Improv Yak

Improv Yak is an improv podcast hosted by improv teacher and Los Angeles improviser, Carla Cackowski. Guests range from seasoned improvisers to first year improv students.
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Improv Yak





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Mar 23, 2019

In Episode 55 of Improv Yak, Carla chats with Detroit Improv Festival producer and co-owner of Go Comedy! Improv Theater, PJ Jacokes. This episode was recorded live at DIF in 2017.

Oct 8, 2017

In Episode 54 of Improv Yak, Carla yaks with her pal, Jason Shotts. They talk about "Ownership" in improv and Jason gives Carla so many new great teaching and coaching ideas that her brain melts mid-conversation.

Jun 18, 2017

In Episode 53 of Improv Yak, Carla chats with her pal, writer and improviser, Patricia Villetto. They talk about Patricia's experience using her improv skills in a professional writer's room, as well as the different tools she picked up from all the various comedy schools with which she has studied and performed. They also have a pretty real convo about how they feel about short form improv. They'll do it! If they have to.

Jun 9, 2017

In Episode 52 of Improv Yak, Carla sits down with the creator of Drunk History, Derek Waters. They chat about his improv beginnings as a student in Toronto and how Chris Farley has long been an inspiration. Then they improvise one of Carla's favorite improv scenes she's done on the podcast yet!

Jun 2, 2017

Season three of Improv Yak begins with Craig Cackowski returning as co-host. We discuss why Carla took a break from Improv Yak for a while, as well as go through the list of festivals she and Craig have performed in over the past year and a half.

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!

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