Friday, December 30, 2011

Elevate your New Years Eve: Celebrate at iO West

With 2012 already the subject of much hype, your plans for chiming in this unusual year are ever more important.

Think about past-year faux pas and be really honest with yourself. Can you afford to transition from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius anywhere but with your friends down at iO?


No cover charge, no dress code, no velvet ropes, and no made up stories about your "awesome" New Years Eve when all you really did was sit home with Ben and Jerry and an all-star cast of tiara-wearing toddlers.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

There's no Hollywood pressure at iO, just a great bar with friendly people where you can welcome the new year (which might be our last) on your terms.

So, whether you're stopping by for the FREE champagne toast at midnight (or to grab a midnight snog with your fave iO performer), or are in for the long haul, come by the funny farm for a guaranteed good time.

- Deviant Amelia

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Due to demand, new introductory improv classes have been added

There are a host of new Level 1 classes, and a new (because the others were sold out) Level 2 with Dave Razowsky that start next week.

Venture forth into your improv future with one of the following terrific, introductory classes:


Bridget Kloss Mondays 7:00 -10:30pm
Dave Hill Tuesdays 3:00 - 6:30pm
Bridget Kloss Thursdays 7:00 -10:30pm
Mike Betete Saturdays 11:30am - 3:00pm
Levin O'Conner Sundays 11:30am - 3:00pm


David Razowsky Tuesdays 11:30 - 3:00pm
Megan Grano Tuesdays 7:00 -10:30pm
Aaron Krebs Wednesdays 7:00 -10:30pm
Molly Erdman Saturdays 11:30 - 3:00pm

If you register for Level I by phone at (323) 962-7560 and tell them this blog sent you, you will get a $50 discount.

For exact dates and times, visit the upcoming class schedule.

Whether you are an actor whose manager said you MUST have improv skills to stay competitive in the current market, or you are a tax accountant who wants to enhance your conversation skills, confidence and go-with-the-flow collaborative spirit, you should join a fun and lively, introductory improv class.

Don't leave the funny up to the "professionals"; be funny too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Live-stream iO Chicago tonight at 8pm Central, 5pm Pacific

Tonight at 8pm in the Del Close Theater at iO Chicago, sundry members of some of iO's most popular groups, such as The Armando Diaz Experience, Cook County Social Club, 3033, Challenger, Revolver, Henrietta Pussycat, The Katydids, and more, are coming together for a one-time, web-wide event:

A LIVE-STREAMED long form improv show inspired by your Facebook and Twitter Suggestions.

The show will have a live audience and will be streamed live via the iO Comedy Network.

Suggestions will be taken via iO Chicago's Twitter (@iochicago) and Facebook pages.

The show starts at 8pm CENTRAL time.

We'd love to see you there or have you join in online!

Monday, December 26, 2011

What's on the iO West Main Stage this final week of 2011?

Monday, December 26, 2011 MONDAYS ARE MY FRIDAYS

8:00 Men of a Certain Race
9:00 True Story
10:00 Cherry Crush, Cherry and The Cherry Pick
11:30 Cage Match

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 TWO FOR TUESDAYS

8:30 Teen Police
9:00 Hot Toddy and Waterloo
10:00 Local 132 and Sweeterhouse
11:00 Gian and Friends

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 HOLLYWOOD HUMP DAY

8:30 them.
9:00 USS Rock n Roll and Trophy Wife
10:30 Spirit Cat and King Ten
11:30 Stapler

Thursday, December 29, 2011

8:00 Scary. Killer. Nice.
8:30 Rigor Tortoise
9:00 Joel Murray and Friends
10:00 The iO Rep Presents Pascal
11:30 Cage Match

Friday, December 30, 2011 DATE NIGHT

8:00 Match Me!
9:00 The Nearly Wed Game
10:00 Orpheus Roy and Old Milwaukee
11:00 The Wild and Glory Stories with Aly Sinclair

Saturday, December 31, 2011 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Come join iO West revelers in drink, dance and the dawn of a new year.

Doors open at 9pm.

