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The Improv Obsession Podcast is the ideal place to hear fun and thoughtful improv discussion. Your host Stephen Perlstein brings you new guests from the improvisation community to have an enlightening talk about improv comedy.

We’re back! 2017! Will this be the only podcast I record all year? Who knows! Today on the show, it’s Dave Theune. Los Angeles improvisers may know Dave from the legendary Bangarang, or Sassy Bluff, or Midbest, or his run with Bonafide on Maude Night. And, all the TV watchers may have seen dave on Brooklyn 99, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentine’s Day Special, or in 1000 commercials. Dave flips the script on me today, and starts asking me questions. And in turn, I divulge too much information about my life and this podcast. But, not before taking a second to have Dav...
Mike McLendon is on the show! You may know Mike from his incredible teams, Outside Dog, Orpheus Roy, Tatertown, Second City, Mission Improvable, and more! Mike talked to me in this one about how he found his way in improv, and maybe some of the trials and tribulations that go along with it. And, as always, we talk about HOW to do good improv. Is it easy? You bet it is. HA. This is another in the series of, whoops why didn’t I release this. So, if you have the chance, reach out to Mike, and tell him how much you liked this one, I’m sure he’d appreciate it....
James Bachman is on the show today to talk about the indie improv scene, and how it’s completely broken, and needs to be destroyed and rebuilt from scratch. LA improvisers may know James from his Mess Hall Team Green Light Go, or if you’re a fan of comedy, you might know him from The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh, Saxondale, and more! James and I have a lively debate on the state of indie improv,...
Carl Tart is on the show! You may know Carl from UCB Harold Teams Queen George & Six Killer, as well as his Maude Team, The Bus, OR maybe his improv and sketch group White Women. Carl’s also an alumni of Second City and Boom Chicago, so yeah, Carl’s got quite the performance history. I pick Carl’s brain for as long as I possibly can to learn how he performs. And I figured it all out, so ...
Jake Jabbour (Shapeshift, We're Gross with Gilli Nissim) is on the show! Improv fans will know Jake from hosting 4,3,2,1 and Shapeshift. Podcast fans will know his podcast, The MEAT Improv with Josh Simpson and Jake Jabbour, in my opinion the best improv podcast ever. He’s also on the teams Puddy, Church, and Squeeze, who are all funny and incredible. In this episode Jake and I talk about how to...
Becky Drysdale is on the show! Improv fans will know Becky from the Hebecky Drysbell, Elephants Gerald, Baby Wants Candy, and Brand New Ball. You may also know Becky as the benevolent landlord of The Clubhouse. Plus, she's written for Baskets, and Key And Peele. Becky talks about finding her place in improv, writing and keeping her career growing, her goals and wants for The Clubhouse, and even a good bit on how to actually DO improv. Guys, this was a great episode, if you liked this episode, tell a friend about it! Listen! Rate! Review! Share! Enjoy!...
Kyle Parulski is on the show! Improv fans will know Kyle from the indie teams Delta Flow, Argo Navis, and plenty of other great improv teams. Kyle is one of the hosts of Happy Hour every Tuesday in the UCB Sunset Inner Sanctum, and all around one of the funniest guys I know. Kyle and I have a great talk about improv today, where we focus on the value of strong emotional reactions, keeping scenes simple, and working on our deficits while still playing to our strengths. We also talk a bit about Kyle’s unique approach to improv, and he shares some practical tips on how to make your script muc...
Farley Elliott (Scandal! Squeeze, Comrades, Los Angeles Street Food, Eater LA) is on the show talking about improv in a continuing conversation I’m having about my tense relationship with improv. Farley is a super interesting multi-talented man. Boldly, Farley came to the conclusion that he wanted to stop doing comedy and he could have the things improv provided for him without doing improv. We also talk a good bit about Farley’s approach to improv, how he coached, and since he’s a food writer, he indulges me in some food conversation. Subscribe to the Podcast Improv Obsessi...
Billy Merritt comes on the show to talk about the the darker side of improv. Jealousy. Loneliness. Failure. Fading passion. Billy helps me with the existential question of, should I just quit improv. We talk about the struggles being part of the community, and facing one’s changing place in that community.Plus, we talk about coaching best practices, Billy gives a perl of wisdom, and he notes that my head is now the right size. All of that and more.Subscribe to the Podcast Improv Obsession on iTunes or Listen OnlineFollow Me On TwitterReach Out To Me For Improv Coaching...
