Posts

254: Why is Chicago the Mecca of Improv?

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.

202: Joe Bill

Joe Bill is an international improv teacher and performer. He is a co-founder of the Annoyance Theater and tours with Mark Sutton in Bassprov. He has taught at Second City, The Annoyance and iO Chicago and continues to teach around the world. Jimmy sat down with him in this live episode to talk about The Annoyance, the day he quit stand-up, and his unique psychological approach to improv.

198: Mike Birbiglia

Mike Birbiglia is the writer, director and star of his latest independent film, “Don’t Think Twice,” about a popular New York improv group where one of the members gets his big break. Jimmy talks to Mike about some of the themes in his film, like jealousy, self-sabotage and fame. Mike discusses falling in love with improv and why it’s so important for him to create his own projects.

197: Peter Grosz

Peter Grosz is best known as one of the two guys in the Sonic commercials, but he has also written for The Colbert Report and Late Night with Seth Meyers. He has performed at The Second City etc., the UCB, Boom Chicago, and iO Chicago. Jimmy talks to him about why he still loves improvising, getting hired to write for Colbert and why he likes to play the unlikable Sidney Purcell in HBO’s VEEP.

196: Kelsie Huff

Kelsie Huff is one of Chicago’s hottest comedians. She has studied at iO Chicago and Second City and she teaches the popular Feminine Comique, which is a stand-up class geared towards woman. Jimmy talked to her at this year’s Chicago Women’s Funny Festival about how she uses improv in her stand-up, how to make the transition from storytelling to stand-up, and how she has been able to transform pain into comedy.

192: Ed Furman

Ed Furman is a writer, actor and improviser who has performed in three Second City revues and co-written Chicago’s longest running musical Co-ed Prison Sluts at The Annoyance Theater. He’s also written a sketch project for NBC, two children’s plays and a best selling book. Jimmy sat down with Ed and talked to him about starting out at the Annoyance, how he developed his unique comedic voice, and not worrying about getting the laughs when he improvises.

188: Pete Gardner

Pete Gardner plays Darryl Whitefeather on the hit CW sitcom My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Jimmy sat down and talked with him about why he moved to Chicago in the ’90s to study improv, the importance of taking acting classes even when you are on hit sitcom, and his relationship with his father.

187: Kate Flannery

Kate Flannery is best known for playing Meredith on the NBC series “The Office.” Flannery is also part of the comedy lounge act The Lampshades and was a member of The Second City Touring Company and The Annoyance Theater in Chicago. Jimmy talked to Kate about what is like to be on a hit sitcom, her days in Chicago and why she still keeps a costume change in her car.

183: Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau is a well-known writer, actor and director who has directed such films as Iron Man 1 and 2, Elf, Made, and Chef, just to name a few. He’s also the director of Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book, which comes out April 15. Jimmy sat down with Jon Favreau to discuss his comedy days in Chicago, what tools he uses from his improv training to write his films, and working with Bill Murray on The Jungle Book.

182: Cecily Strong

Cecily Strong is a cast member on SNL and she’s in four new movies coming to theaters this spring and summer, including Ghostbusters, The Bronze, The Meddler and The Boss. Jimmy talks to her about being a ham when she was younger, why studying in Chicago was important to her career, and why she almost didn’t audition for SNL.