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IB Awesome Award

The IB Awesome Award is a monthly designation of awesomeness onstage or off at ImprovBoston. The award recognizes extraordinary, positive contributions to our community of artists, our audiences, our staff, our stages or our nonprofit mission. Nominees can be performers, directors, producers, writers, musicians, techs, staff or even die-hard fans; anyone who goes above and beyond to make IB a better place.

Help spread the love: NOMINATE SOMEONE AWESOME

Current and previous IB Awesome Award Winners


April 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Tim Cusack

Tim Cusack is hip, trendy and really good-looking.  One of those rare personalities that nails the balance between laid-back and assertive, Tim is a brilliant jack-of-all-trades by day and comedy nerd by night. As a House Manager, Tim maintains a level head in a theater where so many logistics and moving bodies would render more volatile folks unconscious.

In 2009 Tim came to see a Face Off show at ImprovBoston and that same year began making his way through sketch comedy classes. Sometime in 2011 our office staff interviewed Tim and hired him on the spot, as he was both brilliant and experienced but mostly because he looked like James Van Der Beek. When he first arrived he helped boost staff professionalism, setting the bar for dressing sharp and top-notch customer interaction. He helped us organize processes and keep the office clean, working 5 nights a week and pouring every ounce of himself into making IB a wonderfully warm place for patrons and performers alike. 
Tim performed regularly with sketch troupe Daft Agenda over the course of four years and has lent his sketch prowess to performances with Gypsies, Stamps, and Bees, the Rekcus, World of Hurt, Best of Boston Sketch, and the Prism show. He's also dabbled in standup and improv classes here.
Since the beginning of his tenure, Tim has seen the theater undergo many changes and has helped us navigate them with kindness and candor. Deana Criess, ImprovBoston's Director of Sales shares, "He has a laugh that is amazing to hear, and if you ever get to see his non snarky smile it is a joy. He is also one of the funniest people at our theater." 



March 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Rosena Cornet

Rosena Cornet is the kind-hearted, brilliant and driven individual that people dream of working with. A flawless juggler of projects both onstage and off, she pursues comedy with an unwavering determination that results in everything she touches turning to gold. But perhaps most impressively, she maintains her cool, collected and genial persona, making all feel welcome and invited to partake in her mission for comedy.
Rosena has taken the stage in many capacities since her start at ImprovBoston in 2013 performing with Russian for Elephant, Bodega and An Improvised Women's Prison. Her onstage experiences enable a behind-the-scenes producing prowess that make her truly awesome. She has produced an array of shows including History 101 & Fufu & Oreos, leading to several sold-out runs and unforgettable performances. She has also served as a producer for the College Comedy Festival the past two years, executing the laborious task of acquiring sponsors while carrying relations and spearheading communication with the performers. In 2014 she served as a host for acts in the Boston Comedy Arts Festival and made for an exceptional ImprovBoston ambassador. She also develops experimental comedy in all its forms and puts performer's comedy dreams onstage as a co-producer of Comedy Lab.
Rosena will no doubt be around the theater this month, providing an outlet for the next up-and-coming comedy act with a smile on her face. Say hello and thank her for the amazing work she does. She is truly Awesome.


February 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Stirling Smith

Stirling Smith is a friendly firecracker of the highest order. With a lightning quick mind, a tireless work ethic and a huge heart for others, she can make anyone stepping into the ImprovBoston lobby (veteran performer or first-time customer) feel welcome and loved.
The comedy bug bit Stirling hard in Spring of 2009, when she took her first improv class at ImprovBoston. But her real forte came in the form of standup comedy: an outlet that caters perfectly to her poignant, hilarious social observations and commentary. She has served behind the scenes as an indispensable member of the front of house staff day-in and day-out for several years.
She captures the extent of her love for laughter when she says, "the sound of laughter is one of the most satisfying and universal joys any human can experience. It transcends gender, class, age, physical and psychological borders. I am certain that through our continued pursuit of this most creative endeavor we can make the world around us a little more enjoyable, more pleasant if only for a moment."
Thank you, Stirling, for all you've done and will continue to do for this theater and community. 


