Splitsider

Posts tagged as improv olympic

Improv's Babel: Defining the Game of the Scene

Interviews by Matt Visconage.

Improv was doomed with a semantics crisis from the start.

When long-form improvisation began to flourish as its own art form under comedy guru Del Close in Chicago in the 1980s, “improv” referred to The Improv, a popular chain of stand-up comedy clubs in dozens of cities around the country. The Palm Beach Improv, for example.

When I used to intern at an improv theater in Hollywood, it wasn’t uncommon to find a couple who wandered in from the street, expecting to see a guy with a microphone, telling jokes. Television shows like Whose Line Is It, Anyway? helped audiences distinguish improv from stand-up, [...]

One Hour of Poehler & Lynch and One Tragically Unreleased Movie Trailer

An hour of Amy Poehler and Jane Lynch chatting would be worth it no matter what they're talking about, but if they're talking about Amy's early days at Second City and ImprovOlympic, whether Del Close was a misogynist or just a misanthrope, and the decisions to turn down sitcom money to stay with the rest of the UCB, then you have already clicked the link and I am just talking to no one. La la la la there isn't anyone reading this because everyone is over in another tab watching that amazing interview.

Note: the video above is the trailer for Spring Breakdown, the unreleased movie [...]

Talking to Charna Halpern About Working with Del Close to Create Longform Improv

On paper, Charna Halpern is intimidating. Really intimidating. Through her partnership with Del Close, she co-founded ImprovOlympic, developed The Harold and helped launch the careers of everyone from Chris Farley to Matt Besser to Rachel Dratch. Oh, and she introduced Amy Poehler to Tina Fey.

In person, Halpern is a warm, Midwestern, cool aunt type. She drives a convertible, brings her dogs everywhere, and never hesitates to say exactly what's on her mind. Her no-nonsense demeanor may make you forget she's a kingmaker and a legend until she offhandedly mentions getting high with Del Close. Someone give this woman a reality show.

Watch a Recently Unearthed 1986 Interview with Improv Godfather Del Close

Here's a recently unearthed gem: it's an interview with Del Close from Chicago public access TV in 1986 done by current Conan writer Brian Stack. If you're unfamiliar with Del Close, he basically created longform improv and taught an incredible number of famous comedic actors, from John Belushi and Bill Murray to Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert. He's such a mythic figure in the comedy world, having died in 1999 at age 64, that it's surreal to watch him talk about the artform that he invented in such clear, direct language. Here's Stack on the story behind this video:

I’m proud to say I shot this “interview” the [...]

Talking Del Close and the Early Days of Chicago Improv with SNL's Alex Baze

This is the first in a series of columns and interviews in which I'll examine improv comedy and how it affects the comedy scene in general. I’m saying “comedy scene” because even I don’t even know what I mean yet.

One thing I'm going to do is talk to comedians working for high profile shows/movies and seeing how improv affected their careers. This interview is with Alex Baze, the producer of Weekend Update for Saturday Night Live. In the early 1990s Baze was on the improv team The Victim’s Family at the ImprovOlympic in Chicago (today known as iO) along with Rachel Dratch, Adam McKay, and Miles Stroth.

Although [...]