CIF18 Workshops

CIF18 Past Workshops:

Tuesday April 21

Dan Bakkedahl 7pm-9pm @ Stage 773 ($45, 12max)
The focus of this workshop will be on conversation. The real meat of any show is scene work and the meat of any scene is good conversation. But what makes an interesting conversation? We will aim for real interaction and honest opinions between characters and allow the laughs to be what they should be, a byproduct.


Dan Bakkedahl is an actor and improviser who got his start in improvisation at Chicago’s iO. He later went on to tour with, and perform on The Mainstage of, The Second City.  Dan was a founding member of several ground breaking shows and ensembles while in Chicago including, 4Square, ZUMPF and Trainwreck. During his 10 year tenure in Chicago Dan taught at iO, The Second City and did numerous private workshops focusing on honesty in scene work. His television and film credits include The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, “The Heat”, Veep, Legit, Community and “Observe and Report”.

Friday April 24

Andrew McMasters and Joel Dale 3pm-5pm @ Stage 773 ($40, 15max) – SOLD OUT!
Plumb the depths of your character to deliver stand out story telling. Learn how to go past your normal expectations, surprising your own thinking, and connecting with the details around you to create memorable scenes you’ll want to keep doing. Learn how depth choices increase the breadth of a scene and how a breadth choice can awaken your mind and your emotions to go deeper. This workshop will put you in uncomfortable positions and ask you to break patterns to emotionally connect and create the best parts of your show.


Andrew McMasters has been improvising for over 25 years, and is the Artistic Director of Jet City Improv in Seattle Wa. He has a BA in Theater from Temple U in Philadelphia and a MFA in Drama from the University of Washington. His training is physically based theater, using body and movement to tell a story rather than words. He has created and directed over 20 new ensemble productions for over the last 12 years, and teaches locally in Seattle and internationally.

Joel Dale has been improvising for 18 years and is the Artistic Director of Improsia, The Temporary People, and formerly the Seattle Neutrino Project. He creates and performs original essays, comedy, and stand-up throughout Seattle and is an associate editor for where he writes all of their movie reviews.

Bill Arnett 4pm-6pm  @ Stage 773 ($50, 16max)
Is our perception of correct play are cutting us off from good scenes? Many of the traditional improv bogeymen are quite common in our lives and in those of the characters we meet in plays, books and movies. Why aren’t they afraid of asking questions, talk about people who aren’t there, or have conflict? This workshop will ask players to set aside
what improv has taught them and instead look to the rules of life. By playing our scenes as truly real we better connect with the moment and allow compelling, funny scenes to flourish. Our mantra will be if it happens in life it can happen on stage.


Bill Arnett has been improvising in Chicago for 16 years, performing with some of the most popular and esteemed groups. As an instructor of improvisation he has traveled internationally always bringing his
depth of knowledge and remarkable eye for improv problem solving. The former head of the iO Theater training center, he launched the Chicago Improv Studio as a way to explore the concepts introduced in his forthcoming book The Complete Improviser.

Sat April 25

Joe Bill 11am-4pm Intensive @ 1st Floor Athenaeum Theater ($60, 16max)  – SOLD OUT
The focus of this workshop will be bringing the power of emotional depth and point of view to your improvised Characters and Scenes. We’ll work with understanding the vital differences in Playing for Truth and Playing for Funny & Short Form/Games vs. Long Form. I’ll include personal feedback and ideas for things that you can play with, going forward as new tools on your improv tool belt. I’ll also spend some time troubleshooting issues that YOU the improvisers bring to workshop in order to get to clarity or just recognize patterns to be broken. This workshop will perfectly augment ongoing study of Characters and Scene, Long & Short Form Improvisation and Harold, as well as benefit the Improviser that is currently performing or aspiring to perform with a team or group.


Joe Bill has performed with, coached & directed a vast number of successful groups and formats including The Screw Puppies at Annoyance, The Del Tones, The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience and Georgia Pacific (originators of The BAT) at iO Chicago. He directs and performs in Chica Go-Go and is a guest performer in The Scene at The PIT in New York City and he’s frequently a guest improviser in Let’s Have A Ball and ASSSSCAT 3000 at UCB Theater in New York & L.A. In 2015 Joe undertakes an International Tour of Improvisational Duo Shows, paired with some of the best Duo Improvisers in the World. In late January, Joe headlined with longtime friend and Chicago Improv Goddess Susan Messing in Messing With a Friend at the Miami Improv Festival. The rest of 2015 Joe plays with Lee White (CRUMBS – Winnipeg) in their show PARADIGM, in the U.K. He’s back in April with longtime partner Mark Sutton in BASSPROV (2009 Nichols & May Award for Outstanding Improv Duo) at The Chicago Improv Festival after playing in Paris with International Improv Legend Patti Stiles (AD – Impro Melbourne) in their show Our Play and in the Festival Cast of Festival Subito!, including a new Duo with Israeli Powerhouse Inbal Lori in Brest, France. He’ll play with partner David Razowsky (Host A.D.D. Comedy Podcast) in Razowsky & Bill, and with Jill Bernard (Huge Improv Theater – Mpls.) in SCRAM! and much more through the end of 2015. Joe was one of the co-founders of Annoyance Theater and has performed, directed, taught and acted as an Artistic Adviser for a number of Improvisation/Comedy Theaters & Festivals all over North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa and at every major Improv Festival in The United States. He first studied Improvisation in High School in 1977.

