festival (’07-’09–A two man show with Jon Barinholtz) and the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (’05). His theater credits include; Of Mice and Men (The Steppenwolf Theater), The Lion in Winter (The Writer’s Theatre), girl, 20 (Serendipity Theater Collective–World and West Coast Premiere), Sketchbook ’06 (Collaboraction) and This is Our Youth (Pine Box Theater). Rob will also be appearing in The Gift Theater’s upcoming world premiere of Summer People and opposite John Mahoney in Northlight’s upcoming production of A Life. Film/ and television credits include Sorority Hill (Karz Entertainment), Valentine’s Day (New Line Cinema–in production) The Christians (Splitpillow), Riff Raff (Best Supporting Actor, Tenerife Film Festival) and According to Jim (ABC). Rob received an Honors BA in Film Studies from Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT) where he also studied acting and is also a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf Theater Company), Howard Fine Acting Studio (Los Angeles) The Second City Conservatory and the improv training programs at IO Theater Chicago and The Annoyance Theater. He has coached teams around Chicago for their work at the Playground Theater, IO and Donny’s SkyBox at Second City and taught improv for the Second City Conservatory in Las Vegas. He has also taught workshops at Duke University, Colgate University, Fargo/Moorehead State University, The Fairmont Hotels, Hylant Insurance Group (OH) and Kimpton Hotels.

 

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Jonathan Pitts

Jonathan Pitts (Jonathan will teach at The Improv Shop in January 2017) has been doing improv and theatre since he was 20. He’s the executive director of Chicago Improv Productions. He’s the co-founder & producer of the Chicago Improv Festival (now going into its 20th year), and he’s also the founder & producer of the College Improv Tournament (now going into its 10th year). He taught at The Second City Training Center for 16 years. He’s also taught at improv theatres and festivals across North America and also in England and Norway. He’s created several improv forms & shows (The Collage; The Make Em Ups; The Silent Movie) and unscripted theatre productions (The Oracle; Storybox) that have performed in Chicago and around the world. He’s played in over 1,250 fully improvised shows. He’s a contributing writer to The Second City’s book on improvisation (The Second City Almanac), and been interviewed for several books and a few films on improvisation. He was chosen 3 times by New City as one of Chicago’s Top 50 Theatre Players, and selected as a Comedy Maven by The Chicago Reader.

Nicole Parker

Nicole Parker (Nicole taught at The Improv Shop in December 2016) is an American actress and singer best known for her work on Fox’s sketch comedy show MADtv. In July 2009, she concluded her run as Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked, a role that she reprised on tour across North America.

Paul Brittain

Paul Brittain (Paul taught at The Improv Shop in August 2014 and December 2016) is an actor, writer, comedian living in Los Angeles. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 2010 – 2012 where he performed such characters as “Sex” Ed Vincent, Goran “Funky Boy” Bogdan, and Lord Cecil Wyndemere and celebrity impressions including James Franco, Johnny Depp, and Ron Paul. Paul is a veteran of the iO, Annoyance, and Second City theaters in Chicago. Along with Jet Eveleth he improvised and created the sketch show “Ted & Melanie” at the iO Theater, and has performed it around the country. Paul can be seen in the film ‘Grown Ups 2’ as well as other upcoming TV and film projects.

Michael Brunlieb

Michael Brunlieb (Michael will teach at The Improv Shop in October 2016) is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s been improvising in Chicago since 2007. He improvises on Monday nights at Quenchers Saloon with Sand, on Wednesday nights with Tone at the Mission Theater, and on Saturday nights at the CIC Theater with Papa Legba. He also performs in the Holy Fuck Comedy Hour on Friday nights at the Annoyance Theater. Mike trained at the Paul Sills Theater Center and at iO.

Thomas Kelly

Thomas Kelly (Thomas will teach at The Improv Shop in October 2016) received a degree in theater from Rhodes College and attended a two year physical theater course at the London International School for the Performing Arts. In his ten years in Chicago, he’s studied and performed with iO, the Annoyance, Second City, and the Neofuturists. He can be seen performing in the Holy Fuck Comedy Hour ensemble at the Annoyance Theater and around Chicago with the improv team, Sand named “Best Improv Troupe” in 2015 by New City Magazine. He is represented by Paonessa Talent LLC.

