YBY ep 245: Annie O’Connor and finding confidence in your own abilities.

This week on Yes But Why, we chat with improviser, Annie O’Connor.

Annie O’Connor is a veteran improviser that has been teaching and performing since 1997. Alongside her husband, Levin O’Connor, Annie created NOW improv in Los Angeles. This is where they invented the New Earth Army improv classes for personal development.

She has taught improv at MI’s Westside Comedy Theater (Santa Monica, CA) , iOwest (LA), Improv Utopia, The Verge Theater (Bozeman, MT), AMDA (LA) and at universities, theaters and festivals around the country.

They recently moved the adventure to Bozeman, Montana. There, Annie and Levin along with long time local performer Molly Hannan, opened a new theater and training center called Last Best Comedy. They, like the rest of us, are currently waiting to start teaching and performing again.

In our conversation, Annie and I talk about the role that shattered her confidence for many years. We talk about her first taste of improv at Ball State in Indiana. We connect on comedians we love: Carol Burnett, Kids in the Hall, The State. We talk about the improv communities she has been a part of: Cincinnati, Los Angeles and now, Bozeman.

Support Annie by following Last Best Comedy and keeping an eye out for upcoming Zoom shows before the onstage theater begins again.


Yes But Why Podcast is a proud member of the HC Universal Network family of podcasts. Visit us at HCUniversalNetwork.com to join in on the fun.

This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by audible – get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at http://www.audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY

This episode of Yes But Why is also sponsored by PodcastCadet.com. Go to PodcastCadet.com and put in offer code YBY20 to get 20% off your first consultation!


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(production notes: recorded phone call with Rodecaster on 12/14/2020)


TRANSCRIPT by Otter.ai

HOST  00:00

Hello, Yes But Why listeners, this is your host, Amy Jordan.   Welcome to Yes But Why episode 245 – my interview with the delightful Annie O’Connor!   But first, let’s chat about our sponsors.  Today’s episode is sponsored by audible. Get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY.   Did you know Audible has kids books? Yet another way audible has helped me with motherhood. I play Chicka Chicka 123 for my kiddo in the car and he is happy as a clam. Drivetime handled.  Audible is available on most of the devices you already own. Go now to audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY  to download the app and sign up to get your free audiobook today. You deserve it.   Another sponsor for today’s episode is my company, PodcastCadet.com. My husband, Chris Jordan and I are ready and waiting to answer your podcasting questions! Contact us now at PodcastCadet.com and use code YBY20 to get 20% off the first service or workshop you buy! Podcast Cadet.com – helping creators navigate the waters of podcasting.   This week on Yes But Why, we chat with veteran improviser, Annie O’Connor. Annie has been teaching and performing improv at universities, theaters and festivals around the country since 1997.  In our conversation, Annie and I talk about crazy road trips, writing comedy songs, and really truly loving improv.   I now present to you: yes but why episode 245 Annie O’Connor and finding confidence in your own abilities.   Enjoy!  I’m Amy Jordan. And this is Yes But Why podcast I like to ask people about when they were a kid and they were performing. But when I mentioned it to you earlier, about you know, when you were a little kid and you knew that you you know wanted to do more performing your thought you were good. You were like, Ah, no way. what’s what’s going on with that? What happened to your kid?


GUEST  02:36

Oh, I mean, nothing happened when I was a kid. I just, you know, the classic thing that happened to me, that happens to lots of people like I, you know, I I auditioned to be in some play. When I was in like third grade. It was like a, it was a Christmas play. But there was a duck in it. And I really wanted to be the duck and I was kind of I you know, I was like the gregarious kind of outgoing kid in the class. So I assumed I would be the duck. And I wasn’t the duck. Vanessa Hughes was the duck and it like shattered all confidence that I had in any ability to perform. And this was pretty young. So I went through most of my childhood, believing that like, that just wasn’t for me. That wasn’t how people saw me even though I was like, you know, I was like a big goof. I was a clown. You know, like, I was always trying to make people laugh. I, you know, came up with like, a stand up routine when I was like six years old, and it was, like, terribly, was terribly raunchy, and just, I can’t even I cannot even repeat some of the jokes that I made as a six year old because they’re that disgusting. And like, they’re just so not appropriate. So like, I mean, I wanted to tell you what it was like what the bit was, but like, I I just can’t because it would be so offensive. Ever. It’s so offensive. Thank you back on it like holy moly. So yeah, so I just, um, you know, I just, I didn’t think that I was a performer. So when they when I got to like high school and you know, there was like the drama club and all that stuff. Like, I turned my nose, you know, up at it. I was like, No, this is not for me. It was for Vanessa Hughes. She did a great job. She was Oh yeah. She really truly sold it. And then I went to college. And and by this point, I was like obsessed with, you know, like, I loved Whose Line is in any way in this is, you know, in like the 90s Whose Line is in any way. And so I used to watch it, when it would come on maybe Comedy Central but Comedy Central also was sometimes not Comedy Central It was like another channel. So occasionally or I can’t remember channels on anyways. So yeah, I loved his lines anyway, so I like knew what improv was kind of. And then I went to college in the late 90s. And I saw an improv team at my school and was told I went to Ball State and Indiana be impressed. Wow, that’s an impressive school. It’s a state school in Indiana. Oh, that’s a very, it’s very, is very classy. Well,


HOST  05:44

it must be if it’s already got if it’s got some of the students doing improv at


GUEST  05:50

  1. I mean, we were you know, like it that was like kind of a still the, like the dawning of improv, especially college improv there was, you know, not too many colleges doing improv, but my school was, and they there there had been a team that existed for like, maybe four years, maybe three years since I’d been there. And their name was absolutely it still is absolutely see they still exist. And, and so I was like, Oh, I mean, secret wish that I would have been on absolutely see that I would be on Absolutely. That’s that’s freshmen Annie watching absolutely see like, oh, if I could do this, oh, but then I, you know, wouldn’t allow myself. Like, I couldn’t go audition. Like I was too afraid of the rejection because of the duck situation in third grade. But you know, I didn’t know why I didn’t know that, you know, you can’t articulate that sort of that cue cannot articulate that thought at 18. But I looking back, I obviously now understand the path that I like, you know, that, that I had created this story for myself about performing. And, and so yeah, so I eventually did audition for Absolutely. Because a friend of mine, he really wanted to audition. And he was like, come with me. It’ll be so great. And I was like, No, no, I couldn’t. And then he talked me into it. And I was just going to go watch him. But then when I was there, they were like, No, just get up and play with us. So then I did. And then there was maybe like 200 people at that audition, and then me and this. And then I got onto the team. I was one of two people that got onto the team. And then that then the guy who was my friend was so mad at me. He squirted ceiling solution in my eyes. And then he left Ball State. Oh, my God. I mean, I don’t think it had anything to do with me. I think he had issue. No, it was this



was his duck


GUEST  07:58

situation. Now, he did not have to do with me


HOST  08:02

right now telling this story. And he’s like, I just wanted to be that duck. Like,


GUEST  08:11

I mean, it’s not I he’s he is an improviser, and he does perform, and I re met him later in life. And he’s totally fine. But, you know, just, this was like the first three months of college and I was a freshman and I met him. And we were friends. And he made me go to this audition. And then he didn’t get on the team and he never spoke to you again. Not Not for years. Well, basically, he was so mad. And this happened to me I was in. This was previously when I was in seventh grade. My best friend wanted to be on the cheerleading squad and I could have given two s’s about the cheerleading squad. But she was like, you know, she really wanted to do it. And so I auditioned with her and she didn’t. She didn’t get on to the cheerleading squad, but I did. And she punched me in the face. Not funny, I was we were in school and she hit me. Like she was so mad. So that’s two times I’ve gotten on someone else’s insistence and then they you know and her and I stopped being friends.


