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Improv Nerd With Jimmy Carrane

Comedy Podcasts

Well-known improv teacher and former Studio 312 host Jimmy Carrane explores the creative processes used to make great comedy.

Well-known improv teacher and former Studio 312 host Jimmy Carrane explores the creative processes used to make great comedy.


United States


Well-known improv teacher and former Studio 312 host Jimmy Carrane explores the creative processes used to make great comedy.




Will Luera

Will Luera is a renowned improviser, actor, director and instructor who performs and teaches all over the world. He has served as the artistic director at Improv Boston and the director of improv at Florida Studio Theater, and was recently named artistic director of Improv Asylum in Boston and New York. In this episode, Will shares with us how he helps improvisers find their voice, what he learned from Amy Poehler, and what preparation he's taking at his theater in Florida during Covid-19 as...


Jane Morris

Jane Morris is an actor, improviser and director. She is the Johnny Appleseed of comedy clubs, having opened the Chicago Comedy Showcase and the Second City e.t.c. in Chicago and the Upfront Comedy and the Comedy Underground in Santa Monica, CA. She currently manages the Fanatic Salon in Culver City, CA. Jane has a reputation for doing incredible character work, both on stage and screen. Jimmy talks to her about how she physically uses "Yes And..." in developing her characters, why she loves...


Armando Diaz

Armando Diaz is widely regarded as one of the best improv teachers in New York. He is the co-founder of The Magnet Theater there, and help create one of the most popular long forms ever, The Armando Diaz Experience. We talked to him about what makes a good Armando show from both the monologist and the players and why he doesn't like the term "game." And he demonstrates some exercises to help you to better connect with your partner and find a point of view for your character.


George McAuliffe, The Improv Guru

George McAuliffe is the writer and star of the short film The Improv Guru, which is based on his popular Twitter account. Jimmy sits down and talks to him about his dark comedy, why it is so important for improvisers to make fun of themselves, what he hopes improviser get from the movie and advice about following your own path in improv. In the second half of the episode, Jimmy interviews George as his character, The Improv Guru, and they talk about throwing chairs at hecklers, creating...


Rich Baker

Rich Baker is an incredible improv teacher at Second City Hollywood, as well as an improviser and author of the book Improv Made Easy. He has performed with The Second City, iO-Chicago, and ComedySportz, and has toured the country with Mission Improvable. Jimmy talks to Rich about why you need to fail to get better, why an improviser's goal should be to always get better, and Rich shares a lot of great tips and exercises from Improv Made Easy to help you do great scene work.


Joe Liss

Joe Liss is one of those improvisers whom Jimmy looked up to when he was coming up in the improv scene in Chicago back in the '80s. Jimmy says Joe is truly one of the funniest performers he has ever seen. His character work is incredible. Joe was in the National Touring Company, Etc. and Main Stage at Second City. We talk to him about how he creates his characters, why giving specifics in improv is so important and he how played a practical joke on Chris Farley.


Jay Sukow

Jay Sukow is one of the best improvisers and teachers out there. He has taught at almost all of the Chicago intuitions and also served as the Artist Director at ICC Theater in Copenhagen. He now lives in Los Angeles and teaches and performs around the world. Jimmy caught up with him in Chicago at Green Shirt Studio to talk to him about why it's important to make positive choices in your scene work, why he uses anger in improv and how he is adapting his teaching as improv changes.


Billy Merritt

In this latest episode of Improv Nerd, UCB's Billy Merritt talks about his new book, Pirate Robot Ninja; An Improv Fable, which he co-wrote with Will Hines. Jimmy talks to Billy about what it means to be a Pirate or a Robot in improv, the "four pillars" of doing a good improv scene, and what the "game of the scene" means to him.


The Crowd Theater

Finally a new episode! The Crowd Theater is great little comedy theater in Chicago that strives to support diversity, inclusion and affordability in the improv community. Jimmy sat down with the three founders —Blair Britt, Dillon Cassidy and Taylor Jones — last fall to talk about how they met and started the theater, how they carry out their mission and their delicious chicken wings.


