Saturday, September 10, 2011

In the Moment with Amber Ruffin

Amber Ruffin started improvising at IO in Chicago. She then moved to Amsterdam to become an actor/ writer/ improviser at Boom Chicago for 2 years. Then, to Denver to write and perform in a show for The Second City.Then, Chicago to do the same at The Second City mainstage Chicago. After 2 shows there, She returned to Boom Chicago for 3 years. She recently moved to LA. I give it a month.

How were you introduced to improvisation?

I was introduced to improv in Omaha, Nebraska (where I'm from). Our troupe would visit Chicago for CIF, and Charna Halpern said if I moved to Chicago, I'd be a paid improviser in a year. I got Boom Chicago in less than a year.

What improvisers had the biggest influence on you when you first began your improv career?

When I first moved to Chicago, I loved People Of Earth. They were a team at IO that played with no rules. It was its own genre of comedy that should be called "genius frat". It was young and fun and smart as hell. Once, they got the suggestion of something like chaos. They proceeded to literally rip the theater apart. Christmas tree ruined, gumball machine broken, chairs flying. They got in a lot of trouble, but it, to this day, is the best improv show I've ever seen.

When performing on the Second City Mainstage, you were often chosen to perform monologues. How did that come to be and how much did improvisation play a part?

In Second City shows, no one's really "chosen" to do anything. You just bring in a monologue on monologue day and sometimes, it stays in the show. I loved improvising for monologues. One of my monologues stayed improvised until opening. The director really wanted me to nail it down. After he stopped watching shows, I may have improvised it quite a few times more.

What was the highlight of your time on the Second City Mainstage?

At Second City, the second show on Friday is Fuck Around Friday.It's when you prank one another on stage, trade roles, really have fun with the show. Those were the best times. Because, compared to Boom, Second City is a pretty serious place.

You performed with BOOM Chicago in Amsterdam. What shows did you perform in and how did you find the experience of working overseas?

At Boom, every actor does every show. There, we're extremely interchangeable. There are about 10 of us. And every day 4 or 5 are in the home show and 2 or 3 or 4 are in any tour or corprate shows. Boom was amazing. You literally do shows all over the world, but that's not the best part. Boom is comedy basic training. During a show proccess, you could be writing a scene at 6:55 that goes on at 8. Everyone has to learn it in 3 minutes. Anything could happen. And the audience is no Chicago audience. Sometimes, you have to remember your brand new lines and calm an audience full of bachelor parties. P.S. no one's first language is English. It's the fastest way to learn how to be a performer. Not improviser or actor, but performer.

What will you always remember about Denver when you performed here in the Second City production of "How I Lost My Denvirginity"?

Denver was the best deal ever. We got to live in lovely Denver for a year while we all wrote our 1st second City revue. Everyone was so super nice. I remember feeling bad when Second City Denver closed. It closed because we came in with no advertising. So, we were preparing a show in front of people who knew the name Second City. Young, fun liberal people. But, when the show opened, they advertised to people with theater memberships. Kind of the grey-haired Jersey Boys loving crowd. I said to our producer, Kelly Leonard, "If we had known that was going to be our crowd, we could've written a show just for them". Kelly replied, "If we did that, it wouldn't have been a Second City show."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In the Moment with Bob Dassie

Robert Dassie is originally from Chicago where he studied with many improv luminaries including Del Close, toured with the Second City and co-created and performed in several long-form improvisation shows such as Trio and Quartet (at Improv Olympic) and Close Quarters (at Second City etc). He has appeared regularly in New York at the UCB hosted Del Close Marathon with Dasariski and his two-person show WeirDass, ventured out to Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Baby Wants Candy and has appeared and taught at improv festivals around the globe.

Bob can be seen on HBO's "Funny or Die Presents..." starring in "Carpet Bros." along with Tim Meadows, David Spade and Will Farrell. You can also check him out live every Thursday at the IOWest in Quartet or often at the UCB Theatre in Dasariski or A.S.S.S.S.C.A.T.

How were you first introduced to improvisation?

I was in my high school jazz band so I first heard about improvisation in regards to music. Later, I was part of my high school improv troupe and I got a little taste of improv on stage. But in both cases we didn't know what we were doing, so I consider my first real introduction to improvisation was in my first class at Second City Northwest (the suburb version of the one in Chicago).

