Check out some of our Past and Current Counselors:
These are incredible folks – working improvisers, world travelers, theatre owners, award winners, renowned hosts, lauded instructors, and moreover, good freaking people.
Each of them did one or more of these things: leading workshops, facilitating lectures, captaining squadrons, giving advice in the q&a panel, helping things run happily & smoothly, and most importantly, sittin’ around the ol’ campfire with ya and shootin’ the sh*t.
Tara DeFrancisco was awarded “Funniest Person in Chicago” by the Free Press, “30 Under 30” in the Windy City Times, and “25 Funniest Females 2009” in Curve Magazine for her ventures in stand up, sketch, and improv. She teaches improv courses and workshops to people of all ages and backgrounds across this nation, and that’s about the most rewarding thing ever – traveling to elementary and high schools, colleges, and offices all over the country as both an introductory instructor and a professional Comedy Consultant.
Rance Rizzutto has performed, coached, and taught improv for years. Long-form with iO Chicago and other various independent groups. Short-form with ComedySportz and Second City Theatricals (aboard NCL ships). Musical and hip-hop/rap with Here: The Improvised Musical, The Deltones, Baby Wants Candy, and The Beatbox. More random shows like silent improv and Storybox. He’s done improv all over the world (13 countries!). He is also known for his photography, hypnotism, and hosting.
You may have seen Nnamdi in print advertising or commercials for some of your favorite retailers, but what you may not know is this charming man is one of the most humble people in the community. If Nnamdi is not performing in one of his many shows throughout the week, he might just stop into iO or The Playground or wherever just to see who else is performing and offer his support. He is one of the hardest working and talented individuals in this community.
John studied improv at Second City and iO before focusing on the piano since 2009. He's most often seen at the keyboards of Comedysportz and iO, but appears almost everywhere from time to time. John is also an award-winning comedy magician, and a lifetime member of the Society of American Magicians.
Jill Bernard has been performing with ComedySportz-Twin Cities since 1993, and is a founding member of HUGE Theater in Uptown Minneapolis. Her one-woman improv piece, Drum Machine, has been featured in over forty improv festivals. She has taught and performed improv in Norway, Australia, Canada, Argentina and over thirty-five of the United States; and also on an episode of MTV “Made.”
Nathan Jansen has been improvising for 12 years. He performs at iO Chicago, The CSz Theater, and does The Improvised Musical with Baby Wants Candy. He teaches all across the nation and writes scripts for businesses that enjoy comedy. He is also a veteran stand up comic, but his heart belongs to pretend.
Ryan Archibald grew up in Barrington, IL and attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he played football for the Fighting Illini. Ryan has performed with The Second City all over the world, including a stay with their resident company in Las Vegas and aboard Norwegian Epic among others.
Andel Sudik moved to Chicago right after high school. She has performed all over the US with the Second City touring co. and all over Europe with Boom Chicago. She lived in Amsterdam for two years and Arizona for two months among other random places. She has been performing and teaching sketch comedy and improvisation for the last 10 years.
Matt Higbee is an actor, storyteller, director, and educator living in Chicago. He is a proud member of the iO Theater, where he performs, coaches, and teaches improvisation. Matt spent several years as a working actor before turning his knowledge of improv to the world of corporate training.
After performing with the Second City Touring Company for over two years , including tours in Alaska, Hawaii, Austria, and even Iraq and Kuwait, Craig did more. He went on to perform in Las Vegas for Second City at the Flamingo for another few years. Craig has been teaching and coaching improv for over ten years and performing since 1995. Yes.
Janna has an eclectic and diverse background in improv, stage, and storytelling. She brings her talents and a mystic sense of adventure to The Improv Retreat.
Jill Valentine is a South Side Chicago native that has worked as an actor, writer, improviser, director and sketch comedian all over town. You may have seen Jill with The Cupid Players, The Deltones, Feminine Gentlemen, or Off Off Broadzway. Jill is the Executive Director of Sketchfest and the Executive Producer of the Chicago Women's Funny Festival. Jill is also a founder of Stage773 in Lakeview and works as the Director of Operations.
David Christopher, with over 20 years of improv and sketch comedy experience, is a founding member and is a co-owner for Miami's home for improv and sketch comedy and 5-time Best of Miami winner, Just The Funny. David is responsible for creating the improvisation and sketch writing curriculum and program at Just The Funny, where he teaches and coaches all five levels of improv acting classes, along with both the Harold workshop and sketch writing classes. He is also the co-creator of The South Florida Improv Jam, and is the executive producer of the Miami Improv Festival.
Stacey is a writer, performer, actress and teacher. She can be seen at iO Chicago in The Musical Armando and The Deltones or at ComedySportz Chicago and she just finished a successful run of #DateMe: An OkCupid Experiment at Second City. In addition to performing, she works as an Assistant Producer for the Chicago Improv Festival and the Teen Comedy Festival. Stacey also teaches in both the Youth Program and the A-E program at the Second City.
Patrick is an actor, improviser, and writer who lives in Chicago. He is a contributing writer for The Second City Network and has performed all around Chicago. Patrick has appeared in the Chicago Improv Festival, Chicago Sketchfest, Del Close Marathon, LA Improv Festival and the Dirty South Improv festival. His solo sketch work was featured in the 2013 TBS Just For Laughs Festival. Patrick also performs in festivals around the country with independent team 3Peat.
Joe Bill is one of the co-founders of Annoyance Theater, where he performed in and directed over 50 productions from 1987-2000, including smash hits “Co-ed Prison Sluts”, “The Real Live Brady Bunch” and “The Screw Puppies”. Bill has coached and performed with numerous ensembles at iO from 1985-1987 and 1995-present.
Susan Messing is an American director, actress, comedian, author, and teacher living in Chicago. She is best known for her ensemble work at The Annoyance Theater and iO Theater as well as being regarded as one of the forefront teachers of improvisational comedy.
Sam Super has traveled the world as a performer and teacher: at international improv festivals, on board Norwegian Cruise Line ships, and across Europe with Amsterdam's legendary Boom Chicago. He is a faculty member at The Second City Training Center and is the former Director of the professional ensemble at ComedySportz Chicago. Sam has performed with Chicago's premier improv ensembles: Baby Wants Candy, ComedySportz, Revolver/Chaos Theory/The Deltones at the iO Theatre, The Hot Karl and many more. Let's camp!
Rene Duquesnoy is a veteran of improv, the Air Force, and life. You can also see him in The Beatbox, running The Dual Duel, all around town in random groups, and with Jaime wherever she happens to be. Rene is super-psyched to be here. Word.
Lyndsay Hailey is a multi-talented actress and comedian who recently located from Chicago to Los Angeles. In Chicago, she performed with The Deltones and Chaos Theory at the legendary iO Chicago where she was also a beloved improv teacher. She also worked for The Second City and performs her own show, The Lyndsay Hailey Variety Hour.
Matt Elwell, CPLP, is the President and CEO of ComedySportz of Chicago, Inc., and has been teaching improvisation to actors, improvisers, business people, educators, and students for over 10 years. As a performer, Matt has appeared with ComedySportz, Second City Theatricals, GayCo, WNEP, iO and Dave & Co, and has taught as an Associate Faculty Member of the Second City Training Center in Chicago. Matt is a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance through the American Society for Training and Development.
Charna Halpern has been teaching performers how to work together for more than 25 years. Having founded the world famous iO in Chicago and Hollywood, Halpern’s theaters are the meccas of training in the art of improvisation and act as a recruiting stop for television shows like Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and MADtv, supplying Hollywood with writers and performers.