The Last LAF

All Good Things Must Come to an End This is the most difficult post I've had to write and coincidentally, it will also be my last. Today marks a day I was never convinced would come. Today, LAFS is two years old. It has been an incredible two years, absolutely incredible filled with more excitement, laughter, awe and humility than I could have ever dreamed. However, today is bittersweet, because today is Read More

INTERVIEW: Charna Halpern

The Mother of Improv Comedy I first fell in love with improv at iO's Clark Street location. iO changed my life, but my story is not unlike many others. Charna created a world at iO that many call "home" and it has become the center of their universe. Charna Halpern is one of the most influential people in improv, has paved the path for hundreds of comedians over the last few Read More

INTERVIEW: Matt Besser

Focus on the Game. Matt Besser is one of the founding members of Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). UCB started as a Chicago-based improv team composed of Besser, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh and Amy Poehler and has transformed into a well-known comedy establishment in New York City and Los Angeles. These folks not only formed UCB but Besser, Roberts, Walsh and friends regularly perform together as ASSSSCAT. ASSSSCAT will be performing, with a Read More

INTERVIEW: Dan Bakkedahl

Just make a choice. Dan Bakkedahl has made his mark on Chicago's comedy scene. Coming up in the late 90s and early 2000s, Dan spent a lot of time at iO and Second City. Since his departure, you may have seen him on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Community, Veep, Legit or a number of other television appearances. He was also in The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa Read More

INTERVIEW: Carisa Barreca

Do everything, because you’re going to need all of it. I am declaring Carisa Barreca Second City's sweetheart. One of the most beautiful, talented, kind and humble ladies I have ever met, Carisa has a heart of gold and nothing but good intentions. With a lifetime of performance background, she can do just about anything you throw at her. I was so lucky to be able to sit down with Read More

INTERVIEW: Scott Adsit and John Lutz

Hitting Your Mark in Hollywood Thanks to Aren Zolninger from Chicago Improv Productions, I was able to sneak in a few minutes to interview Scott Adsit and John Lutz before they took the stage for their "Super Secret" midnight show at Stage 773. As we were waiting for the show ahead of us to clear out, Scott, John and I stepped into a back hallway with CIP staff and a Read More

INTERVIEW: Tim Baltz

If you’re not listening, you’re going to miss the joke. After months of trying to nail down both of our schedules after Tim left Second City's Mainstage, I was finally able to meet up with him to talk life and comedy. I had the pleasure of meeting Tim last Fall at Jimmy Carrane's Improv Nerd and for obvious reasons, I was dead set on interviewing him. Tim is extremely passionate Read More

INTERVIEW: Ted Tremper

Just love what you love and let that be the work that you do. It was a true pleasure interviewing Ted, as I have an incredible amount of respect for him as a person, performer and filmmaker. He's so talented and is such a genuinely kind human being. We met at iO on a late November morning and, truth be told, divulged a great deal of personal details, some of which Read More

INTERVIEW: TJ Jagodowski

I am truly the luckiest person I know. TJ Jagodowski is not only one of the most brilliant improvisers I have ever seen, he's also one of the nicest guys I've ever met. I've bumped into TJ a number of times around iO, but it wasn't until the end of October where I had the pleasure of taking a class taught by him. This man is a poet and every Read More

INTERVIEW: Jet Eveleth

Dream big and then do it. I met Jet at her apartment where she lives with her improviser beau, Brett Elam and his sister Erica. We chatted about where her name came from, some of life’s big questions, drinking sake before bed to live longer and then she told me the details of the secret she’s been keeping from everyone for the last two years… Alright Jet, the first thing I Read More

WRITTEN: The Art in Truth in Comedy by Charna Halpern and Del Close

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The Art in Truth in Comedy by Charna Halpern and Del Close

This improv manual introduced the concepts of the “Harold” — the innovative improvisational tool that helped Saturday Night Live’s Mike Myers, Chris Farley, George Wendt, and many others on the road to TV and film stardom. The innovative concepts are described fully in this insightful theatre book that has become the bible for wannabe improvisers. Read More

REVIEW: The Improvised Shakespeare Company @ iO

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The Improvised Shakespeare Company

The Improvised Shakespeare Company Players

Blaine Swen won “Best Improviser in Chicago” last year and there ‘s a good reason why: he’s incredible, as is the entire crew. Every single player in The Improvised Shakespeare Company is insanely talented and a true pleasure to watch. This specific instance I witnessed them take the suggestion of “Jurrasic Park” and travel through time, through lands of crippled people, kings and princesses and long lost, forbidden love. The show began and ended with the most brilliant monologue delivered in iambic pentameter sonnet by Ross Bryant. I left this show completely speechless. Thank you ISC for a mind-blowing experience.