You had a number of interesting teachers (Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, Dave Razowsky) when you began your improv career. What is the most gratifying part of teaching improvisation for you?

Yeah, those we're my first three teachers almost in order. Just flip Steve Carrell (#3) with Dave Razowsky (#2). They all lived in Chicago at the time and would have to drive out to the 'burbs to teach students that, generally speaking, were just taking the class on a lark. They could of phoned it in but I remember each one being very passionate to this art and its process. We were never talked down to or treated as anything less than students of the art form. They set the bar high and when I teach I strive to have the same reverence for my students and passion for the work as they had. If I have some hand in feeding the fire and I see students really drawn in to this work because of what I'm teaching, I find that gratifying.

You have been a part of so many successful improv groups (Trio, Quartet, Close Quarters, Dasariski). Do you have any advice for newly formed groups on what they should be focusing on?

Do shows that you love to do. Work with like-minded people that you love to work with and that are pursuing similar goals as you are in regards to the work. And I don't say this lightly: have fun and play.

You perform with your wife Stephanie Weir in the duo Weir-Dass. Do you have a process to evaluate your shows?

The way I evaluate WeirDass shows is similar to the way I evaluate most shows I do, especially with smaller group. Usually, general goals are mentioned before shows as well as bringing basic improv principles to the front of our mind. We know that we can never get lazy so it's always good to wake up the 'ol consciousness before going on stage. Afterward (not immediately) we'll talk about the show and see what worked and what didn't and why. We'll check in to see if goals were met, both personal and for the show. One thing we don't do is blame. If something went wrong or it got harry, chalk it up to experience, reference it before the next show and learn from it.

What was the premise and inspiration for your scripted show Vicarious with Sean Conroy?

Sean and I live very different lives. I've been happily married for ten years and have two amazing kids and a great little dog. Sean is single and does single person things. We are both fascinated by how the other one lives in a vicarious (get it?!) sort of way. We we're discussing just that at the end of 2009 and we decided that it would be fun to juxtapose our worlds on stage. So we did. There's a movie coming out with a similar premise except these characters do a switch-a-roo in their lives. We had nothing to do with this movie.

You star in The Carpet Brothers along with Tim Meadows, David Spade, and Will Ferrell on HBO's Funny or Die presents. What has been the impact of Funny or Die on the comedy world in your opinion?

Well, I'm hardly an expert on this topic, but I will say that Funny or Die has given people an outlet specifically for comedy that, arguably, they didn't have before. And because the people behind it are so respected in the comedy world that the site has a credibility that other sites can't touch.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

In the Moment with Emily Wilson

Emily Wilson has been performing for over ten years at places like i.O. Chicago, The Annoyance Theater and Second City. In 2007, Emily and The Ragdolls wrote Moist which they performed at the HBO/Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and she recently completed a three year run on the Second City Mainstage, where she wrote and performed in four original revues. She has written several other shows including Devotion, which is especially close to her heart and is currently in several improv groups including Fishnutz (The Annoyance), Ginger Snaps (i.O.) and Virgin Daiquiri (i.O.). In 2011 her short film, "Special Needs" (co-written with Brad Morris) appeared at South by Southwest. It also appeared in Montreal's Just For Laughs Festival. Check it out at or Funny or Die.

How were you first introduced to improvisation?

I went and saw a show at iO Chicago. I was an agent at the time and wanted to start taking classes immediately but my boss said it was a conflict of interest. So I quit my job.

What was your evolution through Second City from classes to mainstage?

I took classes at iO. I got on a team and started performing. I joined a few other groups, just to increase my stage time and grow and then I started writing my own sketch shows and putting them up around town. A director at Second City watched me, coached me, etc...and asked me to understudy some of his shows at SC. Then I was hired-about ten years after starting out! (It takes a while)

How much do you utilize improvisation in your writing?

A ton. It's key.

Can you tell our readers about your show Devotion?

Devotion was a show written by my husband Brian Wilson and myself. It was about marriage and relationships in general but, and HERE'S THE GIFT OF IMPROV, Brian and I were writing a song together and recording it so we wouldn't forget. We were annoying each other so much that we were bickering on the tape. We still wanted our director (Danny Mora) to hear the tape, so we swallowed our pride and let him hear the fight. Danny said-the song is fine. The FIGHT is your scene. the show changed after that and became more personal. Amazing director, amazing call.