There will be a DJ, drink specials and a complimentary toast at midnight. NO COVER! Is that crazy or what?! That's because improvisers are generous of mind, body and spirits.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hog Post #5

Arnold as Matt as Santa
Because Matt Craig is a lot like Santa Claus - jolly, kind and nimble - he has blessed us this holiday with a Hog Post.

If you've forgotten what a Hog Post is, it's a blog post in Harold form - iO West's signature blog post.

If you've forgotten who Matt Craig is, he's an Emmy-nominated SNL writer, the ultimate half of popular sketch and improv duo FrankenMatt (it's Christmas, so think frankincense) and a beloved instructor of all levels of sketch and improv.

While Santa's sleigh is pulled by deer, Matt Craig's is pulled by words. But more than nine because that's how weighty and full of gifts Matt Craig's wit is.

Based on the suggestion "wipe":

Wipe, swipe, type, computer, data, information

An air traffic controller, finally getting some down time, opts to go to the bathroom.
*ALERT* A request for an emergency landing!
A bread crumb trail of toilet paper down the hallway.


Two surgeons, Drs. Needle and Kaplan, working dedicatedly over an open-heart patient.
“This is the crucial moment, Dr. Needle. It’s life or death right now.”
“I’m sorry. I was daydreaming. What was that?”

Space, race, ethnic, ethic, conduct, behavior, human

It’s all set! Two of each! One male, one female!
Line up here to be saved from the flood!
But where is the Ark?
“I knew I forgot something.”

Err, stumble, stubble, whisker, razor, wipe

Craig Kringle's suggestion for the next Hog Post: "opinion."

If you feel so inclined, email your Hog Post based on that suggestion to

And have a memorable Christmas, Chanukkah and New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pop your post-Christmas cherry

Come Monday we'll all be experiencing that Christmas hangover, be it from months (or frantic minutes) of preparation, Christmas bell overload, or just exhaustion from fake-smiling your way through extended family fun-time.

iO West has the perfect cure with Cherry's Very Special...

After-School Special:

$4 Sierra Drafts and $3 Whiskey Coke's...

And an hour and a half of Cherry improv revelry.

Kicking off the evening at 10, is Cherry Crush, where your favorite Cherries (Nate Caywood, Katie Dodson, Michael Garcia, Echo Kellum, Jamie Moyer, Amanda Tate, and Canon Wing) invite to perform with their crushes the following week, the team who wins the audience's affections.

Additionally, participating teams can win a regular monthly Main Stage Show or an LA Improv Festival Show.

Following, at 10:30, is the one and only Cherry working off a seemingly innocent suggestion from you, yes YOU, to banish any residual Monday blues.

But the hokum doesn't stop there, oh no!

Stick around for The Cherry Pick, which puts you, a member of the audience, on stage with iO West's teachers and coaches in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, (or twice-, thrice-, mice-...regardless, it will be special, dammit, and it's easy as un, deux, foie gras.)

Grab a 21+ friend and a drink, drop your student ID into the fishbowl (any improv student ID: Groundlings, Second City, UCB, etc...) and recreate that Price-Is-Right-moment-when-you-hope-your-name-is-called to improvise with the masters.

The post-Christmas Cherry Pick, this Monday, Dec 26, boasts the one and only Dave Razowsky.

So, become all the more seasoned this holiday season with...

Cherry on cheery Monday.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

- Deviant Amelia

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Level 1: Journey to confidence

Matt Craig
Marion Oberle
My first day of Level 1 at iO West, taught by Marion Oberle but subbed by Matt Craig, consisted of name games and warm-ups and introductory concepts. It was so much infectious fun, I couldn't help but be excited about the subsequent six weeks.

While I had taken two classes at the Groundlings five years prior, I had little additional ensemble improv experience, and I had left the Groundlings feeling that perhaps improv was too difficult for me or that perhaps I just wasn't talented enough for it.

Those feelings of trepidation and self-doubt disappeared during my first Level 1 class at iO. While the concepts, practices and "rules" were basically the same as at the Groundlings, the vibe was different, or maybe it was simply that something in me had changed. I no longer felt too untalented or old.

And what I have learned since completing Level 7 at iO West is that improv is not about talent or saleability; it's about being brave enough to be fully yourself in front of others.

What was your Level 1 experience?

Your Level 7 experience?

