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We are starting a new behind the scenes series featuring your favorite players from The Skinny Improv! Today we are presenting you the interview with Dave Smith!

Sarah Reule is from Michigan, where she received an M.A. in Theater from Michigan State University. She has performed with The Second City in Chicago. Now she does the MainStage show and teaches improv and acting classes at the Skinny.

Where are you from and how did you end up in Springfield?
I was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan. I followed a boy here when he was offered a contract in Branson. It’s been six weeks, so far so good.
 
Where did you work at before coming here?
I performed with The Second City aboard the cruise ship, The Norwegian Spirit. We toured Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda while performing archived sketches and short form improv to Octogenarians and Spring Break’ers.
 
What brought you to The Skinny Improv?
When I was considering whether or not to move here, I knew I could only survive if I had a creative outlet, preferably doing improv. So, I actually Googled “Springfield Improv” and The Skinny came up. Turns out Jeff Jenkins and I have mutual friends in Chicago, and after doing some recon, I contacted Jeff and begged him to let me play. He obliged.
 
When did you start doing improv?
5 years ago. Chicago is known in the biz as “the funny city,” so as an actress I found myself on a lot of comedic auditions at which they would expect us to improvise, and that terrified me. I don’t like being afraid of things, so I decided to conquer it. I started by studying at the Second City Conservatory, found that I wasn’t too bad at it, and soon after started getting hired for actual gigs. It’s the American Dream!
 
What do you like most about doing improv?
That everything I say is right, as long as I justify it. If only real life were like that.
 
What do you think is most challenging about improv?
Depending on the study being quoted, we remember a dismal 25-50% of what we hear. It takes a lot of concentration to listen and retain the gifts our scene partners give us, but it’s integral to good scene work. We can avoid a lot of painful improv by just actively listening onstage.
 
Who are your influences or role models and why?
I think Bill Murray is the best, and not just because he reminds me of my uncle Larry. Most of my family is hilarious. I’m also a huge fan of Catherine O’Hara, Michael Keaton, and Alec Baldwin… basically the cast of Beetlejuice. Friends was a great example of an ensemble working together, I never get tired of that show (Seasons 4 through 10. Seasons 1-3 are unwatchable).
 
What is your favorite place in Springfield?

The Petland on Battlefield. They let you play with all the puppies, no questions asked.
 
What can make you laugh out loud?
America’s Funniest Home Videos, dry British humour, and never-ending bits with people I like. I’m lucky to have some really funny friends.
 
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Black Cherry
 
If you could choose one song to describe yourself, what would it be?
Marlene Dietrich’s version of “The Laziest Gal In Town”

Brice Johnson practically lives at the Skinny. He plays in Improv Sportz, is currently taking Level 4 improv and is also a great stand up comedian.

Where are you from and how did you end up in Springfield?
I’m hail from Rock Island, Illinois. In 1998, I moved to the Lake of the Ozarks with my Mother and Brother. After demolishing the high school curriculum, I drove to North Carolina and lived with my Father for  about a year. Then 2005 rolled around and I decided to start my adult life in Springfield.

What brought you to The Skinny Improv?
The Skinny hosted The Deadpan Comedy Festival in ’06 and ’07, which were stand up competitions that helped collect pots and pans for less privileged Springfieldians. Needless to say, but the higher ups took a liking to little ol’ Bricy J.

When did you start doing improv?
I did competitive improv at a few acting tournaments in high school. The results were not impressive. I stayed away from it for around eight years until my buddy T-Snod told me about the open auditions being held at the Skinny. I practically live here now. I eat food from the mini fridge and sleep in the corner of the green room.

What do you like most about doing improv?
I love acquiring skills that you can transfer to your everyday life. Listening is undoubtedly the most important skill I have learned since joining the Skinny. I was pretty inept before coming here.

What do you think is most challenging about improv?

The Aggro Crag.

You also do stand-up. Where do you get your inspiration?
It’s steams from the desire to make my grandmother proud of me. I know she would be, but I always try and surpass her expectations and I think that helps set me apart.

What’s your favorite joke from your stand up set?
It’s great to tell a joke or story then get a response I didn’t expect. It’s always something different every night, but those are probably my favorites to tell.

Who are your influences or role models and why?
My Grandmother, Andy Kaufman & George Carlin to name a few. Carlin was the king with his words, Kaufman challenged the norm and my grandmother was simply the most bodacious woman I’ve ever met.

What is your favorite place in Springfield?
I enjoy spending time on the outskirts of town, someplace with flowing water & trees.

What can make you laugh out loud?
The television show Curb Your Enthusiasm. Professional wrestling. Terrible impersonations. And stereotypes, but not all of them…I mean I haven’t heard all of them yet.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Cake Batter, but I’m pretty sure ingesting it gives you diabetes and cancer instantly.

If you could choose one song to describe yourself, what would it be?
The Friendship Song by Ween.

Amber is the Director of House operations at The Skinny Improv. She is in charge of many things in the theatre. She is also taking improv classes and is currently involved in Level 4 Improv.

Where are you from and how did you end up in Springfield?

I am from Paola, KS.  When I graduated from college (on the east coast), I decided to move back to the mid-west and my aunt called me up and said “hey, apply for a State Job.”  So, I did and Greene County, Missouri was the first place to offer me a job!

What brought you to The Skinny Improv?

