Improv, Improv for Educators, Private Coaching
Dana Shulman is an actor, improviser, teacher, coach, and silly long distance runner originally from Framingham, Massachusetts and currently in a long term relationship with New York City. She is a faculty member, producer, and performer at The Peoples Improv Theater and is a founding member of independent improv team Student Driver (est. 2010) who has headlined and produced The PIT’s weekly show Indie Road and annual festival Indie-Pendence Day for the last decade. She loves playing with her cats Murphy and Monster, her partner Giancarlo, and all of her various teams including ComedySportz NYC. Dana is the co-founder of Socially Distant Improv, an online comedy network that originated as a response to quarantine and is continuing to provide a platform for all voices. She can’t guarantee it’s updated, but you can always find Dana at www.danashulman.com or @onedanaatatime, @
Will Purpura is a comedian, writer, and actor based in New York City. He studied dramatic writing at New York University receiving a BFA and has since written award-winning plays and screenplays. He served as Artistic Director at the PIT Chapel Hill where he also taught, produced, and performed stand up, improv and sketch comedy. Will has performed stand-up in the Westside Comedy Festival (LA) the North Carolina Comedy Festival (Greensboro), and Devil Cup Comedy Festival (NY). He was a finalist in both the 2019 NC’s Funniest Competition and the 2020 Ultimate Comic Challenge in North Carolina. He is currently part of the Artistic Team at the PIT in New York.
Will is also available for private 1:1 coaching! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!
Improv, Private Coaching
Kimberly Alu has been an actor and improviser for the better part of 10 years. Her credits include roles in “New Girl” and “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, as well as extensive off Broadway credits including performances at The Duke on 42nd Street. Currently, you can catch Kim live with her musical improv house team YETÏ every Wednesday at the PIT Striker Stage AT 6PM or with her sketch house team Kennedy’s Mistress (see website for next performance). Keep up with Kimberly by checking her website AluWho.com or by following her on Instagram at @alu_who
Kim is also available for private 1:1 coaching! Please email email@example.com for more info!
Film/TV/Streaming, Acting, Screenwriting, Directing
Joe Whelski is an award winning NYC Director, Writer, Producer, Instructor & SAG-AFTRA and Equity Actor. His feature indie comedy “Yellow Scare” (director and co-producer), won best “Best Comedy” at the Golden Door International Film Festival (NJ), and his darkly comedic web series “Mystery Mansion” (director and co-producer), won “Best TV Pilot” at the Hoboken International Film Festival. His original work has been featured on Funny or Die and the UK’s number one Star Wars fan site, JediNews. Joe directed the national commercial campaign for Unpakt.com, and created international commercials for The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Born Free USA, and DAVSS (featuring ‘Doctor Who’ number 4, Tom Baker). His latest national commercial for the Duke Lemur Center features the VO of John Cleese. Joe is a founding member and creative director for the Magnet Theater Video Lab. As an actor, Joe has played various characters on ABC’s “One Life to Live”, appeared on “SNL”, and has starred in over 30 stage productions in NYC, NJ & PA. He’s had the privilege of working for legendary directors Ridley Scott, Sydney Pollack, Anne Bogart, and David Hugh Jones. He is an alumni of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, The New School, The School for Film and Television, and earned his BFA in Communication Design from Kutztown University in PA (while also studying design at Buckinghamshire College, England).
Improv, Acting, Solo Performance, Private Coaching
Patrick McCartney is an actor and Improviser. He got his start in Chicago in the late 1990’s where he studied with Del Close and Mick Napier. He spent two years in Chicago’s Second City Touring Company Blue Co where he toured the country with Ali Farahnakian, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. His love of the theater kept him working steadily in plays outside of the world of improv. He was a member of Chicago’s Center Theater Ensemble and did plays at Stage Left, Steppenwolf and The Bailiwick. He moved to LA briefly where he studied with Ivana Chubbuck. In NYC he became a regular at ASSSSCAT and a teacher at the first UCB space. He was a member of Shira Piven’s Water Ensemble where he starred in Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Pilgrims” at the Tribeca Playhouse. He was an original member of the improv groups “Centralia” and “Beer. Shark. Mice.” He’s done television and film including Elf, “Conan O’Brien”, “Wake Up, Ron Burgundy” and “Law and Order”. He has recently returned to the world of improv and has been teaching at the PIT. Patrick is a member of Centralia who perform Saturday nights at the PIT Loft. Patrick’s solo show about addiction and recovery Sinister Kid is currently playing at The PIT loft on Friday nights.
Stay updated on all things Patrick at www.patmccartney.com
Patrick is also available for private 1:1 coaching! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!