Bob Dassie

Bob Dassie (Bob taught at The Improv Shop in August 2016) is originally from Chicago where he studied with many improv luminaries including Del Close, toured with the Second City and co-created and performed in several long-form improvisation shows such as Trio and Quartet (at Improv Olympic) and Close Quarters (at Second City etc). He has appeared regularly in New York at the UCB hosted Del Close Marathon with Dasariski and his two-person show WeirDass (with his lovely wife, Stephnie Weir), ventured out to Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Baby Wants Candy and has appeared and taught at improv festivals around the globe.

Rich Talarico

Rich Talarico (Rich taught at The Improv Shop in August 2016 and May 2014) took his first improv class from Stephen Colbert at Chicago’s Second City Theater in the late 1900s. Rich went on to tour with SC’s National Touring Company and also co-created five original revues for SC’s resident companies including The Psychopath Not Taken and the 40th anniversary revue: Second City 4.0. As a TV writer/producer Rich has worked for Fox’s Mad TV, NBC’s Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Rich has also written/produced Frank TV for TBS, The Sketch Pad for HBO and The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show, and Key & Peele for Comedy Central.

Craig Cackowski

Craig Cackowski (Craig taught at The Improv Shop in August 2016) 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 frequently at iO West improvising with Bob Dassie and Rich Talarico in Dasariski (celebrating 17 years together in 2016!) and with Bob Dassie, Jack McBrayer and Jean Villepique in Quartet. He and his wife Carla Cackowski have played numerous improv festivals around the U.S. as Orange Tuxedo. In Chicago, Craig performed with the Second City Mainstage and ETC, and in such ensembles as Baby Wants Candy, Carl and the Passions, Close Quarters and The Armando Diaz Experience. Film and television appearances include Drunk History, Community, Veep, Bajillion Dollar Properties, Son Of Zorn, Girlboss, 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 (late, lamented) podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour, playing such characters as Colonel Tick Tock and millionaire hobo Banjo Bindlestuff, and on Paul F. Tompkins’ all-improvised podcast Spontaneanation.

Pat Niday

Pat Niday (Pat taught at The Improv Shop in June 2016) is a St. Louis native who began at The Improv Shop in 2011 where he was a performer, coach, and instructor until he moved to Chicago in 2015. He is currently studying improv at both iO and The Chicago Improv Studio and can be seen performing all over Chicago with indie teams Rookie Card (Compass Improv Fest, Endurance Improv Fest, CIF19) and Most Smartest.

Matt Higbee

Matt Higbee (Matt taught at The Improv Shop in June 2016) is an actor, storyteller, director, and educator living in Chicago. He is a proud member of the iO Theater, where he performs, coaches, and teaches improvisation. He is founder of The POOL, a development and continuing ed program for student talent at iO Theater. For the past seven years Matt has acted as technical director for the TJ & Dave show. The lessons learned watching these great players has become an integral part of his coaching and direction. Matt spent several years as a working actor before turning his knowledge of improv to the world of corporate training and education.

Piero Procaccini

Piero Procaccini (Piero taught at The Improv Shop in March 2016, January 2013 and March 2012) has been studying improv and sketch comedy in Chicago for over 15 years. He has completed programs at Second City, IO and the Annoyance and has gone on to teach at IO and Second City as well. He was Assistant to the Director for From Fear to Eternity on the Second City ETC stage and has directed a number of groups around the city as well, including Otis, the Crying Diamonds, Carl and the Passions and more recently, the Golden Baby ensemble out of New York City. Performing credits include American Dream, Johnny Roast Beef, Mr. Sir and his two solo shows, One Man Show, a sketch show where he does everything himself (including lights, sound, and taking tickets at the door), and Army of One, an improv show where he does a scene with every member of the audience. He also spent several years as a part of Second City ensembles aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines, performing sketch and improv and he has recently returned from Amsterdam where he assisted in the direction of the latest Boom Chicago review out there. Piero loves teaching, directing and performing improvisation, and practicing it in everyday life.

Andel Sudik

Andel Sudik (Andel taught at The Improv Shop in February 2016) is a veteran of the Chicago sketch and improv community. She wrote and performed in the Jeff Award award winning Second City revue “We’re All in this Room Together” as well as produced countless successful and well-received two-man shows as Arch&Anděl (The Public House, Chicago Sketch Fest, OoB Festival, Austin, The Annoyance Theater, etc) She lived in Amsterdam for two years where she wrote and performed in Boom Chicago’s Mainstage shows and was a staff writer for Comedy Central News: Netherlands. She is a Chicago based teacher, director and actor. (Faculty member of the Second City Training Center programs; A-E, Conservatory, Advanced and teen and youth program. Notable recent workshops: Monkey Business Institute, OLLIE Northwestern, CLIP U of C, Thy Neighbor’s Goat, Bucharest.)

