Chris Alvarado is an amazing improv teacher and actor. I met Chris through our mutual friend, Jay Sukow. Chris has been improvising for 24years and is a master teacher. Chris is so easy to talk with and for half of the interview he’s actually interviewing me! He is incredibly direct, honest, and committed to his art. He is from LA and became addicted to improv at his first class at a community college, where he remained for six years. He traveled to Chicago’s Second City with the hopes of being the next SNL sensation. He returned to LA to study at the IO West, UCB, Westside Comedy Theatre & Second City LA. We talk about the fear of taking an improv class and how brave students are when they walk into their first class – and come back. His podcasts are wonderful and I hope you’ll check them out! Even better, try one of his classes!
Ron Jarvis is certainly a Renaissance man. He is a writer, actor, improviser, and really great human. He’s also truly an adventurous soul! He shared the story of his bucolic childhood that led him to sail on a Norwegian freighter to exotic places to his entry into clown college and being a clown with the Ringling Circus. You’ll love his stories of working with clowns and other circus folks! His love of elephants and working with them is truly a love story! His life changed when he was still at the circus and had time off to see the Lampoon Comedy show in 1975.
That cast included Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray. After returning to see several shows he said to himself, “I want to do that” and headed to Chicago to audition at Second City. His first show was as a heckler in the audience, irritating other folks until he was invited on stage, by his clown partner who was also in the cast, and they engaged in a wild clown fight that brought down the house. He shares stories of studying with Del Close and Bernie Sahlens.
What a joy to get to know Stephen Owen! We met at the beginning of the pandemic and were in Spolin classes with Gary Schwartz and Aretha Sills. I had no idea how much Steve had immersed himself in Improvisational Theatre this past year, even taking the Teacher Training with Aretha Sills! We also discovered that we were both fans of Boal’s work.
Although Stephen had some experience in drama in high school, he chose a path leading to a Ph.D. in political science with a specialty in criminal justice. He teaches criminal justice at Radford University, so his students are college students who plan to enter criminal justice professions, including law enforcement. The unique classes he developed focus on building observation, communication, and empathy in the context of police-community relations.
Amey Goerlich is one incredible improviser and human being. We met through our mutual friend, Jay Sukow and I’m so grateful! We chatted about her Improv Story and how she taught kindergarteners to make a movie! She is so full of life and comfortable to speak with. I felt like I’d known her forever! She shared stories of her early days as an improviser and our mutual love of the fabulous Jane Morris.
After being in LA, Amey made the move to Denver where she runs her theatre, Chaos Bloom. While we were speaking there were finishing touches being made to her theatre and wait till you hear about her wallpaper in the bathrooms. Amey has practiced inclusivity for many years and is a pioneer in online improv as the artistic director of e-mprov.com. She was so generous with her time – we even did a 20- minute scene. Please take a listen and explore the happy world of Amey Goerlich!
Meet Oluwadamilola Apotieri, a wonderful humanitarian, improviser and so much more. Listen to how he got into improv, became a pioneer of virtual improv, teaching kids, playing in the virtual space versus in person, using theatre as a tool for social justice and more. We met through our mutual friend, Beth Boynton, RN Oluwadamilola speaks of his childhood and passion for playing and performing. He put on his first show at age 7 and by 9 years old had his own TV show. As challenging as the pandemic is, it has also provided some amazing opportunities. He is part of the team that organized the online edition of the yearly Nigerian Children Theatre festival. This is taking place May 27 and May 28 and there’s still time to register. This is an exciting festival that you won’t want to miss! He and his team have been rehearsing online with a small group of delightful Nigerian students over the last couple of months.
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 Interviews with 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 Film directed 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