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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
January 2017 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Lauren Magnuson is the person you want to know and the friend you want to keep. She gets. Stuff. Done. With a go-getter personality that always has a new project or venture around the corner, Lauren takes the toughest parts of show production and makes them look like a cake walk.
Her performance tenure at ImprovBoston began in the spring of 2011 with an Improv 101 class lead by Artistic Director Emeritus, Will Luera. From there she joined indie free-form wizards Big Gulp and then became a member of Harold Night (teams included Eddy, Strangelove and Midnight Avenue), All Access Improv and now Boston Sketch Co. She has also been a cast member in showcase shows, WIPR: Improvised Public Radio and Oregon Fail: You Have Died of Comedy.
While simultaneously juggling her onstage exploits, her behind the scenes work has made her a pillar of the community. Lauren has proven herself an invaluable gear in the IB production machine, where she has executed logistical wizardry for shows including Comedy Lab, Harold Night, Milk Money, and the ImprovBoston Holiday Spectacular. She has worked countless hours the past couple years to ensure Wednesday nights at ImprovBoston are truly something special.
Most recently we are proud of her stellar new gig as the Business Manager of North Coast NYC. Fear not - hip hop improv shall flourish in Beantown and beyond.
December 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Jeff Chou is a bridge-builder of the highest order. Connecting comedians with creative means and building new opportunities for stage time, Jeff is a true curator of Boston comedy.
Jeff first entered the ImprovBoston community in 2014 and has quickly established himself as a cornerstone over the past two years. As a founding co-producer of the ImprovBoston Diversity Mixer (now The Mixtape), Jeff worked hard to create a welcoming space for comedians representing diverse voices to share their stories, craft and comedy. And also snacks. Thanks to Jeff's tireless commitment, the monthly event is now one of Boston's most successful gateways to the world of comedy for rising talent of all backgrounds and perspectives.
Mr. Chou has also been a trailblazer for longform improvised comedy in Boston, lending his talent and passion to Harold Night teams including Eddy and Rabbit while working behind the scenes to direct Strangelove and Saint Brad. Beyond ImprovBoston, he's an important member of the local troupe Naffy, orchestrating performances across the river at the Riot Theater.
We can't wait to see what Jeff gets his hands on next!
November 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Pete Fenzel's list of projects at ImprovBoston reads like the Magna Carta. He has served the community in a variety of roles for over a decade now, lending his expertise, his good-natured attitude and his willingness to assist with any project that presents itself. With an illuminating smile and a knack for athletic garb, Pete is an IB stalwart with a heart as big as his laugh.
Pete joined us as a result of a move from New York City in 2005. He took all of our then 5 level improv curriculum at ImprovBoston's previous Inman Square location and then his graduating class formed a troupe called Unexpected Turbulence, coached by the illustrious Steve Kleinedler. From there he joined Neutrino Boston where he performed from 2007-2011. He went on to appear in projects including Doc Severinsen and the Short-range Time Machine, Quixote Ugly, Uniprov: The World's First Unicycle Improv Group, Duets, Five Loco, Party Horse and more. Yes, we have more questions about the unicycle group too...
Pete was also instrumental in ImprovBoston's move to its current Central Square location, assisting with the demolition of the old space and the installation of many technical aspects in the theater. Since the move in 2008, he has directed a myriad shows including 1.21 Jigowatts: An Improvised Tribute to Back to the Future, Achievement Unlocked: An Improvised Video Game Tribute, In the Zone, an improvised tribute to the Twilight Zone, Whistle Whistle and Twin Marlin.
But today's community knows Mr. Fenzel for his invaluable guidance with Harold Night, where he has been a long-standing cast member and director since its first expansion in 2008. He was a cast member on teams including Marjean, Shay's Rebellion and Rich Uncle. For the last several years, he has directed casts including Great Lakes and current Harold Night phenoms, 54 Forty.
Pete will be stepping down from his role as Harold Night director this coming season, but what he has left is a legacy of unparalleled improv pedagogy and hundreds of improvisers who consitently utilize the performance tools he has instilled in them. We <3 Pete.
October 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Barbara Kremen was a walking smile on the ImprovBoston stage. She was an active member of Active Ingredients, a house team at ImprovBoston and a student of Dana Jay Bein's Standup class. She was the founder of Improv Incubator - a meet up group based out of Cambridge (actually based out of an empty classroom at Lesley, where she worked her magic). She created a space for people who were interested in exploring or even just trying out the craft of improvisation. Through her work and inspiration, through her endless positivity and laughter she gave people the confidence to take the first step into the spotlight.
