This Week’s Episode:
My guest today, John Abbott, started with a quest to learn everything he could about the language of performers. What he didn’t know is that he’d become one. Ever since immersing himself in the improv world in 1999, he’s graduated from three improv training programs, founded several improv teams, seen several thousand performances, held performances of his own, and coached groups and workshops across the country.
In this episode, he and I discuss what inspired him to get involved in improv, his perspective on how story and improv intersect, unexpected reactions (or lack thereof) from your audience, and performing the same thing with different intentions. We also dive into what he thinks makes a great story and great characters, and what lessons he sees from improv that can apply to life.
What you will learn in this episode:
- What the hardest thing for people to do in improv is
- Why performers should rehearse with distractions
- Why well-written characters make story come alive
Who is John?
John Abbott graduated from Second City, Annoyance, and iO’s training programs. He’s a founding member of several improv teams at the iO and Playground theaters such as Pork, Calcutta, The Warehouse, and Wing Night. At iO alone, he estimates he’s seen over 5,000 improv performances in a 9-year period.
He’s performed at the Gainesville and Chicago Improv Festivals and with Sharon Kom in the duo Photo Shoot which was a feature of the New Orleans Improv Festival. John has also coached improv groups and taught workshops around the U.S. At The Playground Theater, he began the Improviser’s Studio workshop program and founded Individual Improv Intensive (I3) which provides performers with individual feedback.
In addition to performing and coaching, he has been the official photographer for the Chicago Improv Festival since 2001. Nowadays, John performs with the musical improv team Dirty Bars at WestSide Improv in Wheaton, Illinois in addition to a weekly radio show at the American Improv Theater in San Jose. John also coaches the Therapy Players in Chicago alongside An Embarrassment of Pandas in Santa Barbara and his improv team and Shade Tree in Wheaton.
Links & Resources
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JULIAN REEVESPEAKER, AUTHOR, FORMER MUSIC DIRECTOR OF HAMILTON
JUNA KOLLMEIERASTROPHYSICIST, TED SPEAKER
LTC (RET.) SCOTT MANNGREEN BERET, ENTREPRENEUR, STORYTELLER, TRAINER, COACH, AUTHOR