Ronnie Adrian is on the show! Improv fans will know Ronnie from the UCBLA Harold Team The Dragons. You may also know Ronnie from hosting Tuesday Night Thunder or hosting the Cagematch, or even his sketch and improv team White Women. Ronnie talks about his approach to getting on Harold Night. Spoiler alert, it worked. Also, we talk about coaching, the stresses of Harold Night, how he scouted talent for the team White Women. Plus, we compliment a bunch of great improvisers. Listen! Rate! Review! Share! Enjoy! Subscribe to the Podcast Improv Obsession on iTunes or Listen OnlineFo...
James Mastraieni comes on the show to talk about improv! You may know James from UCB house team Outside Dog, or his former harold team The Ruckus. He’s also on the iO West House Team, Orpheus Roy. James talks about his specific approach to improv including how he likes to start scenes, his great “Fancy Dinner” analogy for harolds, and we wrap it up by talking a bit about coaching....
Will Hines is on the show today to talk about this new book, How To Be The Greatest Improviser on Earth. You know Will from UCBLA Team The Smokes, Fuckable, and many more improv and comedy and sketch credits. In this episode, we spend the majority of it talking about his new book on improv, How To Be The Greatest Improviser on Earth, including what his process was like writing, who the book is for...
Today on the show, Jen Krueger is on to talk about the LAIIF Improv Talks! Saturday, October 18th 3-6 PM at the Downtown Independent improv talks (like TED Talks, but with improv) from great improv minds like Nick Armstrong, Heather Anne Campbell, Dominic Dierkes, Neil Flynn, Will Hines, Lucas Neff, Ian Roberts, Rich Talarico, Phil Jackson, and one more!...
Chris Kula is on the show! You know him from The Smokes and Police Chief Rumble. Also he’s been a writer on Onion News Network, MadTV, and @Midnight. Chris and I talk a lot about sketch, improv, and everything in-between. Check it out and enjoy!...
Charlie Sanders opens the very first Sketch Obsession edition of improv obsession podcast! I recored this forever ago, thought I was gonna do more, and wanted to release them as a series, but didn’t. Ok, moving on. You know Charlie from Shitty Jobs, Police Chief Rumble, Reuben Starship/ Williams, and as a writer for Key and Peele. Charlie talks about how to make great sketch, and it totally works! Subscribe, Rate, Comment, Enjoy!...
Jacob Reed is on! You know Jacob from improv powerhouse Bangarang, sketch duo Tremendosaur, movie teams Rought Cut and Whilem. You COULD say Jacob Reed is a UCB Based Triple Threat. Wink Samanth Pitchel. Jacob and I talk about parameters for success in a harold, being noticed in improv shows, finding your voice, and of course, pornography he was in. That’s a little hyperbolic but that’s what moves improv podcasts, baby! Golden age of improv, be excellent to each other, and most of all, happy improvising....
Chad Damiani is on the show! You know him front he wonderful show he runs, Catbath, his crazy improv team, Jetzo, and he’s an accomplished screenwriter. Chad and I talk about everything from the challenges of running an indie show, to getting more physical in your improv, to being a classic heel in wrestling. You gotta listen. Golden age of improv, be excellent to each other, happy improvising....
Drew DiFonzo Marks in on the show, but call him DDFM he likes it! You know Drew as that Last Day go School Harold-ing, Boom Chicago Alum-ing, Bonafide sketching act-ing, former UCBTLA artistic direct-ing, all around awesome person-ing person. Drew and I talk about A LOT in this episode so I dare not sum it up, let’s just say it’s a good one....
Will Hines is on the show! You know him from The Smokes, Your F’ed up Family, The Stepfathers, Play by Play, and the bitter rival podcast to my own, Long Form Conversations. Today will and I talk about… a lot. I was having trouble focusing on one thing. Will is a wealth of information, and I know we didn’t even come close to covering all of his wisdom. But, maybe I’ll convince him to come back in a year, and we’ll do better the second time. Rate. Subscribe. Comment. Share. Enjoy. Oh! I didn’t record an outro. Well, Happy Improvising, Be excellent to each other, Golden Age of Improv...
