Digital Entertainment Venue Being Built (But Why?)

Digital Entertainment Venues are here to stay

Hello, I’m Marcus Sams and I am the founder and AD of Moment Improv Theatre in San Francisco, Ca, USA. I will never forget Wednesday, March 11th 2020 because it was the day that I closed the doors to the physical theatre space that I taught classes and produced shows out of. I had caught wind the week prior that the city would be shutting down, so I ended up already making preparations and was the first improv theatres to close its doors in San Francisco; before a Digital Entertainment Venue was even an idea.

When the pandemic struck, many of us in the improv world had some choices to make. Two of them may have been to lean into virtual improv or wait for the “real” thing to come back. Here we are almost 22 months later and some of us have still not been able to perform the artform that we love on the stages that we love… Wait… let’s dissect some of the above…

Improvisation is Improvisation

I have heard the terms “Real Thing” and “Virtual Improv” in conversations and I of course have some strong opinions, as I do on many things’ improv related. When we deem in-person improv as the “real thing” we other online improv. We make it somehow less than its in-person counterpart. Although there are no mistakes in our improv, I believe this is a mistake and is counter to some of the major tenants of improv. I’m specifically thinking about Yes&, Exploration, and Discovery.

These concepts are important in improv just as much as they are in the artform of online improvisation. Yes, it is an artform, and we are only scratching the surface of what is possible. Like in any art form you must use the right tools for the job. Think about it, if you are a pencil artist that uses pencil on paper and then someone gives you acrylic paints and you try to use the same techniques that you did as a pencil artist, then your art will suffer and you will not have much fun doing it. The same is for our improv. We need to cultivate the skill set and learn the tools. Once we do that, then we can explore and discover what is possible.

Closing a Physical Venue

I consider myself to be fortunate because by the following Monday, I had my first online rehearsal with our main training troupe. I think I wanted to provide some semblance of normalcy to my performers and honestly, for myself as well. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it also was not bad, and it was a start. I could instantly see the potential for online improv and decided to commit to the exploration of this new medium of expression. This work led to me being just as busy as I was pre-pandemic, only it was more research and application based.

Because of my IT background I decided to do the work of exploring this new fairly untapped land of online improv. Working backwards, as I do when crafting workshops or shows, I had to ask myself, what did I want to see in online improv? Because of my on-camera acting and filmmaking experience, my vision centered around the tools of the trade. Lights, Camera, Action!

new tech booth

the new kind of tech booth

Making Changes

I poured over the capabilities of online technologies and developed an approach to our online shows. I quickly realized that IF I wanted people to perform a particular style of online improv, then I would need to teach classes in its approach. The fact is many of us were not trained to be on camera actors. I started to put together a document outlining the approach that I had named the F.L.I. Technique. This stood for Fixed Lens Improvisation. The idea was that in film and television, the camera moves around the performer, while when we are acting to our webcams, it is a fixed lens. We as actors, now needed to move around the frame to tell stronger stories.

This was heavily workshopped with the group, at the time, called the Moment Players. I cannot express my gratitude to them for not only sticking around as this being developed, but also for the trust they put in me to lead them in this new genre of performance. Once many of the techniques were solidified it was time to expand and teach these techniques in classes. Teleprov A-C were formed.

Taking performances online

Performing without a Venue

OK, classes were set, show style and approach was set, and corporate clients were wanting more and more improv because of the general feeling of disconnection we were all feeling. At the time of writing this article, I have personally taught over 925 hours+ of online improv instruction since the pandemic began and yet something was/is still missing.

We still do not have the feeling of going into a theatre and seeing who is around. We rarely get to laugh with each other while watching a show. When performing we rarely get to hear the laughter of the audience. We still do not get the level of connection to our communities as we did in the past. That is what was missing. The since of community. Now, can anything online ever replace what we are all use to in a physical theatre? Nope. Not at all. Are we trying to replace physical improv? Not at all? 22 months later are we still dealing with a virus that is messing up our improv scene? Yes. Do I think online improv has a place in the world? YES& again, we are only scratching the surface.

After running a few hang outs early on I quickly learned that the downfall of zoom or google hangouts is that they work great for meetings, but not for social. It creates a situation where the loudest one in the zoom room wins. You see people participate less and less to the point where they just stop showing up. Also, because many of us already use zoom for work many do not want to use it for pleasure and that makes a lot of sense. A new solution needed to be found.

digital entertainment venue opening

Opening Night

Opening a Digital Entertainment Venue

This Saturday Moment Improv Theatre will be hosting its first large scale event with the solution that we have chosen to roll with. There are already more than 107 people RSVPed to the Opening Night Gala of the Digital Entertainment Venue. It will be exciting to see how people react to it. At the end of the day, we are attempting to recreate a feeling of live theatre, warts and all. What warts do I speak of? The unknown variables that come with live theatre. Perhaps there will be a loud laugher in your section that makes you laugh more. Perhaps you will run into a friend you have not seen for a long time. Or maybe, the lights and sound go out abruptly?!?! We will all get to experience the unknown together.

Stay tuned for future parts of this blog as I will go into more of the details of this journey. Until then, I’ll see you in the digital theatre.

This is part of an ongoing series of celebrating improv online. A Digital Entertainment Venue is a great addition to the online experience.

Lindsey Barrow: Intersectional Feminism and Improv

Lindsey Barrow Smiling

Just Lindsey being Lindsey.

I recently sat down with Lindsey Barrow (just kidding, I emailed her– it’s still a pandemic). She is the Artistic Director of The Ruby LA, an intersectional, feminist comedy theater in Los Angeles.   Full disclosure, Lindsey and I are friends (although she prefers that I not say that in public or private).  I think she is one of the unsung heroes of the improv community.

Lindsey Barrow has performed at various theatres including The Ruby, Nerdist, UCB, iO, and Second City doing stand-up, sketch comedy, and improv. She’s performed sketch and improv for over ten years and you can see her on shows like Speechless and Casual, and way too many commercials.

So The Ruby is an intersectional, feminist comedy theater. Can you tell us what that means and how you’ve implemented that philosophy?

The members of the improv team "Karen"

Lindsey with her improv team, Karen.