Mark Kendall

Mark Kendall (Mark taught at The Improv Shop in February 2016) first got into comedy while studying film at Northwestern University. He had a chance to work at Comedy Central through the Chris Rock Summer School Program for up and coming comedy writers of color. During his time at Comedy Central, he got to pitch jokes to the writing staffs of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Mark performs comedy in Atlanta at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company and Highwire Comedy. He also teaches improv and sketch writing. He is currently touring with his one man show “The Magic Negro and Other Blackness” a sketch show that examines the depiction of black men in the media. For his work with the show, he was recently awarded “Best Professional Funny Man” by Creative Loafing Atlanta.

Katy Paul

Katy Paul (Katy will teach at The Improv Shop in February 2016) is proud to have graduated with the first class of The Improv Shop’s training program in October of 2010. She received both her BA and BS from the University of Missouri–Columbia where she studies Education, History and Theater. Aside from the fabulous instructors and coaches at IS, she had the opportunity to learn from Susan Messing, Jill Bernard, Jimmy Carrane, Bill Arnett, Bill Chott and Laura and Rick Hall as well as many other visiting instructors. As an improv teacher, Katy has worked with CORE Improv and Compass Improv, where she is the past-president and a current board member, and as a coach for local independent teams. Katy has performed with several local troupes including Magic Ratio, Strange Bedfellows, Timequake and Let’s Make a Scene: The Improvised Game Show. She currently takes to the IS stage on house Harold team Burnside. Katy is an enthusiastic member of the St. Louis improv community and cherishes the joy and love it has brought to her life.

Cooper Shaw

Cooper Shaw (Cooper will teach Acting for the Improviser in February 2016) holds her MFA in Performance from The Actor’s Studio Drama School in NYC. She studied at Chicago’s Second City Conservatory Program, The Improv Shop and has trained in Improvisation and Physical Comedy with Gary Austin, Michael Gellman, David Razowsky, Ali Farahnakian, Scotty Watson and Kenny Raskin. She received instruction in Acting from Susan Aston, Gene Lasko, Andreas Manolikakis, Stuart Vaughan, T.V. Writer Digby Wolfe (Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In), and Musical Theatre Performance with Danny Burstein & Rebecca Luker. Cooper’s acting and writing has appeared in film, television, commercials, voice-overs, and many stages across the U.S. She has taught at William Jewell College (MO), Second City, New Dance Group, Arias Dance, Artistic New Directions and The New School in NYC.  As an improviser, she has performed at The Gotham Comedy Club and The Living Theatre with her duo “Martin & Shaw”, and in sketch comedy as a founding member and writer with STuFF FiLMS. Cooper is a faculty member at STAGES Performing Arts Academy, is a private Acting coach and is thrilled to be a part of the Improv Shop family.

Jo Firestone

Jo Firestone (Jo taught at The Improv Shop in November 2015) is a comedian and producer based in Brooklyn, NY. She creates and hosts several alt. comedy shows including The Incredible Game Show Showcase, Punderdome 3000, and Friends of Single People, among many others. Jo was recently named one of Brooklyn Magazine’s 30 Under 30, and Splitsider calls her on of the Top Up-and-Coming Comedians in New York. She is a regular contributor to The Chris Gethard Show on Fusion and her radio show, Dr. Gameshow, can be heard every Monday night from 6-7pm EST on WFMU. Jo is a 2015 Comedy Central Comics to Watch.

Dylan Rohde

Dylan Rohde (Dylan taught at The Improv Shop in October 2015) is founder of The Backline Comedy Theatre in Omaha. He received his training in LA, and is an Alumni (and former intern) at both UCB and iO West. He’s performed in the Del Close Marathon, the Los Angeles Improv Festival, the Chicago Improv Festival, the Second City (LA) 24-Hour Improv Festival, and founded the Omaha Improv Festival. He has also taught in Denver, KC, and Des Moines, and was recently interviewed on the Improv Nerd podcast. He will also be teaching at the Crossroads Comedy Festival the week before in Indianapolis, and is passing through to teach and perform at the Third Coast Festival in Nashville. His teaching focuses on trust and listening, and most importantly getting laughs.