Ike Barniholtz

Ike Barniholtz is the writer, director and star of the new dark comedy The Oath. Ike improvised in Chicago in the ‘90s at Second City, iO Chicago and The Annoyance. He was on MADtv for five seasons, and also starred on The Mindy Project. Jimmy sat down with him to talk about when he first started out in improv, how he got through the lean years in L.A. and why he decided to make his new film, The Oath.


Derek Miller

Derek Miller is a master improviser, teacher and actor in L.A. He has done tons of commercials and been a regular in three TV shows. He was in the cast of Opening Night: The Improvised Musical! at the old iO-West. We talk to him about how the L.A. improv scene has changed, how he uses suggestions to make an emotional choice for his character, and why he's leaving L.A. and moving to England with his family.


Why is Chicago the Mecca of Improv?

Jimmy is really proud to share with you this piece he did for Curious City on WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio, answering the question, "Why is Chicago the mecca of improv?" In this episode you will hear several people’s theories about why this is. Jimmy interviews old friends TJ Jagodowski, Susan Messing and Jonathan Pitts to get their input. This is a must-listen for any improv nerd, and Jimmy secretly hopes after you listen to this episode you move to Chicago.


Sophie Shrand

Sophie Shrand is the host and creator of "Science with Sophie," a science comedy show for girls and everyone. She is an accomplished improviser in Chicago, and we talked to her about how she got through the hard times when she moved to Chicago from Boston, why it is important to her to be a role model to girls in science, and her tips on musical improv.


Tj Jagodowski

TJ Jagodowski is one of the finest improvisers and people you will know. He's half of the long-running show TJ and Dave. In this special episode that was originally recorded for Curious City at WBEZ in Chicago, Jimmy talks to TJ about why he thinks Chicago is still the mecca of improv, his definition of Yes, And... (which is not out of the text book), and why he has stayed in Chicago to improvise.


Jeff Michalski

Jeff Michalski is an improv legend. He is a teacher, director, an improviser who was a founding member of Second City's ETC Theater back in the '80s and now teaches in Los Angeles. Jimmy sat down with Jeff to talk about what he learned working with Del, how he uses Meisner and view point techniques when he is teaching improv, and telling Stephen Colbert to start loving to bomb on stage.


Shad Kunkle

Shad Kunkle is an improviser, actor, teacher, and comedian. He has been playing with the iO Harold team Carl and The Passions for 20 years, he toured with Second City and understudied the Main Stage. We talked to him about the importance of focusing on the other person, being selfless as an improv coach/director, and how he uses short form to help his long form.


Todd Milliner

Todd Milliner is one of the executive producers on CNN's original series, "The History of Comedy." He has produced such shows as "Hot In Cleveland," "Hollywood Game Night" and "Grimm." We talk to him about taking improv classes at The Annoyance back in the '90s, how "Yes, And..." works in L.A., and why it is important for people in improv to know the history of comedy.


Andel Sudik

Andel Sudik is an incredible improviser and teacher. She has performed all over the United States with The Second City Touring Company and in Europe with Boom Chicago, and she travels the world improvising and teaching. We talked to her about how she creates her wonderful characters on stage, what she learned about herself after being fired from the Second City ETC cast, and auditioning for Saturday Night Live.


Jimmy Pennington

Jimmy Pennington is one of the Annoyance Theater's most popular improv teachers. He has performed in lots of shows there, including Co-ed Prison Sluts, and is currently in Fish Bowl on Thursday nights. We talked him about how to "get out of your head" when you are improvising, how to improvise from the character versus from the scene, and the importance of doing the projects you love.


Vernon Mina

Vernon Mina teaches and performs at The Annoyance Theater in Chicago where he is currently in Trigger Happy directed by Mick Napier. He also performs with the Second City Touring Company and has previously understudied for Second City’s ETC. We talked to him about the Annoyance style of improv, diversity in improv in Chicago and auditioning for Saturday Night Live.