Lindsey Barrow: Sure! Intersectional Feminism in comedy means we understand that a person’s comedy style will not only be influenced by their perspective of being a woman, or a black man, or a non-binary person. But, there are many areas of inequality that will determine a performer’s point of view, what they think is funny, or how they can function in society. We take all of that into consideration when we plan out our curriculum. We want you to be able to grow into the funniest person you think you can be, not the funniest person Randy thinks you should be.  I mean, Randy’s funny and all… but like, he might not get a joke about tampons or pronoun mistakes.

In all seriousness, Equality, Inclusivity, and Diversity (or EDI) have always been a number one priority for us. We make sure our board and instructors match the community we want to serve. This is called a top-down approach. Therefore, EDI has always been first on our minds. It is not a patch that was thrown in after we created a comedy school.

What issues have you seen in the comedy community? What is The Ruby doing to help fix them?

Lindsey Barrow: I’m excited performers are feeling empowered to speak up and correct theaters that they call home when it comes to EDI. A lot of these comedy institutions rely on a “one way to be funny” mentality. This has trickled down to “white dude in his late 40’s thing is funny.” And that sucks. There are so many ways to be funny – see previous statement about Randy. Plus, just an entire system that works against anyone who is a marginalized voice, doesn’t have the ability to easily take a class and network, or isn’t related to a Coppola.
Sketch Team, Rosa, performs

Sketch Team “Rosa” performing at the Ruby

Please tell me more.

I worry that the necessary changes that need to be made will be forgotten because of the pandemic. Also, I’m worried about the onus for change being placed on BIPOC shoulders. Running a theater is hard work. It pays no money and maybe gets you a “thanks for your work” email like once every few months. Expecting BIPOC folks to open and run an expensive theater for themselves because white spaces aren’t doing better isn’t a great answer. Unless folks want to open up said theater, then they obviously should. I must warn you, it pays no money and the thank you emails are sparse, but they are nice.

Additionally, there are a lot of great spaces that are ALREADY run by these folks. So support them and help them grow instead of just telling black people to open their own space. Which was just a weird thing that happened last summer. Giving a shout out on Twitter is rad, buying a class is radder, volunteering and connecting folks (outside of people who look like you) is even radder-est.
When all the theaters were being held accountable for racist, sexist, homophobic problems, we were being recognized for not having those issues. This is because we have made these problems a priority since the beginning. AND because we know that we will make mistakes and the best way to fix those mistakes is to listen. We aren’t perfect, and we never will be. But we will always listen to our performers, our audience, and our interns. And we will make their safety and growth a top priority.

Am I doing a good job?  Feel free to tell me if I’m blowing this interview right now.

Lindsey Barrow: Who are you again? Have we met?

Jeff stares at Lindsey

Lindsey, it’s me? Jeff?! We’ve been in several photos together.

I’m not sure if you heard about this, but a lot of theaters have been closed for months.  How has your theater been weathering these crazy times?

Lindsey Barrow: We’ve been lucky to have a grant here and there to help us out, but it’s been very hard. As far as performance – we’ve transitioned into some interesting, new, digital sketch teams. Because people can take classes online, our teams are now made up of folks who are all over the US. This is very cool. They are creating content together and figuring out how to fake being in the same location. We’re also testing out a new live show format that combines pre-recorded content with live content. The show is called “Overly Complicated.” It will be streaming live on our Youtube channel Thursdays at 8 pst. This was a plug. You are welcome.

What advice do you have to all of the actors and creatives who might be reading this?

Lindsey Barrow: Shit is very hard right now. If you are able to put any energy into writing, acting, and/or creating anything – you should be proud of yourself. And if you can’t, then you should go easy on yourself. Additionally, support institutions that are looking out for you! It’s hard for these places to enact change in the industry if everyone lets the status quo at these bigger theaters continue on. And just because you think there is one way to get your own hit TV show?!?! There are so many ways to get a hit TV show! Just ask Randy!

 

Anything else you want to share?

Lindsey Barrow: I give Randy a hard time, but he’s actually very funny and great. I’m still not sure who Jeff is.

Steps Towards Inclusion or “How to Run A Comedy School or Theater and Not Be an Asshole”

Wow, 2020 has not been kind to theaters.  First, many have had to close because of a pandemic (but good job on putting human lives before profit).  And now, another ugly underside of the comedy and theater community is being revealed.

Yeah, there’s something worse than me out there right now. It’s racism.

Being inclusive is not a destination. It is something that a community must continue to work on.

Now, this article is about the current situation regarding race and a response to the history of racism in America, so some of the language will be race specific.  Laurel James has already done a great job tackling gender-equality and trans-inclusivity in this article: “How to Make Your Improv Theater More Trans Friendly”, so please also check out that article as well.  Also, they spoke recently with Aaron Mosby (Washingon Improv Theater) about inclusion.

So here are some things to consider:

(1) Can you and the other members of the team acknowledge that you contribute to systemic racism?

I’m a cishet, Black man and I know that my actions (even despite the best of intentions), contribute to the systemic oppression of other people.  Now, I’m definitely not a racist, but in order to create a safe space, I have to be anti-racist.

Don’t let this guy charm you, he’s got male privilege.

If your team cannot acknowledge their potential biases towards others based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability, or religion… then you’re going to have a very hard time making your theater a more inclusive space.  Just because you’re not screaming the n-word at every Black student who decides to sign up for a class, doesn’t mean that you’ve created a safe space for students.  You are both defined by what you do and what you don’t do.

And when a person from a disadvantaged group brings up a problem that they have, are you really listening to their complaint?  Or are you sweeping it under the rug?  More on that in a bit.

(2) Do you have performers from a variety of backgrounds, and do you avoid tokenism?

I have heard of improv troupe auditions where directors and coaches have pre-determined slots of minorities.  The conversation might sound a little bit like this, “Okay, this guy is really good at characters so let’s put them on the team.  And this guy is a bit of a wild card, so we can also put him on the team because he brings the energy.  And now we need to choose someone to bring a little color to the team.”  Hmm, can you tell what’s wrong with this situation?

Tokens. Great for Chuck E. Cheese, not great for your improv team.

This is the difference between not being racist and being anti-racist.  Weirdly enough, the most interesting thing about a minority is NOT the color of their skin.  If the only thing that you value about a person is their race, this is a problem.  Anti-racism involves actively fighting against tokenism and making sure that you are holding everyone to equal benchmarks.

(3) Does your staff (teaching, artistic, and managerial) represent your ideal student body?