What improv strengths do you feel you bring to an ensemble?

I am game for anything. Wherever you're going, I'm jumping in.

What advice would you have for improvisers that are just starting out?

Do it because you love it, NOT because of what you think it will get you. You would be surprised at how much pure love and passion brings you, as opposed to naked ambition.

Friday, June 10, 2011

In the Moment with Jimmy Carrane

Jimmy Carrane is the co-author of Improvising Better: A Guide to the Working Improviser. He was the host of Studio 312 on Chicago Public Radio where he interviewed Conan O'Brien, Jane Lynch, Jeff Garlin, Harold Ramis, Adam McKay, Jon Favreu, Robert Klein, Tommy Chong, George Wendt and Cindy Crawford. He has taught at The Second City, iO-Chicago, The Annoyance and Victory Gardens. He currently teaches the Art of Slow Comedy at Stage 773 in Chicago. For more information about classes you can to his web site at

He was an original member of The Annoyance Theater, Armando at The iO-Chicago and was a member of Carl and The Passions. He currently performs with Burning Desires. He has performed in some of Chicago’s most innovative and ground-breaking long-form improv shows, such as “Jazz Freddy” and “Naked” (a two-person one-hour improvised scene with MAD TV’s Stephanie Weir.)

Other theater/improv credits include: “I’m 27, I Still Live at Home and Sell Office Supplies,” “Godshow,” “Every Old Man,” “Living in Dwarf’s House” and “Summer Rental” at The Second City etc.

Jimmy was recently seen in the films “LOL” and “Public Enemies” with Johnny Depp. His other film and TV credits include “ER,” “Natural Born Killers,” “Early Edition,” “The Untouchables,” “Stash” and “Tapioca.”

How were you first introduced to improvisation?

It was in my senior year of high school, and I had gone to Second City with some friends and I was blown away. After I graduated, I had no direction and no interest in college, and I needed something to tell my friends I was doing besides delivering office supplies, so I started taking improv classes at The Players Workshop of the Second City. After the first couple of classes, I realized that all the time I had wasted on being funny in school had paid off. I was hooked. I was hooked bad ― so bad that if improv was crack, I would have been dead by age 23.

What should improvisers expect from your Art of Slow Comedy Class?

You can expect to learn how to slow down and shut up. Improvisers talk themselves out of scenes all the time with their frantic energy, and worse, with their mouths. They will learn to connect to their partner with the silence at the top of the scene, and when they start doing that, the relationship, the environment and the game of the scene will fall right into to their lap. The Art of Slow Comedy teaches people that it’s not important to try to be funny. Instead, you’ll learn how to trust that the funny will come to them, and by doing this, they’ll be even funnier. Some get it more quickly than others, and I have been known to beat the funny out of people, of course, in a loving way.

You have mentioned “playing things real” in previous interviews. What does that mean to you?

Comedy is so much more effective when the players are emotionally invested in the situation.

Look at films like “Bridesmaids” and “The Hangover.” You believe everything that comes out their mouths, regardless of how ridiculous the situation is. “Playing things real” means being effected emotionally by your partner. It means responding to your partner like you would in life or in the character’s life. I think they call this acting, and good improv is good acting.

I want the improvisers to take me on a trip with them, and this can only happen if they believe what they are doing up there and when they do it, they can take the audience anywhere. Too much of improv is about being witty. People forget they are actors and they think good scene work is stringing together enough bits until they get edited. I like a good bit every now and then, as long as it is grounded in the relationship and they players are listening and reacting to each other. It’s up to you to make it great theater or to be an awful parlor game.

What was the evolution and the history of the group Jazz Freddy?

Peter Gardner had put it together and directed the first show. He asked me to join, and I had been on a Harold team with him at the Improv Olympic in the late ’80s. He assembled some of the best improvisers in Chicago at that time, and then Dave Koechner and Kevin Dorff, who had been in New York with the Annoyance Theater’s “Real Life Brady Bunch,” came back to Chicago and joined Jazz Freddy. What made the show great was the commitment we all had to the process. We rehearsed three nights a week. We treated it like we were cast in a play. We did not miss rehearsal to do other things. That would never happen today. We made Jazz Freddy our number one priority. The second run I remember we did not let Rachel Dratch and Pat Finn do the show because they could not make the rehearsal schedule since they were touring with Second City. That is how serious we were. I am proud of that show, and I find it cool that after almost 20 years people still want to talk about it. It influenced the next generation of long-form improvisation. Thanks for asking.

