About Chicago Improv Productions
Chicago Improv Productions' mission is to celebrate the present, honor the past, and showcase the future of improvisational theatre, in all of its multi-disciplinary expressions, through local, regional, national, and international prespectives; by presenting and producing performances and workshops for both the general public and practicing improvisational theatre artists.
Board of Directors
President: Chris Tarzon
Members At Large: Alan Barinholtz, David Fink, Jonathan Kurasch, Jonathan Pitts, Cheryl Sloane
Dan Abbate, Andrew Alexander, Kirsten Ames, Matt Barbara, Frances Callier, Paul Fleishman, Dave Gaudet, Jason Geis, Charna Halpern, John Heinson, Tim Kazurinsky, Beth Kligerman, Kelly Leonard, Diana Martinez, Sean Monahan, Mick Napier, Sheldon Patinkin, Joyce Piven, Brian Posen, Bernie Sahlins, Cheryl Sloane, Claire Sutton
Administration & Staff
Executive Director - Jonathan Pitts*
Chicago Improv Festival
College Improv Tournament
Teen Comedy Fest
(*Co-Founder of Chicago Improv Festival)
City Arts Grant
Annoyance Theater; Around The Coyote Arts Festival; Artropolis; Beverly Arts Center of Chicago; Chemically Imblanced Comedy; Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs; Chicago Park District; Chicago Public Library; Columbia College Chicago Television Department; ComedySportz Chicago; Improv Playhouse; iO Comedy Theater; Laugh Out Loud Theater; Links Hall; Loyola University; pH Productions; The Playground; Piven Theatre Workshop; Resolution Digital Studios; The Second City; University of Chicago's Theatre Department
Black Box Improv Festival (Atlanta); Comedy City (Kansas City); ComedySportz Indy (Indinapolis); Dad's Garage (Atlanta); Hideout Theatre (Austin); HUGE Theater (Minneapolis); Improv-Abilities (Kansas City); Improv Asylum (Boston); Improv Boston (Boston); JackPie (Atlanta); Jet City Improv (Seattle); Magnet Theater (New York); On The Spot (Honolulu); Out of Bounds Comedy Fest (Austin); Philly Improv Theatre (Philadelphia); Philadelphia Joke Initiative (Philadelphia); San Francisco Improv Festival (San Francisco); Unscripted Theatre Company (San Francisco); Westside Comedy Theatre (Santa Monica)
Chicago Improv Festival Awards
Andrew Alexander; Dick Blasucci; Del Close; Severn Darden; Martin DeMaat; Don DePollo; Joe Flaherty; Charna Halpern; Fred Kaz; Tim Kazurinsky; Mina Kolb; Laraine Newman; Sheldon Patinkin; Dan Patterson; Byrne Piven; Joyce Piven; Josephine Raciti-Forsberg; Harold Ramis; Bernie Sahlins; Dick Schaal; Avery Schreiber; David Shepherd; Paul Sills; Joyce Sloane; Viola Spolin; Eugene Troobnick; Fred Willard
Ensemble of the Year:
Annoyance Theater; Beer Shark Mice; The Improvised Shakespeare Company; Key & Peele; TJ & Dave; Upright Citizens Brigade
Improviser of the Year:
Dan Castellaneta; Adam McKay; Susan Messing; Colin Mochrie; Stephnie Wier
Alan Barinholtz; Frances Callier; George Earle; David Fink; Claire Geall; Schadenfreude
50th Anniversary Recognitions:
The Compass; The Playwright's Theatre Club; The Second City
Chicago Improv Productions' 2008 Statistics (12/23/08)
In 2008, CIP produced 124 performances, which were seen by 15,017 people. The populations served were 72% European-American, 21% African-American, and 7% Latino-American.
In 2008, CIP showcased over 600 improvisers in performance. The improvisers were professionals, semi-pros, college students, high school students and grammar school students.