There is a subconscious message that is sent to students and performers when your managerial staff is not diverse.  Put yourself, for a moment, in the shoes of a young Black man starting in the mail room of a company.  He sees other Black men in the mail room.  He even sometimes sees other Black men working the night janitorial shifts.  However, he doesn’t see any Black men (or women) who are C-level executives, or Vice Presidents, or… middle-management… and maybe just one who’s making $55k a year in a cubicle on the second floor.

No witty comment needed.

If I walk into your theater and I don’t see anyone that looks like me, I will immediately feel like I don’t belong.  This is a natural thing that our brains do, where we identify with people who we feel are similar to us.  If I can’t imagine myself on your stage or teaching a class, then I might be slightly less inclined to sign up for a class.

(4) How willing are you to accept feedback and admit that you are wrong or have been wrong in the past?

It’s hard to admit that you’re wrong.  Take it from me, I’m right almost all of the time, and so when I’m wrong, it really hurts!  Especially if something that I did hurt someone else.  But in those moments, it is important to listen to how you’ve hurt people and make the changes needed to be better in the future.  Digging your heels in and saying “Well, I can’t be racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic because _________” is a bad look.  Don’t do it.

Alcoholics Anonymous has got it right.  The first step is admitting that you have a problem.

(5) Do you tolerate intolerance?  If so, stop it!

This is easy (but it’s so hard for some people).  If I’m a male student, I shouldn’t make jokes that put down women.  If the teacher doesn’t say anything, then it tells the female students that sexism is okay!  If White students are making Black jokes, and the teacher doesn’t say anything, then the teacher is saying that racism is okay.

Comedy is not dead.  You can be funny without insulting people based on their genetics or heritage.  Imagine this:

A gorilla in a bespoke suit making copies.  The Xerox machine beeps an error message and the gorilla slams his hand on the Xerox machine, crushing it.  A giraffe in a tweed suit calls the gorilla into his office.  They sit awkwardly for a moment.  The giraffe says “This is the second Xerox machine this week, Mr. Macgregor, do you have anything to say for yourself?”  The gorilla stutters out an apology under his breath.  The giraffe says, “I know you’re hurting after the divorce.  But we’re all here.  Okay?  Everyone in this office cares about you.”  The giraffe gets up and hugs the gorilla, his neck wrapping around the gorilla’s body.  The gorilla returns the embrace, but the back of his suit tears.  They share a glance and start trashing the office together.  COMEDY

I’m… actually impressed that I was able to find a picture of a giraffe and gorilla on Google. And like… there were a few to choose from.

If you can’t be funny without being offensive, then just get better at comedy.

(6) Do you encourage your community to embrace diversity?

If only there were an artform based on multiple people meeting in the middle and building something together.  Like, where instead of saying no and pushing their own ideas, they were encouraged to say “Yes…” and then maybe something else.  I dunno.

Honestly, if you’ve been doing improv for years and you haven’t learned to be a more tolerant person and to embrace people’s differences and uniqueness, you’re not good at improv.  Come at me. 

I know what you’re thinking: “Jeff, but by not accepting people who are intolerant, aren’t you also being intolerant?”  Haha, okay… someone got a BA in philosophy.  The only thing that should never be embraced is hate.  So if your version of “diversity” is putting down other people instead of raising them up, then you’re not a good person.

Create a community where people are supported and raised up.  And don’t be afraid to get rid of toxic people.  Honestly, you’ll be so much happier.

(7) How educated are you on issues of race, sex and gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and physical ability?

Read a book.  Read an article.  Never stop reading.  I’m a professor of psychology, so I teach people about all of the -isms and -phobias for a living.  I still read articles, watch informative videos, engage in discussions, and understand that I still can be very wrong about things.  And also, the things that are okay now, might not be okay years from now!  Society changes!  Keep on learning!

(8) How aware are you of microaggressions?  And how can you be a better ally?

Have you ever had a stranger ask you to smile?  Have you ever had a stranger try and touch your hair or ask you how you “get it like that”?  Has a stranger ever asked you about what your genitals look like?  Have you ever been on a date and had someone tell you that you should be ashamed of yourselves for being in public?  Has someone ever told you that you’re one of the good ones (in reference to other people of you race)?  Or has someone told you that you’re not really a member of your race because you don’t act like a specific stereotype?  Has someone assumed that you could or could not do something because of a stereotype?  Have you ever been told that you speak English well?

It’s not fun.

The great philosopher Wikipedia defines a microaggresion as a “term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.”  People from marginalized groups deal with these little indignities and microinsults all of the time. If you don’t know many people from those groups, you might not be aware that they deal with them constantly.  Listen, learn, educate yourself.  If you know what these are you can: (1) stop yourself from saying them and (2) catch others and call them out on saying them.

(9) How will you measure success?

Honestly, how will you?  What does a diverse team look like to you?  What does a diverse student body look like to you?  Have a specific goal and work towards it, and then once you’ve gotten there, make another goal.  This is not a destination; this is a journey of many parts.

(10) What can you do to address income inequality?

Individuals from marginalized groups often come from households with limited financial resources.  Payment plans, sliding-scale enrollment (where you offer individuals cheaper tuition), and full scholarships are all options for helping marginalized groups be a part of your theater.  Actors spend hundreds (often thousands) of dollars every year developing their craft, and unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury.  So we should all be thinking about how we can make art more accessible to everyone.

Also, maybe don’t have your free improv jams at 2am on a Tuesday night.  Some people have work in the morning.

(11) Are you leaving the fox in charge of the hen house?  And are you the fox?

Often the leadership of theaters and comedy schools is one individual who built the theater from the ground up (with a little bit of unpaid labor here and there) or a bunch of friends who got together and built something together.  As a result, the power of the institution is in the hands of a few people who are very unlikely to want to give it up or are unlikely to want to have the difficult conversation with their good friend of 8 years who keeps on asking out his students in the middle of class.

“Well, when the artistic director does it, that means that it is not illegal.” — Richard Foxin, Artistic Director of the Hen House Comedy Club

We can’t do it anymore.  Turning a blind eye to abuses of power is not okay.  Honestly, it never was, but it was just so much simpler to pretend like it wasn’t happening.

