Episodes
Erick Acuña is an improviser, teacher and lawyer. He started improvising in Peru ten years ago before moving to the States and studying at WIT in Washington, D.C. and UCB in New York. We talk to him about how he found his voice in improv, and he shares two exercises you can use to find it. He also talks about what it's like to improvise in English when that isn't your native language and what we can learn from having difficult conversations after a scene that may have reinforced stereotypes....
Published 05/10/21
Nancy Hayden is the Artistic Director of The Second City Training Center in Chicago. She is also a writer, actor, director, teacher and producer. We talk to Nancy about how she creates characters by using emotions and adjectives, how she believes improv can save lives, and what the future of improv may look like.
Published 05/03/21
Brendan Sullivan started improvising almost 30 years ago in Chicago. He is an actor, corporate improv trainer and was a member of the legendary Harold team Blue Velveeta at iO-Chicago. We talk to him about how he found his role on that team, which was made up of strong personalities, how he learned to play things honestly, and the best way for older improvisers to play with the younger generation. In this moving interview, Brendan also talks candidly about the death of his 24-year-old son,...
Published 02/15/21
Michelle Gilliam is the owner and artistic director of ImprovMKE in Milwaukee, WI. She is one those great improvisers with a strong acting background. We talk to Michelle about how she applies her short form experience to her long, how she strives to make her theater inclusive, and she shares what it was like for her to be the only Black woman in an improv group.
Published 02/08/21
Marcus Sams is the founder of Moment Improv Theater in San Francisco, the artistic director of The San Francisco Improv Festival, and one half of one of my favorite improv duos, Liss n' Sams, with the incredible Joe Liss. We talk to Marcus about doing Duo Improv, the importance of emotions and where he thinks Zoom improv is going in the future. (https://www.patreon.com/improvnerd/posts?filters%5Btag%5D=Ad-free%20podcast%20episodes)
Published 02/01/21
Adam Cawley is a three-time Canadian Award-winning actor, who is also a writer, improviser and teacher. He has written four revues at The Second Main Stage in Toronto and is the co-host of the podcast The Backline with Rob and Adam. We talk to him about variety in improv, how he approaches improv shows in different venues and how he deals with jealousy.
Published 09/29/20
Shaun Landry is an actor, teacher and improviser. She teaches at The Pack Theater in Los Angeles and is is the Artist Director of Oui be Negros, which is an African American sketch and improv group that she started back in 1994 in Chicago. Jimmy talks to her about why it's important to make social statements in her improv, why she does not back off from race when she is improvising, and how to be ok with promoting yourself and your shows.
Published 09/15/20
Ric Walker has performed with Improvised Shakespeare Company for 15 years and is the director of Chicago cast. He is also a professor at Columbia College in Chicago, where he teaches improv, sketch and stand-up. Jimmy talks to him about Improvised Shakespeare, why emotions are our friend in our scene work, and his thoughts on improving diversity in improv.  
Published 06/18/20
Steven Castillo is an Emmy-nominated writer for Saturday Night Live. Jimmy talked to him about how improv helped his stand-up, auditioning for Saturday Night Live, and about some of his favorite sketches from the show like “Shrek“ and “Weezer.”
Published 06/02/20
Will Luera is a renowned improviser, actor, director and instructor who performs and teaches all over the world. He has served as the artistic director at Improv Boston and the director of improv at Florida Studio Theater, and was recently named artistic director of Improv Asylum in Boston and New York. In this episode, Will shares with us how he helps improvisers find their voice, how he helped Improv Boston repair the trust and safety in their community, and what preparation he's taking at...
Published 05/26/20
Jane Morris is an actor, improviser and director. She is the Johnny Appleseed of comedy clubs, having opened the Chicago Comedy Showcase and the Second City e.t.c. in Chicago and the Upfront Comedy and the Comedy Underground in Santa Monica, CA. She currently manages the Fanatic Salon in Culver City, CA. Jane has a reputation for doing incredible character work, both on stage and screen. Jimmy talks to her about how she physically uses "Yes And..." in developing her characters, why she loves...
Published 05/19/20
Armando Diaz is widely regarded as one of the best improv teachers in New York. He is the co-founder of The Magnet Theater there, and help create one of the most popular long forms ever, The Armando Diaz Experience.