HOST  09:33

Guys, stop, invite your friends to auditions.


GUEST  09:37

And now just go by yourself. Don’t even tell me about it. Because if you tell me about it, I will get on to the whatever and you won’t. So just don’t go with me. Cuz I’m going to shine.


HOST  09:51

I’m amazing. See, this is why I always think you’re amazing. You’re like literally eating out everyone know I had no idea I took your thing I took you’re the you’re a cheerleader. I





GUEST  10:07

I am very loud. And I had some really strong like, I had some really strong quads. So I think they only took me on to the team so they could hold other girls. I was always on the bottom of the pyramid because I was heavier than the other kids. Yeah. Well, she puts your face for those clubs in the face, as well. Yeah, that’s what happens. So, oh, yeah, I didn’t. I didn’t, I did not think that I even, you know, like, I got on to the absolute lunacy. And I was on lunacy for all four years of being in college and I was the president, you know, and ran the troupe. And you know, we did, we did improv, we did short form and we did sketch and we wrote songs, we recorded an album.


HOST  10:57

That’s fun.


GUEST  11:00

We recorded two albums are like our advisor knew these two guys in Indianapolis who did a talk show. It was called like the outbuilding, and Tom show. Oh, no, I can’t even remember. They were like, you know, like to be belay. Tom. That’s like every


HOST  11:19

hometown thing.


GUEST  11:22

Yeah, it’s all ran out of Indianapolis. And they were like, you know, it was like, they were like, similar kind of to like, the jerky boys were like, do you remember the jerky boys? Like they are like, you know, they did like bits and crank called people, Bob and Tom. That’s what they’re called Bob and Tom, do they say that before? I don’t know. Anyways, he was friends with them. So we got to like go to their studio when we like, wrote our music. And then we recorded in his man, it was really a time. There’s a time in life.


HOST  11:56

Where you on the radio, like where your funny songs on their radio show?


GUEST  12:02

I don’t To be honest, I don’t remember. I don’t remember what happened. I remember that. We recorded those albums. We made them. We sold them at our shows. And we very well could have been on their radio show. But I legitimately have no memory of that.


HOST  12:21

It’s like when people ask me about television shows that came out while I was in college, or just after I was like, I wasn’t watching TV man.


GUEST  12:29

Yeah, I didn’t watch any TV in college. I have no idea.


HOST  12:32

I was doing college.


GUEST  12:34

They’re like, we’re doing God’s thing.



I don’t know.


GUEST  12:38



HOST  12:39

I mean, so would you go? What did you get a degree in? Because you clearly didn’t go for theater?


GUEST  12:45

No, I got a degree in psychology. Oh, nice. And then after, after school, my friend and I took like a, like a summer long road trip. While we were on that tour, I was supposed to go to grad school for psychology in the fall. And I you know, when I was on the road trip, we were we were staying at this hostel in Truth or Consequences New Mexico kicked out for dinner. You know, it’s such a small little hot town, but they have a hospital in it. And then they have hot springs. And, and they we just ended up saying that we didn’t have a bunch of money at that point. We had already burned through a lot of money. And so we ended up getting a job at like a pottery factory that we were working and trying to save up some money to leave. Then we ended up working there for like, three weeks or maybe a month, I don’t know. And while we were there to stay at a hostel, we worked out a deal with the guy who was who own the hostel because we didn’t have money to pay him at the time that we would like, clean and also would host things in the evening for the guests. And so I was like, well, I’ll host some like, I know some I can teach some improv games. So I started teaching the people who are coming through this hostel, like improv games at night around like a bonfire. And it was like, as stupid as it sounds. It was like a really life changing three weeks because I realized they didn’t want to go to school for psychology. For real. I, I loved teaching improv so much. And you know, I was too young to realize that those two things absolutely complemented each other the idea of psychology, and the idea of teaching improvisation and performing improvisation. So I didn’t go to grad school. I went to Cincinnati, lived in my friend’s closet, and I had met this team at a festival a college festival in it was just a bunch of you know, Just a bunch of like white guys, as were a lot of improvisers in the 90s. And they were like, you know, well, do you ever come to Cincinnati, we’d love you to join our team. You know, like, I just like, Kismet loved these guys. I thought they were so great. And so I ended up going to Cincinnati and like, asked me to join their professional long form team. And that’s what I did. I went to Cincinnati, and I started performing with these guys. And you know, they weren’t


HOST  15:31

let you in. Like, you’d been doing short form and stuff. And they were just like, Yeah, no, I


GUEST  15:38

mean, these guys had no training, they’re just doing that, you know, like, this is like, you know, this is late 90s comedy. Like they whoever that there’s no woman that, you know, there’s no other improv in Cincinnati, they have a, there’s a short form team called wit’s end. And then there was a long form team called trespassers only. And they both were kind of like, you know, like Annie join our team and our team. And I ended up going with the long form team because I had done short form for so long. And I was like, why want to do that? But, you know, it led to other things, but I, I’m just telling you my whole story now Oh, my god, no, man,


HOST  16:17

like, you know, we’ve to eat. At the beginning, we were talking about this lack of confidence, you have no need to have a lack of confidence. I hope you have confidence. Now in your life. Your whole story is about how people are begging you to be on teams with them. And then like your friends are losing out. They’re punching you. They’re burning down, you know, like Wendy’s this so mad.


GUEST  16:41

Like, it sounds like


HOST  16:42

you’re great. Like you. It’s just the trouble is like the wake of terribleness behind you as you go, but everything seems to work out. Amazing for you. I love the idea that the whole improv scene is like,



She’s mine. She’s mine.