Tom specializes in workplace gossip. His qualifications include: 1 high school diploma, 2 bachelors degrees (William & Mary), 3 years in Manhattan, 4 years of improv, 5 toes on each foot, 6 former restaurant jobs, and 7 samurai. He loves theater marketing & producing indie comedy. He loves theater & theatre. He’s from Pittsburgh. @tomkalnasty
Tom is also available for private 1:1 Tech Consultations for Live-streaming & coaching for Adobe Premiere Pro! Please email email@example.com for more info.
Founder of The Peoples Improv Theater
Writing and Auditioning for SNL
Ali Reza Farahnakian was born in Esfahan, Iran in the fall of ‘68. He came to America in the summer of ‘69. He is an immigrant. He is not eligible to seek the office of the presidency in America and is therefore a second class citizen in this country. Maybe that’s why he got into “comedy”. His teachers include Michael McCarthy, Charna Halpern, Del Close, Maryanne Thebus and Wynn Handman. He is an alumnus of ImprovOlympic, The Second City Chicago and SNL. He was a founding member of UCB and The PIT. He has acted at The Steppenwolf, BAM, and Playwrights Horizon. He has been in numerous TV shows, commercials, films and voiceovers. He has been doing this work for over three decades because he loves it and because it doesn’t seem like work. We started The PIT in 2002 in New York City.
You can check out his website at www.AliRezaFarahnakian.com.
Spread the Word !
Artistic Team, Instructor
Sketch Writing, Producing, Youth Classes, Private Coaching
Matt is a director, producer, performer, writer, and proud member of the PIT community. Matt is the supervising producer of Group Kid, a comedy collective producing balls-to-the-wall, immersive, themed sketch shows bimonthly at the PIT.
Matt is also available for private 1:1 coaching! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!
Emily is a New York native who can be seen killing it in the comedy scene. Born and raised in Eastchester, Westchester, Emily quickly found an interest in entertainment and dolls. Check out the other things Emily can do at www.emilyasaro.com. You can also Google her. She likes that.
Emily is also available for private 1:1 coaching! Please email email@example.com for more info!
Improv, Stand Up
Chris was a regular host for TV Land’s “Prime Movies” and has made appearances on NBC’s “Blacklist”, Bravo, IFC, E Television, Hulu, Netflix, Starz and The Discovery Channel. He also was selected to represent New York on the TV show “World Cup Comedy” produced by Kelsey Grammar.
Chris has been featured in the feature films “The Co-Exist Comedy tour,” “Twenty Million People” “The Best Man” and “Generation Iron 2”.
He’s a regular standup around New York and you can catch him on Saturday nights at 8pm with the Pit’s longest running house team The Baldwins.
Listen below to hear more about Chris’ teaching style and improv philosophy, and learn more about The PIT in his discussion with PIT Founder Ali Farahnakian.
Anoo Tree Brod is an award winning actress and speaker, performing improv professionally for the past 20 years with Transactors Improv Company, the longest running improv company in the Southeast. She is a founding member of Danny Canoe, and also performs with various other improv companies in the Triangle, as well as producing and directing. In addition to performing on stage and in film, she teaches improv in various locations throughout the U.S. to corporations, organizations and individuals who want to enhance leadership and communication skills in creative and unique ways. She recently became an adjunct Professor at UNC’s Kenan Flagler School of Business teaching Applied Improv to Masters of Accounting (MAC) students. She loves spreading the joy of improv far and wide!
TV Spec Script Writing
Sketch Writing, Character Classes
LaGina Hill is a writer, comedian, and director based in Brooklyn, New York. She attended NYU, receiving a BFA in Theater. As a performer, she is an alum of Characters Welcome at UCB, an honor that has earned her invitations to Austin Sketchfest, the Women In Comedy Festival, SOLOCOM, and NYC Sketchfest. As a comedy writer, her work has appeared at Funny Or Die, The Root, FUSION TV, Horizon Theater (Atlanta), The Future Is Female Festival, and the People’s Improv Theater. Since 2015, LaGina has directed Super Sketch Tuesday, the house sketch program at The Peoples Improv Theater. Last year, she was named The Peoples Improv Theater’s “Best Director.” In 2019, her pitch for her pilot “Wonderland” won top honors at the Women in Comedy Festival and merited a mentorship from HBO and industry exposure at TruTV, NBC, CBS, Pearl Street Films. Currently, the pilot script for “Wonderland” is a semifinalist for the 2020 Cinestory Fellowship. In her spare time, she volunteers with Young Storytellers, an after school writing program, and tries to get into as much trouble as possible.
