Improv Yak

Improv Yak is an improv podcast hosted by improv teacher and Los Angeles improviser, Carla Cackowski. Each week Carla interviews an improviser about a specific technique that she admires in their performance and at the end of the show, Carla and guest improvise a scene in which Carla attempts to utilize the technique they discussed. Guests range from seasoned improvisers to first year improv students.
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Improv Yak



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Oct 22, 2016

In the 50th episode of "Improv Yak", Carla shares a conversation she had with improviser Kevin Crowley at the Cincinnati Improv Festival in September. They tackle ensemble and - HEY! - this is our first live episode in front of an audience!

Oct 21, 2016

In Episode 49 of "Improv Yak", Carla chats with former student and Second City Hollywood graduate, Angela Getz. They discuss how improv helped Angela rediscover her voice after enduring a traumatic situation and her journey towards healing and becoming a comedic giant amongst her peers (Carla's words). 

Oct 16, 2016

On Episode number forty eight of "Improv Yak", Carla yak's with long time improviser and improv teacher, Jay Sukow. They focus on the ensemble and Jay throws down a couple sports metaphors that Carla does her best to keep up with!

Sep 27, 2016

In Episode #47 of Improv Yak, Carla shares a conversation that she had with improviser, teacher, and author, Paul Vaillancourt. They discuss Paul's book on his improv philosophy, "The Triangle of the Scene" (available on iBooks and Amazon Kindle), as well as his one man improv show, "Man Vs. Movie". For an extra bonus, check out Carla's "Improv Tip" on Paul's youtube channel PVImprov. And while you're there, check out all of his other Improv Tips too!

Sep 22, 2016

In Episode 45 of Improv Yak, Carla shares a recent conversation she had with LA based improviser and teacher, Julie Brister. Carla and Julie talk about Julie's start at UCB in New York, how improv has changed and grown since then, as well as Julie's take on teaching improvisation. Julie and Carla hadn't seen each other in a while when they taped this episode and they ended their Yak by improvising a scene between two friends who hadn't seen each other in a while either!

Sep 16, 2016

In Episode #44 of Improv Yak, Carla yaks with Detroit improviser Jaclynn Cherry. They talk about the Detroit Improv Fest and what it is about improv that Jaclynn finds so fun. Then they improvise a scene where Carla plays a parental figure (this keeps happening to them in scenes they do together!). 

Sep 16, 2016

In Episode #43 of Improv Yak, Carla shares the second part in a three part series of interviews she did with improvisers at Camp Improv Utopia Yosemite. The second part features improv teacher and performer, Neil Curran. Neil is from Dublin and has traveled the world performing his improv show, "Neil + 1". He is also the founder and director of Improv Fest Ireland and he and Carla yak about all of those things, plus the current culture of improv in Ireland.




Sep 16, 2016

In Episode #42 of Improv Yak, Carla yaks with her old friend, Nick Armstrong. Nick is an alumni of Sunday Company at The Groundlings, founder of Camp Improv Utopia, and the new AD at M.i. Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica. They yak about genre improv, creating a summer camp for adult improvisers, and improvise a scene based on the suggestion, "black hole". 

Aug 30, 2016

In episode 41 of Improv Yak, Carla and Monika Smith discuss the idea of the human experience in improvisation. They talk about Monika’s recent travels to China to help set up a curriculum for improv and sketch comedy at a new school, as well as their experiences being female improvisers and teachers in the community. Then they improvise a complicated mother-daughter scene set in a movie theater!

Aug 18, 2016

In episode number forty of Improv Yak, Carla chats with teenage improvisers Kiernan Shipka and Isaac Spector about their experience performing in Detention Hall (AKA "Teen Troupe") at The Second City, as well as the friendship they've established over the past few years as a result of this performance experience. 

Aug 8, 2016

In Episode 39 of Improv Yak, Carla chats with LA improviser and teacher, Brian O'Connell, about "Position Play" and "Deconstruction". Get out your notebooks and pens, this is one to take notes on!

Jul 31, 2016

In Episode #38 of Improv Yak, Carla picks up her previous conversation (#36) with good friend and fellow improviser, Nancy Hayden. They chat about Nancy's experience as a writer on the new Comedy Central show "Detroiters", and yak about all things improv and Detroit related. Both Nancy and Carla will be at the Detroit Improv Festival this August. Go to to get tickets to shows and workshops.