GUEST  16:59

But the whole improv scene is like 10 people, like there’s no, there’s no improv seen in 1999, or whatever in Cincinnati. Like, you know, we’re doing shows in the back of a bar. You know, like, it’s not like, you know, if I had been smart, I would have gone to Chicago and studied improvisation, but I didn’t, because I had no confidence to do that. I you know, like, I wasn’t, I wasn’t able to go the extra mile and like, you know, into go actually learn it. I instead went this like offshoot way in I hear what you’re saying that like, you know, I am, I am rose, you know, like, there are like rose tinted kind of glasses here. And I think I, I was kind of a performer my whole life. But like, I just, it took me even many more years after this to actually admit that, like I was a performer, which I think is a thing for most improvisers. And most improvisers that I met that, like, you know, there’s just an imposter syndrome. You know, we all think like we don’t belong, that we’re not as good that suddenly someone’s going to realize we shouldn’t be there. We’re not actors, like that. A lot of improvisers don’t believe that they’re an actor, because that puts too much pressure on them. And so I had all those things going on with me, I shouldn’t be here. I’m not actually funny. You know, but in hindsight, it seemed like I was doing pretty, pretty well. GCI, almost. I caught it. I caught that, cause you’re doing pretty good. I did great. Good. Good. Absolutely. Well, you know, I


HOST  18:57

mean, you’re right, there’s no way that you can, like know, at the time that things were going great. You know, I mean, there’s hindsight is the best, you know, and in fact, yeah, part of what I why I enjoy the podcast, really, because it’s like, you know, I like looking back on, on people’s memories and hearing the way that they tell them because, you know, it just frames things in a, in a fun way. But it’s it’s all created by where you’re at now. Right? Like it’s, you know, the way I’m telling a story about a certain part of my life will change in a few years. If I change the way I look at it. salutely you know, everything. Everything goes up and down. Now now with reference to this Cincinnati move. You went to this, this crowd though, because you felt comfortable, right? Like you met these people. They were cool. Yeah, you could have gotten to Chicago but Chicago didn’t have people that were like your friends. So it makes total sense that you would go to Cincinnati. How long were you there?


GUEST  20:03

Well, I actually grew up right outside of Chicago. So it would have made sense for me to go to Chicago, and I knew lots of people who had moved there. I grew up, really, I grew up in a small town called lol, which is like, just south of Gary. Gary, Indiana. So, you know, like, I mean, I didn’t want to go to Chicago, because it was near my family. That’s the truth train, like I just did, I would didn’t want to be near my family. So I went to Cincinnati. And you know, it’s funny, because this story, like about a performance and all that stuff is like, you know, like, when I look back on it, like, yeah, it seems like it was heading in the right direction. But like, you know, I’m 20 or 21 years old, and like, I’m, I’ve got a, I’ve got a twin size mattress in someone’s closet that has been smashed in there. And, you know, like, it doesn’t really fit. So the, the sides of it are, it’s kind of like a, like a bow. You know what I mean? Like the edges of the mattress. And, you know, I’m working. I’m working at, you know, a waitressing job and like, I didn’t go to grad school. And now what am I doing? So the like, the time was really wrought with, like, fear that I had done something incredibly stupid. Because, you know, there is no, like, there was no like payment, you know, there’s no, no, I’m, like, just getting together with some pals. And we’re just, you know, putting stuff up on stage. But like, you know, there is no, there is no clarification that this was a good move in any capacity. You know what I mean? Oh, yeah. I


HOST  21:49

mean, I can tell you there five or six years that I have rose colored and squished into one day, in my brain for sure. Where I’m like, I remember living in New York City, it was so magical. Now, it wasn’t no,


GUEST  22:04

it absolutely was not. It was terrible in


HOST  22:07

a lot of ways. You lived in six different apartments. It was a lot of failure. Like,


GUEST  22:13

come on, what did you move to New York for? Well, just theater,


HOST  22:18

you know what I mean? Like, just yeah, doing it. I grew up in Boston. So like, it was the big city to go to Yeah, to be in theater and do that kind of thing. So I went and tried to do it. But you know, the city has a vibe, and sometimes it’s hard and it kicked me out three different times. And I would go back to my mom’s house and get a job and make some money and then move back. But you know,


GUEST  22:53

that’s perseverance. Sure. Well, I


HOST  22:55

wanted to do it. And when I left, I felt like I was like, okay, don’t leave unless you feel complete about this place, because you kept coming back. So if you’re done and you don’t need to move here, again, you can leave and I was like, Yeah, I think I’ve done it. Because I lived in New York total. I want to say like five years isn’t a long time. What


GUEST  23:14

were the years you lived there?


HOST  23:16

Well, okay, again, on and off.






it was


HOST  23:25

2000 to 2000. The year to 2007. I want to say, Now, I know you’re like I bet Amy that seven years. You’re right. But there was the year of


GUEST  23:44

  1. I like in


HOST  23:46

the fall of 2001, the fateful fall of 2001 and the spring of 2002. I was living in Portland, Maine, doing an internship at the time. But all the rest of the time. I lived in New York City, but so like I had a full sort of like school year spent doing this internship in Portland, Maine. Yeah.


GUEST  24:08

Where were you at at a theater in Portland?


HOST  24:10

Yeah, Portland Stage Company. It’s like the the main theater. Yeah, the Marlins that are listening are like, Um, excuse me. There’s like a lot of theaters here and there, right, but


GUEST  24:22

Well, now growing up the Lord theater, the one that can pay more theater,


HOST  24:28

Lord, League of regional theaters. LRT Oh, not


GUEST  24:33

the Lord’s like, like Jesus Christ. No. It’s the Lord’s theatre is what I thought you said, Man, that would be great.


HOST  24:41

Imagine I was like, Oh, well, this theater is better because it’s the Lord’s theatre.


GUEST  24:46

I don’t have to imagine thinking that because I did think it just a second ago. And that’s why I brought it up to you because I was certain you said the Lord like Jesus Christ theater. Nope, not that pretty. Like, that’s pretty brazen for a theatre company to like Co Op, the whole, like the whole of Christianity.


HOST  25:07

That was their like tagline.


GUEST  25:11

This is the Lord’s theatre. Oh, yeah. Well, you know, we’re, we’re doing it for Jesus and he approved the various theatre productions are great.


HOST  25:21

There’s a lot of that. Actually, I bet you we could Google that that would be a real thing.


GUEST  25:26

I’m sure there would be. I mean, everybody’s got a saying just because you have faith doesn’t mean you can’t like a thing. No, absolutely.


HOST  25:33

For sure. And hey, man, if you if that’s the those are the stories you’re super into, if you’re like, Listen, I don’t need other stories. Have you read this Bible? It’s chock full of like,


GUEST  25:43

Hey, you write a story that


HOST  25:48

we’re not touching. Some people literally only work on Shakespeare their whole life. And let’s be clear, like the canon of Shakespeare, smaller than the Bible. So you know,


GUEST  25:57

right. Just say,


HOST  26:03

no, it is a lord League of regional theater theater. And that is only a few. There’s like, you know, I don’t know how many there are in Maine, but it to Maine one also they’re the ones that had money to pay interns. So yeah,


GUEST  26:19

yeah. But you and I are maybe about the same age. Are we about the same age? Where you reveal your age to me? I’m told to me. Hey, twins.


HOST  26:31

twinsies. You moved to Cincinnati in 1999? I was like, huh, yeah, cuz I graduated from college in 2000. And then yeah, graduated, and yes,


GUEST  26:42

I graduated in 2000. I moved there in 2000. In 2000. Did I move there in 2000? Or maybe 2001? Cincinnati, something like that? I didn’t. I didn’t live there in 1999. I met those guys in 1999. Right at the festival.


