Stephanie McCullough  is a music director, teacher, and composer at the Second City Training Center. Stephanie was the coordinator for the First Annual “Yes, and Mental Health” conference. For many years psychotherapists have been using improv comedy games and exercises in their practice, but this was the first time we gathered together to share our experience, strength, and vision. Clinical Social Workers, Psychologists, Mental Health Counselors and improvisers from all over the country and abroad, presented inspiring workshops on using improv in clinical and other settings.
In this podcast, Stephanie shares her story of interviewing Del Close before she became an improviser, her history in improv and much more!
She is an amazing, powerful and beautiful woman!
Stephanie McCullough, Psy.D. has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and practiced for three post-graduate years before tossing it to the wind and touring as the music director for Second City’s BlueCo in 2004. Prior to all of that, she had attended the College Conservatory of Music for her undergraduate degree in Music Composition and Piano performance in Cincinnati, Ohio which helped her decide that she’d never make a living as a musician and changed her career path to psychology in the 1990’s. Stephanie wrote her first piano piece, Clown Waltz in F, at the age of 4 and has been putting together both silly and sincere songs ever since. Moving to Chicago and becoming exposed to the improv scene is what brought her full-circle to making music again on a daily basis. Stephanie has been co-writing musical comedies, averaging one-per-year since 1999, and to some critical acclaim. Four musicals alone were co-written with SC alum Peter Gwinn who went on to be an emmy-award winning writer for The Colbert Report. Her music improv roots began with iO and ComedySportz, and eventually led her to work along side some phenomenal Second City alum like Jim Zulevick and groups like GayCo and The Galileo Players. She is also the Director of Finance & Music Director at  MCL Chicago Comedy Theater  Stephanie now counts her blessings daily that she has the opportunity to work as a music director, teacher, and composer at the Second City Training Center on a full-time basis. Collaborating on original comedic songs, improvising musical scenes, and being surrounded daily by some of the top comedic and musical talent in this country is a dream-come-true.


Join us for a delightful talk with a woman who has brought improv to so many people.She is the author of the award-winning book, IMPROV WISDOM: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up (Bell Tower, 2005). Improv Wisdom
She shares how she discovered improv through her passion for Tai Chi, which led her to study with Keith Johnstone. She is a Professor Emerita from Stanford University where she began teaching in 1977. In the Drama Department, she served as the head of the undergraduate acting division and developed the improvisation program. She founded and coached the Stanford Improvisors and taught beginning and advanced level courses in improvisation for undergraduate as well as adults in Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program.

In 1998 she won the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Outstanding Innovation in Undergraduate Education. In 1996 she founded the Creativity Initiative at Stanford, an interdisciplinary alliance of faculty who share the belief that creativity can be taught. She taught the Design Improv for the School of Engineering and has been a guest lecturer for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and for the Mayfield Fellows Program.
She is truly a pioneer in the applied improvisational field.
Visit Patricia at her website at:Patricia Ryan Madson
Listen to Patricia discuss The Creative Process of Innovation
Twitter: improvwisdom


Kat is a dynamic improviser, consultant, actor and mother who I met through her book,”Training to Imagine”. Listen as Kat describes her life as an actor, improviser and popular trainer. If you’re near New York state be sure and visit the Mopco Theatre with lively improv shows and classes!

Kat Koppett is the CEO & President of Koppett a coaching and consulting company specializing in the use of theatre and storytelling techniques to enhance individual and organizational performance.
Her book on how to use improvisational theatre techniques for organizational development, Training to Imagine: Practical Improvisational Theatre Techniques to Enhance Creativity, Teamwork, Leadership and Learning, is considered a seminal work in the field of Applied Improv, and is used in organizations around the world. She holds a BFA in Drama from New York University and an MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.
Kat has designed and delivered training such diverse clients as Apple, Facebook, Prezi, the Clinton Global Initiative, Chanel, GE, Ellis, St. Peters Hospital, JPMorgan Chase, Eli Lilly, Skidmore and Havas Health.
She has spoken twice at TEDx conferences, and has lectured at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, RPI and Skidmore.
She is on the board of Northeast Ballet and the Consulting Alliance.
Kat is a founding member of the Applied Improvisation Network and a member of co-owner of the Mopco Improv Theatre, the Capital Region’s premiere improvisational theatre company producing shows and classes daily on N. Jay St. (
TheatreWeek Magazine named Kat one of the year’s “Unsung Heroes” for her creation of the completely improvised musical format, “Spontaneous Broadway”. To learn more about Kat, visit her website at:
Kat Koppett


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. Listen to Joe Bill discuss what he loves about teaching, The Annoyance, and his unique psychological and spiritual approach to the art of improvisational comedy.
For more about Joe Bill visit his Facebook pages: JoeBill Facebook and :BASSPROV. You can follow him on Twitter @mrjoebill. Recorded 7/27/17.