I’m not saying that it’s easy.  I’m not saying that any of this is easy.  But you know who has it harder?  The students and performers who had to deal with years of bullying and microaggressions, who worked hard to rise up the ranks of a school only to be told that they’re “difficult to work with,” which is often code for “not willing to tolerate abuse.”  It’s harder for the students who might skip a meal because comedy is their dream only to realize that the lessons that they learned in Improv 101 about supporting each other and having each other’s back is just an empty mantra that we slap on t-shirts.

Let’s be better.

Aaron Mosby on Building Anti-Racist Theaters

LAUREL: Welcome, Aaron! I’ve known you for a few years through the San Diego Improv Festival and I really admire you as a performer. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

AARON: My name is Aaron Mosby. I’m the Director of Consulting & Delivery at an IT services company called Avtex. The oldest of five, and I grew up in Atlanta, GA and Minneapolis, MN. I live with my girlfriend in New York, NY. 

I spent 10 years volunteering, teaching, and performing at Washington Improv Theater (WIT) in Washington, DC. During that time, I served as a member of the board for 5 years, 2 of which were spent as the board chair. 

LAUREL: Tell us about how you got started at Washington Improv Theater. 

AARON: I saw my first show at WIT in 2006 and got seriously involved in the theater in summer 2009. I had just been laid off from a job which gave me the opportunity to take 2 week-long intensives. Shortly after, I started volunteering at the box office and working as a TA. After finishing the classes program in 2010, I began a program of becoming a teacher. In 2012, I began teaching and joined Nox, which would go on to become a house ensemble at WIT. In 2014, I joined the board of directors. After two terms, I stepped down, in part, because I moved to New York. 

LAUREL: How does WIT’s structure foster diversity? 

AARON: The core structural element that facilitates diversity at WIT is its non-profit status. WIT is a mission-driven organization that exists: “To unleash the creative power of improv in DC. To engage audiences with performances that exhilarate and inspire. To ignite the spirit of play in Washington with a revolutionary training program. To create a home for improv, connected to the life of the city.”

To meet this mission, WIT has to rely on diverse voices that make up Washington, DC. This drives WIT to have a city-wide strategy to get improv into as many hands as possible. This is woven into the classes program, which hosts classes in diverse locations around the city. It’s woven into the artistic programming that is proactively interested in making sure that audience members see themselves represented on stage. It’s woven into the board of directors that is as diverse as the city itself. 

LAUREL: How has WIT’s structure and mission statement helped them navigate issues in the past? 

AARON: WIT is accountable to the community it has helped to create throughout the city. In 2017, the improv community in the DC metro area called for accountability on diversity in the improv community. WIT released a detailed report of the people who worked for the organization, including the board of directors, full-time staff and teachers, and the people who made up performance ensembles, including players and directors. In addition, they created a public tracker of these data points that can be assessed and reviewed by the community at any time. WIT also opened up the theater space for a town hall discussion that gave everyone in the community a chance to share ideas on ways WIT could create more inclusive opportunities. 

LAUREL: Do you think large, for-profit theaters can uplift diverse voices as well as smaller nonprofits can? 

AARON: I believe there is a way for for-profit theaters to uplift diversity, but it has to be baked into every aspect of how the theater is run. Building a diverse space is an on-going effort that must be continually attended to to drive desired outcomes. This will also likely include additional investment in unique marketing campaigns that communicate to diverse audiences who may not otherwise be engaged in traditional marketing channels. 

LAUREL: What advice would you give to someone opening up a new theater?

AARON: Be intentional about the people you partner with to bring your theater into being. Partner with people who are truly passionate about what improv can do to improve a person’s life and the community. 

Have a mission worthy of the art from. Improv is built on spontaneous and fervent agreement. Improv encourages us to trust more and fear less. These foundations uproot engrained human behaviors and open up a space for connecting to other people that is rarely experienced. Improv should be spread as far and as wide as we can spread it. 

Finally, remember that great improv is about relationships, not transactions. For improv to thrive, you have to build a community.

How to Make Your Improv Theater More Trans Friendly

In improv, we aim to create an all-inclusive community of diverse people who come together to create something that disappears as quickly as it was created. It’s beautiful and by its very nature, those diverse voices are essential to creating unique and dynamic work. I want to talk about ways we can make our community safer for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

I’m a trans and non-binary person, but I’ve been improvising since before I had the language to describe my experience of gender. My understanding of myself has shifted, but in the years I’ve been improvising, few changes have been made in the community to make our theaters easier to navigate for trans people. Most of the changes I’m suggesting are cheap and easy to adopt, but could significantly improve the climate of our theaters. Check cosmetic surgeon specializing in ear surgery in Minneapolis when you want cheap and quality surgery.

Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

One way to make your theater safer for transgender people is to do away with “men’s” and “women’s” restrooms and opt for gender-neutral ones instead. A survey conducted in 2015 by the National Center for Transgender Equality showed that 59% of transgender people had avoided using a public restroom in the past year, and that 24% had been verbally harassed or had their gender challenged. That study doesn’t even begin to touch on the experiences of restroom related violence that is all too familiar to trans people. Public restrooms are one of the most unsafe places for transgender people, largely because they are broken down into men’s and women’s – a binary system that best protects those who adhere most strongly to gender roles.

You can instead opt for gender-neutral signs on your restrooms. Some cities already require a single-occupant, gender-neutral restroom in all businesses, but it’s not widely mandated. Instead of men’s and women’s signs, you can replace both with a sign that says “Unisex” or “Both” or “We don’t care. Just wash your hands.” This option works especially well for theaters that have single occupancy restrooms.

For restrooms with multiple stalls, it’s slightly trickier. In some states, it’s required that theaters have both a men’s and a women’s restroom. Heck, some buildings are just built that way. In this case, you could use a small sign near your restrooms to indicate that your patrons should use whichever space makes them most comfortable. Something like: “Presently, our restrooms are labeled men’s and women’s, but we encourage you to use whichever restroom makes you feel most comfortable. If you experience any problems, please talk to our staff. Thank you.” It’s short, sweet, and lets trans and gender non-conforming people know the theater’s management is there to support them, despite unfavorable laws. Avoid language like, “use whichever restroom fits your gender identity” because it ignores gender non-conforming and non-binary identities who don’t identify with either the men’s or women’s option.