HOST  26:58

Yeah, well,


GUEST  27:01

yeah. You know, it’s


HOST  27:02

funny, I didn’t even go to any festivals. I didn’t know what improv was until I was 30. So, you know, I’m always fascinated to know the way people even heard about it. It’s interesting to me that you because like, I didn’t really know about Whose Line is it Anyway, until later, like, when people would bring it up to me. And I was like, What? Yeah, let’s watch it but I was what was somehow aware of improv? I just didn’t do it. And and I was into like, sketch comedy like kids in the hall and that


GUEST  27:35

Oh, yeah.


HOST  27:36

Blood kids in the hall. SNL, a lot of that. I watched a lot of that date. Oh, this state? Oh, yeah. ft eight,


GUEST  27:44

I love this day.


HOST  27:46

I mean, I still love them. They’re none of them are dead. They’re, they’re great.


GUEST  27:53

I mean, you’re like, I feel like you’re, you know, like, I’m a I mean, because Ball State did have this, this improv team. That’s, you know, that’s the reason I even got to experience it. And it was like a huge deal on campus, like, yeah, I mean, like, everybody knew about absolute fantasy. And like, you know, we would, we would have shows once a month, and you know, there’d be 500 kids there. watching these shows, we haven’t been like the huge auditoriums at the school. So it’s kind of a little bit of a rock star thing, which was awesome. But yeah, Whose Line Is It? Anyway, I really loved like, I loved Carol Burnett, growing up, and I love The Carol Burnett Show. And I remember, like, maybe, maybe my mom, my mom also loved it and sort of my dad. And we were like, watching a scene with like Tim Conway in it. And and my dad or my mom, one of them said something like, Oh, do you know, this was just, you know, that he just made this up that like, they didn’t have a script for this or whatever. And I remember being like, fascinated with the idea that like, they didn’t have something they knew they were going to say, just that like Tim Conway and who’s the other guy I know. I can’t remember his name. How’d you drag me out their names? No, I can. Yeah, the other guy, I see his face. He was he was Headley, l’amour at Lee Lamar in Blazing Saddles, or first name was anyways, that they did a lot of scenes that a lot of their stuff was improvised. I mean, I didn’t know that word improv until I saw Whose Line is it Anyway. And then I, you know, it was just like the same connection. Like I always loved that sort of thing much more and I loved the state and I loved kids in the hall. But I loved the idea of just like off the cuff, that you could just say stuff. And it was okay, because I think part of it though, was like my deep fear of like seeing Because of because of this duck scenario that happened in third grade is dumb as it sounds like, I was fearful that like, I was only funny as a person, in that I was only like worthy of performance as a person, but not like you couldn’t give me a script. And I would read it. And it would be funny, like I was, in my mind, I couldn’t do that. And that was like, I was terrible at that. And that was just like an, you know, like a very deep truth that I believed about myself, which is something that I realized that improvisers and people do all people do. You know, we, we create truths about ourselves based on small incidents that happen in our youth that if we look back on them, we can’t put any weight on them, because it’s just so stupid. Like, it’s so stupid that I wasn’t the duck. Oh, who cares that I wasn’t the duck. And I’m sure my family was like, Who cares? But to me, it was like, you know, such a deep cut, that it changed my whole perspective about what I could and couldn’t do. And then that not was like, took me years to untangle. You know what I mean? I’m sorry, I came back around to that stuff we were talking about. Oh, no, no,


HOST  31:20

no, no, it’s, it’s, it’s an important detail, for sure. And I think you’re right, that most people feel that way, you know, unsure of what their place is. And the idea of doing a play seems so solid and permanent. And like, well, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that. Right. But when you do improv, it’s like, it’s so hippie dippie. Like it literally anything goes. And that’s not like, exactly true, but that’s certainly how you get them in the door.


GUEST  31:54

Right? Yes, that is how you get them and then you put rules on them.


HOST  32:01

No, no, I always say rule of one all the time. And I like saying, Listen, I’m gonna give you a bunch of rules. But then at the end, I’m gonna let you let them go. These rules don’t matter later. But you need to, they don’t matter later. Like, like, when I teach level one, I


GUEST  32:17

say it is a you know, like, when you learn how to drive, we teach you all the rules on how to drive but you don’t you know, when you can follow these rules, and when you don’t have to, and if no one’s watching, you can break any of them however you want. And in practice, the same way, guys, thanks. Have a good day. I knew that illegal U turn


HOST  32:42

easily just say that when they you know, like have a real issue with a thing that you’re making them do. Or they’re like,



yeah, I understand.


HOST  32:50

You’re like it’s an exercise. Just try it. Like just do the exercise. I might not ever have to do this. Again, if you just do it this one time.


GUEST  33:01

You probably won’t. Or you will have to do it constantly.


HOST  33:05

That’s how improv works.


GUEST  33:08

If you don’t like it, chances are it is you’re going to be your Achilles heel and you’re going to have to conquer it. So let’s just go ahead and dip our feet into the pool. Okay.


HOST  33:17

Yeah, you know, I mean, you clearly you’ve taught improv, there’s a there’s a journey, that they go through the journey, and you have to just let them be on their journey. And sometimes they’re like, how dare you? This is terrible. And you’re like, and sometimes they’re like, this is the best rule I’ve ever heard. And you’re like, great.


GUEST  33:38

This is all great. And this is all just about you. Sure. Yes. Absolutely. Yeah.


HOST  33:48

I love that kind of stuff, though. I’ve taught like week long intensives and I like being the person who’s in charge of like, checking in on the mental states of the people. Like so, you know, I got 10 people who are all doing this week long, intensive and we’re like all doing improv for like, eight hours a day for five days. So like, usually around like Wednesday, they crack like, and so yeah, happens to them. And they either like, can’t, like they laugh too much and everything’s insane or they get like mad. And they get, you know, combative not like physically combative, but they’ll be like, Listen, I’m just not good at this. Okay. And you’re like, Okay,


GUEST  34:29

sure. Yeah. But I have also taught these things. The like, my I feel like my best improv stories all happened around intensives. Yeah. You know, like trying to teach level three or whatever, in one week, six hours a day for five days, that sort of thing. Yep. And then yeah, there’s somebody. Inevitably, somebody midweek who just who just cracks in lots of delightful ways, and a lot of how incite delightful ways, but in the moment horrifying.


HOST  35:04

But that’s why it’s good. That’s why I was always happy to be like, because there were a few of us in the room, right? There was like a main teacher to like, home teachers who there were two of us who were with them the whole time. And then there were people that would come in and visit and teach for a couple hours here and there. But like, most of my job was just being with them. Like I’d give them notes. But I only taught once, like for one like section, and but the rest of the time I was just with them. And I’d be like, how are you guys doing? Like, have you eaten? You should drink some water.


GUEST  35:37

You know, I love that. I love that. You’re just on the mental checks. Yeah. I was just alone in a room with you know, 15 other people for six hours a day. And I’m also


HOST  35:50

have that many people in a room together.


GUEST  35:53

Give me that. I can’t wait. I’ll just come.


HOST  35:56

You’ll do all the whatever teaching you want to do. And then this the whole time, I’ll be like, sweetie, let me just give you a little shoulder rub. Hey,



you look pay



  1. Sounds like a dream recently. In Jays,


HOST  36:10

I’ve got a whole case of him right here.