She volunteered her time and passion for the pure joy of the art and bringing folks together. She loved making people smile and making people feel welcome. While it may sound cliche, Barbara truly saw the best in everyone. She inspired us to have more fun with each other and in front of an audience.
On September 10th 2016, Barbara lost her battle with cancer. She fought the hard fight for 2 long years along side her lovely doting husband Jason Baker, her ever-loving mother and father Phyllis and Stanley Kremen, and her brother Scott and sister Lori.
Barbara, thank you for embodying the spirit of ImprovBoston and for sharing your awesomeness with us, all too briefly. We love you Barb.
Barbara, thank you for embodying the spirit of ImprovBoston and for sharing your awesomeness with us, all too briefly. We love you Barb.
September 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Ian Dyer has a smile that illuminates Sleepy Hollow, a wit faster than Speedy Gonzales and a laugh that wakes up a Snorlax. A man who seems to be in thirty places at any given moment, Ian has hand in just about every comedy cookie jar Boston could offer. His hunger to excel his craft, his eagerness to lend a hand and his endless enthusiasm make him a joy to work with behind the scenes and a showstopper in front of them.
Ian got his start at ImprovBoston on March 23, 2013 (yes, he knew the exact date) and has never stopped never stopping as his onstage and production credits scroll on like the Magna Carta. Ian has volunteered behind the scenes for the Women in Comedy Festival, the Boston Comedy Arts Festival, Alumni Weekend and the College Comedy Festival, he has co-produced Harold Night, he has interned and worked with the front of house staff, has appeared in countless sketch and improv shows including Full Leather Jacket, Sophie, Two French Guys, Galaxy Poo (yup, it's real) and resident casts First Date, Houdini, Grove and Face Off. There are many more. He can tell you all of them, just ask.
Ian departs for New York City this week to further pursue and refine his craft knowing that he will always have a home in Boston. Give him a farewell hug, buy him a drink at the Field and remind him that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Vizzini from The Princess Bride. Come back soon, Ian!
August 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Ashley Voltz works endlessly to keep the flame of sketch comedy burning with dazzling fervor. The sketch producer for Battle Royale and other indy sketch teams, she delivers fantastic and well-rounded shows while bolstering the presence and quality of the sketch comedy in Boston. One of the easiest folks to work with, her favorite outfit is the smile, which you can see her wearing anytime she's near the theater.
Ashley first got her comedy fix taking classes through ImprovBoston's Comedy School in early 2013. She not only found it an outlet to meet new people but she proved herself dang talented in the process. She began honing her sketch craft through producing shows with Bistany's Mysteries, Baby Cut, Terrible People and ImprovBoston's annual Holiday Spectacular and breached the improv frontier with acts including Dreamphone, Proud to Be An American Girl, Oregon Fail, Cuddle Party, Dangerfield, hatchbabies, 20 Minute Movie and recently as a resident cast member with All Access and the harold team Saint Brad.
Ashley's eye for piercing sketch comedy in both the acts she writes for and the acts she books reveal just how much of an influencer she is in this community. With her creative assistance and guidance, sketch groups have flowed seamlessly through ImprovBoston's show pipeline and found stage time where they wouldn't otherwise. Thanks Ashely, for your passion for the craft, your endless support of aspiring comedians and your drive to ensure each act has the tools they need to go the distance.
July 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Many folks flock to the ImprovBoston community because of the warm and supportive people. And there is one person in particular in this community who opens her arms to anyone, nurturing their growth as a performer and human while selflessly offering guidance. Her name is MaryBeth DeKara.
If you know MB, you know she radiates positivity and kindness. A longtime ImprovBoston Comedy School instructor, she is an active gateway for comedy to hundreds of students annually and every student that passes through her class knows they have an active mentor and support system in her.
MB first got involved with ImprovBoston as a performer in 2006 with longform troupe Neutrino Boston. In 2009 she really dug her feet in, working on the admin team as a Ticketing and Scheduling Manager and then as an Assistant to the Managing Director. She has also served in the capacities of house manager, bartender, box office representative, tech director, producer, director and personally hauled and installed the more than 75 chairs in our Main Theater that serve nightly as homes for butts. She has painted, cleaned, plunged, scrubbed and mopped every square inch of our facility over the last decade. And she did it all with a smile because she loves this place almost as much as this place loves her.