What was the best note you were ever given?

Good Question. (Stalling to come up with an answer). Last night Eileen Vorbach said in rehearsal, “You are enough.” I have been saying it for years to my students, and it actually felt good being on the other side of it. I could not hear that note enough. “We all are enough,” if we just can get out of own way, and when I do that, I will let you know.

In addition to reading your book, what are some things improvisers can do to become better performers?

Continue to learn; it’s all in the learning. If you always wanted to do stand up, do it. If you want to study acting or dance, do it. If you think you have learned everything there is about improv because you have been performing for years and you want to go and take another class, do it. The best people are constantly learning. I still take classes, for my teaching, for my performing, and for myself. When I stop learning I die. The fun and excitement is replaced by jealousy and bitterness, which never helps in any area of my life. The other thing is don’t make improv your whole life. Take breaks now and then. I know it’s hard not to make it an obsession because it is so much fun, but you need to take care of yourself because if you don’t, it will affect your work and it will show on stage.

Friday, May 13, 2011

In the Moment with Sarah Nowak

Sarah Nowak is a graduate of the Second City Improv Conservatory in Toronto and has studied improv with Ali Faranakian, Ptolemy Slocum, Kurt Braunholer, Pat Shay and many others. Since moving to New York, she has performed with the improv groups Jesus Chrysler, Chicken Ranch, Team Fernandez, The Strange Box of Dr. Oddbody, Kill Secretary, Kill, and has hit the festival circuit with the independent ensemble Sid Viscous. She also occasionally enjoys performing in live scripted works of varying lengths. She currently performs every Saturday with The PIT’s improv house team The Baldwins.

How were you first introduced to improvisation?

A million years ago, someone handed my brother Adam a flyer for a free "comedy workshop". We went to the workshop and learned some short form games and then we were asked to join the team, which became the Buffalo chapter of Comedysportz. I didn't know what improv was, I was just goofing. I loved comedy but had no aspiration to be on stage, I was a pretty quiet kid up until then. I ended up being in the first improv show I ever saw, which is mildly unsettling, since we charged people money to watch it. Later, I saw the Calendar Girls in Chicago, which was my first time seeing a long form show. They did a LaRonde, and it changed my life. I didn't know improv could be like that, just scenes flowing into one another with no no wigs, no stupid songs, just these two women being really honest and playing real. It was hilarious, I wanted to see more of it and I wanted to do it.

You studied at the Second City Conservatory in Toronto. How popular is the world of improv and sketch comedy in Toronto?

Enormous. I went up there once or twice weekly, mostly for my classes or to see a random show, but I couldn't really get into the scene up there because I don't drive and I was relying on my boyfriend at the time. It's unfortunate, because I really loved it and I briefly considered going for Canadian citizenship in order to keep working up there. But the Training Centre at that time was huge. When I was in the conservatory, Mike Myers was really popular and I think that brought a lot of people in.

You perform at the Peoples Improv Theater in NYC with the house team The Baldwins. How would you describe the Baldwin's style and form?

Our form is sort of a Deconstruction/loose Harold. We don't have a hard form, or, we might and I am just not paying any attention to it. I like to think our focus is solid scene work. We play a little slower than some groups, and try to bring everything back and explore every discovery. After shows we sit around and talk about all of the things we forgot to bring back. It's a group of smart, respectful people, so things rarely go super blue.We're also a group of teachers and coaches, so we can get a little analytical of our own moves. Something I like about us is even though the group has been around for four years, we're still exploring new ways to play and unique ways to keep our shows interesting to the audience and to ourselves. We recently took a Contact Improvisation class together, which, if you don't know, is a dance class where you are in constant, sweaty and grunty physical contact with another person. It made for a lot of inside jokes, if nothing else.

Can you tell us about the improv-horror show you produced called "The Strange Box of Doctor Oddbody?

That's actually my brother Adam's show, we've produced it together the past few years and have cast my team The Baldwins as the players. He and I are hardcore horror nerds. In the show, Adam plays Dr. Avery Oddbody, who is a sort of crypt-keeper type host, and he gets the titles for three different stories, and we perform them.