Published 05/12/20
George McAuliffe is the writer and star of the short film The Improv Guru, which is based on his popular Twitter account. Jimmy sits down and talks to him about his dark comedy, why it is so important for improvisers to make fun of themselves, what he hopes improviser get from the movie and advice about following your own path in improv. In the second half of the episode, Jimmy interviews George as his character, The Improv Guru, and they talk about throwing chairs at hecklers, creating...
Published 05/05/20
Rich Baker is an incredible improv teacher at Second City Hollywood, as well as an improviser and author of the book Improv Made Easy. He has performed with The Second City, iO-Chicago, and ComedySportz, and has toured the country with Mission Improvable. Jimmy talks to Rich about why you need to fail to get better, why an improviser's goal should be to always get better, and Rich shares a lot of great tips and exercises from Improv Made Easy to help you do great scene work.
Published 04/28/20
Published 04/28/20
Joe Liss is one of those improvisers whom Jimmy looked up to when he was coming up in the improv scene in Chicago back in the '80s. Jimmy says Joe is truly one of the funniest performers he has ever seen. His character work is incredible. Joe was in the National Touring Company, Etc. and Main Stage at Second City. We talk to him about how he creates his characters, why giving specifics in improv is so important and he how played a practical joke on Chris Farley.  
Published 04/14/20
Jay Sukow is one of the best improvisers and teachers out there. Jimmy caught up with him in Chicago at Green Shirt Studio to talk to him about why it's important to make positive choices in your scene work, why he uses anger in improv and how he is adapting his teaching as improv changes.
Published 07/22/19
In this latest episode of Improv Nerd, UCB's Billy Meritt talks about his new book, Pirate Robot Ninja; An Improv Fable, which he co-wrote with Will Hines. Jimmy talks to Billy about what it means to be a Pirate or a Robot in improv, the "four pillars" of doing a good improv scene, and what the "game of the scene" means to him.
Published 06/20/19
Finally a new episode! The Crowd Theater is great little comedy theater in Chicago that strives to support diversity, inclusion and affordability in the improv community. Jimmy sat down with the three founders —Blair Britt, Dillon Cassidy and Taylor Jones — last fall to talk about how they met and started the theater, how they carry out their mission and their delicious chicken wings.
Published 05/06/19
Ike Barniholtz is the writer, director and star of the new dark comedy The Oath. Ike improvised in Chicago in the ‘90s at Second City, iO Chicago and The Annoyance. He was on MADtv for five seasons, and also starred on The Mindy Project. Jimmy sat down with him to talk about when he first started out in improv, how he got through the lean years in L.A. and why he decided to make his new film, The Oath.
Published 10/08/18
Derek Miller is a master improviser, teacher and actor in L.A. He has done tons of commercials and been a regular in three TV shows. He was in the cast of Opening Night: The Improvised Musical! at the old iO-West. We talk to him about how the L.A. improv scene has changed, how he uses suggestions to make an emotional choice for his character, and why he's leaving L.A. and moving to England with his family.
Published 09/24/18
Jimmy is really proud to share with you this piece he did for Curious City on WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio, answering the question, "Why is Chicago the mecca of improv?" In this episode you will hear several people’s theories about why this is. Jimmy interviews old friends TJ Jagodowski, Susan Messing and Jonathan Pitts to get their input. This is a must-listen for any improv nerd, and Jimmy secretly hopes after you listen to this episode you move to Chicago.
Published 09/10/18
Sophie Shrand is the host and creator of "Science with Sophie," a science comedy show for girls and everyone. She is an accomplished improviser in Chicago, and we talked to her about how she got through the hard times when she moved to Chicago from Boston, why it is important to her to be a role model to girls in science, and her tips on musical improv.
Published 08/20/18
TJ Jagodowski is one of the finest improvisers and people you will know. He's half of the long-running show TJ and Dave. In this special episode that was originally recorded for Curious City at WBEZ in Chicago, Jimmy talks to TJ about why he thinks Chicago is still the mecca of improv, his definition of Yes, And... (which is not out of the text book), and why he has stayed in Chicago to improvise.
Published 08/06/18
Jeff Michalski is an improv legend. He is a teacher, director, an improviser who was a founding member of Second City's ETC Theater back in the '80s and now teaches in Los Angeles. Jimmy sat down with Jeff to talk about what he learned working with Del, how he uses Meisner and view point techniques when he is teaching improv, and telling Stephen Colbert to start loving to bomb on stage.
Published 07/30/18