George McAuliffe

George McAuliffe (George taught at The Improv Shop in August 2015) is a writer and improviser living in Los Angeles. He started at the Annoyance and iO in Chicago where he improvised and wrote in a number of critically acclaimed shows. He is a founding member of the critically acclaimed sketch group Sad On Vacation and the iO Chicago team Revolver. He has contributed writing to The Onion News Network and has written and performed in pilots and films that have screened at the New York Television Festival, Sundance and South By Southwest Film Festivals. George has been a featured performer at TBS Just For Laughs Festival and in Bob Odenkirk’s Not Inappropriate Show. He is currently the artistic director of the iO West Training Center in Los Angeles.

Susan Messing

Susan Messing (Susan taught at The Improv Shop in August 2015 and taught in July 2014) a Chicago Improv Festival Artistic Associate, is also a New Jersey native and a graduate of Northwestern University. She has performed for over twenty years with Chicago’s iO Theatre, and created and teaches their Level Two Curriculum which is used in Chicago and LA’s iO West.At the legendary Second City, Susan wrote and performed in two main stage revues and directed their National Touring Company. Susan 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. Currently she can be seen there every week in the hit show Messing with a Friend. 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. Susan is an adjunct professor for Loyola University, DePaul University’s Theatre School, and The University of Chicago. Her stand-up act with her puppet, Jolly, was 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 which was a sure crowd pleaser.

Rachael Mason

Rachael Mason (Rachael taught at The Improv Shop in August 2015) began her career in improvisation at Skidmore College, home of the National College Comedy Festival, with the Ad-Liberal Artists. After graduating with a degree in English Literature, concentrating on Shakespearean Studies, she moved to Chicago to study improv with Del Close. She trained at iO, The Annoyance Theatre, and The Second City. Her credits include an almost 4 year stint with The Second City National Touring Company, “WWW.com All Over My Face”, “Big Trouble at Hairy Gulch”, “Donkey Improv”, and “Screw Puppies” at the Annoyance. At iO she has played with “The Armando Diaz Experience, Theatrical Movement and Hootenanny”, Monster Island, Jane, Preponderate, Genealogy, The Lindbergh Babies, Swanel, The Deltones, Baby Wants Candy, the iO Road Show Touring Company, and Children of a Lesser God. She was Director of the iO Training Center from 2005 to 2010. She has also been seen in ComedySportz’s The Hot Karl, Second City’s Jewsical the Musical, and The Second City Norwegian Dawn Cruise Cast.

Dina Facklis

Dina Facklis (Dina taught at The Improv Shop in June 2015 and May 2013) currently serves as owner and creative director of The Chicago Improv Den where she teaches and regularly performs. She has toured with and directed for The Second City National Touring Company and has taught/performed/directed all over the great city of Chicago. In 2011, Dina was honored to headline the Denver Improv Festival as a representative of Virgin Daiquiri; that same year, iO Chicago graced her with the title of Improviser of the Year. In 2012, Dina executive produced Virgin Daiquiri’s first album FOOD BABY, now available on iTunes. Dina now performs regularly at iO Chicago with the critically acclaimed Virgin Daiquiri at iO – where she also co-created CUFFS & DBAG. She has also had the honor of working at Steppenwolf and ATC.

Alison Gates

Alison Gates (Alison taught at The Improv Shop in June 2015) improvises and plays guitar with Virgin Daiquiri at iO Chicago. She also performs with Casual Encounters (iO Chicago), Shinbone Alley (Chemically Imbalanced Comedy) and the Fallen Elegant. Born and raised in Massachusetts, she too is small and historic.

Katie Klein

Katie Klein (Katie taught at The Improv Shop in June 2015) began her improv career in Washington DC, where she trained with the DC improv comedy school and performed with Comedy Sportz and iMusical. Now in Chicago, she has trained with iO and The Second City. She currently works with Second City’s biz co, and at iO she is on a Harold team The Late 90’s and performs weekly with Virgin Daiquiri and Superhuman. She is a cast member of the Laugh Out Loud theater and performs at the Chicago Improv Den with her partner-in-crime in their tag-team duo, Ed and Kath . Katie has coached, directed and taught improv and sketch around town as well as in other towns. She also just got really into herbal tea!