January 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Will Lautzenheiser

Will Lautzenheiser proves the power of comedy to change lives. In September 2011, Will contracted a severe infection that left him a quadruple amputee. In 2014, Will received a double-arm transplant in a ground-breaking surgery at Brigham & Women's Hospital. Finding humor in the least likely of places, Will turned to comedy. He shared his personal story through standup (on a dare) arranged by IB regular Myq Kaplan at the ImprovBoston NightCap in 2012. Will met his good friend and partner in comedy-crime Steve Delfino at that show and since the duo has performed over seven sketches at The Kerfuffle and SketchHaus in the past two years. 
Will pushes the boundaries of comedy with expertly crafted high-wire sets that challenge both performers and audiences alike. The subject of Stumped, an award-winning documentary short currently on the film festival circuit, Will is an increasingly familiar face to Boston crowds and is eager to return to ImprovBoston for more comedy after completing his rehabilitation. Will jokingly reflects, "I've gotten standing ovations on two occasions at IB, but I can never tell if that's just people mocking me...."

December 2014 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Sarah Pelrin

Sarah Pelrin balances a rare combination of tireless work ethic, affable personality and conscientious leadership. For the last couple years, Sarah has held down the fort as House Manager at ImprovBoston, the authoritative yet endearing voice that commands both attention and admiration. Always placing the good of the theater before herself, she has served in many capacities including social coordinator for the Boston Comedy Arts Festival, ComedyCamp assistant, festival volunteer, and even took over staff scheduling responsibilities for the better part of the past year. She brings the same charisma to the stage with Studio 40 hall of famers Disco Basement.
She sums up her love for the theater nicely when she recalls, "I once wore my ImprovBoston t-shirt in one of my school photos at my day job." Sarah, thank you for your tireless behind the scenes work that allows ImprovBoston to flourish as a home for comedy. You make audiences feel welcome, you keep things running smoothly for the artists and you are as dedicated as they come. Thank you for everything you do week in and week out.



November 2014 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Marcelo Illarmo

Marcelo joined ImprovBoston in 1999 as a cast member of TheatreSports. Since that time, Marcelo worked on many shows at ImprovBoston like Playbook, Election, and his acclaimed one man show, Tales of a Broken Heart: Not a Love Story.  Marcelo produced and hosted the Sunday night Jam alongside JR Strauss from 2004 to 2007. Marcelo’s one true love, however, was Face Off, where he served as the emotionally distant father figure for over a decade.  A pillar of the ImprovBoston community, beacon for new improvisers and supporter of the comedy arts both onstage and off, he made the theater feel a bit more like home for all of us. Thanks for lighting up the stages of ImprovBoston for a decade and a half, Marcelo. Come back and visit!


October 2014 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Jake McDowell

In 2011, Jake wandered into ImprovBoston as a wide-eyed intern and today he is the unmistakable face of ImprovBoston - the smiling bearded gent that will answer all your questions with a glimmer in his eye while also making you feel like the luckiest person alive. An energetic, affable and discerning House Manager, he mans the S.S. ImprovBoston from his cherished command post in the front of the lobby. Whether it's herding hundreds of Boston Comedy Arts Festival out-of-town performers or recommending a show to a first-time patron, Captain Jake steers the ship, a truly admirable admiral.

With a theater arts degree from Boston University, Jake has unique clowning expertise he developed overseas at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, which he has used to lead workshops with ImprovBoston's Family Show. Jake brings a wealth of talent, a passion for physical play and smiles to coworkers, fellow performers and audience members alike. A hilarious standup comedian, he spreads the gospel of standup to aspiring comics as an instructor at ImprovBoston's Comedy School. Follow him @JakeMcDoo for his snippets of silly.

Jake reflects on his proudest moment at ImprovBoston as the time the Front of House crew played one song from Shrek: The Musical for two full hours. ImprovBoston is proud to recognize Jake's awesomeness with this award, not just for the amazing leadership he exhibits day-in and out but because he is an inspiration to anyone and everyone who has the pleasure of knowing him. 


September 2014 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Emily Holland

For the past three years, Emily has been a Family Show, Face Off and TourCo cast member, Comedy Lab producer, Comedy School instructor, Assistant to the Managing Director and Associate Producer. She got her ImprovBoston start with the College Comedy Festival (aka: the Beanpot) through her college troupe, The Peapod Squad. Coming full circle, she rose through the ranks to ultimately produce the growing festival, passing her passion and expertise on to the next generation of comedians. Behind the scenes, Emily is a fierce advocate for artists. As a producer and member of the management team, she has been instrumental in not just keeping IB's doors open through several major transitions but in fostering an impressive array of new creative opportunities. At the helm of Comedy Lab, she directly supported scores of experimental and in-development projects. Her endearing snark, contagious enthusiasm and startling talent for multi-tasking have benefited hundreds of resident IB artists and visiting acts from around the country. 

Emily's given so much and worn so many hats (not literally. She doesn't like hats). As she says, "ImprovBoston has been more than a place to grow comedically. I found my family here and honestly have no idea where I would be without the unbelievably supportive, generous, kind humans that ImprovBoston draws." You're one of those supportive, generous and kind humans, Emily Holland.
Good luck in LA! We're behind you all the way. 


August 2014 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Brendan Mulhern

In 2008, Brendan set foot in ImprovBoston for his first class and has been a tireless warrior tenaciously spearheading all forms of improvisation ever since. He spent two and half years on Rich Uncle, contributing his longform talents on stage and passion offstage to Harold Night.  Brendan co-created the iconic two-man buddy cop Manthorne & the Baron and lent his performance prowess to a variety of showcase shows including  1.21 Jigowatts, Gorefest 8: Cirque du Slughte, and Gorefest X: 28 Days Latte. 
But Brendan's service to the IB community extends far beyond the stage. With ImprovBoston's Touring Company, Brendan helped thousands of kids and teens through IB's industry-leading Anti-Bullying Program. A true inspiration in some of the roughest schools, Brendan's "tough love" approach and impressive physical presence won over even the hardest-to-reach kids. Even this summer, he's been busy spearheading ImprovBoston ComedyCamps, leading the next generation of comedy superstars. He produced the Boston Comedy Arts Festival, served as a tech director, and got his hands dirty with countless volunteer efforts including ripping up and replacing the stage following a post-Gorefest fruit fly infestation. He lent his Mulhern muscles to installing new seats in the main theater, sound proofing the Green Room, building a banister, hanging lights in the lobby, and much more. He describes his labor as "Hard work, but a mere token of gratitude in return for what this theater has given me: a true sense of self." The ImprovBoston community sends our love as Brendan makes the move to Chicago. Thanks, Mr. Mulhern!


July 2014 IB Awesome Award goes to...

Allen McRae

Allen has dedicated himself to elevating the level of sketch comedy at ImprovBoston since 2007.  He began at IB as a member of one of the theater's first resident sketch teams, The Latchkey Kids. From his conceptual debut in 2009 with the offbeat UHF show he co-produced and his work with sketch teams Duct Tape Revolution, World of Hurt, and The Allen McRae Show, to the showcase shows The Best of Boston Sketch (co-producer) and Comedy, America! (director), Allen has been a tireless proponent of quality written comedy. As a member of the IBCS faculty, he's helping to shape the next generation of sketch writers.  In addition to creating, writing, producing and teaching Allen has also unified the sketch community through building bridges with representatives from sketch teams and shows while working with Artistic Director Mike Descoteaux to create a comprehensive sketch structure at the theater. He looks to push the boundaries and possibilities of sketch with his new group, World of Hurt. Allen reflects, "It's been rad to see the rise of the sketch community at ImprovBoston, from afterthought to selling out the main stage, WE DID IT MA!" ImprovBoston continues to embrace sketch as a comedic force and Allen is at the forefront of the movement, never flagging in his determination to make Boston an amazing city for sketch.


June 2014 IB Awesome Award goes to...

Sasha Goldberg

Sasha Goldberg is a renaissance woman. One of the most respected multi-talented artists at the theater, Sasha has performed as an improviser in many of the most influential shows at IB: from The Robert Cycle to Blue Screen, Agent Spy to Micetro, Sasha's resume of showcases reads like a Wikipedia article on IB icons. With resident casts, she's added her kindness and genius to Mainstage, Theater Sports (now Face Off) and Harold Night (Rondo, Maxitor and Specter). She's ushered in new generations of improvisers as a teacher in the Comedy School. She's directed. She's produced (Harold Night, anyone?). She's leant her professional videography services. She's even jumped into the office to help with fundraising and thankless administrative tasks when the theater needed it most. 
Sasha is a no-drama leader who is as happy to support quietly from the background as she is to bring a house down in the improv spotlight. ImprovBoston is a kinder, smarter, more creative and genuinely inspiring place thanks to Sasha Goldberg. 


