Dana is a performer, teacher, coach, and ridiculous distance runner. She is originally from Framingham, Massachusetts and is currently in a long term relationship with Washington Heights. Dana performs weekly with her improv loves Student Driver at one of The PIT’s longest running shows Indie Road on Sundays at 7PM in The Underground. Student Driver also celebrates indie improv by hosting The Indie-pendence Day Festival every year on The Fourth of July. You can see what happens when comedy and marathon running collide at her Instagram @followthatfannypack or you can check out her performance schedule on her website. www.danashulman.com
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!
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.
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
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
Listen below to hear more about Patrick’s teaching style and improv philosophy, and to learn more about The PIT in his discussion with PIT Founder Ali Farahnakian.
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
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.
Founder of The People's Improv Theater
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.
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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 People’s Improv Theater. Last year, she was named the People Improv Theaters “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.
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.
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 standup, 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.
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).