If you haven't had one yet, sign up!

A new session of classes begins the first week of January.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two-person improv December 22

This Thursday eve, starting at 8:30, see three great two-person teams.

First to grace the stage are Grace n' Grano, comprised of Artistic Director James Grace and MegaGrano.

Next, it's Razowsky and Clifford with Dave Razowsky and Carrie Clifford.

And closing the show is Jam Boogie Cat with Joe Canale and Molly Erdman.

Two-person improv is arguably the toughest as the two improvisers must on their own create a variety of characters and a host of worlds that layer upon one another with no one else to offer additional support.

And the line-up this Thursday is among the very best.

For info, tickets and showtimes, visit the iO West Main Stage calendar.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Top Story! Weekly celebrates Christmas

'Twas the week before Christmas and what do you know?
There's a week's worth of news for a comedy show.

Top Story! Weekly is basking in the holiday cheer this Sunday on the iO West Main Stage.

Top Story! Weekly, which is the longest running news-based sketch show in Hollywood, three-time winner of the Del Close Award for Best Scripted Show, and named by CBS 2 as the "Best of Los Angeles," is bringing a brand new show based on the week's events.

This week's special stand-up guest is Jim Hegarty.

Here is taste of Top Story! Weekly's spin on the previous week's happenings:

And tickets to Top Story make a top-tier Christmas gift.

How to market your improv team's show - part 2

4. Commune. Make your show part of a larger event, such as a birthday party, bachelor party, girls' night out, etc.  And market your show to existing groups and organizations that regularly plan group outings, such as apartment complexes, bowling leagues, book clubs, knitting circles, church groups, et al.

If you can contact these groups, half of your work is done since they already plan regular events. And remember to mention that iO West has a bar!

5. Spread out. If you don't live in LA full time, when you do come to visit and perform in LA, don't book a full weekend of shows for one team. While in Chicago and NYC you might garner great reviews and a following from one weekend of marathon performances, in LA, where it is harder to draw an audience, it is best to put on a single great show, get friends and students to come and buzz about how awesome it was and then use their feedback (and facebook) to help bring in new guests for your show the next time you're in town.

Performing before an empty house can be disheartening, especially if/when you're paying for the space.

6. Repeat. While a Facebook reminder every day for two weeks may push audiences away, strategically placed reminders absolutely help.  Everyone is super busy in LA, so an initial invite is great for those who like to plan followed up by reminders for those who don't or can't.  

I personally get the most success from a single night-before or day-of text.  That might sound crazy, but in a town of commitment-phobes, getting folks to come out last-minute can be easier than getting folks to plan ahead. Know your audience and market to them accordingly.

In summary, there are a host of ways to market your team's next show. Hopefully I have inspired you to widen your scope.

 - Annie Mackay

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to market your improv team's show

As an avid audience member, supporter of improv and an improviser, I have noticed that marketing and booking are not your typical comedian's strong suit.

Not to say that Facebook and Twitter aren't excellent sources for blasting the internet with show details...

But as a budding actor in Los Angeles, approximately 70% of your social media contacts are other budding actors who are equally too self-absorbed and/or busy with their day jobs to see your show...

And the other 30% are your friends and family back in your Mid-Western hometown.

So, it's folly to post notice of your show once on Facebook and expect to draw a crowd.

Here are a few simple suggestions to fill the seats for your next show:

1. Personalize and extend. If you have a significant-other or close local friends, ask them to invite a group of their other friends.  Your spouse's work friends might like to come along for a night of drinking and improv.  

This is especially true if your "other" is not also performer, because his or her guests won't be burnt out on shows.

2. Barter.  Within any network of performers, everyone is trying to fill a theatre somewhere.  If you have a friend that is reprising his high school role of George Gibbs in Our Town at a local theatre, go see him! Trust me, the more people you support the more people will support you.  

Then you can always use the old guilt trip about how you saw his moving performance in a classic three-act play, so surely he can see your improv troupe "Blue Balls on Ice."

3. Invest. From my time in the box office I have noticed that people really do look at all the posters.  A temporary poster for a show is sufficient, but a team poster with a place to update show info or an adertisement for a weekly or monthly show that stays up forever is even better.  