WRITTEN: Improvise: Scene From The Inside Out by Mick Napier

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Improvise: Scene From The Inside Out by Mick Napier

For more than 20 years of directing, teaching, and participating in improvisation, Mick Napier has watched thousands of scenes. In this book, Napier takes an irreverent, but constructive look at the art and practice of improvised scenes. He covers such topics as two-person scenes, group scenes, entering scenes, techniques to achieve richer, more layered scenes, auditioning and solo exercises for practice at home. Read More

The Power of Yes And

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The Power Of Yes AndAnd Its Infectious Nature.

At the core of improv is one basic principle: yes and. Yes and means that when on stage, you agree with the statements your scene partner says and then you heighten them. That’s it. “Yes, I agree” with what you’re saying “And, I’m going to add to it.” Of course there are other rules and techniques to implore upon your improv craft, however, this is the underlying principle.

Now, take a moment and think about what would happen if you took this simple idea that we play with on stage and consciously applied it to your life. That’s what happened for myself and many other improvisers I’ve met. So many doors open when you leave the window up and let the breeze flow through. Granted, there is always the risk of over committing oneself and in that case, you’re an adult, use your discretion and play your “no” card once in a while. But just think about it for a minute. How much more you can do when you say “yes?” If you don’t have a reason not to do something, then why not do it?

One of my friends in my first improv class instilled this idea in my head early on. He had just moved to Chicago not even two months prior and was looking to meet people and explore the city. He said to me, “I’ve decided that if any improviser asks me to do something, anything at all, I’m just going to say yes. I have nothing else going on, so why not? And…I don’t know anyone else here.” I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s great…and he’s right.” He was right. Shortly after this conversation, I started applying that principle to my life as well and the doors that have opened for me are doors so heavy that I don’t know if I could have pried them free on my own. They were opened by the grace and the power of yes and.

Before you say “no” the next time an acquaintance invites you to a potentially awkward gathering of new people or on a random, spontaneous adventure, if you have nothing else going on, say “yes” and just see what happens. Chances are you’ll meet someone new that intrigues you or adds color to your life. I mean hell, you’ll at least get a good story out of it or you’ll learn something you didn’t realize you didn’t know. After all, we don’t know what we don’t know, so why not try to know as much as we can? It also helps put a positive spin on our daily lives and people like to surround themselves with like-minded people. So if you start applying this positive, yes and attitude to your life and these other positive, yes anders start to flock around you, what a whirlwind of excitement you have circling you.

Chalk it up to the power of yes and and embrace life. It’s pretty exhilarating.

 

 

Do We Practice What We Preach?

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Heart Over Head?

I’m a planner. I plan everything. Not to say I can’t be spontaneous, but I have goals and I’m aware that to achieve all of them, I have to allocate X amount of time and energy to each. For the last few years my “life plan” has looked like so: get a great job (check), earn my MBA in grad school, move to Europe for a year or so, move back to the US and take a look into that whole marriage and babies idea. Solid right? Or so I thought.

Last fall it was suggested that I take an acting class and as I thought about it, I couldn’t find any reason not to. My rational was that by taking an acting class (something that I would enjoy doing anyway) I could maybe work my way up to finding an agent and maybe booking a commercial that could help me pay for grad school. If not, it would at least help my public speaking and boost my confidence. Win win situation.

So I started two weeks later. That was eight months and 6 classes ago and now I’ve fallen in love. This is where my conundrum begins. Now, not only am I a planner, I’m also extremely passionate. But as we know, sometimes our hearts say different things than our heads. I started taking acting classes as a means to an end and I’ve come to realize that it’s no longer a means to an end, it is the end. Everything from my first job working at a movie theatre for four and a half years to my 10 years of experience in performing to my love for the production aspect of the industry has led me to realize I should stop fighting it. My head has been saying, “Go to grad school, get your MBA” and my heart is fighting back with, “Follow your passion, ride this wave until it stops.” After much deliberation, I’ve made my decision. I’ve decided to follow my passion. I mean, I still have time to go to grad school, now’s just not the time.

I’ve opened my eyes and realized how many people I’m surrounded by that genuinely love what they’re doing. Truly talented people pursuing the long hours to sew together their craft, to make magic out of movement and music, to open their own business and release their creative freedom. It really is inspiring. I was chatting with my acting instructor on Monday telling him how inspired I am by all of these people and how I just want to dive in head first and do everything. He looked me straight in the eyes and said “Kiley, you can. Just do it.” And he’s right. So I am. Following my passion and I’m going to ride this wave as long as I can and see where it takes me. If it stops being fun, I’ll just jump off early. At the very least, I’m being honest.

So yes, do we practice what we preach? Sometimes. It’s always easier said than done, but I have this gut feeling that the ride will be a lot more fun if I’m madly in love with the wave.