MB has also produced The Comedy Lab, The Boston Comedy Arts Festival and has performed with acts including Channel Surfing, On Deck, Shay's Rebellion, The Ruckus, The Family Show, Rich Uncle, Panamax, Screen Time, Comedy, America!, Rabbit, ImprovBoston's National Touring Company and more.
If you are ever looking to talk to someone about comedy, MB probably wants to talk to you. Not just because she has words of wisdom to offer but because that's just the kind, caring and compassionate person she is.
June 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Some good things come out of Canada - hockey, great comedy and Justin Trudeau's smile, to name a few. But every once in a blue moon a magical creature crosses the border and settles in the old U S of A. While some would argue Justin Beiber was a boon, there is no arguing that the greatest Canadian entity to grace America's soil is Jenny Trenchard.
Night in and night out, Jenny works endless hours behind the scenes to keep ImprovBoston's patrons cheerful. She does the staff and performers proud with a spirit that makes you question the true placement of the Northern Lights. The coveted blend of affable and decisive, Jenny is a leader of leaders, transforming the role of House Manager from "nighttime boss" to "the guiding force of goodness" on even the most stressful Saturday night.
Our welcoming ambassador came to us a little over one year ago and the improvements the theater and community have seen over that time are palpable. Jenny has swiftly navigated ImprovBoston changes including staffing, inventory, ticketing processes, festival development, theater infrastructure, and that's just the tip of the Newfoundland iceberg. Whether it's a mother orchestrating her child's birthday party or rowdy college kids out to catch a late night comedy show, Jenny throws down the red carpet for each and every soul that steps inside our theater.
Jenny - we're glad Canada made you who you are, but we are even more glad you've helped make us who we are.
May 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
It takes a very special type of person to fuse relentless support and encouragement with swift, determined professionalism. Corey O'Rourke does it all--it's just the type of person he is. An unflappable comedy camp instructor and cast member of ImpovBoston's National Touring Company and All Access Improv, Corey throws himself at every opportunity to help out behind the scenes.
Corey got his start at ImprovBoston in fall of 2013, when he was cast on Harold Night and the National Touring Company. Since then he has been a cheerleader for developing talent in all its forms and a beacon of support for his peers. He showcases the power of the work we do with kids through our summer comedy camps, where he transforms shy youngsters with no improv experience into self-confident artists over the course of 4 days every week. His impressive talents with youth are on full display in our anti-bullying work at local schools where he quite literally changes lives. He champions the art form and furthers ImprovBoston's mission to serve the community through laughter with every person he comes into contact with. As our Artistic Director put it, "Thank you for believing in all our art form can be and always being the guy to step forward and say 'I got this. I got you.'"
April 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
the Women In Comedy Festival Producing Team
April is Women in Comedy Month and who better to honor than the indefatigable heroines of the Women in Comedy Festival. For eight years, this festival has celebrated women in comedy, seeking to bridge the comedy gender gap through providing talented women (and men) an opportunity to showcase their craft. While every festival needs a dedicated staff (the fest wouldn't be possible without assistant producers Christine Cannavo, Valerie Frank, Michelle McNulty, and Dave Sawyer), these three lead producers have made the collective mic drop of women in comedy heard 'round the nation. Elyse Schuerman, Michelle Barbara and Maria Ciampa have shared their improv, sketch and standup comedy talents with Boston for decades and banded together to form the Women in Comedy Festival in 2009 here at ImprovBoston. Their invaluable work has blazed the trail for thousands of funny women in Boston and for thousands more to come. We are proud to continue our partnership with the WICF and these Awesome producers year-round.
March 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Francesca "Yung Chess" Villa is wanted in 7 counties for being too fresh for life. With an unmatched swag that makes Kanye's butler look like Jeeves and an assembly of fresh hightop kicks that stretches well over a mile, Villa is a true game killa. And beyond cosmetic swag, her unflinching willingness to throw herself into and dominate any and all projects is what gives her the realest OG cred in the unruly streets of comedy.
Real talk, Francesca has brought a raw enthusiasm, energy and passion for comedy arts since her IB inception in 2012. She is a behind-the-scenes force, directing and producing shows including Improvised Dreamphone, Spice Girls: World Tour, Just the Duo of Us, The FranShow and ImprovBoston's monthly peril-fueled comedy showcase, LaughterRisk*. She has coached burgeoning crops of young comedians in the College Comedy Festival and routinely lends a hand in volunteer projects at the theater. Her performance creds are also impressive and include the ImprovBoston Family Show, All Access Improv, The ImprovBoston Holiday Spectacular, Devlin Down, Milk Money, and her masterpiece, BokCITY, among others. Yung Chess brings people together over their shared love for comedy like nobody else.