Dr. Daniel Wiener is a pioneer in the work of integrating improvisational theatre games with psychotherapy. His groundbreaking book, “Rehearsals for Growth”, published in 1994 inspired many therapists around the world to explore this valuable and effective intervention. Dan shares how he discovered improv and how he continues to live a playful life today.
Dr. Wiener is hosting “Rehearsals for Growth: Applying Improvisation to Therapy and Life”, a 2-day conference November 4-5 in Hartford, Ct. You can learn more about this exciting conference and view Dan’s videos and articles at: Rehearsals for Growth


What do Firesign Theatre, fasting, the original Ghostbusters, film editing and improvisational theatre have in common? Sam Longoria!
Sam made his first film when he was 14. He has worked with many Hollywood legends, on several Academy Award and Grammy nominated films and music.
Sam recommends Byron Katie’s book, “Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life” which changed his life. Byron Katie. He supports Actor Richard Dreyfuss’s project, The Civics Initiative, which stresses Civics Education in America Richard Dreyfuss Civics Initiatve  Richard Dreyfuss Thank you.


Assael Romanelli, MSW is an improviser/therapist who recently published his PhD research study on training therapists in improvisation skills.

Listen to how Assael’s path in improvisation theatre, psychotherapy and education led him to this groundbreaking research. Hear about the ways in which these disciplines come together to create a new, synergistic training which can help generate healing and growth processes for the individual and relationship.

GARY SCHWARTZ-Improv Coach/Author

Gary Schwartz is an award-winning TV and film actor, director, comedian and a master improvisational acting coach whose 30 years as a performer and improv teacher has helped transform the lives of thousands of people, both on- and off-screen. He studied and worked with Viola Spolin,the mother of modern improv, and is the only master teacher to have ever earned an endorsement from both Viola Spolin and her son, Paul Sills, the co-founder and director of The Second City. His website Spolin Games Online is a wealth of resources for improvisers, with videos and explanations of Spolin games.In this episode Gary Schwartz speaks openly about his early childhood and youth and how that led him to write his first novel The King of Average. Named one of Kirkus Reviews best books of 2016, this heartfelt, hilarious, pun-filled middle grade novel tells of an eleven-year old’s quest for love and self-acceptance in a land where psychological states are actual places.
Listen as Gary reads an excerpt from this lovely book, that is not just for children but teachers, psychologists, parents, coaches and anyone who’s ever struggled with self-love.


Part 2 of Improv Interviews with Bernie De Koven – the master of play! Visit his website where you’ll find wonderful articles and videos about his career in play. While you’re at it, go to and get the copy of his newest book, A Playful Path.


Over 40 years ago I attended New Games Foundation training and became a Certified New Games Referee. Imagine my delight and honor to meet the man who was pivotal in the New Games movement.Bernie is an amazing person whose energy and love of play have helped thousands of folks realize that play is as important for adults as it is for kids! Bernie De Koven is a “founding father of play studies,” creating the Games Preserve, the first centre for the exploration of games and play for adults, Bernie continues to this day to explore the theory of fun and playfulness and how it can affect every aspect of personal and interpersonal, community and institutional health.
In this episode Bernie shares his journey on the playful path. Just last month the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, Friends of Ellenberger Park, and Indy Parks & Recreation dedicated Bernie’s Swings Ellenberger Park, a playground in Indianapolis.
In 2014 he teamed with the improv organization ComedySportz Indianapolis to stage his interactive show Play’s the Thing
A Playful Path, his most recent work,  A Playful Path (over 640,000 downloads), and a CD Recess for the Soul. is a collection of essays from his popular blog deepFUN.
Called the “Shaman of Play,” Bernie a leading fun theorist who has shown over the course of his 45 year career how fun and playfulness lead to some of the most important trends in games today, from large scale community games to casual game apps. He is the author of The Well-Played Game (originally published by Doubleday in 1978 and reissued in 2013 by MIT Press), A Playful Path (over 640,000 downloads), and a CD Recess for the Soul. He continues to make his work publicly available through his seminars and websites: this site and A Playful Path.