Share Pronouns

When you’re all learning each other’s names at the beginning of a new improv class, ask for pronouns as well! Pronouns are just words we use in place of names, so it only makes sense that we would share them with each other as part of introductions. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you could add a place to give your pronouns in your online class sign-up forms – that way they show up on rosters automatically. Just be sure that if someone gives you a different pronoun from the one they listed in their signup sheet, you honor the ones they shared with the class.

Names and pronouns should be relearned at the beginning of every new class or level. This allows people the opportunity to share new pronouns they might be using. Identities change and the words we use to describe ourselves change along with them! All of this advice goes for the formation of new house teams, new staff members, etc. – names and pronouns once again! It’s a good habit to get into.

In my experience, when you ask a class to share their pronouns, at least one person won’t know what that means. That’s ok! I like to say, “Pronouns are the words we could use instead of your name. Like, she, or he, or they.” There are more pronouns than just those three, but that usually gets the point across quickly. If not, you can give an example in a sentence. It’s ok if someone doesn’t understand pronouns or why it’s important. We’re all adjusting to a new culture surrounding gender! It’s rewarding to lend a hand to improvisers who are feeling a little left behind.

Lastly, people will make pronoun mistakes. Teachers, students, staff, audience members. It happens. In my experience, the best way to fix it is to correct them in the moment and move on immediately. No one should be shamed for making a mistake, but it’s also important not to make trans people feel guilty for insisting that everyone honor their pronouns. I once had an improv teacher who stopped referring to me or giving me feedback in class because she was too caught up in trying to get my pronouns correct. I’d rather that she mess up than have my identity impact my experience of the class.

Pronouns Should Be Listed on Staff Name Badges

If your staff and teachers wear name badges, their pronouns should be listed below their name. This prevents people from being misgendered while working and shows your theater’s commitment to gender inclusivity.

Ditch Gendered Terms

Replace “guys” with “folks” or “friends.” Replace “ladies and gentlemen” with “everybody.” A lot of times, especially with English, we’re forced to use gendered language that excludes some groups. This isn’t just for transgender and gender non-conforming people; I’d bet cis* women have felt alienated by these words, too!

Sounds nitpicky? I get it! I grew up in southern California, where it’s routine to call everyone dude, so this one was a little hard for me. Language is inherently gendered. If this switch feels tough to do, it’s because you’ve spent your entire life using language that alienates certain genders. The only way to change it is to start with the words we opt for on a daily basis. It’s tough, but at the end of the day, making your community feel included should matter more to you than cool slang you picked up as a kid.

Sell Gender-Neutral Merchandise

This one’s small, but if your theater sells shirts you don’t need to label them men’s and women’s. Instead, opt for “crew neck” and “scoop neck” or “t-shirt” and “fitted shirt.” Small, but everything counts.

Have a Clearcut Discrimination Policy

When a student signs up for a class or a new staff member is brought on board, they should be asked to sign a discrimination policy and a sexual harassment policy. These policies should be zero tolerance, and should detail the consequences for harassment and discrimination of any kind. You can have a lawyer draft this policy, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, I like HUGE Theater’s. You can find it on their website, and I especially like theirs because they’ve made a clear protocol that allows students and staff to report harassment and transphobia to a third party for investigation.

These are just a handful of ways improv theaters can be better toward their transgender students, patrons, and staff. I haven’t even touched on the world of inclusion initiatives and scholarships. There are a million things to be done, but it’s a start. Thank you for reading and valuing the safety and diversity of our community.

Thanks,

Laurel Posakony

they/them

(See? It’s that easy!)

*Cis is short for cisgender, which refers to anyone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth.

What I’ve Learned, So Far, as an Artistic Director

October was my official one year anniversary as Artistic Director for M.I.’s Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica, CA. It’s been an amazing learning experience. You see, there are tons of books on how to do improv, maybe too many now, but there’s not a book about how to be an Artistic Director. It’s like only other AD’s can pass their stories down from generations past, much like the Native Americans did passing on their stories on and on to preserve their history. I know this blog might not interest a lot of you, I’m sure there are only a handful of AD’s in the world that specifically run comedy theaters. But I want improvisers to see the insides a little bit and show you what’s up in the business end of things. Here are some observations, advice I’ve learned over my year as AD:

  1. It’s rewarding! You get to see the growth of many of your performers. It’s an honor to help artists reach their full potential and seeing it is an amazing experience. You see novices turn into masters at playing the piano and actors shine brighter than the first first day they stepped onto the stage. I never get tired of it and it’s what keeps me going.
  2. It is a hard job. You have to cut troupes, players, your friends. This is a very hard thing to do, to e-mail or call a friend or performer to tell them you can not longer perform for now. This sometimes causes strains in friendships and with your performers.
  3. Professionalism – You find out, who is a professional and who is not, really fast. People who don’t show up for a show, are unorganized, flaky. You name it you’ll find them fast and have to deal with it.
  4. You’re the middle man! Yes, you’re the balance of the force. You are the liaison between the business itself and the artists that perform with you. You have to find compromise on a daily basis.
  5. You can’t please everyone – You’re dealing with a ton of personalities. Imagine you can’t even get your team of 8 to decide on a Monday rehearsal, imagine that with hundreds of people and having to get decisions made.
  6. Compromise – I’m not always right and some decisions I’ve made are not the best. But you have to make those mistakes so you can learn from them.
  7. You Should do this – You’ll hear this a lot. So what do you do? Listen, their could be a good idea in there. But know that most of the time the person saying “you should do this.” will not help you carry out that idea. Try to get them involved in helping with  the idea instead of just suggesting. I’ve actually found out when I was more forward about that and gave them tasks it worked.
  8. You hear more complaints then praise. Not that I’m looking for praise at all, but your job is to have a vision and direct a theater into that vision. Sometimes people have issues with that, again see 5 and 6 above. HA!
  9. Have a vision and communicate your vision – You can’t just be an admin. You have to have a vision on what you want done and how it fits with the theater. Communicate all your ideas and why you’re doing them with your community. To make sure the community is involved so they have a say.
  10. The Community – That’s what it’s all about. My community has surprised me on many levels and I’ve been doing this for years. At the end of the day you do it for them. They are awesome, deserving and most of the time do this for free. That’s one thing I will always remember when I go into the theater. My philosophy I’ve made with them, if you’re doing this for free you should be A. Be having fun and B. Learning something. If you’re not let’s talk and make sure you can accomplish those.
  11. Be Available – Don’t hide in an office, be available to talk to your community. I have an open door policy. I can be available for anyone in my community to give them notes, listen to what they have to say etc.
  12. Lead by example – Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do.