Even the hardest comedy warriors get sentimental sometimes. Yung reflects on her empire, "I just want people to have fun doing good work, and feel supported in this community."
February 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
"Maybe you’ve seen Sean Gilligan at a show as an enthusiastic member of the audience. Or maybe you’ve seen him at an IB town hall, explaining legal document or policy statement for Tom or Mike, or if you’ve attended an open board meeting, you’ve seen him explaining again to the rest of the board about compensation packages or HR policy. A partner at Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove, Sean has been a long serving member of the ImprovBoston Board of Directors. He has volunteered his expertise for years, guiding the theater through all the legal trials that a not-for profit arts organization faces. He has administered contracts with landlords, contractors, insurers, architects, accountants and the other professional services an organization like ours requires. And he has been significant in facilitating the move from Inman Square to Central Square, crafting trademark policy, the IP policy that we use for the video recording of performances, and agreements with other groups and performers so we stay out of the deep legal doo doo that is often right in front of us.
Sean is leaving the board after many years of unheralded but incredibly important volunteer service, and we thank him for his contribution and wish him the best in the future."
Write-up graciously provided by Board Member Roy Doolittle.
January 2016 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Super Fan. Volunteer. Video Runner. Host. Performer. Writer. Booker. Podcast Guest. Creator. Festival Curator. Producer. Competition Judge. Director. Comedy Nerd.
Kevin Quigley's exploits and evolution in the Boston comedy scene read like a biography on Alexander the Great, though not quite as ruthless. Few folks in Boston possess such inexorable drive for the craft and passion for all comedic forms. Kevin has put an immeasurable number of hours into his work at ImprovBoston, elevating the caliber of sketch, standup and storytelling and has, we believe, seen more shows at ImprovBoston than anyone else ever. Period.
Kevin has been involved at ImprovBoston for nearly ten years, getting his start as a video runner for Neutrino and making his way through one project after the other. In 2012, he found his baby in SketchHaus, where, to this day, he produces a weekly playground for local Boston sketch acts. His directing credits include Sketch Avengers, The August Monologues Duct Tape Revolution/World of Hurt. His producing credits include Comedy, America!, Hook, Let There Be Rock, Best of Boston Sketch Comedy and The ImprovBoston Holiday Spectacular. And that's not even half of the list.
Kevin has also pioneered outlets for progressive comedic forms including Wild Memory Nation and Night Moves - a show that unites local storytellers, OpenHaus - Boston's first sketch comedy open mic, LaughterRisk* - a variety show that pushes comedian's comfort zones and Super Gay Comedy Fun Time, which sought to elevate the presence of GLBT comedy.
Looking for Kevin? He'll be in the front row of the crowd, your biggest fan, with a Redbull in hand and a laugh that echoes his genuine fire for comedy. Thank you Kevin, for your enormous heart and relentless passion.
December 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Nate Lopez is a pillar of ImprovBoston. Nobody knows quite how he finds time for everything (maybe he's Santa?), but he supports the theater and everyone around him as a true life-long scholar of comedy. With unwavering determination, he jumps at every opportunity to elevate his craft - whether it be direction, production, teaching, coaching, performing, or binge-eating alcohol-infused ice cream bars (for the art, of course).
When we asked him to direct this year's GoreFest, he took the job without hesitation, despite the enormity of the undertaking. Undaunted, Nate led the cast in putting on one of the best damn completely sold out original musicals we've seen in years. Whether it's as a Comedy School instructor, Family Show director, Showcase show producer (Prom or Wedding anyone?), indie team coach or Mainstage cast member, Nate brings the same insatiable hunger, humility and generosity to all he does.
Nate single-handedly summed up everything wonderful about himself when he made a spur of the moment decision to get "General Tso's Chicken" tattooed in Chinese characters on his forearm...or at least that's what he believes it says.
Thank you, Nate. You are #IBAwesome.
November 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
We hold dear to the rare gems that leap at the opportunity to lead or assist with any project before them. With striking initiative, a mastery of communications and a twinkle in her eye, Taylor Cotter is one of these rare gems.