GUEST  36:17

Well, that sounds so great. What I like I can’t believe I’m fantasizing about it. Like, oh, what a dream? No, yeah, it’s true. It’s


HOST  36:26

true. So let’s jump forward. You after Cincinnati and the great success of Cincinnati improv?


GUEST  36:34

Yeah, so it was a great success. I have to say that they I left and that the two of the guys that were there with me at that time they, they stayed. One of them went and trained in Detroit, at second city there and then came back and like, now they’re doing it now they have like a theatre company and over the Rhine, because that’s a place in Cincinnati. So over the right improv, or ot our improv. I’ve had a glass of wine, I just want you to know that.


HOST  37:10

She says an hour into the conversation


GUEST  37:14

might be my second or third. I’m not sure yet. But yeah, fast forwarding, I go to Cincinnati, and I end up leaving there. And I moved to LA. And because my significant other at the time wanted to he he had a job with not Bob and Tom. He had a job with Troy Miller, and he worked for like Tenacious D and then Mr. Chau and, and so we went to LA. And I was totally intimidated. And I didn’t want to do anything. And I was totally scared to do improv there. Because I knew like acting was like, what the city was about. And so I gained a ton of weight, and drank a lot and hung out in my apartment and hated every second of LA, I thought it was so awful. And that went on for like a year and a half. And then. And then I did like, I did like this sketch comedy group. That was terrible. And then then I decided that I was going to learn how to improvise in. I knew about IO, because I’d grown up near Chicago, so I knew what I was. And there’s there was an iOS in LA. And so like, I went to sign up for a class, and at this time, it was like, 2003, maybe, and you had to, like go in person in like, you know, bring him a check. And I remember checks. Yeah, he had to bring him a check. And I went in, and I was like shaking. And I was I like I brought I sat in my car for a long time. Like, I wouldn’t go in the building. And then eventually, I talked to myself into going in, and I went in and signed up for a class, and then gave him a check. And then I went back into my car, and I just like wept. I was so like, I was just so emotionally, like wrung out about trying to get improv back into my life, something that I had loved and not gone to grad school for, and not touched for a year and a half because I was so depressed about la but joining iOS, you know, just like one at my whole life. And, you know, I lost all that weight, and I got a lot of friends. And then I thought la was the best. You know, if you have friends, it’s all fine.


HOST  39:50

And he’s helpful. Mm hmm. Yeah.


GUEST  39:53

So yeah, I started. I started doing classes there. My very first day in my level one, the teacher My name is Marian Oberlin and she is just a sheer delight of a woman. If she’s listening, she’s probably not she’s kids. But she she was like, What do you want to do with improv? You know, the thing we asked students in a level one class, what brought you here? Why are you here today? What do you want to get out of this? And I just remember being like, I was like, it’s like, I want to teach improv. I’d love it so much. I just want I was like, just, I was just like a freak show about like, how I wanted to teach it and, and how I was obsessed with it. And like, no one had done improv in this class. But I had done, you know, at this point, I’d done like six years of improv before I joined this level one class. But it was a totally different experience, obviously. And, and yeah, so then I did classes there,


HOST  40:52

was it a different style, because you had been doing short form? And then we’re the over the Rhine guys doing still short form or no,


GUEST  41:01

they Yeah, yeah. I mean, we did, we did long form. We did long form in short form, but really, we didn’t know what we were doing. Like, we didn’t have any training. You know, we’re trying to do like a loron, which PS is the most boring form of all time, but like, I don’t know that. I don’t know how boring it is. Except that it’s so boring. And, and in no shade to the loron. I think it’s a great teaching tool. But I do think it’s very tedious to watch. So anyways, you know, we’re, they’re doing long form, and specifically the Herald and iOS. And so it was just like a whole other ballgame. And that was so exciting. So exciting. And fascinating to me, I was just so excited. And then, you know, you’re supposed to complete the program. And then after you’re done with the program, you can audition to be on the house team. But after my first after my level one, my teacher, Marian overly said that I could audition to be on a house team. And, you know, here’s, here’s my moment, again, where I get to go, you know, like, audition with all these people who have done the whole program for a herald which I have, you know, only seen now a handful of times because I just started classes. And I just didn’t I mean, I made it to the final callback. This is I made it to the final callback. But I did not make any teams because truth train, I didn’t know anything about a herald. And I could not complete you know, I couldn’t complete three beats of an idea. Like I didn’t even know how to heighten anything. Like, I was just really going on like raw energy and supporting people. And I it’s ridiculous.


HOST  42:53

Now question when you went in and did this audition? were the people that had been there a long time upset about it? Or was this a regular thing that like a random level one would get tossed occasionally.


GUEST  43:10

It does happen sometimes. It’s not a regular thing. And to be frank, I do not remember anybody in that audition. I don’t remember anything about it, except that I was like a demon from hell. And that’s really all I remember. I was so scared that I just, you know, I was I had like blinders on. Like, I don’t know, I have no idea what happened in that room. Oh, man. Oh, I don’t remember what people’s reactions were, I think, also truth trained to those people. They were probably just also obsessed with themselves. So they had no idea what was going on either. Oh, yeah, sure. Sure. just totally obsessed with, you know, their performance and if they’re going to get on a team and all that sort of stuff. So yeah. Yeah. Yeah,


HOST  44:00

I did get punched again.


GUEST  44:03

I did not get punched, there was no punching. And I didn’t actually make it onto a team until my last level at in iOS. So I wasn’t, I didn’t do some sort of prolific like, and then level two, I went ahead and did it. Now at level two, I had Craig koski as my teacher which I’m, I’m sure your people are listening know who Craig koski is. Do you know Craig Vasquez? Yes. Yes, he was my teacher. And he had just moved to LA from Chicago. And I told him that my level one teacher had told me that I could audition. And he must have just thought I was the biggest dip cause of all time. Like he was just like, he’s like, well, you don’t have permission from me. And I was like, oh, Why? I mean, I already auditioned, whoever you are. And then for years, like, oh, Cray koski I don’t know, I don’t like that guy. And he’s delightful. And I love him very much. And if you’re listening to this, Craig, which he’s probably not because he’s probably busy doing great things. But it was just, you know, I just remember for years after that being like, cricket koski Yeah, whatever. Because he told me I couldn’t audition. And he was right to say that, to me, that was a very stupid.


HOST  45:36

To what point did you start? Did you start teaching there? Because I know that was your hopes and dreams? Did you get to teach there? Or do they just let you perform?


GUEST  45:48

I did. I, as I’ve expressed, I was desperate to teach and, and then, you know, but then like that, that dream also kind of like went on the back burner when I realized there was so much more to learn. And so I didn’t actively pursue teaching, I started coaching and maybe 2007. And then, my friends, they are from a team from Boston, I believe, because they met at UMass is in Boston isn’t UMass in Boston is Metro?


HOST  46:27

I mean, you know, University of Massachusetts. So


GUEST  46:30

and, and they’re our age too. So they were they met and formed an improv team in at UMass. I think they went to UMass called mission improbable. And do you know mission improbable heard of it? Yeah. I mean,


HOST  46:47

okay. So other people have named their thing, the same thing. But I’ve heard of that.


