Welcome Ryan Nallen to the NIN Team

We are happy to announce that Improvisor Ryan Nallen will be joining the NIN team. Ryan has been contributing very resourceful blogs for the last year and will now join our NIN team helping spread the word and making the site even better. I had a chance to interview Ryan:

Tell us about your improv background…What schools have you gone to?

I’ve been improvising now for around 7 years. I originally went to college to wrestle at the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana. I had taken a theater class because I was told it was a blow off (easy) class by my student advisor. For the final exam we had to do a student written play and half way through I forgot my lines. I just started rambling and making things up to justify what was happening. The class laughed at the nonsense coming out of my mouth and afterward my teacher pulled me aside and said, “You should look into doing this. You have a natural talent.” After the season finished, I decided to take that teacher’s advice and quit the team. I have been acting and improvising ever since. As for my training, I am a graduate of iO Chicago, the Second City Conservatory, and the Annoyance Theatre.

Who are you favorite improv instructors?

Thats a tough question for me because I feel like every teacher I have had has taught me something valuable or has provided me with great insight based on their own experiences. You can always learn something from somebody and I try to maintain that belief with every class or workshop I take.


Switch Committee

Tell us about Switch Committee and how you guys formed? Why do you travel to festivals?

Switch Committee had originally formed out of iO. Dave Karasik and I were in level 1 together and enjoyed playing together so we decided to form a group inviting other people we’d played with who we felt we had good playing chemistry with. Since the group has formed, we have had 2 runs at iO, performed at almost every venue in Chicago, and have traveled to and taught at over 10 festivals around the country. I really love traveling to festivals because I enjoy meeting new people who love doing the same thing I love to do. It’s something very special to get people from all over the country together to sit and watch each other do make believe. Traveling to new places to meet and see how other people are improvising is very exciting to me. Also, it’s like a vacation and who doesn’t love a vacation?

You’re becoming a part of the NIN team. What has NIN meant to you?

First of all. Thank you! This is awesome and I’m honored! I think NIN is an invaluable resource to the improv community. The purpose of it and how the people involved work so hard to bring performers and teachers from all over the country together speak volumes about the kind of support and collaboration that exists in our small world. Through NIN I have been able to connect with people and festivals that I might not have been able to connect with otherwise. It’s given me a central place to go to find festivals and more importantly groups and people with shared interests. It is because of NIN that I can say I have improv friends in almost every state in the country.

Where do you see improv heading?

We are in a weird, but GOOD, growth phase right now. A lot of theaters are growing, moving, and getting larger, which is fantastic for the performing arts community in which we belong. For example, in Chicago, iO and the Annoyance recently moved to new locations, Second City is expanding, and multiple other theaters like The Playground and M.C.L. (Music Comedy Live – formerly Studio Be) are rebranding and establishing new programs. Then you’ve got other shows popping up in attics and garages (the S%$& hole) generating the entire support of the community simply because they’ve created a judgement-free environment inviting pretty much anyone (sketch, stand-up, improv, musicians, etc.) to come and play free of charge.

With that, there will always be a show to see. I’ve seen it first hand here in Chicago. You don’t need thousands of dollars or a theater license. All you need is a space to play in and people who want to play in it.

How do you feel about the national improv scene?

I think its great. I absolutely love traveling to festivals and seeing what other people are doing in terms of their form and playing style. It’s also great to see the support that everyone has for one another. Rather than “oh I don’t know you you’re from another state” its “hey we love doing the same thing tell me more about you and your group.” It’s like a family and everyone is eager to watch each other play. Nationally its continuing to grow as well with more theaters and festivals popping up and existing theaters moving/expanding. I see it continuing to grow and people continuing to try new things. I see it getting bigger with more opportunities for people to perform both locally and nationally. It’s very exciting!

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also taught many workshops around the country.

Spotlight On: The 14th Annual Phoenix Improv Festival

The Phoenix Improv Festival celebrates it’s 14th year in 2015! I had a chance to interview Executive Director and NIN Co-Founder Bill Binder to chat with him about what we can expect this year.

What makes PIF 14 different than other improv festivals?

Last year we shared the building with another event. I’m sure the other event was great and I heard good things about it, but I overheard a conversation between two of the ushers. The first usher was concerned about sending people to the correct event and the head usher said “If they’re here to see art, send them to the Improv Festival.”