I decided that when I moved to Springfield I would try something new.  I enrolled in acting classes at the Springfield Little Theatre and started the very same week I moved.  I specifically told myself that I could never get the courage to do improv, but then I met Jeff, the second class in, and learned about The Skinny Improv.  I decided to check it out…fell in love with it…but was still super shy and hesitant.  So, I opted to enroll in another Springfield Little Theatre class instead of starting improv classes right away.  As fate would have it, Jeff happened to be the teacher…

When did you start doing improv?

Approximately 3 1/2 years ago…I think.  My first class was taught my Mystery Jeff Houghton. He didn’t give me time to be shy and kept me moving and learning.

What do you like the most about doing improv?

I like “the skinny” or the truth of it.  The best scenes and experiences on stage are not the times when I say the funniest lines or have the wittiest comebacks, but when I ground it in realism and can relate to the character or the character’s situation.

What do you think is most challenging about improv?

Trying not think too much.  I over-analyze everything and when I say everything, I mean everything.

Who are your influences or role models and why?

Not anyone in particular, but I admire people who do not apologize for who they are.  I like people that think positive even when the world seems so negative.  People who learn from their mistakes instead of beating themselves over them. People who expect good things and reject the thought that something bad might happen.  I like people who refuse to play it safe and take the chances that need to be taken.  I like people who Dream Big.

What is your favorite place in Springfield?

Chipotle!  Yah u do!

What can make you laugh out loud?

Other people laughing out loud.  Laughter is contagious…all it takes is someone else cracking up!

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

hmmm…I don’t really have one…but I do prefer the vanilla based to the chocolate based flavors…weird!

If you could choose one song to describe yourself, what would it be:

A country song: You Find Out Who Your Friends Are by Tracy Lawrence.  If you know me, google it and find out if you agree!

Tyler plays in Improv Sportz and our award-winning MainStage show. You can also see him performing at some local stand up venues. This Friday, he will be opening for an actress and comedian Loni Love at the Gillioz at 7:30 PM.

Where are you from and how did you end up in Springfield?

I got here by being born here and never leaving. There’s not much more to it than that. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life after high school so I stayed in town and went to MSU. I’m still here and still don’t know what to do with my life and I’m very happy.

Why did you decide to start doing improv?

I first decided to do improv because I thought it would help me with my stand-up comedy. I wanted to be able to come up with more jokes on the spot while performing. But I wanted to learn improv comedy also, because I wanted to be on Whose Line as a kid.

What brought you to The Skinny Improv?

Open auditions! I knew some of the mainstagers at this time from doing stand-up at The Skinny a while back, including Leah Gunn, who I forced into talking me into auditioning. And I made it and have been doing shows since.

What do you like the most about doing improv?

More than anything, I like not having to prepare. I hate memorizing things. I also like getting to work with my friends (adorable!), and getting to come up with characters (ie The Popcorn Peddler, Gary Garrison, and Fat Tyler).

What do you think is the most challenging about improv?

I don’t quite have this issue anymore, but when I first started I thought there were so many things I had to remember while performing. There are a lot of rules and necessities that go into certain games, and improv in general, that one typically would not realize just by watching others perform.

You also do stand up. Which one do you enjoy more, or how these two comedy forms are different for you?

This is a tough question. I don’t really know which one I like more. My first love is stand-up comedy, though. That was my start in comedy, assuming anyone thinks I’m funny. It is hard to compare the two: it’s like comparing apples and David Bowie. They are very different formats, the inspiration comes from different places, the presentation is different, and the preparation processes are nothing alike.

What can make you laugh out loud?

The absurd. I like wild references/connections, the more ridiculous the better. If something makes me laugh and I can’t quite explain why it’s funny, then to me, that is REALLY funny. Arrested Development (the TV show, not the hip hop group), Stella, and really bad action movies (especially ones with Nicolas Cage) do a great job at making me laugh out loud.

Who are your influences or role models and why?

In comedy, I’ve definitely studied a number of people and are continually influenced by them. This includes Zach Galifianakis, Mitch Hedburg, Daniel Tosh, Mike Birbiglia, David Sedaris, Jeff Houghton, as well as the other mainstagers and people I’m lucky enough to perform improv with. Oh, and my parents and grandparents. They are great people and are pretty freaking funny, too.

What is your favorite ice cream?

Pumpkin Pie concrete. Is that ice cream?

Angela came to the Skinny this summer wanting to take improv classes. She is currently taking Level 4 improv class and performing at the travel shows and some Thursday night shows as well.

 

Where are you from and how did you end up in Springfield?
About 20 years ago, I was living and working in Atlanta, GA and my parents and brother were talking about moving here from Texas. I wanted to get my MBA, so I checked out SMSU (yeah, it used to be called that back in the day) and decided to move here.

When did you start doing improv?
August 2009

What brought you to The Skinny Improv?
I was telling a friend of mine that I wanted to start doing improv, she “Googled” it and POOF – Skinny Improv came up and we sent an email asking about classes.

What do you like most about doing improv?
Laughing at my classmates, they are hysterical.

Who are your influences or role models and why?
Jeff Jenkins and Dan Clair because they are two of the funniest people I know.

What was the most unusual suggestion you have ever gotten from the audience?
Hmmm…I haven’t really had anything that I thought was an unusual suggestion (does that say something about me?)

What do you think is most challenging about improv?
Trying to stay in the moment and not think too much.

What can make you laugh out loud?
All the folks in my improv group

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate