Attitude Era, Histor-Improvisation

The improv scene has one city to thank for much of its success in mainstream. Chicago’s The Second City and Improv Olympic (later to be renamed to the recognizable iO) catapulted the improv performers to shows like Saturday Night Live (SNL) and other public avenues. As we spoke to in previous blogs, the early days of improv in the midwest is similar to the original World Wrestling Federation (WWF) – naturally, it would evolve to the Attitude Era.

Charna’s iO and Alexandar’s Second City had sold out crowds with their unique, yet similar styles. This left the gap for an army of misfits that didn’t have a home. Welcome Mick Napier and Company, also known to many comedians as The Annoyance. The Voodoo Comedy site did the Colorado exclusive interview with owner and founder of Annoyance in A Conversation with Mick. Mick Napier, along with instructing and performing, has penned two books and countless incredible articles and blogs.

The way Mick Napier approaches improv comedy is grounding, yet uplifting. Napier has directed and instructed many notable names including Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and Amy Sedaris. To name a few; a very, very few. His no-nonsense approach has led to people flocking to Chicago to learn from him and his book is every improviser’s must-have. Mick Napier is one hell of a teacher, with one hell of a global reach. Beyond improvisation, Napier teaches people how to be better people.

The world famous Annoyance Theater has roots in the windy city, but has managed to have a global impact on improvisation. Mick Napier started the Annoyance and has a storied list of legendary improv comedians and comedienne alumn. Some of the Annoyance alumn include Martin DeMaat, Kate Flannery, Jeff Garlin, Jane Lynch, Susan Messing, Amy Sedaris and Matt Walsch – to name a very, very few.

The theater opened as Metraform originally, later moving into a building – late 1980s (1987). The Annoyance then opened the infamous Co-Ed Prison Sluts which had a record 11 years running with a rotating cast. All of this success would translate into a new location in the uptown Chicago area and satellite locations in New York City, serving the East Coast.

The Attitude Era or improv shaped what many know as improv comedy – from east to west. The nest blog will highlight the reach Chicago had east, then west. Improv everywhere!
Jon Jon and everything he do
Jon Jon Lannen is a best-selling author of the Giraffe children’s book series. He is an instructor, performer and writer for the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. More on him here.