Rob Belushi and Jon Barinholtz 1pm-3pm @ Stage 773 ($50, 20 max)
How do you make your scene register as real? Or leave the audience to continue to remember that laugh they gave? By grounding your creativity with specifics. We spend a lot of time learning the rules of improv and working on our performances as a whole–but sometimes isolating the simplest muscle in our craft can be a path to creative joy. We will be spending the day working that muscle to see how specifics can be one of our greatest tools to leave our own, individual impression on the scene and the audience and how it can lead us to freedom on stage. We will be looking at it from the perspective of relationship to our partner and to the world we actively surround ourselves in. Simply put, the specifics you inject into the scene are the majority of your creation and expression, and are always the gifts that are the most fun to play with for you, your partner and the audience–whether it be in rehearsal, on-stage or in an on-camera audition.

RobBelushiCIF18          IkeBarinholtzCIF18

Rob Belushi lives in Los Angeles, matriculating there from Chicago where he performed at theaters such as Steppenwolf, Northlight and Writer’s Theatre and is an alum of the Second City Las Vegas resident company, as well as the Second City National Touring Company. He has headlined the Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas and Charleston Improv Festivals. He has taught improv for Second City in Vegas, Chicago and currently in Hollywood, as well as colleges and improv theaters nationwide. Some of his recent TV credits include: The Mentalist (CBS), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) How I Met Your Mother (CBS), The Goodwin Games (FOX), and The Joe Schmo Show (Spike). Film credits include Devil’s Due (20th Century Fox), Heebie Jeebies (SyFy), Valentines Day (Warner Bros), Thunderstruck (Warner Bros). Rob grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles and graduated with honors from Wesleyan University (CT) as well as The School at Steppenwolf (Chicago).

Jon Barinholtz was born and raised in Chicago and is a proud alum of The Second City Conservatory, iO, The Annoyance Theatre, and Steppenwolf Theatre. Jon moved to Los Angeles in the Summer of ’09 where he enjoys performing with his sketch and video group Sad On Vacation ( and in various improv shows all over the city, with Sheldon (Comedy Central Stage, Chicago Improv Fest) being his favorite. You might have seen Jon on the old TV (television) on The New Girl and The Mindy Project (FOX), Parks and Recreation (NBC), Happy Endings (ABC), Getting On (HBO), Key and Peele and Pie Guys (Comedy Central), The McCarthys (CBS), or on the big screen in Dumb and Dumber Too. Jon wants you to know at one point in his life he thought he had a chance to play in the NBA, and was very wrong about that thought.

Andrew Eninger 2pm-5pm @ Stage 773 ($60, 16 max)
Learn techniques to create improvised solo scenes, characters and long form pieces. In a supportive and fast-paced environment, you will gain the confidence and techniques to improvise monologues, multi-character scenes and even audience interactive bits. Whether you have secret dreams of creating your own improvised solo show or are just looking for a kick in the pants to improve your ensemble work, you will strengthen your artistic voice and deepen your presence on stage.


Andy Eninger is a Chicago-based writer, improviser and director. He serves as the Head of the Writing Program for Second City’s Training Center in Chicago, where he also teaches storytelling to writers and corporations. Andy is the After-Dark Award winning composer for “Bandgeeks: A Halftime Musical,” which he also directed. Other directing credits include “Little House on the Parody,” “A Woman’s Path” and “Lady Balls” for the Annoyance Theater, “Period Piece” for The Playground Theater. Andy’s improvised solo show “Sybil” has been seen around the world, and was featured in the book “Shortcuts to Longform Improvisation.”

Sun April 26

Susan Messing 10am-12pm @ Stage 773 ($55, 16 max)  – SOLD OUT
Sick and tired of blaming Humpy Girl and Creepy Boy for your onstage misfortunes? This workshop gives you easy tools so that you can play with ANYONE*.
*99% of the time. Cannot guarantee 1%.


Susan Messing, a NJ native and graduate of Northwestern University’s Theatre School, has been an improviser and comedian for over twenty-five years. In the course of her career, she has been named “Improviser of the Year” at the Chicago Improv Festival, “Best Improviser” by the Chicago Reader, and “Funniest Woman in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine. Messing is an alumna of the iO Theater and the Second City Mainstage, as well as a founding member of Chicago’s infamous Annoyance Theatre. Susan created and teaches her curriculum at iO Chicago, iO West in Hollywood, The Annoyance Theatre, The Second City, and around the world. She also teaches classes at DePaul University and the School at Steppenwolf. Her standup act with her puppet, Jolly, was featured at the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend and NBC’s Late Fridays. Messing has taught Improv & Sketch at the University of Chicago intermittently since 2008. She has also performed in all five TBS Just For Laughs Festivals in Chicago, and every Chicago Improv Festival since it began seventeen years ago. Susan now twats @MessingSusan.

Dina Fackis 12pm-2pm @ Stage 773 ($45, 12max) – SOLD OUT!
LONGER, STRONGER and GROUNDED– This workshop will explore what it takes to give scenes longevity and the strongest and most grounded POV.


Dina Fackis has toured with and directed The Second City National Touring Company and has taught/ performed/directed all over the great city of Chicago.In 2011, Dina was honored to headline the Denver Improv Festival as a representative of Virgin Daiquiri; that same year iO Chicago graced her with the title of Improvisor of the Year. In 2012, Dina executive produced Virgin Daiquiri’s first album, FOOD BABY, now available on iTunes. Dina now performs regularly with Virgin Daiquiri at iO Chicago- where she also co-created CUFFS and DBAG. She has also had the honor of working at Steppenwolf and ATC.

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