Dana Quercioli

Dana Quercioli (Dana taught at The Improv Shop in June 2015) is a teacher, writer, actor and improviser at The Second City Chicago, an alumna of the Second City Cleveland Mainstage, and began her improv career as a cast member of Something Dada Improvisational Theater Company. Since moving to Chicago, Dana has been a member of The Second City Touring Company and has been to forty-eight states and four countries outside the U.S. She is an understudy to the MainStage and ETC Theaters, and has written a number of both touring and local shows under The Second City umbrella. Dana is also a long-time member of The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience and Hootenany, and the all female phenomena Virgin Daiquiri. She is also proudly a member of three different two-women shows, BabyMakers with Colleen Doyle, Bogota with Cecily Strong, and The Fallen Elegant with Alison Gates. Dana has been teaching at the Second City Training Center for over fourteen years, and she loves it. She also loves Cleveland and her family very, very much. If you have some time to kill, you should ask her about her nieces and nephews.

Jacob Schneider

Jacob Schneider (Jacob taught at The Improv Shop in March/April 2015 and November 2011) has played with Storyteller, Knuckleball, Tre, San Cliche, and also, ICW, Empty Full of Sorrows, Compass Open Court, Let’s Make a Scene, and also, Reckoning, iO, ComedySportz, The Playground, Annoyance, ISC, Second City Theatricals and also coaches GALAXANDER and also attended Webster University, MIZZOU, & Aquinas Mercy. Jake lives in North County, loves his family, sports, history, and the Lou.

Bill Chott

Bill Chott (Bill taught at the Improv Shop in April 2015 and June 2014) was voted “Best Improv Coach 2012” at the Inny Awards. He starred as “Thomas” in the Farrelly Bros. top ten film The Ringer, and appeared with Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary. He also makes cameo appearances in the films Galaxy Quest and Dude Where’s My Car? Kids know him as “Mr. Laritate” from his four seasons on Disney’s Emmy-winning Wizards of Waverly Place. Bill performs in LA at iO West and UCB. He’s a founding member of the Armando Show and A.S.S.S.C.A.T.

Tara DeFrancisco

Tara DeFrancisco (Tara taught at the Improv Shop in May 2015 and March 2015) is a headlining performer at iO Chicago (on the Deltones, Chaos Theory, Armando, defrancisCo), ComedySportz (Mainstage), and a three year vet of the Second City Touring Company. She’s taught for those theatres and independently, at home and internationally. Media-wise, you might see her in a Las Vegas commercial campaign, on Delusions of Grandeur (ABC Family/Blip TV), soon in the new feature film The Life & Death of an Unhappily Married Man (2015), or in several projects filmed for the satirical newspaper, The Onion. She is also the founder and president of The Improv Retreat (http://theimprovretreat.com), the acclaimed and beloved summer camp for adult improvisers in the midwest. In March of 2015, weekly residency of Here (a two person musical performed with Rance Rizzutto) is scheduled for Thursdays at iO around their worldwide tour dates. Tara has won numerous Chicago awards, including Top Performer in Chicago from New City, Funniest Person in Chicago by the Free Press, Top 25 Of Comedy in the US by Curve Magazine, as well as Chicago Tribune Show of the Season for the renegade feat, defrancisCo. Hey – you might’ve guessed by now, but she loves comedy.

Rance Rizzutto

Rance Rizzutto (Rance taught at the Improv Shop in May 2015 and March 2015) has performed, coached and taught improv for years. Long-form with iO Chicago (Chaos Theory) and other various independent groups. Short-form with ComedySportz and Second City Theatricals (aboard NCL ships). Musical and hip-hop/rap with The Deltones, Baby Wants Candy, and The Beatbox. Even silent improv in The Silent Treatment. Rance has coached and designed team building and provided services for Intel, Nike, AT&T, Wells Fargo, IBM, Hewlett Packard and more. He’s even done improv all over the world, mostly in Here, a two person musical with Tara DeFrancisco herself! He is also known for his photography, hypnotism, and hosting.

Bill Arnett

Bill Arnett (Bill taught at The Improv Shop in February 2015) is the former Director of the Training Center for the iO Theater in Chicago. He has traveled around the U.S. and internationally teaching workshops in improvisation. Bill also writes and performs with the award-winning sketch group Maximum Party Zone. He can be seen in Chicago where he performs with Armando Diaz and with the critically acclaimed 3033. Bill is from Florida and got his start with Theatre Strike Force at the University of Florida. You can follow his improv blog at billarnett.com/wordpress.