GUEST  46:52

Well, they they have a very successful college touring company that goes all over. And they also have contracts with the, with the armed forces, like they’re there in everything, but they, they started at UMass, and then they did short form there. And then I met one of their members at IO, named Lloyd alquist, who has gone on to be epic Lloyd, of the Epic Rap Battles of History. But he, he was my coach of a team that I was on called USS rock and roll. And, and he was just awesome. You’re such a great coach, such a great mentor. And he, they got the opportunity mission and probably got the opportunity to purchase a theater out from somebody else called the Westside eclectic in Santa Monica. And so he they took over and then he was like, you know, do you want to teach a class. So that was the first time I got to teach a class was at their theater, which is called MIT’s Westside comedy theater. And that was in like, 2008, I got to teach there. Because at the time, iOS wasn’t allowing people to teach that we’re not trained in Chicago. So you could train in an iOS but you couldn’t teach there. You had to, you had to train in Chicago unless sharna. Halpern saw you and approved you. So and I’d been coaching there for a few years at this point, and coaching their Herold teams or whatever. And USS was a very well respected, a very heavy group work team. And then we were together for like, eight years. And sure enough team to a festival that, that iOS was having that we had every year. I can’t remember what it was called, I can’t believe I can’t remember what that festival was called. Anyways, she came and then we were having this like competition. That was like, you are on a team with all the people that were from your state. So it’s like a, you know, like, every state would face another state in this over the course of a week. And you’re just kind of thrown together with people from your state. But my state was Indiana. And, you know, even though it seems like, you know, because Indiana sucks so bad that we wouldn’t have that many great people. But because of absolute lunacy, there was a ton of people at iOS that we’re also also on. Absolutely see. So there was all these great people there. She came to the final like the finale of that show. And she saw me perform. And afterwards the director. He like spun Shawn around, it was like, Oh, hey, this is who I was telling you about. You just saw her and she was like, Oh, yeah, you were so good. And then she’s like, isn’t she teaching here and he was like, Oh, she can’t To cheer and if you want her to, and he’s like, she was like, Oh, yeah, of course. And then that was it. And that was able to teach there. But that took years and years.


HOST  50:10

So let’s jump forward again. You mentioned that you and your current husband ran a theater together. What is that? Tell me about that?


GUEST  50:22

Well, I started teaching it iOS, and my husband was already teaching there because he knew sharna and had trained in Chicago. He wasn’t my husband at the time. I can’t remember when we got married something. Anyways, we we got married in 2012. And before we got married, we were friends for a really long time. He was also on us rock and roll. And he was on the Herald team that I originally was selected to be on, which is called the jungle. Anyway, so he, he and I were both teaching independently. And we were doing our 2%, which is called now 11. And it’s called now within 11 like to be in the now to be president. So we started, we were both really fascinated with the idea of, you know, teaching improv not necessarily for stage benefit, but for just like personal growth. And we taught enough classes around at m is Westside comedy theater, we’re also teaching it amda, which is the American Dance Academy, American Music and Dance Academy. We’re teaching their improv program, and and then we’re teaching it iOS in. So we had a pretty big group of students over the years. And so we decided to teach these classes called New worth army, which is based on the like, on the movie. Men who stare at goats. Do you remember that movie? I’ve seen the movie. Yeah. So in that movie, George Clooney is, you know, he’s a, I wouldn’t say he’s a, he’s a guy. Oh. So like, in the late 70s, early 80s. The the truth, the United States had like a military offshoot that was in response, basically, to the Star Wars movies. So the United States thought that the Russians were training. They were training their people to be able to do like, kind of Jedi warfare like mind control warfare. And this happened after Star Wars. And so it was like, like a think impact culture. So to counteract their perceived notion of what the Russians were doing, they decided to make their own program, which was called the New Earth army. And this is a true story. It’s not just based on the movie, there is a guy who developed the New Earth army, and Jeff Bridges plays him in the movie. And then in the movie, you know, they do a lot of drugs, and they experiment. But the thing is, is that George Clooney is seen as, as seen as like, the guy who has all the potential to be the best of these, like mind, warfare people, and like, you know, they’re supposed to drop out of airplanes and like, into like, an enemy zone where they have guns, and they radiate peace, and then the people are supposed to drop their guns or, you know, then they exchange flowers, and everything will be okay, so this was the thing that the US was actually doing. And in the movie, George Clooney says, door, what’s the space, Jeff Bridges, opens the door and says, you know, go in and dance and there’s all these sweaty, all these sweaty guys just like dancing. And clearly, they’re super high and all of that stuff, because they’re experimenting with LSD and all these drugs to like, free their minds. And he says, oh, it, and then he has this flash in jeopardy says, it’s not that you can’t it’s that a long time ago, someone told you you couldn’t and you believed it. And then he has this flashback to being in his room. And he’s young, he’s dancing, and then his dad comes by, and he yells some things at him some horrible things, which I won’t repeat. And then he throws a pillow Adam, and record scratches and George Clooney doesn’t ever dance again. But in that moment, he decides that he’s gonna let that story go and he’s going to embrace who she wants to be. And so then he goes in he dances and he becomes the like the greatest warrior that New Earth army has ever seen. So the clap we had, we did this for a lot. He was called New Earth army and it was basically that idea but for improvisers, if you can imagine what that class would look like. And it was like an eight week class and there was a lot of like, we did weird stuff, we, you know, we did, like we did meditation, we would do these like dance sessions, where like, we’re not going to tell you how long we’re dancing for, but you’re not going to stop dancing and you won’t get a break for 20 minutes. And you know, we’re going to ask you to do things inside of the dance like, you know, you’re going to have to emote now on now, I want you to dance sexy, you know, like, and these are all just putting people up against themselves. And, you know, we’ve asked people what their greatest fear was onstage? And when do you think that started, and when in that life when your life did that start, so kind of related to my, like, duck story, this was a thing that we started doing for other people, and they would keep journals, and we give them mantras, and they would wear bracelets, and at the end, we gave them flowers, and the classes became wildly popular, you imagine la really liking it. Like this. And, you know, it was all like, tailored curriculum. So we didn’t have a curriculum, we would go in and do an assessment day, where we would put them through a bunch of exercises and dances and meditations and, and whatever. And then we would come up with a curriculum based on based on helping them, you know, get to a certain point with their, whatever their goal was, you know, if it if they like, just didn’t want to feel stupid on stage, or didn’t want to be the one to feel stupid, or like, you know, they couldn’t be vulnerable, or, you know, there’s a slew of things. And it always broke down to the same sorts of things for people. So the classes became really popular, and so popular that we were like, well, it makes more sense for us to, you know, rent a theater space than to like, continue to like rent classroom space. It was called the natkho Improv Theater. Because we were now improv. We opened that theater and, and it was really successful, it was doing really well. But then sexy, I got pregnant. And when I got pregnant, then it was just really, I mean, I was pregnant when we opened it. And then I got pregnant with a second baby, two years later, and we couldn’t, we couldn’t run a theater and raise two children. It was just like, impossible. So we closed it down. But then that same week that we closed it. The guys from MIT’s Westside comedy theater, called us and asked us if we wanted to be like, co educational directors at their theater. So then we took that job instead. And we moved to be in Santa Monica. And help run


HOST  57:58

their theater. Mission improbable theater. Oh, that’s great.


