Tag Archives: Illinois State University

Mafia Graduates…

I’ve spent the past couple of school years working with the Improv Mafia at Illinois State University, and a more enthusiastic and talented band of ruffians you’ll never meet. They are true to one of the oldest improvisational maxims by making me look good with their work.

The bad part of working with college students is that every spring, you generally lose a batch of them, and you hope that in the fall, you’ll get another group just as talented and enthusiastic. So far, that’s been the case, and I have no reason to think that won’t continue. In the meantime, I wanted to salute this year’s graduating seniors: Omar, Fiona, Kyle, Robert, and Chris. Well done, all!




Improv Mafia

I spent Saturday afternoon workshopping the Improv Mafia, the improv group at Illinois State University, an old dog trying to teach these kids some new tricks. Fortunately, everything old is new again, eventually, and I kept remembering tricks and exercises from many years ago that seemed to work pretty well. I also, in the spirit of Del Close, made up a few exercises that I though would be beneficial to them (though we only had time to work on a couple of them–time flies when you’re improvising).


Next Saturday are the finals for the College Improv Tournament, which is organized by my old pal Jonathan Pitts (here’s the info). The top 16 college improv teams in the U.S. will be competing for the national championship in Chicago. These are the regional champions who have advanced from the over 100 teams that competed across the country.

Many years ago, Del and Charna Halpern organized what may have been the first college improv tournament. If I remember correctly, there were three teams competing–the Yale Purple Crayon, and two Chicago-area teams. And now, there are hundreds of college teams alone, competing for a real national championship for the seventh year in a row. 

Good luck to all the improvisers. And if the Improv Mafia wins, and I try to claim as much credit as possible, just ignore me.