That’s something I didn’t ever think I’d hear. Your question was how we’re different than other festivals, and certainly we’re not unique at all in celebrating the art of improv. But what is unique here is how much our city celebrates it as art. We play in a beautiful venue that seats about 400 people and – of course – there are performers in the audience. But there are also hundreds of people who may or may not see improv throughout the year, but they come to the festival to celebrate the cultural landscape of their city. Our audience members see improv in rotation with the opera and the ballet in town. And let me tell you, you know that old saying, “Treat your audience like poets…” it works the other way. This audience will treats us like professionals and artists and the work we get to do in response lives up to that. It feels great to play in that kind of environment.

What can we expect from PIF 14 this year?

Kind of tagging onto the last question, this is our 14th year and our audiences are coming to a grown-up event, so we are going to act like grown-ups. There will defiitely be some parties, but the performances themselves, we’re going to try to treat the festival and performers like we’re there on purpose, not some kids who stumbled into a theatre. I think this year we’re going to go even further in treating our visitors like the professionals they deserve to be treated as.

What can an improvisor get if they are accepted into PIF 14?

All performers play the mainstage. There is no sidestage or second smaller venue. Each group gets put up for one night at the Holiday Inn across the street from the venue. Each group gets a den mother who is available 24 hours for them to give them rides, get them food, show them around town, get them to the festival, etc. There are two parties with transportation to and from. There will be a photoshoot on Saturday. All groups get a video of their performance for submitting to other festivals. We have workshops on Saturday as well as our third unconference to discuss the art and business of improv. We will have panels and possibly a return of Jam City.

Besides the Improv Festival, why else should a troupe take a trip out to Phoenix. What’s the Valley of the Sun have to offer?

Well, Oprah’s favorite pizza place for one. people always ask about that. But if you really want good pizza, there are plenty of other places we can get you. Downtown Phoenix has plenty of museums, and many of them are great, but I won’t list them all because the names mean nothing. But the Musical Instrument Museum and Butterfly Wonderland are pretty self-explanitory. There are no baseball games in town that weekend, but there are plenty of places nearby to watch games. The Roosevelt Row area is a more Bohemian neighborhood right next to the hotel where many small local bands, galleries and restaraunts are within walking distance. If you really want to experience “the old west”, there are plenty of scenic parks and fairly inauthentic ghost towns your den mother can get you to. And of course, the hotel has a pool.

You’ve been at it for 14 years. What have you seen change in improv from year 1 to year 14 in your community?

In 2002, the love of improv was huge, but in a very small circle of people who didn’t have the knowledge or the skill to share that love. Only seven years ago, I ran a listing for classes and the person running the mailing list kept insisting that I put the words “zany” and “wacky” in the listings. When I refused she said “OK, but you’ll be yelling into the wind.” We’re not yelling in the wind anymore. There are six great improv theatres in the area and many smaller groups. The community knows what improv is and there are hundreds, not dozens, of people meeting each week to practice, or just discuss the craft. There are a dozen great shows every week somewhere in Phoenix, and those folks come together to put on an amazing event each April.

Nick Armstrong

Nick Armstrong is Founder and Camp Director of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also taught many workshops around the country.

Announcement: The NIN Sister Festival Project Launches

The National Improv Network (NIN) is launching a project that puts improv festivals together to help them grow, share and become known nationally.

How does it work?

Preferably a festival from one side of the country pairs with a festival from the other side of the country. For instance our first pairing is The Phoenix Improv Festival and The Detroit Improv Festival. The great thing about this pairing is they are on opposite sides of the country and their festivals fall at different parts of the year. Heck if you know festivals in other countries you should do that too. We have some listed on NIN.


Our goal is to get festivals together so they can help each other cross promote, help each other out and share information. What works at a fest, what doesn’t etc. Also, it’s likely The Detroit Improv Festival doesn’t have the same contacts and submissions as the Phoenix Improv Festival so during the off season of PIF they will help DIF promote their submissions and vice-versa.

So what do you do next?

Go to the Festival page on NIN and look up a festival you may want  to parnter with. We will be sending an e-mail to our festival members with this blog too so they know what’s going on. If you feel more comfortable having us introduce you to a festival please e-mail me at nick@nationalimprovnetwork.com. I’d be happy to get you in touch.

If you’ve partnered with a festival let us know! We will promote it on our site and spread the word as well. So join the movement and help our community grow even more. Yes and!

Nick Armstrong

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also taught many workshops around the country.


Performing and Coaching Improv Online – The Pros and Cons

Last Tuesday I was asked to be a part of a google hangout  improv show for a website called e-improv. e-improv is a website that streams live improv shows via Google Hangout. The show I was in was called Let’s Get Serious Guys! Hosted by the lovely Juliette Everhart from the Kansas City Improv Community and The Recess Players. We were also joined by Founder and Artistic Director and old student/friend of mine Dylan Rhode from Backline Improv Theater and The Omaha Improv Festival in Nebraska. Like anything in improv I always like to do new things and I saw this as an opportunity to give it a try. I’ve also coached online improv with a Kansas City group that Juliette is on and I’ll go into detail about that experience as well.

The Show: e-improv

For the show on Tuesday, I was exciting and nervous all at the same time. Playing with people you haven’t played with, but also it’s online! Will I be able to hear them? Will I miss some moments? How will it go? The first part of Juliette’s show was an interview session which she asks Dylan and I to come up with a theme in improv that we enjoy…

For Dylan and I it was easy, “Community” since we are both in the building community game we felt compelled to talk about it. Then after that we go into an improv jam for 10 minutes. We get a suggestion from a book and then here we go. I will say this, I had a fun time…Was the improv great? Not the best, I’m sure all three of us would agree, but still a fun time.

Technology still needs to catch up I think. Sometimes the delays in technology slowed the timing down and it was hard to hear. Talking over each other is nearly impossible to do online because of the way it is set up…Maybe that’s a good thing! 🙂

My overall view of it is that online improv will never replace a brick and mortar establishment, but what I do love about online improv is the fact that you can do it with anyone in the world at anytime and that is the best takeaway from this experience. What a way to build a worldwide improv community. I don’t think the founders of the site, which I intend to do a follow up blog with and interview with them, are intending to do.

When you spend so much time in front of a screen that it causes a tired, strained feeling in your eyes, you may be suffering from a condition known as computer vision syndrome. This problem is so common that is it said to affect somewhere between 64 and 90 per cent of office workers.

I think they are trying to just build community and you know what…I’m on board with that. It never hurts to do something that brings improvisors together. Hey if you have fun and it makes you laugh, then follow that.

PROS – Meeting and playing with people from all over the improv community that you would never get the opportunity to play with.

CONS – Technology makes improv connections hard and there is limitation in physicality. You are pretty much doing talking head scenes.

Coaching Online:

I was really hesitant to do this. Call me old school. I coached a team in Kansas City, MO. So in the spirit of yes, and… I did it and I don’t regret it. Yes, you are limited in what you can do as a coach.

It’s hard to get physical or get up there with them to demonstrate and there are certain exercises you can’t do. But I coached them for almost a year, off and on, and I saw an improvement in them and they felt an improvement in their play. My motto is this, if they feel they’re getting something out of it and I see improvement then it’s worth doing.

PROS – Getting coaches from around the country to teach you their style and philosophies along with some of their exercises. Coaching online can help improvisors grow.

CONS: Limited in what you can do with teams and technology can some time crap out on you. Also, it can be hard to hear or see things depending on visibility of the camera and mic set up.


Nick Armstrong

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also taught many workshops around the country.

The Improv Retreat

d7pY2l0lFCI would like to start this by saying I grew up in the desert. December for me is 60s and a cactus with some lights. May not sound as romantic to you, but to me it’s the bees knees. It was also that December when I got a Facebook message from Rick Grove and Lauren Corl telling me we must go to Wisconsin (which was under piles and piles of snow) for the Improv Retreat with the one and only Tara DeFrancisco – who I had met for the first time on stage as a part of her show DeFrancisco. While I would like to say I thought long and hard about the snow, before I knew it, I clicked the link to pay and off my pay check went.

I was more than happy to spend my weekend in the woods with 275 other improvisors at B’nai B’rith Beber Camp in Mukwonago Wisconsin. The Improv Retreat started as a dream of Tara’s to help bring improvisors to the Midwest for a weekend of workshops, art, and the love of improv. It’s summer camp for adults who like to make things up. And maybe dance in the woods. And hug.
The weekend finally came as Lauren, Brandon and I picked up Rick from the airport and drove towards the land of cheese. Armed with snacks, cider (did not drink it on the way there mom), and Starbucks, we spent the ride trying to guess who was teaching what, where we were sleeping, and how much bug spray we may need. Rick, Lauren, and I came from The Torch Threatre in Phoenix, so we were even more excited/nervous of the different improvisors we were going to meet.

Upon arrival, I was in awe of how green and big the camp was as we walked to Crown Hall to receive our bunks and schedules. To greet us was Tara, looking excited and happy to see everyone. If you don’t know Tara, she has the ability to make you feel like a rockstar with just a hug. She made us all feel welcomed as we walked up the hill to our bunks. On the way down the 72 steps (which we walked up and down every morning), I started running into familiar faces from my last summer in Chicago, including my level 1 teacher Higbee (who had the same whit and charisma. Big fan.)

Lauren and I quickly got situated in our bunks, covered ourselves with bug spray, and went back to Crown Hall for announcements. During camp, everyone would meet one to two times a day to talk about events, policies, and to laugh. The camp had everything schedule from the moment we got there, to the moment we left. While it left us little time for free time, it also gave you the option to stay active and enjoy your surroundings.

Joe Bill

Joe Bill

Included in our schedules were three workshops, shows each night, shows during the day, smores, food, and my favorite- Joe Bill talking under a tree. While technically it was by a flag pole, to be given the opportunity to talk with Joe Bill about his traveling and experiences in improv is something I will not forget.

The camp experience is something I will not forget mainly because it took you out of your comfort zone. From each of my workshops they emphasized being here in this moment-this is what matters. And I know we say this over and over again as improvisors, but we sometimes need to be reminded to get out of our comfort zones. In Fear No More, Nnamdi Ngwe told us to look in our fellow actor’s eyes and fall in love. In the past, I’ve had trouble with eye contact and this was intimidating. However, in this moment, you are here and can’t look away.

In Organic Games with Higbee, we literally played childhood games to find patterns in the play happening and how we were going to support it without saying HEY SUPPORT THIS. For a moment, I had to remind myself how to play leapfrog. In Fireball Theory with Jill Bernard, we focused on reacting without telling your partner their nana is crazy, and saying the first thing to come to mind (banana banana) by remaining active in your play.

Stepping out of your comfort zone spilled over in other areas of camp. With a large group, it can be intimating at times to go up and talk to people. In reality, everyone at camp was very welcoming and said hey jump right in! For me I got to be a part of my first rap jam, play with improvisors from all over the world, do handstands by the lake, and play Merlin (sorry Robert and Colin if I messed up the name).

Camp gave me the refresher boost I needed. It rocked its first year and can’t wait to go back to the woods. It was awesome.


Born and raised in Phoenix Arizona. Runner. Improvisor. Traveler. I play well with others in my fancy shoes, and I love Space Jam.

Improv Utopia Returns in Style

improvutopia[1]It’s hard to believe I’ve been making the drive to Cambria, California four years in a row now. It’s become an annual tradition for performers from around the world to come together in the tiny California town in Camp Ocean Pines. A lot of people ask me the same question; “Is it really a camp?” It’s a fair question, I suppose. There are plenty of camps these days (computer camp, space camp, etc) that take place in some Community Center, but Camp Improv Utopia is certainly the camp experience we all remember from years gone by; trees, archery, walking up the hill to the cabins; it’s about as authentic as you can get.

But it’s not the axe throwing that makes camp a special experience, it’s the fact that when improvisors are removed from distraction they accomplish things that we try to achieve in our improv all the rest of the year. Many festivals have weekends filled with great events, shows, workshops and the like. But there’s always that downtime where people explore the city, break off with their respective troupes. There’s no such thing at camp. Many performers aren’t even their with their respective groups from home, because camp becomes a single ensemble for the weekend.

Every time people talk about what life would be like if we could quit our day jobs and do improv full time, this is what we get for three days. There’s an energy not only in the workshops, but the opportunity to create your own activities. During the hours in the afternoon between classes, a quick walk through the woods can find some spontaneous jams, Brian O’Connell doing some one-on-one coaching, practicing for cabin shows, or taking pictures for the excellent Improvisors Project. It’s aptly named Utopia – or what improvisors would imagine utopia to be; a place with no offices or restaurants (or wi-fi really). Just a place to sleep, a place to eat and acres to study your craft.

The workshops themselves were excellent, Paul Vaillancourt, Karen Graci, Jaime Moyer, Josh DuBose and Amanda Blake Davis were all at their best with their three hour workshops. It’s funny that even though campfires went late into the night, people arrived energized at the first workshop each day.

