Ruby Rocket is an intoxicating, intoxicated private eye who always gets her man. Except, of course, when she doesn’t. Stacey Hallal is Ruby Rocket, weaving poetic noir storytelling, physical comedy, and multimedia imagery in this hilarious improvised show featuring a guest cast of Toronto's top improvisers. Not to be missed!
Blackout Improv is a mix of comedy, social justice, and arts access. We seek to put more Black performers on more stages, to create comedic dialogue around serious truths, and to provide improv access for Black students. Blackout is changing the face of comedy stages in Minnesota.
Blackout's cast includes improvisers, stand up comedians, musicians, classically trained actors, dancers, poets, writers, storytellers, and educators. The founding members and owners are Alsa Bruno, Joy Dolo Anfinson, Andy Hilbrands, John Gebretatose and Kory LaQuess Pullam.
BLACKOUT will be performing with Cipha Sounds in his signature show: Take it Personal.
CIPHA SOUNDS [New York City]
Cipha Sounds is, and has always been, more than your average DJ. Over the course of his packed career, he has been responsible for breaking artists like Rihanna and Rick Ross, has shared the stage with some of the world’s biggest musicians and comedians – from Jay Z to Dave Chappelle – and has established himself as a respected figure in New York’s stand-up and improv scenes. He is also currently the host of Tru tv’s hit show Laff Mob’s Laff tracks”
Cipha got his start carrying crates and opening for Funkmaster Flex at renowned New York nightspots, the Tunnel and the Palladium, before his talent for song selection and infectious personality earned him a spot at Hot 97. There, he moved up the ranks from Flex’s intern, to running his own show “Cipha Saturdays,” to finally hosting the coveted morning show. During his 17 years at Hot 97, and as a host on Eminem’s Sirius satellite station Shade 45, he helped launch the careers of Rihanna, Rick Ross, 50 Cent, and Sean Paul.
In addition to picking hits for the radio, Cipha’s keen ear also led him to work as an A&R executive for a number of record labels, including Jay Z’s Roc-A-Fella and Pharrell Williams’ Startrak imprint.
Cipha’s well-known work ethic and unique ability to read any room has allowed him to rock clubs around the world, and has made him an obvious choice as a live DJ for many huge artists. He first hit the road as Lil Kim’s DJ on the Hardcore tour. Since then he has DJ’d for Mos Def, Jay Z and Rihanna, and at private parties for J.Lo, Mariah Carey, and more. He also serves as a brand ambassador for Monster Energy and the Japanese clothing company, A Bathing Ape (BAPE). For over 10 years, he has curated monthly playlists for BAPE stores worldwide.
Throughout Cipha’s many career turns, two elements have remained at the fore: comedy and hip-hop, his two biggest passions. On the radio, as a VJ for MTV, and as a Live DJ, he has always maintained a sharp sense of humor on the mic. He combined both fields as the official DJ for Comedy Central’s Chapelle’s Show, and has continued to work with Dave Chappelle ever since, joining him on tours as a DJ and opening comedian. He is a regular DJ at Saturday Night Live after parties, and appeared in Michael Che’s Netflix Special. He is now Che’s go-to opening act on the road, and just finished a large multi- city tour in the states and throughout Europe.
Cipha provides an essential link between music and comedy in New York and beyond. He performs standup comedy at clubs around the city, including the legendary Comedy Cellar, ands hosts “Take it Personal – The Hip Hop Improv Show,” at UCB every month night. “Take it Personal,” has featured many celebrity guests, including Questlove, DJ Premier, The Wu-Tang Clan, Zoe Kravitz, Donald Glover, and 2Chainz. It is a featured TV show on Jay Z’s streaming service TIDAL.
CASUALLY DOPE [Baltimore]
Casually Dope is a comedy troupe from Baltimore, MD. We have performed all over the US and internationally as well. With our mix of high-energy, hip-hop inspired short-form and long-form, we create characters you’ll never forget and leave you satisfied as your Mama’s sweet potato pie. Most importantly, we represent for our city.
ED, TOM + RUEBEN [Atlanta]
Ed, Tom & Rueben Present: Rueben, Ed & Tom, comprising three people with those very same names, is a fast-paced improv show propelled by risk taking and friendship. Ed Morgan, Tom Rittenhouse, and Rueben Medina also improvise a brand new screenplay every week on a podcast called You're Welcome, Hollywood. You should listen. You'll like it.