Chris Gethard

Chris Gethard (Chris taught at The Improv Shop in September 2014) has been seen in The Office, Louie, The Other Guys, Iron Man 3, The Heat, Bored to Death, and in a whole bunch of commercials and College Humor videos. But most importantly, he’s the host of The Chris Gethard Show, a weekly live call in fiasco that goes down on New York’s public access airwaves (and that began as a monthly stage show at the UCB Theatre in Chelsea). The New York Times said Chris is a “short, unassuming fellow with the sneaky intensity of someone with a chip on his shoulder” and New York Magazine has referred to him as “The Carson of Cable Access”. Chris was named one of Variety’s Ten Comics to watch in 2010, was named one of the funniest people of 2012 by Huffington Post, and Flavorwire classified him as one of New York’s 50 Up-and-Coming New York Culture Makers to watch in 2013. In 2012, IFC television “adopted” Chris, making him a public face of their network online, on air, and at festivals, and optioned his book A Bad Idea I’m About to Do for a television adaptation.

Kevin McDonald

Kevin McDonald (Kevin taught at The Improv Shop in September 2014) is a comedian, actor, writer and director who founded “The Kids in the Hall” with friend Dave Foley, after they met in Toronto at Second City, and the television series ran from 1988-1995. In the troupe’s television series and stage shows, he portrays several popular recurring characters, such as the King of Empty Promises, Sir Simon Milligan, and Jerry Sizzler. McDonald went on to appear in a variety of films including Boy Meets Girl, Lilo & Stitch, “Lilo & Stitch: The Series”, and Epic Movie. On television, he has appeared on “The Martin Short Show,” “Ellen,” “That ’70s Show,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “NewsRadio,” “MADtv,” “Arrested Development,” and “Corner Gas.” McDonald has also done voice work for various animated series, including Nickelodeon’s “Invader Zim,” “The Angry Beavers,” “Catscratch,” and “Clerks: The Animated Series.” He also played an imaginary friend named Ivan in the episode ‘Sight For Sore Eyes’ on “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” appeared in the music video for “Roses” by Outkast, and made an appearance in “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show.” In 2006 McDonald hosted a CBC Television special, featuring several of Canada’s best-known sketch comedy troupes. “Sketch with Kevin McDonald” won a Canadian Comedy Award (Best Taped Live Performance – The Minnesota Wrecking Crew). He was recently at the Just for Laughs Festival with the reunion of Kids in the Hall, and also with his show “Hammy and the Kids” with Craig Northey, based on his two dysfunctional families, his father (“Hammy”) and the Kids in the Hall, as well as “Death Comes to Town” on CBC.

Laura Hall

Laura Hall (Laura taught at The Improv Shop in July 2014 and June 2013) is best known as the improvisational pianist on television’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?. She was also on the Drew Carey Show live episodes, and has toured the country doing live performances with Drew Carey and The Improv AllStars.

Rick Hall

Rick Hall (Rick taught at The Improv Shop in July 2014 and June 2013) was a founding member of Chicago’s Improv Institute. After touring with The Second City, Rick opened two main stage shows, John Paul Sartre & Ringo and Catch 27. Rick has used his improv background on the improv based television shows Curb Your Enthusiasm and as a series regular in The Factory. He’s been seen on many other television shows as well, including Saving Grace, 24, The Middle, According To Jim, and Seinfeld.

Greg Hess

Greg Hess (Greg taught at The Improv Shop in March 2014) is an actor, writer and improviser living in Los Angeles. He has performed for over a decade in Chicago with some of the best: Cook County Social Club, the Improvised Shakespeare Company, Baby Wants Candy, The Second City, and has taught at iO and independently for much of that time. Recently, he has written for the Onion News Network and sold a pilot to Comedy Central. He has trained at iO, the Second City and the School at Steppenwolf.

Monique Madrid

Monique Madrid (Monique taught at The Improv Shop in October 2013) started improvising in Kansas City and soon moved to Chicago in 2004. She’s performed with Second City on Norwegian Cruise Lines, at iO, ComedySportz and The Annoyance (with Susan Messing in ‘Messing with a Friend’ as well as a writer for ‘Weirdos’ and director for ‘Zahara’s Wake’). She’s part of the comedy duo “The Union” with her husband Corey Rittmaster. Together they’ve traveled across the country for festivals and created marriageisajoke.com, which is soon branching out as a podcast. She’s a writer for the late-night talk show “Talk Hard”, plus her writing has been seen on mcsweeneys.com, rebelliousmagazine.com and theimpersonals.com. She’s also the managing editor for the popular online magazine serialoptimist.com. Monique teaching sketch comedy writing and improv at The Second City, Laugh Out Loud Theater and in festivals and for corporate clients around the country. She can also be seen doing standup, in her improvised talk show “Bitch, I’ll Cut You” and in the occasional TV commercial. More at moniquemadrid.com.