I’m sure their are a ton more little things I’ve learned along the way, but these are the pretty major ones I’ve learned and hopefully a little advice and an open door to see what your theaters owners or Artistic Directors go through. I’m pretty lucky to have a wonderful comedy community at The Westside Comedy Theater. They make my job worth it and they are a great group of people.

“Don’t Think Twice” Puts Improv in the Spotlight

dont_think_twice

Improvisation has definitely hit the zeitgeist in the last few years. An entire episode of “The Simpsons” was dedicated to it just this year. One one hand that’s great. It’s a lot of fun to see what we love being mentioned more frequently. But on the other hand, that’s all that’s being done, mentions. A stray mention of Del or The Groundlings might work its way into the text to show that the media behind the reference “gets it”. But those jokes are only for us. Awareness of this thing called improv is rising all the time, but the perceptions of what it is and can be haven’t changed for the general public in 20 years. Improv continues to grow and mature, and the references on our television screens – while fun – tend to reflect the same world of improv that existed in 1994.

Don’t Think Twice is a film which doesn’t treat improv as a joke, or even as a lampshade to hang a story on. The film plays with the ideas and realities of improv theatre, both on and offstage from a place that is not only informed, but inviting. It welcomes audiences into the artform with a love and respect that never gets in the way of new audiences discovering it. They even got Liz Allen to coach the fictional improv troupe in the film, which goes a long way towards bringing their performances an authenticity.

Because of all of these things, Don’t Think Twice stands among a very small number of peers. But this is not a movie review. This is an invitation to all of us to use this film’s release as a chance to start dialogues in our communities; dialogues between the members of your theatres, between the different organizations in your city and between performers and the general public. This film offers, for perhaps the first time in a while, a new starting point to engage in conversations on what the artform is, and where it is going.

The film has been touring lately with advance screenings, View this site to learn how to process your visa. Many of you have likely seen it already. I was very fortunate to be able to speak with stars Chris Gethard and Mike Birbiglia (who also directed) about the film and it’s potential effect on improvisation.

You definitely have two audiences for this film, improvisors and the general public, and you’re also going around doing workshops. This has the potential to enhance, for smaller cities especially, the improv scene. How are you hoping it will help them develop or enhance their own voice?

Chris: Well, I really feel like smaller cities are really and truly important right now, as far as the history of improv, because improv in the last ten years has become more and more of a pipeline to success. You look at Saturday Night Live and it’s full of improvisors. You look at sitcoms. You look at Parks & Rec, The Office, I mean everywhere. Everywhere you look it’s people coming up from the improv world. And I think the theatre I came up at, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, had a lot to do with that, really lead the charge on that. And it’s a beautiful thing. It’s really cool. I take a step back, I look at it and it’s like, “Oh right. This art form is a valid thing. Talented people can really shine in this thing.”

But I do think it’s really hard for innovation to happen under the microscope that that brings with it. The potential success is a thing that people now show up for at places like UCB, at iO, Second City, Groundlings. People are showing up because they want to be successful and they see it as a platform to springboard, not universally, but more and more. And I think smaller cities, it’s really important and I really love that such an effort being made in this movie to show encouragement and fan the flames and invite specifically improvisors to test screenings and previews, because I think that smaller cities that aren’t under this magnifying glass, that don’t have this expectation or this potential for megastardom. I think that’s where the art form itself can still grow. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the best improvisors and some of the best improv shows in the next five to ten years aren’t happening in New York, Chicago and L.A. Because I bet that the freedom to fail doesn’t exist there as much anymore. You know I’ve been to great theatres in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Bellingham, Washington; Phoenix, Arizona; St. Louis. Cities that aren’t necessarily the places where you go to chase the Broadway dream or the Hollywood dream, and I think those are the places where the artistic dream can really shine and build.

Mike: There’s this great quote in the book that’s in the movie called “Something Wonderful Right Away.” It’s an oral history written by Jeffrey Sweet. There’s a quote in that book – I think it was Paul Sills who said – “On any given night, an improv show can be the greatest play, the most inspired, most topical, best performed play in the world on that night.” That can be in this room in front of 30 people, and that’s a profound possibility. So, it’s exciting to relish that opportunity.


So the art form’s only been around for about sixty years. There’s still not a huge public awareness of it. The entry points for a lot of people are pretty limited. When you add one new entry point, that’s significant. Certainly this is one of the few entry points for the public that addresses longform. For a lot of people this is going to be their first exposure to it, having not gone to shows. How do you think that’s going to influence general awareness of the artform as a whole and longform specifically?

Mike: There’s two things right now. There’s a great documentary called “Thank You Del.” Todd Bieber directed it. It was at South by Southwest, and there’s our film and both of them deal with the history of longform improv and I think that we have a real shot at helping explain the art form to people a little bit and what’s special about it. I feel like when you say ‘improv’, most people just think “Whose Line is it Anyway?”, improv games, freeze tag, that kind of thing. But actually, in a lot of ways, I like to think of it as these are improvised plays, happening in the moment and there’s something really special about that. As Sam (Gillian Jacobs) says in the movie, “Improv is an artform unto itself.”

Chris: I remember when I started in 2000, I signed up for classes at UCB and I’d never seen longform, and I lived in Northern New Jersey. I was as close as you could get. And it’s really spread. Now I feel like most colleges have one, if not more, longform improv troupes and it still feels like a relatively underground thing. So I do think it will be an entry point where a lot of people can find it, and a lot of people, I think, will kind of know what it looks and feels like for the first time. I also think there’s probably a lot of kids who will show their parents this movie.

Mike: This is what we do.

Chis: Yeah, this is what we’re doing.

Mike: I’ve had a lot of people say that to me at screenings. “Finally, I can explain this to my parents.”

Chris: It’s a really impactful thing. I remember my parents had what can only be described as real concern when I was like, “I want to go and do improv in New York City,” while I was living in their basement in New Jersey. It didn’t necessarily seem like a path towards anything stable. I think this movie will prove that it’s not, but also prove that, like any other type of art, it has some validity that’s worth taking a risk on.


These are great and wonderful words from very smart people. We owe great respect and love to San Francisco and Chicago in the ’60s and ’70s and to New York and L.A. in the ’80s and ’90s. But we also owe love and respect to the cities and times we live in now. We learn from the past so we can continue to build this in the future. Thank you to Mike and Chris and to all the people who made this film.


Currently Bill is an instructor at The Torch Theatre and producer for the Phoenix Improv Festival.

Special thanks to Arturo Ruiz who helped with the editing of this piece.

Let’s Be Alpacas Together

For a group of people who pride themselves on never going on a script, we fall back into a lot of the same sayings over and over again; “Support Your Partner”, “Heighten the Game”, “Play to the Top of Your Intelligence”. We sometimes get into such vain repetition that we kind of forget what those words really mean, and also assume that those we’re saying it to will somehow understand exactly what we mean.

Around NIN circles, one of those sayings is “A rising tide lifts all boats”. Now, if you know me, you know I believe that to the core of my soul. But just because we say those words a lot doesn’t mean we can always back them up. We’ve become so confident that it is true, that we never really talk about that idea in a real clinical or analytical sense. Maybe we should.

Well, it turns out there is some math to support it. Some 18th Century Math to be specific. That kind of thing was all the rage among the prominent nerds of the 1760s. But I don’t think we want to go that far back today.

Instead let’s go back to 2008 and Dan Gilbert’s excellent Ted Talk.

If you haven’t watched his videos or read his book, they are absolutely filled with very straightforward ideas which are great tools for marketing your theatre or your festival. In fact, you should really watch his whole video here when you can. Each of his points could be the topic of a blog post (and if there’s interest, perhaps there will be.) But today, let’s just talk about one of them.(slightly altered to fit this post)

Thought Experiment

If you’re reading this you may live in a major city, or at least near one. I want you to think about that city and answer the following question. You can’t Google or research this answer. Simply answer.

Are there more dogs or alpacas within the city limits of the city you’re thinking of?

It’s not a trick question. You know the answer. It’s obviously dogs. You don’t need statistics to know that’s correct. But why do you know that?

You know that because you see dogs. There are dog parks. There are dog grooming centers. There are magazines about dogs. There are clearly lots of dogs in the city. That doesn’t mean there are no alpacas around. There probably are. Maybe in a zoo or in a farm somewhere. There just aren’t nearly the same number of dogs, or you’d know.

The brain is pretty smart. That kind of reasoning is how humans cope day to day with making informed decisions without firm hard statistics at every moment. It helps us make good decisions. But that part of the brain can also be hacked.

As few alpacas as there are in your city, there are probably even fewer Powerball millionaire winners. But it doesn’t feel like it, does it? Every week on the news, they show the newest winner. Every jackpot billboard has a picture of a winner. A different winner on every billboard. You start seeing Powerball winners. They must be real, because you see them. And the more Powerball winners you see, the more likely you are to get a Powerball ticket. Even if you’ve never bought a lottery ticket. I’ll bet you thought about it more than you thought about getting an alpaca. Tell me I’m wrong.

The truth is, people make decisions based on familiar things. When I am hanging with my troupe and we think about grabbing a bite, pizza is an option. Because pizza places are everywhere. When I visited Vancouver last month and we talked about where to eat, people suggested grabbing donairs because there are donair joints everywhere in Vancouver. You know why we don’t consider that in Phoenix? Because no one I know has ever heard of a donair. There is actually a Canadian donair places within short driving distance of me. I just never saw it. And even if I saw it before, I probably wouldn’t have gone in because it wasn’t familiar. Pizza must be good or there wouldn’t be pizza places everywhere.

We’re Alpacas

If you own an improv theatre, if you run a festival, if you have a troupe: You, my friend, are an alpaca in your town. Improv is growing faster than it ever has. People know it beyond just a TV show now. Some day we’ll be ferrets. Some day we’ll be goldfish. And I know someday, we’ll be adorable puppies. But today? We’re alpacas. It’s OK. Own it.

When the people in your town think of getting a pet. They think about getting a dog. When they think about going out. They think about going to a movie. Advertising your shows, fliering the local record store, putting a poster up on that community board? It’s not enough. The people who see those fliers know that you have it in your mind to do improv. Big whoop. It doesn’t mean it’s worth their time. That attitude is not going to change as long as you’re the only improv flier they ever see.

There are more improvisors in your town than there are alpapacas. There are way more improvisors in your town than there are Powerball winners. There are probably more troupes and theatres in your town than there are Powerball winners. So act like it. Put that face out to the people of your city. Let them see a different improv troupe when they turn the corner. Let them know about what the guys across town are doing. Put up a poster for the festival being put on by the people you only talk to three times a year.

There are still so few of us out there, people don’t know we’re here. Why in God’s name would you hide that fact by not promoting shows around town that are not your own? Show your city that improv is worth doing. Show your city that improv is worth seeing. Invite those people to join a real true improv community. Because if you do, they will. It’s not just a warm fuzzy thought, it’s solid business sense.

So yeah, a rising tide lift all boats. But that tide doesn’t just appear from nowhere. That tide is the people of your city and they will lift you up. But you have to let them see the boats.


Currently Bill is an instructor at The Torch Theatre and producer for the Phoenix Improv Festival. And he wants to give a special shout out to Jeter’Z, NCT Phoenix, Chaos Comedy and ImprovMania who make the greater Phoenix area an place of improv.

Marketing & Social Media for Theater Owners

What Is Marketing and Why Should I Do It?

Hello fellow improvisors with marketing dreams!

My name is Andrea, and I’m an improviser by night and a marketer by day. After talking to the wonderful Nick Armstrong and Bill Binder at Camp Improv Utopia, we mutually realized that a lot of theater owners are asking questions about how to better utilize their marketing and social media tools. Don´t forget to read your king kong digital marketing reviews before you get started.

I won’t pretend to be a marketing expert, but I will do my best to provide advice and tools in this post (and in future posts) on a subject that I spend 8 hours a day thinking about.

This will hopefully be the first in a series of posts on how to bring together all your different and wonderful marketing ideas in order to accomplish your goals and to help your theater and your community flourish.

The Definition of Marketing for Theater Owners

Before we talk about the ins and outs of marketing, we should start by discussing the definition of marketing. I know this will be a review for many of you as I see so many theaters doing so many great things already, but it’s good to get everyone started on the same page.