ABOUT THEIR SHOW:
Theater of the Mind is an absurdly hilarious deep-dive into the world of performance art. This tongue-in-cheek show is as weird as it is funny and features berets and mock turtlenecks.
SISTER ACT [Vancouver/Toronto]
Sister Act consists of Bita Joudaki and Christine Bortolin (sometimes with musical accompaniment by Aaron Read) and was formed in 2008. Spanning their multi-decade friendship, Bita and Christine like to talk things out through story and this comes across on stage through moments of absurdity mixed with sincere human feelings.
PEDA IMPROV [Vancouver]
PEDA Improv theatrically explores the beautiful simplicity of human relationships. From Poseidon and his crab assistant; to an estranged couple taking group swimming lessons; and to a mother trying to relive her youth at the senior dance, PEDA Improv goes deep into the relationships that are often missed.
AJ MCCOMBS [Baltimore]
Alan J. McCombs joined the Baltimore Improv Group in 2014. McCombs trained with BIG as well as in workshops in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and in Philadelphia. McCombs was a founding member of Casually Dope, a BIG special project formed in 2013 as Minority Re’port. McCombs also performs with Local Spot and directs and performs with After School Grandma and Fade to Black. McCombs has performed in a variety of festivals across the country including the San Diego Improv Festival, the Boston Comedy Arts Festival, and the Del Close Marathon. McCombs has performed with independent Baltimore-area troupes, including Doomhilda and Thighmeat as well as producing the Caucus mash up program. In real life, he is extremely gullible and tends to be ignorant of pop culture.
AL CONNORS [Ottawa]
AL Connors is an educator, producer, director, performer, and designer, who enjoys working in all aspects of live, interactive performance and education. He currently teaches the Improvisation for Leaders with the Expanding Horizons program at the Telfer School of Management EMBA in Complex Project Leadership at the University of Ottawa.
A co-founder of Ottawa’s Crush Improv, AL has produced and performed comedy in just about every venue in Ottawa, from music halls and taverns, to the National Gallery and the National Arts Centre. In 2017, he produced and performed in the Canadian Comedy Award winning Crush Tenth Anniversary Special, broadcast live from The Gladstone Theatre.
With 16 years as an Artistic Associate and Co-Artistic Director with Ottawa's premiere Shakespeare company, A Company of Fools Theatre, AL’s directing and performance work has been seen by of tens of thousands of Ottawa residents. He's one of Ottawa's most decorated theatre creators of the last ten years, regularly working in scripted and non-scripted theatre and he has performed in every major Canadian city, and that one week in China.
AL has personally taught thousands of students from coast to coast. As former President and National Director of Canadian Improv Games, he developed curriculum, training materials, and online resources for teaching improvisation. He’s served as a Canadian Improv Ambassador to Australia, working with the Australian Institute of Performing Arts to aide in the development of an Australian national improv program. In 2006, he received a United Way Community Builder Award for this work and in 2007 received a Founders Award from Canadian Improv Games. Past corporate clients, include the Ottawa Senators, Shopify, Corus Media, Sleeman Brewery, Ottawa Tourism, Volkswagen Canada and Redbull. They have sought AL to create custom content using improvisation to convey messaging, to launch and sell products, and to create a sense of community within organizations.
DJ DETECTIVE [Ottawa]
Every party has a secret. It's my job to figure it out. Which song will get the room dancing? In this live DJ'd show, I reveal every trick learned in my 20-year career on how to read a room and get people dancing. And along the way, relate some of the highs and lows of striving for maximum party.
ASHLEY RAPUANO [Las Vegas/New York City]
Ashley Rapuano is an actor and comedian from Las Vegas, currently based in New York City. She is currently in a solo show called "Lessons With Lola" she wrote and produced about her Filipino grandmother who suffered from Dementia. She has performed with Cirque Du Soleil, Nevada Conservatory Theater, The PIT, UCB, Vegas Theatre Hub, and many more. Aside from her show, you can find Ashley doing improv, stand-up, auditioning all over town or shoveling watermelon into her face. @RapuanoAshley // ashleyrapuano.com
ANDY HILBRANDS [Minneapolis]
Andy Hilbrands is a New York-based Improvisor/Writer/Comedian who originally hails from the midwest. His first concert was REO Speedwagon/Styx double bill, so that should verify his midwest roots. He started improvising in high school and has become an improv lifer.