Corey Rittmaster

Corey Rittmaster (Corey taught at The Improv Shop in October 2013) has been improvising for over 20 years, beginning at ComedySportz in Kansas City, where he also co-founded the sketch group ‘Der Monkenpickl’ with Jason Sudekis (SNL), Jeremy Carter (SuperEgo), Ed Goodman (Second City) and Eric Davis (Cirque du Soleil). He’s continued his career in Chicago where he’s performed with The Second City on Norwegian Cruise Lines, at iO Chicago, the Annoyance Theater, as a “friend” in Susan Messing’s ‘Messing with a Friend’ show, as well as with his wife Monique Madrid as “The Union.” Together they have been all over the country performing in festivals and created marriageisajoke.com, which is soon to be a podcast. He has taught improv at The Second City, Laugh Out Loud Theater, ComedySportz and at festivals in Kansas City, Rock Island and for corporate clients around the country. He’s also a standup comedian, writer for the live late-night talk show “Talk Hard” and can be seen on your TV in commercials for Payless, The NFL Network, Le Cordon Bleu and others.

Rick Andrews

Rick Andrews (Rick taught at The Improv Shop in August 2013 and August 2011) is an instructor, performer, and Associate Artistic Director at The Magnet Theater in New York City, and has been studying, performing, and teaching improvisation since 1999. He began with Improv Boston, and continued with a stint in Saint Louis, MO. He has been fortunate to learn from many improv greats, including Armando Diaz, Ed Herbstman, Joe Bill, Mark Sutton, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Will Luera, Jill Bernard, and more. He performs around the country with the Magnet Theater Touring Company, The Cascade (Official Selection, CIF 2011), and is a producer of Duofest, an annual festival in Philly, PA devoted to improv duos. Rick has taught workshops at improv festivals across the country, including the Boston Improv Festival, Baltimore Improv Festival, Black Box Atlanta, and many more. He has taught improvisation to people as old as 70 and as young as 6, and has done workshops for Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, and zoos. He enjoys running, putting words on pages, thinking about the brain, and he loves improv more than anything.

Derek Miller

Derek Miller (Derek taught at The Improv Shop in January 2013) who can currently be seen on the TBS comedy “Wedding Band,” is a 20-year veteran of the improv community. He began in Chicago training at iO and Second City, then took his talents to London and Los Angeles. He has been an improv instructor for the last 15 years and has used his talents as a casting session director, personal coach and a commercial director. As an actor, he has starred in Scrubs, Transformers 3, and Comedy Central’s “Secret Girlfriend” (for which he also wrote) He has appeared in over 50 national commercials (and used improv in every one!)

Farrell Walsh

Farrell Walsh (Farrell taught at The Improv Shop in September 2012) is the Artistic Director of CIC and a member of its house ensemble Rainbow Deli. He is also a performer and instructor at the iO Theater, where he performs on Revolver, The Armando Diaz Experience, and The Scene. Farrell produced and was a cast member of a 2009-2011 run of Close Quarters at iO that received critical acclaim. He studied at both iO and The Annoyance Theater.

 

Kristen Studard

Kristen Studard (Kristen taught at The Improv Shop in July 2012) has been performing and teaching comedy in Chicago for 8 years. She trained at iO Chicago, Second City, and the Annoyance and performed all over the country. Kristen has performed her solo show, Small Victories, in the TBS Just For Laughs Festival, SF Sketchfest, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and the Comedy Central Stage in LA. In addition to solo work, she performs with the improvised puppet show FELT, the all-girl supergroup Mountain Dawn and the vets of Mike Helicopter.

 

David Koechner

David Koechner (David taught at The Improv Shop in October 2011) David is an American comedian, musician, and character actor. Koechner began studying improvisational comedy in Chicago at the ImprovOlympic, under the teachings of Del Close, before joining the Second City Northwest. After one-year stints of doing sketch comedy on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, he began taking small parts in films such as Man on the Moon and Wag the Dog. While filming the country mockumentary Dill Scallion, Koechner befriended Dave ‘Gruber’ Allen, forming The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show. The act became a hit at Hollywood clubs such as Largo, and the duo were invited to open for Tenacious D. Koechner appeared frequently with larger supporting roles in many high profile comedic films including Anchorman, Talladega Nights, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, and Extract. On January 17, 2007, Koechner’s Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show premiered on Comedy Central, giving him a starring role and full creative control. His first leading role, as Coach Lambeau Fields in Fox Atomic’s sports comedy, The Comebacks opened on October 19, 2007. Recently, Koechner has signed a talent holding deal with NBC. Under the pact, he is attached to star in Greg Daniels’ comedy project Friday Night Dinner and possibly do more episodes of The Office, where he has appeared occasionally since the second season. The deal expands Koechner’s relationship with The Office showrunner Daniels.

