Holly Mandel: An Introduction to Character Based Improv

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This workshop is for all performers who are interested in learning improvisation driven by character, made popular by Los Angeles’ Groundlings Theatre as well as Mandel’s own school in NYC, Improvolution.

In the workshop, you will approach the fundamentals of improv emphasizing character – the “who” of the scene – exploring how a scene grows and deepens from the character’s information, thoughts, behaviours, emotional life, and relationships to one another. You will not use any particular format or structure, focusing more on the building blocks of scenes and how character expands your abilities to add specifics, drive action, and open up worlds of possibility.

Participants will also discuss and explore what constitutes a character, how to create and improvise as one, and how Character Improv is unique to all other forms of improvisation.

Holly started her improvisation training with one of the premiere improv and sketch comedy schools in the United States, THE GROUNDLINGS in Los Angeles, working alongside some of the top names in comedy such as Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Will Forte, Kathy Griffin, Lisa Kudrow and SNL’s Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner.

After becoming a Main Company Member, she began teaching and directing, eventually becoming a Senior Instructor of the school and Main Company director. She created LA’s longest running longform show, THE CRAZY UNCLE JOE SHOW, still going strong after 16 years.

She then headed to New York City where she started her own improv school in 2002, Improvolution, bringing the character-based approach to thousands of students there.

She’s taught at UCLA, USC, and at Pace University in New York City, making her a professor of improv. She has worked at Walt Disney Studios in Feature Development, ABC Television, and Comedy Central as a writer/producer.


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