May 2014 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Dana Jay Bein

For the past 13 years Dana Jay Bein has been a shining light at ImprovBoston. With infectious energy, unrelenting charm and terrible puns, Dana has been an integral part of our growth both onstage and off.

He created, developed and teaches in IB's StandUp Comedy Program, produces The Comedy Lottery, 100 First Jokes, Spooked Too Soon and his masterpiece, The People's Show. He also served as Operations Manager for two years and helped build (literally) our new theater during IB's transition from Inman Square to Central. His contributions to ImprovBoston as a standup, actor and improviser are rivaled only by his generosity and unwavering enthusiasm behind the scenes.

DJB gives himself fully in every performance, perhaps even at the expense of his own health, tearing an ACL on stage during an UnNatural Selection show in 2005. Dana says he's "blown away by this honor," though it is we who are blown away by the kindness and passion of this remarkable artist.  #IBGrateful



April 2014 IB Awesome Award Recipient 
Srilatha Rajamani

Srilatha Rajamani has logged a staggering number of hours at the theater for a relative newcomer. In addition to taking the stand up community by storm with her raw, disarming and unassumingly gut laugh-inducing brand of comedy, Srilatha has stepped up behind the scenes.

As an associate producer of SketchHaus and a moderator for the IB Community Facebook page, she's an unwavering pillar of support and kindness. Most recently, she helped create IB Good, the theater's program devoted to helping local organizations through volunteering and other good works. Srilatha is known to all as a steadfast cheerleader of comedy in all its forms.

As she puts it, her love for IB "could fill reams of paper," and her passion for celebrating the socioeconomic and cultural differences in Cambridge shines through her dedication to the many faces of ImprovBoston. 




March 2014 IB Awesome Award Recipient
Josh Garneau

Josh Garneau--Tech Director extraordinaire. Volunteer. Secret performer. Incredible guy. Josh was sucked into the IB vortex through classes and volunteering at Boston Comedy Arts Festival (then "BIF"). He's worked magic in the booth and beyond for ImprovBoston milestones like GoreFest, BCAF, The Ruckus, Women in Comedy Festival, Thorns, Downton IB and far too many more to list.

Few artists are content to work passionately from behind the scenes. For years, Josh has helped performers to look their best, directors to realize their artistic dreams and kept producers from going insane all while making his own significant creative contributions. Whether setting the bar for other techs, setting a blood cannon, making a cameo or mopping up after setting a blood cannon, Josh makes ImprovBoston a better place to play, take risks and laugh.

And after the countless hours, Josh remains as awesome as ever, saying: "I've been welcomed into a group that has hugged me as hard as I've hugged it back - and it's one of my proudest achievements that I am privileged to be a part of this community."

Thank you, Josh Garneau!

February, 2014 IB Awesome Award Recipient

TC Cheever

TC Cheever is the best example any of us could ask for of "Yes, And". Some of you may not have had the pleasure of knowing TC, but you certainly know of him.  Why? Because his legacy is so strong at this theater and in our hearts.  Why? Because his spirit and his work demand it.  TC came to ImprovBoston as a young man eager to learn and eager to share with a legendary laugh.  He left as a wise teacher, brilliant performer and patient director, all with that same legendary laugh.  On stage TC was the partner you dreamed of --- supportive, quick, and truly wanting nothing more than to make you look good.  Off-stage he was our kind-hearted bartender always ready to listen, the guy you always hoped was in your audience (again, that laugh) and the person ready to give you the best hug you ever had and who asked "How are you?" and really wanted the answer.  
TC started his ImprovBoston career at Jams with Renegade Duck, then began belting his amazing voice with Musical Improv Company.  He was a member then co-director of Theatersports where he was lovingly referred to as "singing Bobby".  He wrote many IB shows including An Evening with Ladley & Craig, What the Dickens and Lube! The Musical. 
TC was a great collaborator and an even better friend.  He inspires us to be better.  More than a dozen ImprovBoston community members were inspired enough to train for a year and head to Disney World a few weeks ago to run in his name.  Marathons, half marathons, 5K's, this man inspired people to push themselves beyond what they thought they could do.  He inspired them rethink what was possible.  He inspires all of us to do the same. 
His artistic voice lives on at ImprovBoston with Thorns, a show he co-created with Deana Criess which will have its sixth annual performance this Valentine's Day at 10PM.  All proceeds will benefit the TC Cheever Family Trust and The Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers at Massachusetts General Hospital. 
TC, you truly were, and are, awesome.