The evenings were also filled with more communal activities including an instructor show, an open panel discussion on the state of improv, Jam City and the much talked about cabin shows. Each cabin (named for an artist or scientist of note) came together as a new ensemble to perform. Many cabins took inspiration from their cabin’s namesake including The Cousteu cabin’s red knit hats worn throughout the weekend. In it’s fourth year, the cabins themselves have taken on a life to themselves, which includes the new campers who stay in them each year. It’s exciting to see.

The campfires, the excitement for the cabin shows, the jams, the workshops and just the access to performers at all levels who were happy to sit on a log and talk improv with any level 1 student. It was the truest expression of “Yes, and”, an environment that nurtures the growth of the performers. All in all, a truly reinvigorating improv experience.

Cover Photo courtesy ImprovUtopia

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

Spotlight On: Kansas City Improv Festival

thumbnail_1399339607-300x300[1]As the National Improv Network moves into its second year, I’ve met so many people who are passionate about improv in so many places that I’ve been to and places I’ve never been before. Among those latter people are the producers of the Kansas City Improv Festival. It was a real pleasure to get to talk, if only briefly with some of the people working on the 2014 Improv Festival and hear about how fantastic that festival can be.

I got to learn a bit about the festival, their direction and their hopes for the year with Ashley Osborn. When she says she hopes to put this festival on troupe’s short lists. I think she may very well pull it off.


Kansas City has had a festival for several years now, but this is one of the first years that there’s been an interest in bringing in national groups. Why the change?

We’ve actually had a festival for 14 years—we just took a little break in the middle. The original KC Improv Festival (called Spontaneous Combustion back in the day) was one of the first independent national festivals, and featured acts who traveled from both coasts. There has been participation by acts from across the country every year, from the big dogs (Del Close, Mick Napier, Armando Diaz, etc.) to up-and-coming groups from Chicago, Minneapolis, NYC, Dallas, and beyond. When we brought the festival back, we continued to bring in national acts, but by invitation instead of application.


Photo courtesy Steve Gibson

Because a lot of traveling performers have never played in K.C., what is the improv scene like? How many troupes and theatres are there? And – purely out of curiosity – does the MO side and the KS side of the river have different styles of improv?

K.C.’s improv scene is healthy, innovative and consistently growing, featuring a variety of seasoned veterans and up and coming troupes. Weekly shows and classes are available at 3 separate venues, encompassing the entire spectrum of short and long form with regular weekly shows and competitive formats. Education has taken off in the area over the last few years, and with it the amount of awesome talent in shows every weekend. Luckily, the talent is thick on both sides of the state line, although most shows fall on the Missouri side in and around the Westport entertainment district. Neither Missouri nor Kansas has claimed a specific style that they keep from the other state, although we could use something new to fight about after the Big 12 broke up.

Since you are bringing in national groups this year, what kind of shows are you hoping to attract? What things have your local audiences not seen yet?

We want to bring in awesome performers-period. We aren’t looking for a specific format or performer, just troupes that are ready to rock our audiences.

Outside of performances, will there be other events for visiting performers? Workshops? Parties?

Absolutely! We will have after parties every night of the festival so we can try to show our performers a good time while they’re here. Also, workshops will be available both weekends, instructors to be determined, so stay tuned. Past workshop instructors include Joe Bill, Mark Sutton, Jill Bernard, Susan Messing, and Nick Armstrong. An added bonus is that we generally try to cart our visiting improvisers around as much as possible so that they don’t get lost and end up at the wrong barbecue joints.

Courtesy of Steve Hevlet

Photo Courtesy of Steve Hevlet

What’s the venue like?

We are using two awesome venues this year. Our first weekend will be held at the Off Center Theater in Crown Center, a shopping district in the middle of the city, only a few minutes from downtown, Westport, and the Country Club Plaza. Of the two, it is our larger venue with audiences on three sides of an amazing stage that is perfect for a fired up improv audience. Our second weekend will be held at the Kick Comedy Theater, a venue that houses improv shows every Saturday night for the KC Improv Company and many other guest troupes. The Kick is in the heart of Kansas City, the Westport entertainment district.

When the festivals not going on, where should people visit while they’re in town? What are the best places to see? And where are the best ribs?