The improv itself is different, because we are limited within each story to that universe, which is really fun to play. Instead of exploring the suggestion, we explore one narrative at a time, and bring it all back to a gruesome end. We have a few rules, one is that we can never have a monster that already exists. No Dracula, no werewolves, NO Twilight references. We have to create our own monsters and work within a lore that we are creating on the spot. Its a really fun challenge and it is, every time, very scary. For our run last year, the first story of the night was always performed in the dark with flashlights and our suggestion was some kind of horrible sound Adam would play from the booth. The shows were always pretty funny, don't get me wrong, but the experience of being in the dark was always very, very scary. I remember playing a scene with Jen Curran, another Baldwin. We had exited a scene, went through a transformation and returned as snake creatures, slowly crawling out on stage on our elbows with our heads down. I have no idea what it looked like but I remember really scaring myself with that.

I always marvel at how it is funny, but also very scary, and for those to things to exist together, it's my favorite everything.

As a Level 1 teacher at the PIT, what message do you want your students to leave with after finishing their first level of improv classes?

Beyond the basics, my hope is that they know in their bones that they already have it in them to do it. A lot of times you see people come in with the heightened awareness that they are in a "comedy class" and they start working really hard to make scenes interesting or to say funny things. The funnest part for me is to watch them figure out that they are already interesting, and that human beings are hilarious as ourselves.Kevin Scott (whom you have profiled before) told me something I tell my classes all the time, which is "Human beings react to human behavior." Real, honest reactions are the most powerful. I hope they come away from my class with that and a real desire to keep exploring improv and participating in its evolution. Also, seriously, don't eat in class or rehearsal. It's so gross.

What is it about improv that makes you want to continue performing?

The money! It's too good! I am CLEANING UP.

I guess much of my life is wrapped up in it I wouldn't know how to stop if I wanted to. But also, after the 100 million years I've been doing this I am learning new stuff all of the time like it's my first day, and I still really look forward to getting on stage every week. I get really excited to see what's going to happen. It's goofy but true. The people are the best you will ever meet. Everyone is so different but so kind and cool and fun to hang out with. I am very lucky to have found this. And also the money.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

In the Moment with Dave Razowsky

David Razowsky has over twenty years of experience acting and directing with Second City, IO West and Steppenwolf, and he has taught improvisation for over fifteen years. He has served as consultant to Dreamworks, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and Boom Chicago. He served as Artistic Director and Dean of Second City Training Center, and as Faculty in the California State University system. He continually teaches improv around the world, from Fresno, to Denver, to Norway and The Netherlands, and continues to act and direct professionally in Los Angeles.David has appeared on Spin City, Roseanne, The Weekenders, The Young and the Restless, Working and many other TV shows. He's a frequent ensemble member and writer for the Second City Mainstage in both Chicago and Los Angeles.

How were you first introduced to improvisation?

In 1982 or 1983 I auditioned for a show in Chicago and didn't get the part. As a matter of fact, I had a horrible audition. I think I used a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem as an audition piece, which shows you where I was. It was just a piece I liked. I knew nothing about auditioning. Obviously. About a week after the audition I got a call from the director of Geese Theatre Company for Prisons, saying he got my name from the director of the show I just auditioned for, and would I like to audition for his show. Why not? I was 25, I wasn't getting any jobs as a photojournalist (I have a bachelors degree), I was working in a camera store (sort of like a writer getting a job selling pencils), and I was eager to move onto the next stage of my life (nicely punned, Dave). I auditioned, got cast, and was improvising non-comedic theatre in prisons across the United States for the next 10 months. It changed my life in wonderful ways.

The cast of Stacy's Not Here features so many wonderful improvisers. How did the group form and get it's name?

Peter Murrieta wanted to put a group of actors together, with the intention of it being like a band: each actor would give a specific feel to the work, they would know their instruments and perform them confidently and organically. We have been together for over 12 years. This is our last month together. Dee Ryan is moving to Chicago with her family. It's sad, but life's only constant is change. As far as how did we come up with the name, we were sitting around trying to come up with a name. I suggested "Stacy's Here," someone thought it was too cute. "Stacy's Not Here" was then suggested. The rest is what made you ask the question.

In addition to being an instructor at iO in Los Angeles, you also teach bi-weekly drop in classes at Theatre Asylum. What do you enjoy most about conducting the drop ins?