Jacob Womack is on the show! He’s the long time host of the soon to be finished Crashbar Improv! He’s also on the wonderful Harold team John Velvet. Jacob and I talk about the one thing I always talk about, BICYCLING. We also talk about improv, where we’re at in the whole process, how to make more out of it. It’s all pretty great. Also, sorry about the hiatus guys. I got laid off of my job and my schedule’s been bananas as a result. I’m gonna try and lock back in and get more done. Happy improvising!...
Scott Neiman is on the show! You know Scott from his Harold teams, The Ruckus, Scandal!, and The Great War. Scott and I talk about the moment when it ‘clicked’ for him. How we can interpret notes and hear the important overarching notes behind the notes. Obviously we talk about Harold stuff, duh. Also, I find out about a few more of the SLO… they’re everywhere. Rate. Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy....
Joel Jensen is on the show! You know Joel as one of the cohosts of Room 101 with his team Shakedown. Joel and I talk about EVERYTHING, and it’s a pretty great episode. We discus coming up in the comedy system and trying to hone our chops. We talk about our personal comedic philosophies and where we’re ‘at’. Also, we discuss in depth a weird scene where Nick Mandernach was a pirate. Rate. Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy. Happy improvising....
Scott Davis is on the show! You know Scott from Styx Martin, or as the DJ for Soundtrack, or from Oh Brother  or as one of the hosts of the 11th Hour Show, or from One Photo Reviews. PHEW. Davis and I talk about him tour the WORLD putting on plays with kids. We also cover what it’s like to be removed from a harold team, and we talk about how much fun sketch is. Also, we very awkwardly start listing off nice people....
Drew Coolidge is on the show! You know him from his two man team Ranger Danger and The Danger Ranger, and his iO West Harold team The Cartel. Drew and I talk a bit about what makes a show a whole piece. We also talk quite a bit about two prov. And, Drew finally calls me out on all my bullshit of when I say “I love it.”...
Matt Newell is on the show! You know Matt from his super star harold team Kid Grift, as previously heard on this podcast. AND, you know Matt from his super star two person team, Fiddler’s Green with  Mary Holland, also previously heard on this podcast. Matt and I talk a bit about how one can remain a straight man in a scene and still have fun. We also talk about the slightly different approaches Matt has to doing harolds or doing two man shows. Rate! Subscribe! Comment! Enjoy!...
Matt Walsh is on the show! You know him as one of the founders of Upright Citizens Brigade, as well as from Assscat, and he’s in like 100 movies. Matt and I talk extensively about heightening. Andl we discuss how to move beyond the basics in improv into the more advanced levels. It’s pretty fantastic! Rate. Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy. Be excellent to each other, golden age of improv, happy improvising!...
Miles Stroth is on the show! You know him from the Cagematch juggernaut team, Heather and Miles  Miles and I chat about his Miles Stroth workshops and how they can teach you how to be an excellent improviser. We also talk quite a bit about position play. Rate. Review. Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy....
Ian Roberts is on the show. You know him as one of the founders of Upright Citizens Brigade, as well as from Assscat, from the legendary The Family, Reno 911, the executive producer of Key and Peele, and a whole bunch of other stuff that makes him a comedy legend. Ian and I talk about how he uses his ‘flash’ exercise to help get people to game quickly. Ian also explains the philosophy of a strong straight man. And we talk about a WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER STUFF AND IT’S AMAZING. Enjoy....
Jessica Allen Eason is on the show! You know her from Neutrino and Ms. Jackson. Jessica and I talk about her roots in musical theatre and her desire to be a lusted after leading lady. She also tells me about learning improv from the great Paul Sills. Jessica also tells me about how she asserted herself as a formidable improviser when she first showed up for classes at UCB. Also, I pretend to know what she’s talking when Jessica brings up a bunch of actors and plays. Rate. Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy. YOLO....
Mary Holland is on the show! You know her from John Velvet, Fiddler’s Green, Lord Willin’, and New Money. Mary talks to me about the first thing she thinks of when starting a scene and how it helps her build a world. We also talk about the Johnny Meeks mantra Por Las Buanas. And, Mary simulates breaking up with me. It hurts. All that and more!...
