An Improvised Life
I didn't start out intending be an improv musician. I went to college to study music composition and performance. At the same time I played in cover bands and original projects, did piano bar, played in pit bands for musicals, accompanied dance classes, played for weddings, etc. Little did I know how much all that would help me later doing improv.
During my junior year of college I got hired as a waitress at the famed Second City in Chicago. That's when I fell in love with improv. A few years later, I was "demoted" to a musician (I made a lot more money as a waitress). I traveled the country in a crowded, stinky van with the national touring company, and met my husband, Rick Hall. (That's me with my cast, in the back row on the left, sporting an unfortunate haircut).
Later I opened a show on the then new Second City e.t.c. stage. I also played at a lot of other venues in Chicago, including The Annoyance Theatre, Improv Olympic and Improv Institute.
Later, when Rick and I moved to L.A. I thought I'd take a break from improv. I focused on songwriting, playing in bands, composing musicals and learning to score films. But life has a funny way of surprising you, and in 1998 my friend from our touring company days, Ron West, asked me to audition for Whose Line is it Anyway. Before I knew it, I was doing improv again! We've now done 15 years of Whose Line, between the Drew Carey and the Aisha Tyler versions.
Rick & I have gone on to teach music improv workshops all around the world. We've had amazing students, and had a great time working with them. We've made lots of friends in the world wide community of improvisers.
Along with our pal, Luke Hannington, I've also developed Improv Karaoke - tracks for doing music improv when you don't have a live musician. Volume One includes a tutorial by Rick & I, plus demo versions improvised by some of our friends, including Keegan-Michael Key, Ron West and Dan Castellaneta.
Working with with improviser, author, teacher and musician, Bob Baker, I've written The Improv Comedy Musician, a book on how to play music with improv groups. I got to put in it everything I've learned from years of playing with so many talented improvisers.