One of the most dang pleasant to work with, Taylor has lead the charge in a potpourri of projects whose expansiveness is second only to her immense kindness. Storming into the Boston comedy scene in 2013, Taylor performed with groups like ComedySportz Boston, Improv Jones and the indy troupe Cuddle Party. She quickly added the title of producer onto her resume with a variety of ImprovBoston projects like Dream Phone: Whose Got a Crush on You, So That Happened and the Harold Nigh: Fresh Blend Jam. As if this wasn't enough she became a director this year, leading the way with Nancy Drew, Truck Stop Diner and The Quarry. Perhaps the magnum opus of her young career, Taylor just wrapped ImprovBoston's first-ever Main Theater duo showcase, DoubledOver in which she provided an outlet for Boston's most talented duo acts to get the spotlight they deserve.
As she continues to crush everything in front of her and does so with a smile that shows she's in it for all the right reasons, Taylor shares "ImprovBoston has truly made my life so much better." Taylor - we want you to know the feeling goes both ways.
October 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
With an unmatched tenacity, tireless work ethic and a heart bigger than Donald Trump's ego, Mike Cox has led the Boston Comedy scene to new heights over the past several years. With a list of producing and directing credits that would make Mr. Claus weep, he has built bridges between theaters, carved performance opportunities for independent teams and pushed the boundaries of comedy production in the city. And even though at times he miraculously juggles more projects than anyone could fathom, he does so with a laid-back grace and that "Oh Mike Cox just entered the building" smile that forces you to be a happy person.
Mike found his way to ImprovBoston's Yes And Practice in 2012 and the funny bug bit hard. Soon after he made his way through the entire Comedy School improv curriculum and polished his comedy as a member of independent teams like Ch!co, The Harmondo and many more. In fact, it would be futile to list all of Mr. Cox's projects but some of the most notable ones include BAIT, which united the city's independent improv teams, current producer of Studio 40 and producer of ImprovBoston's inaugural upcoming duo showcase, DoubledOver.
Mike - countless independent teams share a deep gratitude for all you have done for them the past couple years. And the ImprovBoston community thanks you for showing what's possible when love of comedy and exceptional producing skills join forces.
September 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Luke Bruneaux is the bridge-builder of ImprovBoston with his unmatched tenacity, dedication and love for the craft. He is one of the most laid-back, friendly and thoughtful comedy proponents you will meet and with a sense of endearment and his knack for bringing folks of different stripes together, has garnered the monicker: "ImprovDad".
Luke is a longtime member of the long-running Boston indy staple Aeropuerto and currently performs in three ImprovBoston resident casts-- Family Show, All Access Improv, and Harold Night's Top Shelf team, Duchess. He has also been a key figure in projects including Atreus, INC, Double Feature, Spice Girls, Bok City, The Con Men, True Defective and more.
While Luke is inarguably hilarious onstage, his tireless and passionate work behind the scenes make him a textbook IB Awesome Award recipient. He skillfully produced a sold-out run of CageMatch from 2012-2013. He now is the creative producing force behind the monthly community-centred So That Happened, Cambridge's funniest talk show, where he recruits Boston cultural icons to tackle serious issues in a comedic setting. Luke has also worked wonders for the comedy scene outside the walls of ImprovBoston as a founding producer of the Riot Theater's Indie Night.
Thanks for making us all remember how cool a comedian can be, ImprovDad.
August 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Few minds have the ability to extract comedy from the raw, surreal and bizarre fringes of the human psyche. But Jamie Loftus dwells there comfortably.
A true comedic powerhouse, workhorse and leader, Jamie has led a march of boundary-pushing comedy at ImprovBoston since 2013, both in the spotlight and behind the scenes. As a producer, director, writer, instructor, comic, improviser, crew member and house manager, Jamie has left an indelible stamp on ImprovBoston and in the span of a few short years, has inspired fellow performers, co-workers and patrons alike to breathe new life into the art of comedy. Although she leaves for Los Angeles this month, she has left a ketchup handprint on everything she touched at this theater.
Jamie got her start in the front of house crew and quickly climbed the ranks, becoming a house manager and associate producer of the theater. She has produced a multitude of shows and events including the Boston Comedy Arts Festival, College Comedy Festival and Battle Royale.
