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.
Pat Finn is a member of Beer Shark Mice who has appeared in sitcoms like Seinfeld, Friends, The Drew Carey Show, and Curb Your Enthusiasm just to name a few. He has also done a ton of national commercials. Jimmy sat down with him to talk about his late friend Chris Farley, how he developed his physical style of improvising and what it was like to work on Seinfeld.
John Lehr and Nancy Hower create and produce sitcoms that are improvised, such as Ten Items or Less for TBS and Quick Draw for Hulu. John improvised with ED in Chicago in the late ’90s. Nancy studied acting at Juilliard and fronted a rock band. Jimmy sits down with them to talk about why they like improvising their TV shows, how they settle creative differences, and opening for Meat Loaf.
Tim Kazurinsky is an actor who was on Saturday Night Live from 1980-84 and is best remembered as Carl Sweetchuck in the Police Academy films. He is also a screenwriter who co-wrote About Last Night. Jimmy sat down with Tim to talk about why he started taking improv classes at The Second City, how he got on SNL and making his Broadway debut last year in An Act of God with Jim Parsons.
After interviewing Jon Favreau recently for an episode of Improv Nerd in a swanky hotel suite off Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I crawled back into my therapist’s office in pain and said, “He could not have been happier to see me, he gave a great interview, he even gave me a souvenir from the movie, The Jungle Book, and yet I left feeling ‘less than.’”
My therapist, who is not one to let me wallow in my self-pity, said, “Can’t you see you are as accomplished in what you do?”
“No, I can’t,” I said.
He pushed me: “In your teaching improv? In your interviewing?”
“No, I can’t,” I said again, as if he did not hear me the first time.
This is what I really believed. I have been torturing myself this way for years. I always feel this way because I compare everyone else’s accomplishments to mine, which is a game I never seem to win.
But after that conversation, something seems to have shifted.
Last week I was in LA pitching Improv Nerd as a TV show. I also lined up some interviews for some upcoming episodes of the podcast. I was fortunate to get to record the episodes out of the state-of-the-art studios at Starburns Industries, where FeralAudio.com records some of their podcasts. Dustin Marshall was there to produce, and I had set up four interviews with people I had worked with in Chicago.
Usually, when I measure myself up against people I started out with in improv in Chicago who have gone on to do work in LA, my internal scale shows them as being more successful than I am. They have far more TV and film credits and more money than I do, two of the many things I use to judge myself against others.
But for whatever reason, this time, those measuring sticks weren’t working. For the first time, I didn’t feel less than. It’s been part of my schtick for years to feel like a loser, but for whatever reason, this time, I actually felt accomplished. (Don’t tell my therapist).
I actually was feeling a sense of pride as my first guest arrived at the studio. I felt like, “Look at what I have been able to do with this tiny podcast out of Chicago!” I was in a Los Angles recording studio, inviting my successful friends that I started out with in Chicago in to be interviewed by one of the best interviewers in the business: me. As accomplished as they are in TV and film, I finally realized that I am accomplished in interviewing.
What’s even more amazing is that feeling lasted the entire week. Each time a new guest came into the studio and they put on their headphones and we turned on the microphone, they got to experience my incredible talent as an interviewer. That last part is not easy to write, but I am not changing a word, no matter how uncomfortable I feel later.
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.
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.
Kristy and Jethro Nolan are the co-founders of The Arcade Comedy Theater in Pittsburgh. They are incredibly accomplished improvisers and teachers who have performed at iO-Chicago and Boom Chicago in Amsterdam and taught at the Second City. Jimmy talks to then how they met in improv, why they moved from LA to Pittsburgh, and how they have adjusted to teaching improv in a smaller market.
Kate James is an actor, improviser and writer who is best known as one of the members of the hilarious sketch comedy group Schadenfreude and from the viral video Drunk Cubs Fan. She has also written on the Jeff Award-winning The Second City Guide to the Opera. We talk to her about why most of siblings went into the arts, what it takes to be part of a successful sketch group, and the secret to having your video go viral.
Natasha Rothwell is a former writer for Saturday Night Live who is now one of the stars of the new comedy sketch show “Characters,” which debuts on Netflix March 11. We talk to her about training at the People’s Improv Theater and UCB in New York, her work ethic, how she got hired by SNL and her new show.
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