After graduating from Iowa State University and a brief stint as the university's mascot Cy the Cyclone, he moved to Minneapolis. There he wrote and performed for, "The Brave New Workshop Comedy Theater" the nations longest running satirical comedy theater under the direction of Caleb McEwen. He also worked for ComedySportz TC and is a founding member of "Blackout," Minneapolis's premier all-minority comedy group.
Since moving to NYC, he has performed/studied at The Peoples Improv Theater, UCB and was in the off-broadway show PUFFS. He regularly produces shows at The PIT and performs there regularly on ahouse team.
Andy has been featured in ads for Best Buy, Target, Great Clips, 3M and has been the spokesperson for companies such as Upsie and Meet Minneapolis.
He currently resides in NYC, with his wife and two cats, which for someone who was raised a dog person, speaks to his open-mindedness and inclusivity.
BLUE CAVELL-ALLETTE [BALTIMORE]
Blue Cavell-Allette got her start in improv with Baltimore Improv Group with additional training from Second City Chicago and Magnet Theatre in New York. She became a MainStage performer with BIG in 2013. Blue is a founding member of the internationally known troupe Casually Dope (Minority Re'Port). She has performed in festivals with her troupe by invite across the continent including Toronto, New York and Chicago. Blue is an avid advocate for bringing visibility to black women and other people of color who have been historically underrepresented in the improv and sketch communities. She is a proud HBCU alumnae of Morgan State University (Theatre) and Coppin State University where she graduated with BFA in Urban Arts Theatre focused.
BITA JOUDAKI [Toronto]
Bita Joudaki is an Iranian-Canadian filmmaker and performer currently working in Toronto and Vancouver. She graduated from Emily Carr University in 2014 with a BFA in Film, Media + Integrated Media and is currently working on her MFA in Film Production at York University. She has screened her media works in Canada and the US, and has performed Improvisational Theatre with her group, Sister Act, across Canada.
CHRISTINE BORTOLIN [Vancouver]
Christine is an actor and writer in Vancouver, BC. She has a BFA in Acting with a double major in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and has been performing on stage, screen, and at live comedy shows for over 10 years. She is also on the board of Little Mount Gallery, a theatre space in East Vancouver she helps run. She has performed Improvisational Theatre with her group Little Mountain Improv across Canada.
ED MORGAN [Atlanta]
Ed Morgan is the Associate Artistic Director at Dad's Garage and has worked for Dad’s as a performer, director and writer. He spends most of his off-stage time talking about heavy metal and wishing he had a dog before deciding once again that it’s too much responsibility.
ESE ATAWO [Vancouver]
Ese Atawo is a Nigerian Canadian actor and comedian. Raised in Toronto, Ese began her love for live performance through local theatre companies and festivals. She enjoyed the diversity of being apart of Canada’s largest ten-minute play festival, InspiraTO Festival, for two consecutive years. She found strength through truthful vulnerability as a cast member of Toronto’s Vagina Monologues production of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer as well as Any One of Us; and she embraced the challenge of a German written play in Summerworks production of Kasper and the Sea of Houses. Along side Ese’s involvement in theatre, she began studying through Second City Toronto, the art of improvisation. With improv being so engaging and spontaneous, Ese completed all six level as well as Second City’s Conservatory program. Ese relocated to Vancouver to expand her training in improv by taking classes through Instant Theatre and eventually became a cast member and produced several shows through Instant. This has evolved in her teaching not only at Instant but at Blind Tiger Comedy. Her involvement in improv has enabled her to be apart of a successful improv troupes, Nasty Women and Your Moms as well as being involved in successful comedy events and festivals throughout Vancouver and abroad. Ese is beyond excited to be home and to perform for her family and friends once again.
FENA ORTALLI [Madrid]
Feña began his acting career in 2001. In 2006 he created Global Impro, an improv troupe dedicated to national and international collaboration and exchange. He's currently based in Madrid where he performs and teaches with Impromadrid and El Club de la Impro, two of the most important companies of the city.
Since 2011 he writes, edits and directs Status, an improv magazine with more than 2500 suscribers all over the world, and it's considered the most influential publication for the Spanish speaking improv community. Since 2017, the magazine is also available in English.
Since 2001 he has taught and performed in different cities in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Canada, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Greece and South Africa.
At COMBUSTION, Feña will be presenting a bilingual edition of his signature format: Un Dia Qualquiera (Any Given Day).