She exhibited her prowess at all comedic forms as an improviser in the Family Show and All Access Improv, a sketch writer/director for Divorced Siblings, Basketball City, Death Wish, Girl Choir, Creating Creating Rem Lezar, The Holiday Spectacular, Bad Art and Farewell and a standup comic, appearing on Fox's Laughs, the Women In Comedy Festival, Boston Comedy Arts Festival, Laughing Devil Festival, Chicago Women's Funny Festival and as an opener for Kumail Nanjiani and Chris Hardwick.
Jamie Loftus is the only person at ImprovBoston to ever eat an entire can of dog food onstage.
July 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
The brilliant Amy Click has impacted more ImprovBoston shows over the last couple years than anyone thought possible. With infectious charisma, she lent her talents as a director, producer, performer and host all while maintaining an unparalleled professionalism.
Click is a shining product of the ImprovBoston pipeline, getting started with comedy classes in 2012 and being cast on Harold Night team Intervention in the spring of 2013. While remaining an active performer on Harold Night in teams including First Date and Houdini, she dipped her toes in many other acts including M'Dici, Aeropuerto, Baby Giraffes, Downtown IB, Space! Asteroid Mission, Red Alert, So That Happened and Party Quirks: The Show (Yes, THAT one) and ImprovBoston's Mainstage.
In 2013, she served as co-producer of Comedy Lab where she radically bolstered the presence and programming possibilities of ImprovBoston's home for experimental comedy. She also produced a handful of studio shows including The ImprovBoston Dating Game and Nancy Drew and the Improvised Story. As if all this wasn't enough, she co-directed Harold Night team War Cupcake and other indy teams. Ok phew. That should be it...
A comedic powerhouse to say the least, Click reflects on her time at IB with a bittersweet nostalgia, "I can't really describe how much this community means to me. This is the place where I learned to be funny, where I learned that I am funny. I've learned so much about how to be on stage, how to improvise, how to read a room. But even more importantly, this is the place that gave me a home in Boston."
We are sad to see Amy depart for the Great Golden State, but know that she will keep the masses laughing and continue her amazing work.
June 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
For the past 18 months, Ben Walsh served as the mastermind behind Harold Night, ImprovBoston's communal celebration of longform improv comedy. With a careful determination, producing proficience and brilliant execution, Ben built on Harold Night's legacy as a pillar of the ImprovBoston community. He's also just the kindest, most sincere guy you'll ever meet and put in countless hours to take Wednesday nights at ImprovBoston to a new level of funny.
Ben joined the ImprovBoston community in 2011 as a Comedy School student. He discovered a magnetic connection to longform improv and began exploring his love for the Harold with teams Birthday Milk, BANKWOLF and Houdini. He also appeared in the showcase show "Camp", which kickstarted a series of comedy shows exploring the culturally satirical momentous occasions of our lives. He shifted his talents from the stage to behind the scenes as director of Garbagetown and Rabbit and ultimately as producer of Harold Night. Ben found another outlet to flex his comedy muscles as co-producer of Harold Night's Wednesdaynight sister, Comedy Lab, raising the bar and opportunities for experimental comedy at ImprovBoston.
Though Ben steps down from his command post as producer of Harold Night, Ben will remain an integral member of the community as he looks to take on more performance opportunities. Thanks, Ben for your talent and vision that took Harold Night to a new place we never thought possible.
May 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
Alex Tennant is a comedy surgeon. In addition to being a dedicated Harold improviser, Alex is all about dissecting the art and looking at life through the lens of improvisational comedy. Tackling fragile topics in comedy such as gender representation, diversity, and a myriad others, Alex is an influential proponent of the power of comedy to shape lives and social conditions.
Alex was first introduced to improv in college as a member of Clark University's perennial College Comedy Festival champions at ImprovBoston, The Peapod Squad. Alex officially joined the ImprovBoston community post-college, performing at Harold Night with teams Eddy and Houdini and at Studio 40 with duo team Whistle, Whistle. Alex recently signed on to co-produce the Harold Night Jam, looking to shape the structure and vision of the final and most communal component of every Wednesday evening at the theater.
Last summer, Alex participated in the iO Summer Intensive in Chicago and her heart stayed there. We are sad to see Alex move to Chicago in September but rejoice in the intentional perspective she brings to comedy through her blog, producing and behind-the-scenes volunteering. Thank you Alex, for bringing such positive energy to our community and challenging us all to be better. You will be missed.
April 2015 IB Awesome Award goes to...
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 Ruckus, 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 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 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 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 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 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...
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...
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...
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 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 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 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--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 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.