LaGina is also available for Private 1:1 Coaching for character work and stand up! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Taren Sterry is a proud Pitizen and has been teaching and performing at the PIT for over 15 years. She loves helping adults work through their fears both on the stage and in life. Taren teaches Level 0 and Improv Your Public Speaking, she performed with the now infamous improv groups Fancy Dragon and Tomahawk.
Taren is also available for Private 1:1 sessions for Public Speaking and Life & Career coaching. Please email email@example.com for more info.
Christi Chiello is a comedian based in NYC. She made her television debut on Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle, opposite legend Jimmy Carr. She was named a “New Face of Comedy” at the International Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and has appeared on Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack, Comedy Knockout & IFC’s Comedy Crib. Christi wrote and stars in her acclaimed one woman show It’s Christi, B*tch! which had sold out showings at Joe’s Pub and Ars Nova, was featured in the New York Times and hailed a “must see comedy event” by Time Out New York. Currently, Christi stars in Chris Gethard Presents on Manhattan Neighborhood Network. You can hear her as Baby Saffron on the PBS Kid’s show Pinkalicious and Peterrific and see her in national television commercials for IKEA. She hosts her own show Christi Chiello’s Lost and Found at The Stand & is the warm-up comic for The XChange Rate on Yahoo! Christi is the opening act for Nicole Byer at clubs and theatres all over the country and you can see her in the upcoming season of This Joka starring Will Smith on Quibi. Fore more information you can visit christichiello.com or follow her @christichiello!
Christi teaches annual intensive workshops at Muhlenberg College and Arts Quest in PA. She is the founder of “Finding Your Voice” at QED and has sold out private & group classes on ZOOM. In 2018 Christi was a faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College and taught the entire Spring Semester of Stand Up Comedy 101. She is excited to bring her teaching styles to the PIT!
Christi is also available for private 1:1 coaching! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!
Improv for Educators, Youth Classes
Roy Rodriguez is a veteran K-12 Theatre Teacher and Director based in College Station, Texas. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Texas A&M University. As a 5th grader, Roy’s childhood friends told him that he wasn’t funny enough for theatre class. Since then, Roy has made it his life’s mission to prove them wrong. As a teacher, director and performer, Roy has found unique ways to reach his audiences and students- from his world famous improv Friday lessons to his charity improv shows. Roy sees his work in theatre as a way to give back to his high school theatre teacher, Charlotte Brown, who always believed in him. Roy has worked closely with Dana Shulman as a contributor/host on Socially Distant Improv and is a graduate of her remote level 1 improv course from The PIT. Roy has been trained in theatre curriculum and directing from iTheatrics (Level 2 Educator), Broadway Teachers Workshop and the Texas Educational Theatre Association. He serves as a Board Member of Navasota Theatre Alliance and as an official One Act Play Adjudicator for the State of Texas.
Kihresha is an improviser and actor who hails from Cleveland. She has performed and studied at Florida Studio Theatre with FST Improv. She is currently performing with the indie team Last Team on the Left.
On stage Kihresha has recently performed new works with Tantrum Theater and Shakespeare in bars with Backroom Shakes here in NYC. Last but not least she is an occasional poet, amateur ukulele player, and an Adam Sandler enthusiast. To learn more and see what she up to next you can check out her Instagram @redefinedby_k.
Improv, Public Speaking
Sunny Atwal has over a decade’s worth of public speaking experience. He is a former State Champion in poetry. He has written, acted, and produced several shows for the Indy Fringe festival as well as his own 45 minute Solo Show, Taxi Cab Driver, at SOLOCOM 2019. Sunny has also hosted for the Indy Visitor’s Channel which played throughout Indianapolis hotels explaining tourist attractions. Additionally, he produces an all South Asian casted Improv Comedy show for The People’s Improv theater.
Improv, Life Skills
Mandy Schmieder has been teaching improv comedy for over a decade, and currently teaches at The Peoples Improv Theater in NYC. In addition, she uses the principles of improv to teach communicatation and leadership skills to organizations all over the country. Corporate clients include NYU School of Business, Columbia School of Business, Friedman Accounting, and Bloomberg, Amgen, and others. She received her M.F.A. in Acting from UC-Irvine, where she was an Artsbridge teaching scholar. She produces & writes original content including solo shows and web series, and has performed from coast to coast. You can see her on your TV in commercials for Geico, GE, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. She was a recurring guest on all four seasons of Inside Amy Schumer and is currently touring the festival circuit with her short film, Unnatural. She lives with her husband in NYC, where they’re raising two tiny humans named Teddy & Veda. www.mandyschmieder.com
Comedian David Rey Martinez has been doing comedy since 2011. He found comedy after a breakup and found that comedy is second love of his life, the first love is raising his son.