On your poster, I suggest putting pictures of your group and listing the performers' names to draw particular fans.  I can't tell you how many people see the wrong show because they didn't know who in particular they were supposed to see, which theater they were supposed to go to, or even the name of the performing group.

Make it easy for people to find you!

And even ask the office to hang your posters for you.  

That way the posters will be hung in accordance with policy and will remain in good condition so they will stay up longer.

Check back later this week for more tips on how to market your improv group's next show.

- Annie Mackay

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brave the new year in an improv class

Whether you are new to improv or are a gold pro, there is a new line-up of classes coming to iO West this January.

"New" as in new curriculum with a distinct focus.

Even though I, myself, just completed Level 7, I am signing up for one of the beginning classes to get a feel for the revamped curriculum and to keep my skills fresh.

What class will you take?

Visit the schedule.

All new students (new to iO West) who sign up for Level 1 and tell them they heard about the new classes on this blog will get a $50 discount.

Repeat students may take classes for half price.

To register, call 323-962-7560 or peruse the registration page.

Monday, December 12, 2011

iO West holiday party tonight at 8pm

Mix and mingle tonight with your favorite classmates, teachers and improvisers. 

iO West's holiday party is a joyous occasion when all of the improv community convenes at iO West for merriment.

Here are a few of the jovial happenings at iO West holiday parties of yore:

1.  A level 1 student hooked up with a level 5 student.
2.  Someone did his Dave Hill impersonation drunkenly in front of Dave Hill.
3.  A child was born in a manger and Craig Cackowski might have been the father.

Did we mention two free kegs?

Bring your friends and loved ones.

Dress festively.

Imbibe the vibe.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Eric Stonestreet Q and A today on the iO West Main Stage

iO West alum and Emmy Award winner Eric Stonestreet from ABC's Modern Family will host a Q and A TODAY on the iO West Main Stage from 5-7 for all iO West students and alum ages 21 and up.

The bar will be open.

Tickets are free.

No reservations are needed.

Here are Eric and the others from Modern Family discussing improv and Eric's transformation into Cam:

Adding in Some Improv Into Modern Family by 5minArts

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Matt Craig's Level 7 class show tonight

Human Karaoke Death Machine, which is comprised of:

Doug Agnew
Mike McKee
Christian Cintron
Eric Burnett
Marissa Madsen
Chris Pang

Dalex Miller
Andrea Kittelson
Nathan Boone
Joe Clabby

and Luis Cortes

is a high energy improv sindicate that is based out of iO West in Hollywood and is coached by Matt Craig, Lauri Roggenkamp and Tilt Tyree.

Tonight, Human Karaoke Death Machine will showcase what they have so far gleaned after seven levels of study, and, most importantly, they will proffer in-the-moment, never-before-and-never-again-seen, make-it-up-as-you-go hilarity that yields a much bigger laugh than anything else you could concoct alone in your home (unless you have certain ingredients found only online, and then, OK, you win).

Come and experience for yourself what everyone is currently talking about:

Human Karaoke Death Machine...

Followed by SUBLIME two-person improv with Elevator, Hill/Jones, and FrankenMatt...

And the SUMMATIVE, more-person Quartet and Pascal.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

King Ten nominated for Favorite Improv Troupe

Laughspin (from the editors of Punchline Magazine) have come out with their nominations for the 2011 Readers' Choice Comedy Awards, and iO West's very own King Ten is on the list.

Visit the award site and cast your votes for Favorite Stand-Up Comedian; Favorite Comedy Show; Favorite Animated Comedy Show; Favorite Sketch Group; Favorite Comedy Podcast and more.

And, of course, vote for King Ten. The winners will be announced December 19, 2011.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Instructor Aaron Krebs in brief

If you've been to, you are aware that Aaron Krebs is foremost an actor (and I mean acTOR), but many iO West students are lucky enough to also call him their teacher.

Krebs recently shared with me a few thoughts about performing and teaching improv.

SKK: What was the moment you first discovered you loved performing improv?

AK: Probably during high school. Our theater class had an improv group in it. It started with just theater games in…1992?

SKK: What about these games did you enjoy?

AK: I enjoyed the spontaneity and uncertainty.

