I first saw Mithra Vankipuram on Jay Sukow’s podcast and she blew me away. We had such a great chat and she speaks openly about her journey in the arts and in engineering! Two quotes from her that I really love are “to remember to suspend disbelief” and “improv lives in the eyes”. Mithra and I talk about the challenges of “performing for the audience,” and seeking approval as opposed to seeing them as a part of the environment. As she said, “My job in improv is being receptive to information around, opening my body and mind to all possibilities.”
Meet the high-energy Avish Parashar and hear how his career in comedy and improv led to his brilliant motivational improv workshops. Our mutual friend, Peter Margaritis, introduced us and I was so pleased as we had a great time.
Before we met I watched him at Avish Parashar – Ding Happens and was captivated by his take on the “Yes, and” concept when working with corporations. He talks about his improv origin story and how he knew he wanted to be a creative artist. We spoke about the challenges of being a “gig” worker and the uncertainty of that work. His improv background has helped him to continue to explore possibility thinking in his corporate gigs. He shared how he was able to market himself to become a sought-after motivational speaker. His newest project is his podcast where he and his friend Mike Worth will be doing a long-form movie genre with short-form games.
What a great joy meeting LeWayne McQueen. He is one of very few Native American improvisers in the U.S. I know you’ll enjoy his great energy and humor as much as I did! One of the things he loves to do with Deboope Newe to put his urban Indian culture into the improv itself, put some language, and sometimes singing on display. His mother passed when he was 18, after seeing him compete in the first annual four directions talent competition. We talk about how this loss changed him. He ran his own independent improv show and class for eight years before the pandemic started. He performs with Mancandy, a musical improv show that fluctuates between full musicals and improv musical review style shows.
On March 15, 2021, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Anne Beatts about her life, adventures, writing for SNL and Square Pegs, and breaking the barriers that existed for women comedy writers. I am so grateful that I said “Yes, And” to this wonderful opportunity. It was such a fun visit and we had planned to chat again but sadly, she passed just a few weeks later, on April 7, 2021. Anne was a force of good humor that paved the way for funny women writers. Anne was the first contributing writer on National Lampoon Magazine. That was where she met SNL future cast, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and John Belushi. (see the film “Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon”). Later she lobbied for John to be cast in SNL and Lorne said, “No, he’s trouble.”
“My most important professional accomplishment to date is the ability to keep working with absolutely no skills whatsoever.”Colin Mochrie
An improviser always says yes and how grateful I am that the terrific Colin Mochrie said yes to sharing his story on Improv Interviewswith all of us! Colin is, of course, best known for being in the cast of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” which aired first in the UK and then with Drew Carey in the states. Colin and I met at the premiere of the film Act Social Filmdirected by Sean Mulvihill which Colin also stars in. had a lot of laughs during our chat and I discovered what a genuinely authentic and loving person he is.
He shares wonderful stories of his life as an improviser, comedian, and devoted family man. Although I thought we would only have a half-hour, we ended up speaking for an hour and even playing an improv game! Check out The Alphabet Game with Colin & Margot
What a fabulous time I had chatting with the effervescent Laxmi Priya! We chatted about her work and I learned so much from her! I’ve also studied with her and I heartily recommend her to everyone for a lively and joyous experience!
Laxmi is a Playback Theatre performer and has been improvising for a decade in and around Bangalore, India. She performs with The Adamant Eves (India’s first all-female improv company) and is a co-founder of Citylamps Playback Theatre.
What a delight to get to know Stephen Davidson! Stephen is a totally joy-filled improviser who is the Artistic Director of The Improvised Play, Improvable, QI: Queer Improv, Carmen: A gender-swapped Film Noir Fantasy, and of Zeal: The Pride Improv Festival. Stephen is the author of two books about improv, Play Like an Ally and Improvising Gender. Stephen teaches improv independently and through Improvable, with the Free London Improv Project, City Academy, and Hoopla Improv. He has taught and performed all over the world. We chat about his improv origin story and so much more. You’ll understand why his students love him.
Velvet Duke is truly a multi-talented presence in the Improvisational Theatre world today. In our interview, he shares his love of theatre and performing. Here is what his improv colleagues have to say about him. “Velvet consistently works to look at things from different viewpoints and has one of the most widely accessible broadcasts I’ve ever seen.” Michelle J Gilliam. And from improv legend, Jay Sukow, “Velvet Wells is amazing! He’s a ball of fun and a very talented performer and teacher. He is such a great ambassador for, and a leader in, the improv ecosystem.”
Brenna Judkins (they/she) is an improviser and artist from San Diego, CA in the United States. She currently plays with the Queen City Comedy team “Smells Like Ghosts”, and teaches their children’s improv courses. She also provides one on one improv tutoring for children. She regularly crafts her own costumes, props, puppets, and visuals arts projects at her home in California, including improvised cartoons and stop-motion videos. She also runs the page Brenna Judkins Improviser and a bi-monthly all LGBTQIA+ improv jam for the global improv community. We had so much fun in the podcast and could not stop laughing!
Join me and the delightful Maria Schaedler-Luera as we discuss her life as an actor and improviser. She studied with the legendary Augusto Boal and continues to teach his work today. We discuss her move to the states and how that impacted her continuing work with diverse and immigrant folks. For many years Maria, a Brazilian-born educator, and artist studied to be an actor. When she was 15, instead of having a traditional quinceanera, the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday, she asked for a trip to New York City. After college, she returned to NY to study at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. We talk about the challenges she faced as an actor, who would audition for Latin roles, but due to looking “too white” was cast as European needing German, French and other accents.