My life, my work, my art, my journey has congealed. I see something that inspires me, which I then investigate in my classes through exercises. The majority of workshops I conduct around the country are made up of Drop-In Workshop work. Here's a link to my drop-ins:

What is your philosophy on the "rules of improv"?

There are no rules of improv. We get in trouble in life as in art when we attach ourselves to dogma. The only thing that matters in improv (as in life) is how connected and mindful you are in this moment. Your whowhatwheredon'taskquestions crap clouds people's minds and dilutes what's really important: how do you feel about what was just said? Be eager to respond, don't be eager to talk.

Is there any difference between an improviser and an actor in your opinion?

An improvisor has three emotions: lust, anger and lustanger. An actor has a long tail, a full emotional palette, is vulnerable, is present.

You are an instructor at the Master Improv Retreat for Artistic New Directions in Big Indian, NY each summer. Could you describe to our readers what they should expect from this workshop?

This is one awesome intensive, working with the finest directors of theatrical improvisation in the country. Directors and teachers from Second City and The Groundlings. Gary Austin, an original member of The Committee will be there. Michael Gellman, the man who coined the phrase "long-form improv" will be there. Rachel Hamilton, one of the best improv instructors working out of New York City will be there. It's a beautiful place, the food is delicious, and you work from 10 in the morning until our daily student performances at night. There is nothing like it in the country. Nothing. I've been associated with it for over five years, and I still can't believe I get to work with these great folks. Here's the website:

Monday, March 7, 2011

In the Moment with Susan Messing

Susan Messing, a NJ native and graduate of Northwestern University’s Theatre School, is an alumna of the iO, Second City’s Mainstage, and a founding member of Chicago’s infamous Annoyance Theatre. She continues to teach and perform improvisational comedy @ iO, The Annoyance, Second City, and is an adjunct instructor for DePaul University. Her standup act with her puppet, Jolly, was featured at the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend and NBC’s Late Fridays, and her most impressive bit movie role was as a bad stripper in a halo brace in Let’s Go to Prison! Susan has been an improviser and comedian for over twenty four years. Nice things said about Susan include Chicago Magazine calling her “Funniest Woman in Chicago,” Chicago Reader naming her “Best Improviser” and recipient of CIF 2010 “Improviser of the Year.” You can see her fuck around in her critically-acclaimed show, Messing with a Friend, every Thursday @ The Annoyance, now in its 5th year.

How were you first introduced to improvisation?

Northwestern University has a show called "The Meow" show, which is a combination of sketch and short form. I never was in it but I remember acknowledging that it existed. During my junior year, I heard there were auditions for something called "The Harold" at this fairly new place, The ImprovOlympic. I didn't make the cut, but after graduation in 1986 I rediscovered ImprovOlympic (now iO because of threats of lawsuits from the International Olympic Committee), started taking classes, drank the KoolAid, and I was hooked.

What is your advice to female improvisers who say they are tired of playing mothers, wives, girlfriends etc.?

Stop playing mothers, wives, girlfriends, etc. Is this still an issue? Seriously? Even if I'm playing these roles, there's no stereotypical template we need to follow. My moms have polio, my girlfriends have no arms, my wives have a daisy chain in the next room. Just trying on stuff that interests me. Mix it up- and FYI- I don't recommend this for offstage.

How do you instruct newer improvisers from worrying about "looking stupid" on stage and letting go?

The worst thing that will happen if you look stupid onstage is that people will laugh at you and we're doing comedy so fuck you. See? Always works, even "unintentional" comedy.

What can you tell our readers about Martin de Maat (teacher and artistic director at Second City who passed away in 2001)?

Martin was a caregiver in the truest sense of the world. When he did the hokey pokey and turned the class around, THAT'S what it was all about. And yes, I am serious that he would have the class do the hokey pokey. He insisted on celebrating the individual and the collective whole. He was a wonderful teacher and an exceptional person.

So many of your contemporaries have moved to Los Angeles or New York. Why have you chosen to stay in Chicago?

I stay in Chicago for two reasons- I feel that the work here is always evolving at such a great rate and I feel that it's the most supportive place to raise my child. I love LA and New York but Chicago is home.

Has being a mom influenced your style of comedy?

I'm not sure if being a mom has influenced my style of comedy as much as the struggle of dealing with being awake and alert for a late night show. That said, somewhere in the recesses of my mind I am a bit concerned that one day my daughter will watch a pile of dvds of my show and wonder about my sanity.