If you’re a shopper, hit up our beautiful Country Club Plaza. If you’re into museums, hit up the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Kemper Museum of Modern Art, or the Crossroads Art District. If you’re looking for a wild night, hit up the Power & Light District or Westport. If you want the best barbecue you’ve ever had, go to Oklahoma Joe’s, it is in a gas station, just go with it (fellow contenders are Arthur Bryant’s, Fiorellas Jack Stack, & Gates). If you want to witness an amazing local fave and you happen to drink beer, check out the Boulevard Brewery, or just order a Boulevard beer. Also, we have fountains everywhere, look around, its our thing.

If you could have a perfect festival, what would you hope visitors, both performers and audience members would say about it?

Our perfect festival would leave people remembering that it was filled with down-to-earth improvisers, mind-blowing workshops, and kick-ass shows. We work to put on a professional festival that showcases our improv scene while inviting visitors to join us, teach us, and entertain us. We want to be on every troupe’s short list so that they can be a part of the incredible momentum we have going on here in K.C. And barbecue.

It’s not too late. Festival submissions are still open, but they’re ending soon.  Be sure to submit today.

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

Jimmy Carrane’s New Book: Improv Therapy

Jimmy CarraneIf there is anything about Jimmy it’s that he is probably one of the most honest improvisors there is. Just listen to any Improv Nerd podcast and you’ll see what I mean. I had a chance to interview improvisor, master teacher, blogger and Improv Nerd Jimmy Carrane about his newest book Improv Therapy.

What inspired you to write Improv Therapy?

I think with everything I do — my blog, the Improv Nerd podcast, my teaching and this book — I am trying to offer emotional support to improvisers that I did not get when I was starting out in improv as a needy, fat kid in the ’80s.

As you know, the culture of improv is supportive — the whole “yes and…” and “making your partner look good” thing. But that is different than how you feel about yourself or how you react to a bad show or the jealousy you feel about other people’s success. These are the things that get in the way of your career, and they are the things most improvisers don’t want to talk about. But not talking about it does not make it go away. In fact, it actually gets worse, and by talking about it, it gets better and you become a better improviser. I feel like a broken record, but improv is a personal art form, and what affects us off stage in our lives has a direct effect on our improvising.

What do you want improvisers to get out of this book?

To know it’s ok to feel and think certain things like jealousy or shame or wanting to kill yourself after a bad show and there is nothing wrong with it. Actually, it’s healthy if you do think those thoughts. And by doing admitting it, you will become a better improviser. Also, if you need outside help, get it, because improv is not going to solve all of your problems.

Tell us about your process in writing this book…

Just as when I wrote Improvising Better with Liz Allen, we did not start out to write an improv book. Other people suggested it.  Same thing with Improv Therapy. As I was writing my blogs every week, people kept saying “There is a book here.” Of course, I didn’t believe them. As with most of my creative endeavors, a lot of procrastination was involved.

Maybe it’s my improv training, but I could not write this book alone. So, my wife, Lauren, who loves to make lists and also edits my blogs, gathered all of my blogs together and found a theme to them, which was emotions. Then I needed to do some additional writing around the chapters, and she kept me on a schedule, and towards the end she confronted me on my perfectionism and said, “The book is done. ”

What is the difference between your first book, Improvising Better, and your newest book?<

Improvising Better is great how-to book. You have this problem in improv and this how you can fix it. I think it’s inspirational and a very easy read. I can’t believe it’s in its fifth printing. I am really proud of the collaboration between Liz Allen and me on that book. Improv Therapy is more emotional. It talks about bigger concepts of anger, shame, jealousy and joy.

Improvising Better is about the outer game while Improv Therapy is more about the inner game. I think it reflects my work in therapy and recovery from numerous addictions and it’s more from a student’s point of view

The second book also reflects my relationship with improv today. When I wrote the first book, I was primarily a teacher. At that point, I had given up on performing. I was more rigid in my thinking that there was a certain way to improvise. Doing Improv Nerd has opened my mind. It’s been like doing acid — you see how all these different approaches work.

About Improv Therapy:

Improv Therapy is an honest and insightful book about the things improvisers don’t want to discuss: their feelings. Written by Jimmy Carrane, host of the Improv Nerd podcast, Improv Therapytakes a look at the improviser’s mind and what blocks improvisers on stage, and gives them practical advice to overcome their issues so they can become the improviser they always dreamed of being.

To purchase Jimmy’s book Improv Therapy you can get it for $3.99 (What a steal!) as a PDF or on Kindle.

About Jimmy Carrane:

Jimmy Carrane is the host of Improv Nerd and co-author ofImprovising Better: A Guide to the Working Improviser  and Improv Therapy: How to Get Out of Your Own Way to Become a Better Improviser. His Art of Slow Comedy class won the 2012 INNY Award for Best Comedy Class/Workshop. A well-known improv teacher, Jimmy has taught at The Second City, IO-Chicago, and The Annoyance and he currently teaches classes at Green Shirt Studio and Stage 773 in Chicago. He was also an original member of The Annoyance Theater and Armando at iO Chicago, and has performed in some of Chicago most innovative and ground-breaking long-form improv shows, such as Jazz Freddy and Naked< (a two-person one-hour improvised scene with MAD TV’s Stephanie Weir.) His other theater & improv credits include: I’m 27, I Still Live at Home and Sell Office Supplies,Godshow,Every Old Man,Living in Dwarf’s House and Summer Rental at The Second City, e.t.c. For more information on Jimmy, please visit www.jimmycarrane.com.


Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings.  He has also taught many workshops around the country. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want.

To e-mail nick e-mail nick@nationalimprovnetwork.com. For more information visit: http://www.nickarmstrong.com or http://www.improvutopia.com


A Social Festival for All

So you have a Facebook and Twitter for your improv festival. You may even have a Google+ page. Sweet. Awesome. Now what? Many festival organizers and improv groups know they need a Facebook, Twitter, and all the things because everyone else has it. But most of the time those pages just sits their unused which can be your biggest mistake. By leaving your social untouched and unloved, you are missing out on one of your festival’s biggest assets to help not only promote, but also build your festival’s presence. Here are a few tips to help you get started make your Social Media well social.

1. Make it a part of your marketing plan.

Along with your website, interviews, and flyers, your Social Media should be considered in your marketing plan. As Ariel said, go where the people are. With nearly 30% of Americans getting their news via Social Media, it is a force that can not be ignored when it comes to promoting. Just posting everyone once in a while is cool, but it doesn’t get the word out. You get the word out by coming up with a plan for before, during, and after the festival. This can range from what you are posting, Facebook advertising, and hashtags for the event.
On anything you use for marketing, make sure it connects with your Social Media. For example, on flyers make sure you have your Facebook and Twitter handle. Connect your website with your social platforms. The main purpose of Social Media isn’t to sell sell sell, but think of it as a television commercial or radio spot, but online. While you can’t always connect directly to ticket sales, the proof will be in how well the word got out.

2. It’s Personal

Let your festival reflect the offline atmosphere online. That means all your posts shouldn’t be come to our show! Come to our workshops! Buy tickets! Some of your posts (which should maybe be 5-7 a week leading up to the festival) should be about the groups, some of the planning, fundraisers, or anything personal towards the festival. One of the 13th Phoenix Improv Festival’s most popular posts were photos of the performers as teenagers. Another was images from past festivals that built up nostalgia and got users excited for the upcoming festival. People in general relate to things more on a personal level. As a result, they are more likely to invest in seeing your festival, and are less likely to ignore your buy tickets posts when they do happen.

3. Get the performers involved

Piggy backing off point two, if your performers are having fun it will reflect in their shows. This can be done before the festival by featuring them in your social media, emailing asking for any of their promotion, or as the Phoenix Improv Festival likes to do, treat them like rockstars. Be creative in how you post or get them involved, and know they may not want to and that is alright. You may want to start with local groups and build from there. Those groups that are invested personally will your biggest advocates for your current festival and beyond.

4. Your audience isn’t just improvisors.

While the performers of the festival may be your biggest advocates, they aren’t the ones buying tickets. Sure their family and friends may purchase some, however you should try to appeal to the general public of your city. With your Social Media, make sure some of your posts are directed at people who love watching improv to those who have not seen it before. This can range from videos, photos, and getting the venue and local businesses involved. For example, any Tweet we were sure to mention the Herberger Theater and mention our Family Friendly shows. Also connect with your local audience because who knows your city better than you?

5. Have Fun!

At the end of the day, improv is adults playing make believe on stage. While we can have grounded moments, your social media shouldn’t be your Office Space type of job. Your Social Media should reflect the fun and beauty that is improv. Whether it is pictures from the event, quotes from the show, or what is going on backstage, let your audience, performers, and online community know the fun you are having. Don’t be an asshole. 😉

Born and raised in Phoenix Arizona. Runner. Improvisor. Traveler. I play well with others in my fancy shoes, and I love Space Jam.

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