WHO WERE YOUR ACTING/IMPROV INFLUENCES, ROLE MODELS? Like a lot of people my age, I used to love to watch “Whose Line is it Anyway?” which came on the air when I was 14. Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, and Ryan Stiles were the main guys on that show and I thought they were all brilliant. I also grew up watching Saturday Night Live and knowing that Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Phil Hartman, Will Ferrell, and Amy Poehler all started out with either Second City or The Groundlings certainly piqued my interest in improv. I watched a ton of Robin Williams and Jim Carrey movies and knowing how notorious they both are with ad libbing helped to plant the seed in me.
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN IMPROV? I was born in Alexandria, VA and grew up in nearby Fairfax County. We did a little bit of improv in my high school acting classes and I loved it immediately. I also ad libbed sometimes in rehearsal for school plays and sometimes our director would let me keep that stuff for the show.
WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF PERFORMING? I always like to say that I love acting and I love writing and improv is like doing both at the same time. Of course the most I get out of it is simply the joy of performing, which is what I also get out of stand-up and scripted acting. But there's something liberating about going on without a script. There's no chance I'll forget a line.
WHO WERE YOUR TEACHERS? One of the first things I did when I got to New York was take Nancy Lombardo's Improv Levels I and II classes at the Manhattan Comedy School. I've also taken the 4-hour intensive with Carol Schindler and of course, the 5:30 class with Tom Soter on Sundays before the show.
WHAT DO YOU GET FROM DOING SUNDAY NIGHT IMPROV? IS IT FUN? The show is a blast. As much as I enjoy playing for large crowds, the intimacy of the small space is part of the fun. It's almost like performing in a classroom. I'm grateful for any opportunity to get in front of people and for sharpening the craft of improv. And this show allows me to do both.
DESCRIBE YOUR MOST CHALLENGING IMPROV MOMENT? Any time we have to do something with music. I am not a singer at all. I like to say my singing sounds like a cat being stabbed with another cat. So I always get nervous and uncomfortable when I have to play an improv game that involves singing. I try to be as funny as I can and hopefully the audience takes my off-key crooning as part of the joke.
YOUR MOST REWARDING IMPROV WORK? Sometimes I think my audition for Sunday Night Improv is the best work I've ever done. But really, any time the crowd is 10 or more people, those are the most fun shows. I remember shows we did on New Years Day and on Labor Day weekend. They were packed houses. I feel like I do my best work in front of those audiences. It comes from a need to please people. The more people I need to please, the better I do.
DONE ANY WORK IN TV? FILMS? SCRIPTED THEATER?Yay! I get to recite my resume! I've been on episodes of Celebrity Ghost Stories, Evil I, Stalked, Tainted Dreams, andMonumental Mysteries. I was in a short student film called Troublesome Man and a promo called Man, Oh Man. I was in the College Humor Video, Five Second Talent Show part 3 and Wholesame Lane's Joke of the Day Show. I was in a dual production of Richard II and Richard III at the Times Square Arts Center in 2011 and in a Guerrilla PR stunt for the Comedy Central show Drunk History as Al Capone.
WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO GO WITH THIS? I love doing improv, I hope I always do it, and that's it's an integral part of my career. But I'm not certain exactly what role it will play. It definitely helps me to be a better actor because a lot of the principles are the same. I have an idea for an animated series as well as several movies. I want to eventually release a stand-up album. Basically, I want to act and write in movies and television and find time to do stand-up and improv too.
WORST IMPROV EXPERIENCE? I went to a class in which a guy showed up with his 16 year old daughter and about ten of her friends. The girls acted like teenage girls (that is to say, like the worst people on earth) and the father was an obnoxious ass the whole time. It was a nightmare.
SEE IAN KORANEK AT SUNDAY NIGHT IMPROV ON SUNDAY, APRIL 27, 7 P.M.!