SKK: What has been your favorite onstage experience so far?

AK: There's been a lot of 'em… It's all pretty amazing to me. In general, I love the moments when you trust that you're doing something but you don’t' know what it is that you're doing, and you figure it out after you’ve already been doing it.

SKK: What led you to begin teaching improv?

AK: I started teaching because I felt like I developed my own point of view and philosophies about it, and that became something I wanted to share. And I also wanted to make myself better. Although I'm teaching, I'm also learning myself -- with every scene and with every class I watch.

SKK: You've touched on this a little bit, but what would you say is the most rewarding aspect of teaching for you?

AK: My favorite thing about teaching is getting a student to appreciate the art of improv rather than just appreciating it for surface reasons. I enjoy getting someone really enthusiastic about improv.

Improv is something I'm extremely passionate about. If [it's] something actors are passionate about, they should take a class.

SKK: What has been your favorite in-class experience so far? This experience could also be as a result of class.

AK: For me [favorite experiences are] always when you work with someone who's not getting it, and then you offer that piece of information that's easily digestible for them, and it changes for them. I like making people "professionals" at this. An amateur will do improv and not understand what went wrong. A professional will do it and understand.

SKK: What might be an example of something that goes "wrong" that an amateur won't understand but a professional will?

AK: An amateur won't be able to tell you why a scene was bad. A professional will tell you "this scene was bad because we didn't have a relationship" or "we weren't inspiring each other." They can communicate versus knowing just what's "good" and "bad."

SKK: Lastly, for everyone reading this blog who is trying to figure out what shows to see first, which are a few Harold teams you think are particularly successful, and why do they work so well? You can include your own.

AK: Elevator on Thursdays is my show. Obviously I'd love for people to come see that, and, backing up what I was talking about, our work is relationship-based and character-based. USS Rock n Roll is a solid team with a great focus on ensemble. King Ten is another team I'd recommend. I think that they encompass the attitude of fun. And Trophy Wife is a fantastic team also. They do consistently good work.

Aaron Krebs' bio:

Aaron Krebs, from Texas by way of Chicago, has been involved with improv for over twelve years. He is part of the National Improv Touring Company, Mission IMPROVable, where he performed in such noted comedy festivals as: Chicago Improv Festival, Memphis Comedy Fest, Orlando Fool's Festival, Great Lakes Comedy Fest, Big Stinkin Improv Festival, as well as others. After three seasons of touring the US, Krebs is proud to find his home here at iO West.

Aaron Krebs currently teaches Level 3.

 - Shawn Kathryn Kane

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday shows at iO West

The Holiday Season is officially in swing, and iO West is here to offer you respite from the craziness of family gatherings.

Try one of our new bar selections like Rogue Dead Guy Ale or Green Flash Hop Head Red, and enjoy one or more of the following Holiday-inspired shows:

Friday, December 2 at 11pm ($5) Sky & Nancy's Holiday Spectacular

Sky & Nancy Collins, played by Marc Evan Jackson and Carrie Clifford, are a clueless, nouveau riche couple hailing from the OC's Pico de Gallo. See these two celebrate their holiday best with their best holiday guests.

Friday, December 9 & 16 at 8pm ($10) Kind Strangers Presents: Improvised Charles Dickens

Discover a little-known Dicken's story that is fully improvised by some of your favorite iO West improvisers as they don cockney accents and ring in the spirits of Christmases past. The show stars Jill Alexander, Nick Armstrong, Brandon Barrick, Zach Huddleston, Erin McGathy, Zabeth Russell, and Jessica Young.

Thursday, December 15 at 8pm ($10) Margot's Pie Presents Christmas: Made In China

This unique holiday feast features Josh Banday, Kendall Burdett, Nicole Odell, Dario Konicia, Chris Morcom, Hep Jamieson, Julian Clark, Scott Schiff, Margot Major, and Kevin Ocampo.

Tuesday, December 13 & 20 at 7:30pm ($5) A Co-Worker Quakesmas

Enjoy this quirky office Christmas comedy - that is a musical.

If you love the holidays, loathe the holidays or just appreciate deep, visceral laughter, then spend at least some of the holidays with always cheery (and definitely always beery) iO West.

- Annie Mackay