Improv | St. Louis Public Radio

Improv

From left, Bob Baker, John Larson and Ken Haller joined host Don Marsh on Thursday's episode about improvisation.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis on the Air

Improvisation is a skill often associated with jazz music or comedy. But on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh spoke with three individuals who use it in their daily lives.

Bob Baker, John Larson and Ken Haller joined Marsh to discuss the quirky talent.

While some may have the notion that improv artists just “wing it,” Baker, founder and director of the Improv Comedy Cabaret, said there is actually a framework that exists when improvising.

Members of St. Louis' Improv Shop -- Tyler Crandall, Andrew Langerak, Erinne Haberl, Daniel Westheimer, Asia Thomas, Sue Koppel -- perform on stage in this file photo.
Provided | Improv Shop

We’ve all had that dream. You know, the one where you’re naked on stage and the audience is laughing.

For an improv performer, that’s no nightmare; that’s life. OK, they're wearing clothes but they're emotionally naked, working without a script, responding off the cuff to random cues from the audience and their co-performers.

Improvisers Phoebe Richards and Chris Clark in an improv scene
Larry Vorpmi

When you think of improv comedy, you’re more likely to think of Chicago than St. Louis.

 

Chicago has well known theaters like The Second City and iO, which have given many famous actors and actresses their start. But St. Louis has a theater of its own, and while it may be under the radar, it’s attracting a growing number of students and audiences.

 

The Improv Shop opened its doors in early 2014, but it existed years before that. Its founder, Kevin McKernan, moved back to his hometown of St. Louis in 2009 after studying and performing improv in Chicago.