GUEST  58:01

Yeah. Oh, yeah,


HOST  58:03

we did that for and you work together. Man, you must really ask your husband.


GUEST  58:08

I do. I love him. But he’s also we taught those classes together. We, we we were teaching together a lot at that point. So we were kind of like, an 11. We’re like a brand. You know what I mean? They were like, it’s like, we were like a thing together. We still are a thing together. But so yeah, we did that. We did that together. And then we went to MIT Westside comedy theater, and we’re the educational directors there for for a little over two years. But then guess what? I got pregnant again. Third, baby.


HOST  58:51

You guys are like, yes. We want three kids. Let’s do it.


GUEST  58:55

We No, no, I did not want three kids. I it was a surprise, Pregnancy surprise. But we wanted to you know, like we did have that baby. And he’s great. Stanley is a great guy. But But yeah, that that third baby really like it was just it was really hard to do that. So we stayed there as long as we could. We stayed there through my pregnancy. I gave birth to him. We stayed there for another eight months. And then then at some point where like we have to, we have to do something different because this is like too intense. We’re just like, we’re there all the time. We’re running the educational department where we’re teaching, we’re teaching, we’re teaching teachers, we’re teaching classes, we’re doing shows, we’re like trying to live the life of a young improviser. And, you know, when you have kids, it’s really, it’s really hard to do that. So yeah, we moved to Montana. We moved to Montana. And to Bozeman, Montana to get


HOST  1:00:04

your husband from Montana.


GUEST  1:00:06

He is, well, he’s from Virginia, and then from Montana, so his dad has a ranch out here. And we were coming here all the time to see his dad. And it just seemed like a nice place. And it was, we looked at moving to a bunch of smaller cities, we’re like, well, we can, you know, move to a smaller city and try to open up a theater or become a part of someone else’s cedar. And there was talks of moving to Portland, the cause of curious comedy, theater, and some other places. But in the end, it was like, well, let’s just try it. So we came here. And there’s a really small but awesome community of people that live here and that perform. And that, you know, we fell in with and started teaching and doing shows here. And then it seemed like, Well, you know, what, I bet we could open a theater here. And it won’t be the big thing that we had been doing before, and we won’t have hundreds of students and, you know, but also, that’s okay, because we have had all those experiences. So when we left LA, we left LA, my husband and said to me, like, you know, and we both both been actors, and I’d had a pretty successful commercial acting career for a long time. And he was like, you know, what else do we want to do here? Like, what else do you want to do that we haven’t done? And I was like, I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s anything else? I mean, like, I just love working at ms was like comedy theater, because I did I loved working there so much. And he’s like, Yeah, but you know, like, Is there anything else? Or is this the end, this is this is everything we’ve wanted to do in LA. And that was like a really hard pill to swallow that like it was there wasn’t anything else I needed to do there. And so being in a smaller community and like helping theatre grow in a smaller community. You know, it’s just a whole other different. It’s a whole other different thing. But it’s not any less valid. You know what I mean? Like, you don’t have to live in a big city, to love improv or to get to know about improv or get to perform improv. And if we can help a theater, and we are where we now we partnered with a girl, a girl, she’s just a little girl. We partnered with a performer here, named Molly Hannon. And she’s been doing improv here for a few years. And she was super interested in the idea of opening the theater, and she’s really great. And it’s become a dear friend. And so we formed last best comedy, because the unofficial tagline of Montana is it’s the last best place. And, and so now we’re gonna try to open up a theater. Well, we had a theater, it was supposed to open. It was supposed to open on March 15. It was the day that our least took over. But then everything shuttered on March 6, March 8, I think was when everything shuttered. So we were just a few days away from like, our final like, you know, pen to paper first check of rent, when everything shut down. So now we’re just waiting, like, everybody are just kind of waiting for it to possibly start up again, which I mean, I know. Will you talk for a second? I’ve just been talking your


HOST  1:03:42

wine. No, you’re fine. You’re perfect. I’m thank you for telling me about this new community. Yeah, I mean, everybody’s stopped. It’s nice, though. I’m sure you know, you’ve kept in touch with the people in your, in your community, though, right. Like, during this time? Are you doing like online stuff? Are you just sort of doing like, zoom calls to do mental health checks with your pals?


GUEST  1:04:07

We, I mean, we, we were doing in the beginning, we did a thing called the quarantine Comedy Hour, and we got people from all over to come and do you know, partially scripted kind of bids and interviews and you know, that kind of stuff. And we did that for a while and we had people from our community be like, cast members on that. But, you know, like with a lot of things that have happened to everybody, it just became stale at some point. And then we tried to do some zoom classes and I did some zoom teaching here but then also for some other theaters, in I don’t know it just wasn’t the thing and then also here in the summer, it was so like lovely here and Montana’s like a big open space kind of place. So we started doing outdoor socially distanced improv workouts and then we did improv jams all socially distance, we were being very careful. But we got to be outside and together over the summer, which was really great. And now it’s snowing. So we’re not doing those things. Yeah, it’s real cold. Now we’re back to being in our, our houses. Yeah. Man,


HOST  1:05:31

that’s the tough part about the whole snow thing. I mean, like the, the pandemic, at the beginning during the latter half of the winter was kind of like, this will be over soon, right. But now that we’re headed into like, the second winter, I worry, you know, there’s just a lot of cold out there to be had. And


GUEST  1:05:56

there’s a lot of cold to be had. There is a lot but you’re in Texas. Like I would give anything to be someplace warm like Texas. I don’t know if I want to be in Texas, per se. But I would I would go there. I would go there right now. No shade to Texas. It’s okay.


HOST  1:06:12

I mean, you get a you get it’s a toss up different places, you get different things. Right.


GUEST  1:06:16

Right. Exactly. I would go to Austin, that seems great. I would definitely go there with 100


HOST  1:06:22

plus off what is a magical wonderland of a town? So it’s lovely.


GUEST  1:06:27

Yeah, it is lovely. I have been there. I was there in 2010 or nine, something like that. And it was great. What a great place It was. It was a great place it was


HOST  1:06:37

well, you are have found yourself in a good spot to do theater in in Montana. I mean, I totally understand the like, need to kind of settle down and feel more like, you know, rooted in a in a solid space to have kids you know, I mean, I definitely feel that way with my kiddo. I don’t really I’m not like out at improv theaters at night. I do like daytime teaching now or like, you know, online stuff. And it’s like, yeah, you know, I don’t, I don’t know how I would do it. He’s just, he’s with me all the time. Right?