HAROLD YOUNG IV [Baltimore]
Harold is an actor/comedian from Baltimore who began performing improv in 2015 after realizing he wanted to make funnies on stage. Since then Harold has become a regular weekend performer at BIG (Casually Dope) and has performed in comedy festivals all over the US, including New York City and Chicago, as well as festivals in Toronto. He has also been the lead in the short films The Prologue, which placed top 10 in the Kevin Hart's LOL Network's Eat My Shorts competition, as well I Sit Alone, which was featured in the Charm City Fringe Fest.
JASON HERBERT [Baltimore]
Improvisor based out of Baltimore, MD. Enjoy doing improv home and away. Some people have told me I'm good at it.
JOHN GEBRETATOSE [Minneapolis]
John Gebretatose rose from the ranks of a HUGE Improv Theater student, to a HUGE Improv instructor and now also the Director of Diversity and Inclusion. He trained and worked at Brave New Workshop and has been performing stand-up comedy in the Twin Cities for over nine years. John is a founding member of one of Blackout. He is the co-creator of the Black and Funny Improv Festival. John travels all over the world performing improv and teaching improv workshops.
JOY DOLO [Minneapolis]
Joy Dolo is an actor and improviser in the Twin Cities. She lives in Saint Paul, MN with her husband and two cats. Though she pays her taxes with her stage work, she has found this love of comedy through Theater of Public Policy and her 2nd family, Blackout. Her goal is to create a safe space for people of color to be on stage and to feel the same freedom she feels when she is performing. Shine BRILLIANTLY, claim your power, and fail FEARLESSLY. And eat sweets as much as possible, it’s sooooo good.
KADI DIOP [Montreal]
Kadi Diop is a half-Guinean, half-Senegalese bilingual improviser. She is one of Montreal Improv’s inclusion and diversity co-coordinators and moonlights as the coordinator of the Walkley Community Centre. Kadi performs regularly in Montreal with Colour Outside the Lines, Late Night Kids and Dog’s Breakfast as well as at storytelling events. She is in fact the producer of a new storytelling event – Woke Tales – which made it’s inaugural debut at Ladyfest, 2018! She’s also one half of the sketch duo Inside Scoop and is a doting/annoying auntie.
KARDINAL OFFISHALL [T-dot]
Kardinal Offishall is a Canadian rapper, record producer, DJ and record executive. Often credited as Canada's "hip hop ambassador", he is regarded as one of the country's best hip hop producers, and is best known for his distinctive reggae and dancehall-influenced style of hip hop.
A native of Toronto, Offishall began his career in the city's mid-1990s underground hip hop scene, as a member of The Circle. He released several independent 12" singles, a debut album (Eye & I), and an EP (Husslin'), before signing with major label MCA Records in 2000. The following year, Offishall released his second album, Quest for Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1, spawning the Billboard hit "BaKardi Slang", which popularized Toronto's nickname “T-dot", and the minor hit "Ol' Time Killin'"; both singles became his signature songs.
In 2005, Offishall's third album, Fire and Glory, was released in Canada. That year, he collaborated with R&B singer Akon for the first time, starting a musical partnership that lasted until 2010. In 2007, he signed with Akon's Kon Live Distribution label, through Geffen, and released his fourth album, Not 4 Sale, the following year. The first single, "Dangerous", became a top five hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and was certified triple platinum in Canada. Offishall released two gold-certified singles, "Numba 1 (Tide Is High)" and "Body Bounce", before leaving Kon Live in late 2010. Since then, his latest singles have been released on his independent label Black Stone Colleagues Inc. In 2012, Offishall released Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself, a collaborative mixtape with producer Nottz.
In 2013, Offishall became the Creative Executive Director of Universal Music Canada's A&R team. Two years later, he released his fifth album Kardi Gras, Vol. 1: The Clash under the label.
Kardinal is the featured guest on Take it Personal on Saturday, June 1 at 9:30pm
KRISTEN SCHIER [Portland]
Kristen Schier is the Co- Artistic Director of Curious Comedy Theater in Portland Oregon where she currently teaches and performs. Kristen was also the the long time Artistic Director of the Philly based short form ensemble The N Crowd and the former Improv Producer of the Philly Improv Theater for 8 plus years.
In addition to teaching and directing Kristen brings extensive performance experience in both scripted and unscripted theater, as well as clown. Kristen has toured both internationally and around the country performing, teaching and headlining at improv festivals in Seattle, Edmonton, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, Boston, Montreal, Providence, Austin, DC, Baltimore and Detroit - to name a few.