Paul Welsh is on the show! You know him from Cooper, Styx Martin, Grandma’s Ashes, Monstro and more. Paul and I talk about following dreams, getting stage time, and hanging back in scenes. Also, we decide that no one wants to hear you fucking shoe horn in your stupid fucking initiation that that you thought of on the subway. And, we discuss the confidence that comes with getting validated in improvisation. Rate. Review. Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy....
Lauren Lapkus is on the show! You may know here from Bangarang! or a whole bunch of TV. Don’t forget to support Lauren by watching Orange is the New Black. Lauren and I talk about her long journey as an improviser. We also talk about the process of getting into character. We also chat about the struggle of learning game over just being funny. And, Lauren gives us insight into how to get her cool career. How cool! Rate. Subscribe. Comment. Donate. Enjoy....
Harrison Brown stopped by the show! You know Harrison as the host of The Cagematch at Upright Citizens Brigade Los Angeles, maybe you’ve seen one of his famed air guitar, drum, and high-fiving solos. Also, Harrison is the host of Tuesday Night Thunder, and he was on early UCBLA Harold Teams, MacGuffin, Perfect Crime and Panama. Harrison and I chat about what is the element required for your best shows. We also talk about the origins of Tuesday Night Thunder the value of indie shows and the boom of the indie scene. Finally we discuss whats the deal with Cagematch. Rate. Subscribe. Comment. ...
Adam McCabe is here! You probably know Adam from Bangarang!, Oh, Brother, and as one of the hosts of Sketchbar. We talk about the merits of Short Form, how simple games can be great, and the way to straight man awesome. Also, Adam confesses his fear of robot sentience and I confess my fear of people being nonchalant with knives. So, yeah, we’re pretty much best friends with very specific fears....
Today, we’re talking Los Angeles Indie Improv Festival, THE SECOND YEAR! And back each for their second time, Casey Feigh, Nick Mandernach, and Jonny Svarzbein. First we cover all the important information about the LAIIF, like it’s Saturday May 25th from 11AM to Midnight. Also we talk a bit about the organizing of the show with help from Crashbar, Tuesday Night Thunder, Room 101, 11th...
Christopher George is on the show! Christopher is the Assistant Artistic Director a at Finest City Improv in San Diego. He also writes an awesome improv blog, Riding on the Wall. Chris talks about his mission for creating a new improv scene in San Diego. Breaking from an oppressive theatre. And of course we talk about our approach and philosophy to improv. And he invites the entire world to come out to Finest City to see a show, all 7 Billion of you. Rate. Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy....
Dickie Copeland is on the show today! You know Dickie from Styx Martin, Bitty Schrim, D’artagnan, Heavy Goose, Bikini Tiger, her wonderful writing, more. Dickie and I talk a bit about improv, but even MORE about developing yourself as a professional comedy person. We talk about why I should have changed my name, how to focus on a path for writers, determining and going after your type for actors, and also, why is game so hard. Also, we spend the whole episode drinking whisky so you know it’s a good episode! Subscribe, rate, comment, enjoy, donate....
Lilan Bowden is on the show! You may know Lilan from Bonafide, Styx Martin, or TAB, the host team of Crashbar! Lilan and I chat about being in love with what other people are bringing into improv scenes. Lilan also coaches me through having a healthy view of auditioning for harold teams. We talk a bit about Maude night. And we talk about a bunch of other important improv stuff! Lilan gets to weigh in on the conversation that Rene Gube and I had on whether or not it’s funny to hit Lilan. Also, I keep asking if Lilan’s ok. I’m very worried about Lilan’s well being cause I love her s...
Jimmy Carrane, aka The Improv Nerd is on the show today! If you’re a Chicago person, you’ll know Jimmy from his many Art of Slow comedy classes. Or if you’re outside of that area you may know him as part of the legendary team Jazz Freddy and his book, Improvising Better: A Guide for the Working Improviser. OR, if you’re a podcast lover or ever check the related podcasts in iTunes next to Improv Obsession, you may know Improv Nerd. Anyway, Jimmy and I talk a bit about slow play. Jimmy also tries to convince me to get dedicated to a team, and I stubbornly say it probably won’t happ...
