I was born in The Bronx, New York in 1953. I grew up there and have lived in New York for most of my life, currently in the burbs wondering why I moved.
I got involved with improv through taking classes at Chicago City Limits in the late '70s. The director of the original company, George Todisco was a huge influence on me, as were all of those original cast members, especially the brilliant Carol Schindler. I was asked to perform with the first touring company and did some New York shows as well.
Soon after, I met my next major influence, Tom Soter, in a CCL class. He asked me to be part of his cable TV comedy show, Videosyncracies, where I learned much from Tom about how to keep my creative "engine" humming and contributed both as an actor and writer. Several years later, I took classes with Michael Rock and performed in association with Michael Gelman of Second City.
I re-connected with Tom Soter recently, taking classes with him and re-discovering my love of improv. Tom also invited me to participate in Sunday Night Improv. The concept of jamming with people I don't know, who are the cream of the crop from various improv companies and backgrounds, is very exciting to me. It's great to be making that instant connection with other performers who all speak the same improv language.
My best improv experience was being onstage with the original Chicago City Limits cast, playing Jesus in a talk-show scene. My worst experience? Blocked it out. I've also written over 100 TV commercials for ad agencies and done stand-up at Gotham Comedy Club.
To me, improv is a pure source of excitement that informs any other creative outlet I pursue. Where else do you get to be a punk rocker named Johnny Phlegm one minute and a man who's been wounded by ping-pong balls, the next?
See ALAN BRAUNSTEIN in SUNDAY NIGHT IMPROV, on MAY 18 at 7 P.M. at 236 WEST 78TH STREET!