 

Jimmy Carrane

Jimmy Carrane (Jimmy taught at The Improv Shop in June 2011) Jimmy Carrane is the co-author of “Improvising Better: A Guide to the Working Improviser.” He is the host of Studio 312 on Chicago Public Radio. He has taught at The Second City, IO-Chicago, The Annoyance and Victory Gardens. Jimmy was recently seen in the films “LOL” and “Public Enemies” with Johnny Depp. His other film and TV credits include “ER,” “Natural Born Killers,” “Early Edition,” “The Untouchables,” “Stash” and “Tapioca.” He was an original member of The Annoyance Theater, Armando at The iO-Chicago and was a member of Carl and The Passions. He currently performs with Burning Desires. He has performed in some of Chicago most innovative and ground-breaking long-form improv shows, such as “Jazz Freddy” and “Naked” (a two-person one-hour improvised scene with MAD TV’s Stephnie Weir.) Other theater/improv credits include: “I’m 27, I Still Live at Home and Sell Office Supplies,” “Godshow,” “Every Old Man,” “Living in Dwarf’s House” and “Summer Rental” at The Second City ETC.

 

Kevin Mullaney

Kevin Mullaney (Kevin taught at The Improv Shop in June 2010) Kevin studied at ImprovOlympic in the 1990s with Charna Halpern, Miles Stroth, Adam McKay, Matt Besser and Del Close. He performed on the iO house team Frank Booth for four years, as well as numerous other groups including Inside Vladimir and Lazlow. He founded and directed the iO Road Show, the original touring company for the ImprovOlympic. He taught for two years at iO before moving to NYC. For almost eight years, he taught for the UCB Theatre in NYC where he was also the Artistic Director and the Improv Chief. He helped write their curriculum and ran their school while also directing numerous shows and coaching many of the top groups including the Swarm, The Stepfathers, Optimist International and Neutrino. Kevin hosts the Improv Resource Center Podcast, blogs about improv atKevinMullaney.com and you can probably find a lot of things he’s written about improv in the Improvisation forum on the IRC.

 

Rob Belushi

Rob Belushi (Rob taught at The Improv Shop in December 2009) The son of Jim Belushi and nephew of John, Rob Belushi has performed sketch and improv comedy at The Second City as an understudy for the mainstage in Chicago, as a member of the resident stage in Las Vegas (where he wrote the last revue produced) and as understudy for the National Touring Company, as well as The IO Theater, The Annoyance Theater, Atlanta Improv Festival, Chicago Improv Festival (’07-’09–A two man show with Jon Barinholtz) and the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (’05). His theater credits include; Of Mice and Men (The Steppenwolf Theater), The Lion in Winter (The Writer’s Theatre), girl, 20 (Serendipity Theater Collective–World and West Coast Premiere), Sketchbook ’06 (Collaboraction) and This is Our Youth (Pine Box Theater). Rob will also be appearing in The Gift Theater’s upcoming world premiere of Summer People and opposite John Mahoney in Northlight’s upcoming production of A Life. Film/ and television credits include Sorority Hill (Karz Entertainment), Valentine’s Day (New Line Cinema–in production) The Christians (Splitpillow), Riff Raff (Best Supporting Actor, Tenerife Film Festival) and According to Jim (ABC). Rob received an Honors BA in Film Studies from Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT) where he also studied acting and is also a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf Theater Company), Howard Fine Acting Studio (Los Angeles) The Second City Conservatory and the improv training programs at IO Theater Chicago and The Annoyance Theater. He has coached teams around Chicago for their work at the Playground Theater, IO and Donny’s SkyBox at Second City and taught improv for the Second City Conservatory in Las Vegas. He has also taught workshops at Duke University, Colgate University, Fargo/Moorehead State University, The Fairmont Hotels, Hylant Insurance Group (OH) and Kimpton Hotels.