Thomas Middleditch is on the show today! You know Thomas from his friday night exploits with Diamond Lion. You also may know Thomas from Snow Pants, Middleberger, Baby Wants Candy, The Improvise Shakespeare Company, and a bunch of other stuff Thomas and I talk about the most important thing about, improv, the 90s. We also get into kinda improvising from your gut. Thomas tells me about a heroic and dangerous moment in his improv. AND we chat about recklessness, CONTROLLED recklessness. Rate. Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy. Donate?...
Erin Whitehead is on the show! She’s a hilarious improviser who you may know from her UCBLA harold team Kid Grift, and you may remember THEM as all coming the podcast together for episode 26. Erin and I chat about gaining confidence after being in a rut. Erin talks about being honest in her improv. And, the best part, Erin and I hug. You get to hear that. LOL. Also, donations welcomed at ImprovObsession.com. Listen. Rate. Subscribe. Enjoy....
Sarah Claspell is on the show!! You know her from The Get Go, Styx Martin, Monstro, Dybbuk, and her website Well That’s Adorable. Sarah teaches me a bit about moving and making friends in improv. We also chat about coaching for realism. And we talk a lot about what it means to be a utility player. And, seriously we do way too many silly bits. And I love it. So ENJOY. Rate Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy....
Brian Jack is on the show! You know him from The Reckoning, Deep Schwa, and The Armando Show. Brian comes on to talk about being in the moment, we debate a bit about cage match, and pre-show stress. Also, shout out to his daughter, Ramona! Subscribe. Rate. Comment. Enjoy!...
Johnny Meeks is on the show! You know him from Sentimental Lady and as the new Education Guy at UCBLA. He and I talk Por Las Buenas, bringing strong acting to your improv, and improvising effortlessly. We also eat some sweet treats cause, Por Las Buenas!...
Heather Anne Campbell is on the show! You know her from Heater and Miles, Last Day of School,  The Midnight Show, and Drew Carry’s Improv-A-Ganza. Heather and I talk about what it is to make the show a strong experience for the audience, committing all the way, and we end with an extremely uplifting message that will hopefully convince you all to get to work on your comedy today! Rate. Subscribe. Comment. Enjoy....
Joe Hartzler is on the show! You know Joe from Flap Jackson, The Great War, Up! Up! Up! The Twitter Show, a whole dickload of commercials and funny videos. We talk about our pie eyed improv dreams, his trips around the country in a van trying to make people laugh, and dropping pearls all over your chest. It’s gross. Also the last part of the show takes a weird turn, so that’s real fun. Rate, subscribe, comment, enjoy....
Mark David Christenson is on the show. You know him as a member of one of the newest UCBLA harold teams, Mister Town City. He’s also a member of The Mutiny sketch team, Pals, my team, Styx Martin, and he hosts his own podcast, One Photo Reviews with Scott Davis. Today we had an improv heart to heart, it was a loose but thoughtful conversation and now you get to hear it! Also, someone stole my identity… sorta. Subscribe. Rate. Comment. Enjoy....
Charlie Sanders kicks of 2013 on improv obsession podcast. That sentence made it sound like he was here and recording this over new years eve, that’s not true. Ok, moving on. You know Charlie from Shitty Jobs, Police Chief Rumble, Reuben Starship/ Williams, and as a writer for Key and Peele. In this episode Charlie emphasizes the idea of fun, and we talk for a while about getting hot coffee thrown in our face. Subscribe, Rate, Comment, Enjoy!...
Nick Mandernach from John Velvet and Room 101’s host team Shakedown is on the show! After me stumbling over how to pronounce his name, we have an amazing conversation about how our college experiences weren’t as fun as our comedy and UCB experiences. We talk a bit about trusting the technique of improv even when it doesn’t go well. Nick also tells me some of his pet peeves as a host of an independent show. Also improvising in character. Wow, we covered a lot of improv stuff, this show is amazing… Oh, also, Butt Thursdays. Subscribe. Rate. Comment. Enjoy....
THE DC Pierson is here on my podcast. He’s currently on Shitty Jobs, the infamous improv show at UCB LA. DC tells me he’s proud to be on a “weird” team and how he feels they’ve earned the right to be weird. Also, he tells me WHY you listen to your partner, and it weirdly shifts my perspective on listening. Thanks, DC. Also I make DC talk about Barenaked Ladies. It’s not as sexy as you think. Subscribe. Rate. Comment. Enjoy....