As of 2013 till the present he has been a writer or performer in the New York Comedy Festival. He has performed in many festivals like Improvfest, the New York Musical Improv Festival, Jersey City Comedy Festival, Harlem Comedy Festival, Jersey City Virtual Comedy Festival and Philly Improv Festival. His voice was featured in the Hollywood Puppet show. He appeared on The Chris Gethard Presents Show.
Lisa has been helping people find and share their story for more than twenty years. She is an improviser and storyteller originally from North Carolina. She studied performance at Appalachian State University and has twice been awarded National Board Certification.
Currently, Lisa is making final edits to her gothic memoir Burning Barbies. You can see her storytelling show Becoming a Noble Gas on Socially Distant Improv’s Instagram or several of her short films on the The Sequestered Film Festival’s website.
Hi! I’m Magdalena (Magda) Cychowski – a stand-up comedian, writer, and tall person. I received my BFA in Drama (theatrical, not personal) from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. I perform stand-up around NYC and my character videos have been featured on WhoHaha and Funny or Die. In November of 2019, I wrote and produced my one-woman show My Mom’s Funeral (about my actual dead mom) at The PIT’s SOLOCOMM fest. It’s currently being workshopped as a full-length piece for… whenever the world opens again. My writing has been featured in Modern Loss, Bust Magazine, and my thesis play Little Invisible Backpacks (also about my dead mom, sensing a trend?) was featured at the Midtown International Theatre Festival and the Riant Theatre’s Strawberry One-Act Festival, for which I won the award for Best Director. You can find more character/sketch videos on my website magdalenacychowski.com.
Acting & Auditioning
Geovonday Jones is a New York City-based actor, director, and coach. Most recently, he directed Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Motherfucker with the Hat and Suzan-Lori Park’s In the Blood. Other Credits: Jag Fest 4.0’s workshop, Irondale‘s production of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat (Brucie), Waterwell’s Ajax (Ensemble), Ancram Opera House’s production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother Size (Ogun), New Works Brooklyn’s staged reading of Nambi Kelley’s Translation of Likes (Too Legit To Quit). Regional: Detroit’67, Peter and the Starcatcher, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Rumors, and Uncle Vanya. Geo has an MFA in Acting.
Geovonday is also available for private 1:1 coaching! Please email email@example.com for more info!
Dante is a video editor and comedian based in NYC. He’s edited and animated commercials for Broadway shows as well as various projection mapping projects across the country. You may have seen his work on TV, in Time Square, at the Museum of the Bible in DC, the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City, and Union Station in St. Louis.
Dante has also been a writer/performer on multiple sketch teams. He is currently on a PIT sketch house team, DiscoTheque support. He’s written, edited and starred in short films that have been accepted in many and Won in several Film Festivals across the globe.
Scott is a comedy writer, and also a practicing trial attorney. He is the head writer and director of the sketch comedy group, Klondike 237, which performed regularly at ImprovBoston in Cambridge, MA. He was a sketch writer for Old School Game Show, and was an Associate Producer of SketchHaus, a weekly, live sketch show. He also taught sketch comedy at ImprovBoston.
Jerry Charles Minor Jr. is an American actor, comedian and writer known for his comedic roles in numerous television programs such as Mr. Show, Saturday Night Live, Trigger Happy TV, Delocated, Brickleberry, U
Comedian and Staff Writer for Comedy Central’s The Graham Norton Effect
Nicole Korkolis is a stand-up comedian and television writer living in New York City. A comedian for
more than 20 years, she has performed several hit shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The
Scotsman’s Kate Copstick called her show, “hard-hitting, fun, well-observed, edgy, clever material
from a smart, sassy, memorable comic. She has some outstanding lines and she delivers like the
Pony Express…I hope she comes back next year.” Copstick continued to say she wished there were
more British comedians with that kind of firepower!
Nicole was handpicked by Graham Norton to be a staff writer for his U.S. show, The Graham Norton
Effect on Comedy Central. Norton says of Nicole, “she has the face of an angel, and the mind of a
very wrong person. She’s so funny, I forgot about my erectile dysfunction.”
She has also appeared on the television show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch on CNBC, National
Lampoon Television and has hosted The Club on Sirius Satellite Radio. Nicole is a regular at New York
City clubs such as West Side Comedy Club, Dangerfield’s, Broadway Comedy Club, New York Comedy
Club and others across the United States, and has performed throughout the world, including Hong
Kong and the United Kingdom. She’s also appeared on countless talk radio shows and was featured
in the comedy documentary Edinburgh or Bust. She has studied and performed improvisation with
the prestigious Upright Citizens Brigade in New York.