There are numerous definitions for the term ‘marketing’ these days because the word marketing has become somewhat of a buzz word and any buzz word’s meaning tends to get lost in the cloud of the buzz. Here, for example, is a definition from Wikipedia that abruptly and concisely defines the term:

“Marketing is about communicating the value of a product, service or brand to customers or consumers for the purpose of promoting or selling that product, service, or brand.”

And while I think definitions like this are certainly factually correct, these definitions simultaneously glaze over the most important aspect of marketing: the human connection. Yes, marketing is about communicating the value of a product to a consumer, but more than that, marketing is about making a genuine human connection between your business(you) and another person.

I think a more accurate definition of marketing is the following,

“I believe passionately that good marketing essentials are the same. We all are emotional beings looking for relevance, context and connection.” – Beth Comstock Senior Vice President and CMO of General Electric and overseer of the founding of Hulu.

What does this definition mean? It means that every time you market your theater you should be thinking about three things.

  1. Is what I’m promoting genuinely relevant to my audience (consumers) and/or am I marketing to the right audience?
  2. In what context does it make the most sense to share this information with my audience? (e.g. social media, press releases, flyers)
  3. Is the way in which I’m sharing this information helping me to make a genuine connection with my audience in the sense that they are feeling good about the relationship they have with my business.

The third tier is perhaps the trickiest because it’s the mistake I see businesses make the most. Your first priority when marketing is not to make your business look good. Your first priority is to make other people feel good about themselves in relation to your business. The distinction is small but important because it’s the difference between shouting, “my business is great,” into an empty room, and genuinely saying, “You are great, and my business is greater because of you,” to an actual person.

Everything you do when marketing should first and foremost be about making other people (your consumers) feel significant and in turn your business will look better. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t deliver a good product (a good product is the root of everything), but it does mean that when you’re promoting your theater you should be thinking about how your products (shows, classes, etc.) are good for others and not how they’re good for your business. If you can remember to ask yourself the above three questions any time you are marketing your theater, you will likely be on the right track to creating a healthy long term relationship with your audience.

Different Types of Marketing for Theater Owners

Since marketing is founded on promoting your business through human connection, it can be comprised of almost anything. However, ‘anything’ isn’t helpful in making definite decisions about how to progress your business, so here is a basic breakdown of some of the more popular types of marketing that may be relevant to small business owners. The terms below are split up for clarification but very often overlap and work together. I will discuss these at further length in future posts.

Online Marketing – Promoting your theater on the internet via online banners, ads, search marketing, email marketing, etc.

Search Marketing – Driving consumers to your website when they do an internet search (through search engines such as Google) via paid or unpaid methods.

Email Marketing – Directly marketing to current or potential customers via email.

Public Relations – Strategically promoting your business to the public in a positive way. This often includes press & media outreach.

B2B Marketing – Marketing as one business selling to another business. This is relevant for theater owners in things such as corporate workshops.

Partner Marketing – Teaming up with another organization in order to promote both businesses for your mutual benefit. An example of this might be two theaters teaming up together or theaters bringing in outside performers or businesses that have complimentary agendas.

Influencer Marketing – Marketing to key individuals who are highly influential in your community who then further market your product for you.

Grassroots Marketing – Targeting small groups in various, creative ways and hoping it will spread to larger audiences.

Social Media Marketing – Reaching out to your audience through Social Media channels via paid or unpaid methods.

Sales Marketing – Following up with consumers in a personalized way to help them purchase a given a product (i.e. a class).

Content Marketing – Creating content to attract people to your business or content that your audience can interact with. Examples of this would be specific images, blog posts, or interactive tools or training.

Direct Mail Marketing – Advertising through standard mail. This can be used to promote your theater to locals in your city.

Word of Mouth Marketing – As opposed to organic word of mouth, actively pursuing businesses and influencers to spread the word about your business.

Why Is Marketing Important for a Theater Owner: Making People Feel Significant

I think the most obvious reason that marketing is important for theater owners is that good marketing can drive people to your theater. Whether you’re trying to fill the seats for a show or get more students into the classroom, good marketing can be the force that helps your theater to grow.

What I also think is interesting and that I’d like to follow up on from earlier is the importance of making people feel significant when you’re marketing to them. Think about a given student you have in your theater that LOVES your theater. Then think about the reason why that student loves your theater. Likely you have given this student a really incredible experience. You’ve given him an awesome class, a great community to be a part of, a caring teacher, and more. Now this student can’t wait to tell his friends about his experience. You’ve nurtured this student in what was probably a very natural way because most improvisors are such caring people.

Now think about what would happen if you marketed from a similar point of view. If through your marketing you made people feel incredible about an experience or potential experience. This is how you create long term followers and long term followers are what make your theater really grow. Because getting someone in your audience for a night is great, but getting someone in your audience every month for a whole year is much better.

This brings us back to the start of the importance of building a connection with your audience and community. These connections, whether they be through a simple email or a face-to-face talk, can be what inevitably make your theater not only the place to be but the place that people truly want to be.


San Diego based improvisor. Loves science fiction books and the show BoJack Horseman. Also enjoys eating food and drinking water and sometimes exercising. During the day time, she markets different things to different people.

Tomorrow is Say Day

jason-chin-headshot[1]Last January, we all lost Jason Chin. It was a devastating blow to our community. Even those who never met him knew of his love and complete devotion to making improv beautiful. Hundreds, if not thousands of improvisors have been made stronger through his teachings and his friendship.

In the days that followed, at a celebration of his life, T. J. Jagodowski and Charna Halpern agreed that it is all too uncommon for us to remind each other how much we mean to each other, how infrequently we say how much we appreciate each other. What a wonderful thing if we could take just one day out of the year to say those things to each other. That’s how Say Day came to be.

And that day is tomorrow. why 7/29. Simply because a quick glance at a phone revealed that 7-2-9 spelled out S-A-Y.

Many theatres have embraced Say Day. We do too. Tomorrow will likely be a busy day for many of us, but I hope you all take the time to reach out to your cast mates, your teachers, your students, the people doing the business ends of your festivals and venues, your coaches, your families and everyone else who has influenced your life for the better and given you the wonderful gift of growing in improv. Time to say “Thank you”.

Jason Chin has left us. He’s one of the many people we never got to say how much he meant. I hope tomorrow (and beyond) we take the time to say it.


Currently Bill is an instructor at The Torch Theatre and producer for the Phoenix Improv Festival. He tours teaching and performing across North America.

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