In 2008, CIP taught 34 workshops and 621 students participated. The ages served were 6% grammar school students, 69% high school students, 4% college students, and 21% adult students.
In 2008, CIP presented 10 different original programs (All-State Improv Team; Chicago Improv Festival; CIF Preview; College Improv Tournament; Holiday Storybox; Ridge Park Summer Theatre Camp; Storybox; Storybox For Kids; Teen Comedy Fest; World Tales).
Jonathan Pitts, CIP Executive Director
Jonathan Pitts is the Co-Founder of the Chicago Improv Festival, and this is his 15th year working on CIF. He is also the Creator and Founder of the College Comedy Championship the Teen Comedy Fest and CIP's education outreach programs. For three years in a row he was selected by New City as one of Chicago’s "Top 50 Theatre Players".
For seven years, he was the Theatre and Performance Arts Curator for the Around The Coyote arts festival and two years for their Winter Fest. For two years he was the Coordinator of the Bailiwick Directors Festival. While there he also Co-Founded and Co-Produced Bailiwick's Naked i Visual Arts Festival. For two years he was the Producer of Art Attack, a performing arts festival in Three Oaks, Michigan, and for two years he also was the Co-Producer of Three Oak’s Shakespeare in the Park.
As a creator/director of spontaneous theatre, performance art, original productions, and sketch comedy, he has created/directed several shows including Storybox; Storybox's World Tales; Double Play; Viola Spolin: Visionary Woman of Play; The Xprovisation Series; The Silent Movie; The Oracle; Chimes; The Answer; Kidz Writes; Sybil's Playhouse; and for three years in New Mexico, Phantasmagoria Improvisational Theatre. For two years he was the Resident Improv Director at Chicago's Navy Pier.
He is currently an Advisory Board member of Directors Lab Chicago. He's a former Artistic Associate of Bailiwick Repertory Theatre and WNEP Theater. He's also a former company member of Blue Rider Theatre. As an improviser he has performed in over 1,000 improvised shows with several improv ensembles across America. He was a member of iO's first ever House Team, Stone Soup. As an actor he has appeared in over 30 productions with numerous Chicago area theatre companies.
For the past ten years he's been a Guest Artist Faculty Member of The Second City Training Center. For five years he was an Artist-In-Residence at Richards High School. He's also taught improv and theatre workshops for After School Matters, Beverly Arts Center, Brave New Workshop, Chicago Academy for the Arts, Chicago Park District, DePaul University's Writing Program, Dirty South Improv Festival, Free Street Theater, Illinois High School Theatre Fest, Magic City, Redmoon Theater, Southwest Theatre Fest, London's The Spontaneity Shop, and Very Special Arts.
He was a contributing writer to Anne Libera's book The Second City's Almanac of Improvisation. He also wrote the forward to CIF Artistic Associate Asaf Ronen's book Directing Improv. In 1984, as a young Chicago improviser, he wrote the original version of An Improv Almanac.
Aren Zolninger, CIP Producing Director
Natasha Bhamla, CIP Assistant Producer
Jamie Black, CIP Assistant Producer
Jamie Black has been an actor/comedian in Chicago for over 13 years. He has performed with many theatres in Chicago and LA. He studied improv at The Players Workshop and is a graduate of The Second City Writing Program. He is a founding member of the sketch comedy group Soul Fools. After performing in the 2004 Chicago Improv Festival, Jamie began working for the festival as a driver and has been working with CIF ever since, including the last three years serving also as an emcee. Jamie's television credits include The Chelsea Handler Show. He can also be seen as The Bathtub Philosopher on YouTube.
Keith Habersberger, CIT Associate Producer
CIF Productions named Keith Habersberger to be the College Improv Tournament's new Assistant Producer. He will work with CIT's Producer Jonathan Pitts and CIT's Associate Producer Alison Royer on the 2010-11 tournament. Keith was the former team captain of The Improv Mafia when they won the CIT 2008 title and now he tours nationally for Mission Improvable.
