Summer Is Coming.

With apologies to my friends in Winterfell, “Summer is coming.” And that means Summer Improv Classes in Chicago! I wrote about this topic last year (check it out here) but I wanted to add some things for 2012. If you’re coming to Chicago for improv classes this summer here are some tips n tricks:


I cannot stress the wonder of all the improvisation to see in Chicago. DO go see shows at theaters beyond your school. There are free shows, half-price shows and sometimes discounts for students (of all theaters.) Check them out.

DO take a day or two off a week.

DO be a tourist. Visit the corny, cheesy, fun side of Chicago.

DO be a Chicagoan and just wander around. Stroll the neighborhoods near your residence and your school.

As I write this, it is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but by the time you get here, it will be VERY HOT. And Chicago tends to get hot and sunny. DON’T overdo it. Hydrate. Plan ahead. Lift with your legs.

DO make new friends. Especially if you’re coming here with a group… learn from others. Who knows, you might meet your new group this summer!

DON’T feel like you HAVE to try deep-dish pizza. It’s not that great (I’m originally from NY and I’m not a big fan.)

DO visit some of our amazing street festivals! Here’s a list of them!

DON’T be careless! Keep an eye on your belongings. Keep your head about you; just like any large city, there is crime here and you need to be careful.

DON’T drink too much. It may seem that alcohol is a centerpiece to many functions but don’t feel pressured to join in. Keep in mind that not everyone drinks (or may even be able to) when planning class excursions.

DO take pictures!

DO take notes! If you plan on improvising when you return home you’ll need the references! I still have my notes from more than a decade ago and I treasure them.

DO use Google. Use the internet and check out shows, restaurants and events you may be interested in. Ask Chicagoans their opinions. Then, go with your gut.

DO take advantage! Many schools will offer free workshops, q&a’s and more! Ask your teachers!


Do you live in Chicago? Have some more advice? Let’s hear it!



Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag

I needed a new bag to lug notebooks, books and ipad stuff. Wanted a small, cheap one and I found one at Belmont Army Surplus.

It’s an old army-type over-the-shoulder thing. (I bought the Hand of the King pin separately.)

It opens and kinda unfolds….

That notebook is mine, but the hard plastic backing board came with the bag. That was cool. But then, I searched the bag and I found all this…

A two-headed pencil, a red/blue pencil, two rubber erasers, a plastic ruler and that protractor-like thing. So what branch of the military is this bag from? Army Corps of Engineers? I dont’ know and I have so many questions about my purse!!

the Avengers Initiation

The Avengers movie is about a group of disparate individuals thrown together by a shadowy organization who must somehow form a team and save the world. Just like an improv team! (if you haven’t seen the movie yet, or worse, you didn’t like it then this list will be terribly disappointing to you. Also, SPOILERS POSSIBLE)


Here are some things I learned about improv from the Avengers:


Even the smartest, funniest, most charming member needs help.

Everyone loves a two-person scene… give them some room and the humor will come.

Backstory is irrelevant if the audience is enjoying itself.

Try to avoid pop culture references (“Flying monkeys…”)

Anger is disruptive emotion. Try to avoid it (or you’ll wreck the helicarrier/show.)

If you believe in, and support, each other there’s nothing that can’t be done.

Confront your fears and the rewards will be wonderful.

The brother of your teammate is your enemy.

Have a spotter (know your space, know your audience, know the lighting system, et al.)

Even though it’s superhero etiquette, there’s no reason to fight amongst each other.

The entire team should go out to eat together.

Before the Avengers

I’ve been a huge fan of the Avengers comic since I was a kid. My dad gave me and all the kids some money to go to the store and get toys and books so we’d stop tearing up the funeral home (it’s a long story.) Bottom line: I bought this and I loved it. Since then, I think I’ve read just about all 200 first issues. The 1990s were a tough time for the Avengers, but lots of Marvel comics began to be translated to film. And that wasn’t always a good thing. I’m incredibly excited to see the Avengers this weekend, but here are some not-so-great Marvel films:

Hey the X-Men are popular but are too expensive for us to license.. let’s go with  the least expensive and least interesting spin-off and shoot it in the most boring way possible!

David Hasselhoff IS Nick Fury! are words no one wanted to hear. I felt like I was somehow watching Hasselhoff’s inner dream of a movie instead of an actual movie with writing and directing and, oh yeah, acting.

I know the quality is terrible on this clip, but it doesn’t really matter. From a TV movie, The Hulk Returns… there was a Thor and a Donald Blake… I remember reading at the time that they were hoping to spin-off Thor and Donald as a crime-fighting comedy duo.  Od’s Blood!

The 80s version of Captain America. Even as a kid I was like, “Really?” Cap deserves better than this…


This Fantastic Four movie was so bad that it’s never been officially released! I had a bootleg VHS copy and watched it ONCE. Though, to be fair, it’s not that much worse than the 2005 Fantastic Four movie. With the Avengers raking in the dough, it may be time for a FF reboot?

Alright, see you at the Avenger’s Mansion!