Kristen has a BFA in the Performing Arts from The University of the Arts Ira Brind School of Theater, where she was a Senior Lecturer having taught Acting for Non-Majors, Freshmen Acting Studio and Improvisation for the Actor.
In addition to training she received at UArts Kristen continued to pursue her education in long-form improvisation with The Second City in Chicago, The Annoyance Theater in Chicago and The Magnet Theater in New York as well as physical theater through Pig Iron and The Movement Theater Studio in New York City.
Mastermind is a Dj and a radio personality, and one of the most knowledgeable sources on hip-hop in the city. If you listen to radio, you’ve probably heard him on FLOW 93.5 weekdays from 3-7pm. Mastermind is the featured guest on Take it Personal on Friday, May 31, at 8pm.
Patrick is a Vancouver-based actor and improviser. For the past three years he has been co-producing and performing in the Instant Theatre shows The Actor's Nightmare and Shakespeare After Dark. In addition to his work with Instant and other Vancouver groups including Blind Tiger and The Fictionals, Patrick has performed in the Del Close Marathon, the Seattle Festival of Improv Theatre, and the Vancouver International Improv Festival (2015, 2016, and with the International Ensemble in 2018). Patrick has additionally had the joy of being a trainer at Improvcamp and coaching for the CIG, as well as teaching Intro, Conservatory, and drop-in classes at Instant Theatre. This year, he is an Artistic Associate and co-producer of the Vancouver Improv Fest.
RASHEED GREEN [Baltimore]
Actor/comedian Rasheed Green spends his free time performing improv, sketch comedy, and in plays around Baltimore and Washington, D.C., including venues such as Meadow Mill Theater, Fells Point Corner Theater, and The Creative Alliance. He has been performing with Baltimore Improv Group since 2013 as a member of the troupes Photobomb, Casually Dope and Aftermath. Rasheed is a frequent and emcee of various community events most notably the annual Baltimore LGBT Pride Festival/Block Party.
RUEBEN MEDINA [Atlanta]
A Latino Yankee living in the south, Rueben Medina is as out of place as a pie in a moon crater. Find him after a show if you want to talk about the latest hip hop beef, Pokemon, or why it’s ok for a grown man to own so many anime figures.
STACEY HALLAL [Portland]
Stacey Hallal does comedy. Stand Up. Sketch. Improv. Whatevs. No biggie.
Stacey founded the Curious Comedy Theater in Portland, Oregon in 2008 where she serves as Artistic Director as well as a regular performer, writer, director and teacher. As Artistic Director, Stacey oversees the scheduling, production and creative direction of over a hundred shows per year and has the honoring of curating the annual All Jane No Dick Comedy Festival. For more on Curious check out: www.curiouscomedy.org and www.alljanenodick.com.
Stacey performs stand up comedy regularly at Curious Comedy as well as Helium Comedy Club where she has hosted for such legends as Bob Saget and Dana Gould and featured for Norm MacDonald. Stacey was a semi-finalist in the Portland Funniest Person Contest as well as the Laughing Skull Comedy Contest and was one of ten performers in Portland’s Ten Comics to Watch Showcase for Comedy Central. She tours all over North America, including stand up guest spots at clubs like The Improv in Atlanta and producing her one and two person comedy sketch shows on the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit.
Stacey, with partner Sam Niemann, co-created the cartoon Ruby Rocket, Private Eye which was developed into a web series by Aniboom.com in 2008.
Stacey has been devoted to comedy in Portland and Chicago for over fifteen years and has appeared and taught at more than 40 comedy festivals across the United States and Canada. While in Chicago, Stacey completed the iO, Annoyance, and Second City training centers. She went on to complete the prestigious Directing Program at Second City where she also taught improv and comedy writing as a member of the Second City Training Center Faculty. Stacey Assistant Directed the smash hit Second City Main Stage production, Between Barack and A Hard Place. To pay for all of her other activities, Stacey also uses improv to help huge corporations better understand and communicate their brand stories with Character, LLC, a Portland-based company she helped start up in 2001.
TI COLEMAN [Baltimore]
Ti Coleman got his improv start taking classes at Washington Improv Theatre (WIT) and hasn’t looked back since. After bouncing around a few indie troupes, he auditioned with BIG and got in (the second time). Ti is a member of Casually Dope.
TOM RITTENHOUSE [Atlanta]
Tom Rittenhouse is a real charmer who probably makes too many faces on stage. A professional filmmaker and amateur new father, he loves crossword puzzles, bird watching, and other octogenarian activities.