GUEST  1:07:20

I know, it’s really hard. And like, we, we did it for a while we did the max. I mean, we were running a theater, then we ran somebody else’s theater. And we were raising three kids. Like, it’s crazy. And, you know, like, you don’t, I don’t know, I it’s been a real like, it’s, it’s been very challenging for me, because I have been so in improv in, in the community for so long. And then to be in Montana, which is like, totally remote, you know, like, I’m not connected to anybody anymore. I mean, I kind of am, you know, people still, you know, call me, you’re asking me to teach something, or whatever. So, I have some like online access to like the greater world. Community. I’m so thankful to the internet for that, that, like, I haven’t lost all of my things. But also, you know, like, you were talking at the very beginning, before we started recording about like, Well, what do you do with improv? And like, how can you, you know, if you love it, like, what, what do you do for your day job, and all that sort of stuff. And my husband, Levin, and I were just like, at some point, we were like, We don’t know what else we would do at this point. Like, unless I’m going to go to school to do something totally different, like, you know, mathematics. Like I have no idea what other career I would do, because I love running theaters. I love a theater community. I love being on stage. And I love helping other people experience that experienced that thing. And so being in a smaller town, even though it doesn’t have like, it definitely doesn’t have the like the glory there is no glory, because it is a small town. But it does have the like, actual accessibility to be able to like, well, we could run a theater here, the demand is not going to be the same as if we were in LA or another big city. And this might be an actual place that we can get to live our dream of being a family with our children and get to live our dream of continuing to like run the theater and be performers. And know that that’s, that’s good enough. It doesn’t have to be that it’s, you know, we’re not the next second city. But we we are just us and in what we do will be good enough to fill that void. Because selfishly The reason I wanted to open up an Improv Theater here is not because I thought it would be like super successful Mostly because I just want to be able to walk into an Improv Theater. Do you know what I mean? Yeah, like the like sensation of like, being in your theater, being in the place that you call home. Whether if you run it, or you’re just a student there, or you’re just too performer there, it’s not just that, like, you know, like, you go, you get to go home to a place that is like your people. And this is your stage. And it just feels so comforting. Yeah. And I don’t have that here. Even though there are there are other theaters here, and was like, well, then we’re gonna make our own thing here. We’re gonna make our own Cheers. We’re gonna make our own improv cheers here.


HOST  1:10:45

improv to your


GUEST  1:10:47

improv. Cheers. Yeah,


HOST  1:10:49

I mean, like, that’s a business model that I would, you know, contribute money into if I had any. Yeah, it’s an improv Cheers. Investors call right away. So one final question for you. If you had to give advice to students just starting to get involved in improv or theater on their, their path, you know, and the ups and downs of it, you know, what kind of advice would you give them?


GUEST  1:11:19

Oh, my goodness is such a broad question.


HOST  1:11:27

I don’t think it’s gonna be better if it’s broad.


GUEST  1:11:28

It’s just a broad mesh, a real wide swath. What advice would I give people? I guess the advice I would give people is that, you know, that improv is the art of you. That, you know, artists have paint brushes and, and actors have scripts, but improvisers just have themselves. And if you can, if you can really, truly swallow that truth down in the beginning, you’re going to be better off because lots of people are going to want to tell you how to do it. And lots of people are going to tell you their philosophies and like, well, these are the ways that we heighten, and this is the rules of improv, and then you’re going to go to another theater, and they’re going to tell you their things, but really, that that all stems from one person saying, This is what worked for me. And so I’m going to make an improv curriculum. And it works so well for me that I get a chance to make an improv curriculum. That’s no shade to their curriculum or their thoughts. Because they probably have very legitimate thoughts. And you can probably learn a lot from them. But in the end, improvisation is about yourself. And it’s about honing your own sensibilities in your own philosophy, about what you think is fun, and what you think is funny. And the best coach, and the best teacher that you can ever have is actually yourself. Because you know, the places that you are hiding, you know, the places that you are avoiding the situations on stage, you’re like, I just don’t do that. I just don’t do group work. I just don’t do fast tags. So I don’t do monologues. There’s a reason you don’t do those things. And it has to do with your personality and the way that you were raised and things that happen to you. And if you can continue to refine yourself and get better at being you in life, you will get better at being an improviser. And you can use the improv stage to improve your life. Just as you can use your life to improve your improv. They’re one in the same. So my advice is pay attention to you and not what other people want you to be or what they demand of you. But what you actually want to be and how can you be the best version of you?


HOST  1:13:57

Yeah. Oh,


GUEST  1:14:00



HOST  1:14:01

It’s like sitting here listening to sage advice from like, brainy brown or something. It’s like solid. Ah, so


GUEST  1:14:08

good. That’s solid advice. Is that good? Yeah,


HOST  1:14:11

I was soaking that up. I like didn’t respond for a second. I was like, Oh, I need to say something. Because I was just


GUEST  1:14:16

like, Ah, man, I


HOST  1:14:18

need to hear that. Like, Ah,



yes, I need to do


HOST  1:14:22

  1. Oh, such good stuff. Annie.


GUEST  1:14:26

It is my honor. So read from my my cheek so read from my wine. I just got up and looked in the mirror. I’ve got a really red face. And now I’m like, Oh my god, it was I just like drunk while I’ve been talking. I don’t think I am.


HOST  1:14:40

No, you’ve told me lovely stories about your journey and you are not drunk at all.


GUEST  1:14:46

No, I’m okay. I’m slightly tipsy. Me. You don’t know. I could be totally wasted. Right, right. You


HOST  1:14:51

totally could be it’s totally fine. I don’t judge you. It’s leaving you and you’d had a cut off. That’s me, and I appreciate that. And I think it will benefit people because it just benefited me.


GUEST  1:15:05

Well, that’s good. I felt like it was mostly just a, you know, just me. podcasts are so weird because it’s like, you know, like, Oh, I know I’m coming on your show to be your guest. And you’re gonna ask me these questions about my life. And then I say them, but then at the end, I’m like, man, I just talked about myself for so long. And that makes me feel bad as an improviser. Selfish time? No, I think it’s sure, it’s important to


HOST  1:15:38

great stories and an A, and A lovely arc. Right? Like it all came together, usually storytelling in your even in your own life story.


GUEST  1:15:52

Well, I wrote out my interview over and over and over again, this is the most refined version. That’s a lie. I would never write anything down and then say it because I am not. I’m not the duck. I’m not the duck. Well, hey, okay.


HOST  1:16:10

I appreciate you being on the podcast and chat. Thank


GUEST  1:16:12

you so much for having me. What? What a time you and I just meeting online? And then me just saying yes to this podcast without knowing anything about it. And now I know you. And now after the pandemic, when I come to Austin, we can do a show together. Yeah, that’d be great.


HOST  1:16:29

Oh my god. Yes.


GUEST  1:16:31

I like how you were like, let’s be friends. And I was like, let’s do improv together. It’s the same. It’s the same thing.


HOST  1:16:38

Don’t have friends that aren’t theater people and who are my friends that aren’t theater people are like so special.


GUEST  1:16:47

They’re so special and you got to treat them so special to because they just can’t hang they’re just different. You know what I mean? They’re just different guys


HOST  1:16:54

doing debts. Oh.


GUEST  1:16:57

So many times, non non improv friends are like oh are your improv is going to be there because I just don’t know if I can do all the bits


HOST  1:17:13

thanks for listening to yes but why podcast? Check out all our episodes on Yes, but why podcast calm or check out all the content on our network at Universal and HC Universal Network calm

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