Katie Johnston-Smith, CIP Assistant Producer
Wendy Mateo, CIF Industry Director
Susan Messing, CIF Improv Ambassador
Susan Messing, a New Jersey native, is a graduate of Northwestern University. She has performed for over eighteen years with Chicago's iO Theatre, and created and teaches their Level Two Curriculum which is used in Chicago and LA's iO West. At the legendary Second City, Susan wrote and performed in two mainstage revues and directed their National Touring Company. Susan is a founding member of the infamous Annoyance Theatre where she has created roles in over thirty original productions, including Co-Ed Prison Sluts, The Miss Vagina Pageant, and Your Butt.
In addition, she conceived, co-adapted (with Mary Scruggs) and directed the critically acclaimed What Every Girl Should Know...An Ode to Judy Blume for the Annoyance stage, where she also continues to teach. You can see Susan’s critically-acclaimed show, Messing with a Friend, now in its third year, every Thursday night @ The Annoyance.
Susan is an adjunct professor for Loyola University, DePaul University's Theatre School, and The University of Chicago. Her standup act with her puppet, Jolly, has been featured at the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and on Comedy Central's Premium Blend and NBC's Late Fridays. You can hear her voice on radio and tv ads. Susan has been cut from several blockbuster films, but her recent movie role in Let's Go to Prison! as a bad stripper in a halo brace, made her very happy. Her daughter, Sofia Mia, is very four, very ridiculous, and very awesome.
Sean Monahan, CIP Associate Producer (West Coast)
Ruth Morrison, CIP Assistant Producer
Kevin Mullaney, CIF Artistic Director
Jesscia Rogers, TCF Artistic Director
Stacey Smith, CIP Assistant Producer
Jenna Steege, CIF Assistant Producer
Mark Sutton, CIF Education Director
Mark Sutton is the former Artistic Director of the Chicago Improv Festival, in 2006 he became the festival's Artistic Director. 2010 was be his 5th and final year as CIF's Artistic Director. He's also a former Assistant Producer for CIF. He is one of 3 improvisers (along with Joe Bill and Susan Messing) to have performed in all 11 Chicago Improv Festivals.
A founding member of The Annoyance Theater and he's been performing, teaching, writing, and directing comedy in Chicago for 22 years. Over the last 7 years, he has become highly known for being half of the hit improv duo BASSPROV with Joe Bill. BASSPROV has performed nationally and internationally at numerous improv festivals. BASSPROV debuted in 2002 at CIF's Improv All Night and for the past six years headlined on CIF's Main Stage with special guests Dan Castellaneta, Mo Collins, TJ Jagodowski, Tim Kazursinky, Emo Phillips, Horatio Sanz, and Fred Willard.
He also performed in the critically acclaimed improv duo Sutton and Hallal, and they appeared at numerous improv festivals across North America. He appeared in over 65 original shows at The Annoyance Theater including Co-Ed Prison Sluts; Manson: The Musical; and The Real Live Brady Bunch. He has appeared in several independent films including Fatty Drives the Bus; Waiting For The Man; Watch; and Penniless: One Man's Crusade.
He's a former director of The Second City National Touring Company, and he directed the Canadian premiere of Co-Ed Prison Sluts for The Second City Toronto. Currently, he teaches and performs for The Second City BizCo. He is also a member of the faculty at Annoyance Theater, The Second City Training Center, and he has taught at almost every North American improv festival, including (of course), Chicago Improv Festival.
Chicago Improv Productions' Administration/Staff Alumni (1998-2012)
Lucinda Alipio: Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Chicago Improv Productions, NFP:
Chicago Improv Productions NFP is an Illinois not-for profit arts organization, with a 501(C)(3) granted from the IRS under its original organizational name "Chicago Improv Festival". It also does business as "Chicago Improv Foundation" and "Chicago Improv Productions".