Jun 27, 2016

In Episode #35, Carla yaks with Xchel Hernandez on his transition from the Phoenix to Los Angeles improv scene. They talk about feedback, failures and successes, and get into the nitty gritty of studying at iO West and The Second City in Hollywood.

Xchel Hernandez is a multi-cultural improvisor currently residing in Hollywood, CA. He has performed on several festivals across The United States including Out of Bounds, The Phoenix Improv Festival, The Hollywood Improv Festival, Duke City Improv Festival, and many more. In 2014, he co-created the popular nationally touring Dissecting The Set. A monthly show that engages audiences in an interactive form of impromptu comedy. Xchel is a featured master of ceremonies in many public and private events.  He has received several awards in the field of comedy including a Best of the Festival in Phoenix, AZ. Xchel has attended schools in Arizona, Indiana, California, Illinois, and Texas. While attending Arizona State University, he produced many shows at The Torch Theatre theatre culminating in his graduation with a Bachelors Degree in Fine arts. In addition to his studies, Xchel has traveled to many countries including Europe, Mexico, and Central America. He loves to use comedy to poke fun at the seriousness of life.

Jun 13, 2016

In episode number 34 of Improv Yak, Carla yaks with the artistic director of Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica, Mike Betette. They discuss how Mike puts together teams at his theater, as well as the skill set he's looking for in an improviser auditioning for a team. Then they improvise a scene inspired by the word, "MISSING!"

May 30, 2016

In Episode 33 of Improv Yak, Carla yaks with Co-Artistic Director of iO West, Colleen Doyle about "The Why" in improvisation. In this honest and informative conversation, they also touch upon the difficulties of being people pleasers and how giving and taking notes in a two person show can get tricky. 

May 18, 2016

In Episode 32 of Improv Yak, Carla sits down with long time improviser and teacher Stephen C. James and yaks about his experience teaching kids and teenagers.

May 11, 2016

In Episode 31 of Improv Yak, Carla chats with Second City alumna and teacher Jenna Jolovitz. They yak about Jenna's philosophy on making a bold choice and applying energy in a scene. They also discuss how a skiing experience humbled and reminded Jenna about what it's like to be a student. And then things get all oatsy-crunchy. 

May 4, 2016

In the season two premiere of Improv Yak, Carla talks with Los Angeles improviser Chad Damiani on his use of clowning and idiot work in improvisation. They also yak about tearing down the fourth wall between audience and improviser and discuss Chad's introduction to improvisation via wrestling!

Apr 4, 2016

In Episode 29 of Improv Yak, Carla hands over hosting duties to Craig Cackowski as they yak about her experience hosting season one. Carla edited nothing in this episode. Not. One. Thing.

Mar 22, 2016

In Episode 28 of Improv Yak, Carla yaks with LA based improviser and teacher, Jaime Moyer, about her take on being a female improviser and the importance of making bold initiations. Then Carla and Jaime improvise a scene as two men and Jaime makes Carla laugh so hard she cries.

Mar 9, 2016

In Episode 27 of Improv Yak, Carla yaks with her improv buddies Monique Madrid and Corey Rittmaster about performing improv and sketch comedy on cruise ships. They discuss what they did on the ship in between shows, as well as give advice on avoiding the buffet as much as possible.

Mar 4, 2016

In Episode 26 of Improv Yak, Carla yaks with improviser Drew Coolidge about his different ways of exploring “theme” in improvisation. They also chat about Drew’s experience on Harold teams at iO West and UCB, as well as a short term correspondence he had early on in his career with improv guru and mentor, Dave Pasquesi.

Drew Coolidge is a member of the iO West Harold team MAX as well as one half of the improv duo Ranger Danger and the Danger Ranger. He has performed for the last 13 years and taught improvisation all across the US, from Pennsylvania to Texas, Utah to Alaska. He has hosted videos for New Media Rockstars on YouTube and his writing has been featured on sites like CollegeHumor and Higgs Weldon.

Feb 25, 2016

In Episode 25 of Improv Yak, Carla yaks with writer and improviser Charity Miller about the different improv schools she has studied and performed at in Los Angeles. They also talk about how improvisation has influenced Charity's writing technique. 

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