Hello!

We’re Monkey Business Institute.

MBI cast

About Us

Monkey Business Institute is made up of over thirty-five uniquely talented people. People who have spent years, or even decades, of their lives growing intimately aware of what makes great improv tick – and what makes you laugh.

Many of our members performed with Madison’s ComedySportz prior to 2002, and quite a few of us have years of professional stage and acting experience. Some of us are professional musicians, one is an award-winning stand-up comedian. Others are professional film-makers and voice-actors. A good number of the folks in our 

company are parents and one is a grand-parent (which makes them funnier, you’ll see).

In short, many of Madison’s most creative and humorous people appear in the cast for any given performance – and most of us have worked together for over ten years. There is no other improv comedy company quite as experienced and talented as ours, anywhere in the United States*.  You can even find us on Wikipedia.

So buy some tickets to one of our shows, kick back with some pizza, and laugh with (or at) us.  We think you’ll be glad you did.

*Except perhaps Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

Performers

Meet Madison’s funniest improv comedians! The Monkey Business Institute features a diverse group of highly talented improv comedy professionals. When you hire us for an “on-the-road” performance or come to see a scheduled show, you’ll see some or all of these improvisors.

This was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Delightfully intriguing, fancifully funny, enormously ridiculous, amazingly talented.

MBI Cast Photo

Casem Abulughod

Casem AbuLughod loves to create bold, unique characters and never gives less than one hundred percent in any game. His generous spirit on and off stage make him one our most beloved cast members. Usually bearded, often vested, always huggable, this experienced improviser and teacher of hundreds of Monkey Business students has a name that rhymes with awesome and he is nothing less than that.

Sean Bossinger

Sean Bossinger is a Monkey Business Institute DJ. The killer combination of a strong, smooth voice, good sense of comic timing, real-life work as a tech savvy computer boss, improv class training and experience performing with a King of the House team make for mad DJ skills. Sean is a conscientious team player with a heart of gold.

Sarah Bousman

Sarah is a dog mom, and a mom mom. She runs marathons, and she recycles and composts aggressively. Sarah is skillful and unflappable, both on stage and off. Expect boundless enthusiasm and commitment to the teamwork side of the improv craft: she’s always attentive to her fellow players, and appreciates and supports what they bring to the table. And that makes for the most fun, connected kind of improv there is.

Dylan Brogan

Dylan Brogan has high standards of journalistic integrity and improv hilarity, and brings the same intensity to the Monkey Business stage as he does to his work as one of Madison’s favorite print and radio reporters. Dylan’s improv is unpredictable and uncensored, often includes sharp social or political commentary, and he loves bonfires, graffiti, and making people laugh.

Sean Cairns

Sean bears the distinction of being fearlessly willing to do anything on stage. No really––no suggestion is too outrageous, as long as the scene needs it. He’s a committed, energetic player in hot pursuit of drawing out his “inner weird.” Expect grand choices, lots of physicality, and original characters with deep psychologies. Among other notable extra-curriculars, Sean is an advocate for non-Euclidean geometry and has built a stereo out of a suitcase.

Kathy Groat

Kathy directs our musical improv shows. Since she’s joined MBI, she’s been responsible for bringing the Broadway vibes to soaring new heights in our Music Department shows. Anytime she gets on a stage, it’s crystal clear that she’s enjoying herself––and that means her audience members do, too. Kathy loves the connection and joy that music plus improv brings. She sings in a choir, plays the trombone, and can dance an Irish jig––and if you ask nicely, she’ll do all three at once.

Marian Halls

Marian Halls is a thoughtful improviser with a peaceful, calm demeanor concealing a whirlwind of wonderful weirdness within. Marian is a real-life doctor, an intellectual with a deep interest in social justice, gender politics, and music who lets loose the storm when she improvises. Expect surprising character choices and possible over-your-head academic references.

Al Hart

Al “Young At” Hart, our resident master of puns and rhymes, is an experienced actor and improviser, skilled bartender and blackjack dealer, dog lover and avid collector of nerd-tastic toys and celebrity autographs. Al delights in playing character-driven improv games like Switch Interview and Advice Panel.

Brett Hermanson

Brett Hermanson will woo you with his instantly loveable stage presence, big gorgeous singing voice, enviable sweater collection, and totally endearing improv style. Brett is a warm, welcoming host and a committed, supportive player who rules in musical games like Foreign Opera or Point-N-Sing.

Peggy Hurley

Peggy is our Den-Mother-with-a-bawdy-streak. She is deft and skillful on stage, always pushing at the boundaries of comedic form for herself and her stage partners, and very frequently introduces the element of surprise in a scene. Peggy is inspired by other women in comedy, especially when they actively support other women’s voices on the comedy stage. In short, Peggy is a huge (self-proclaimed) ham, with an even huge-er heart of gold.

Brandon Jensen

Brandon Jensen is a sharp improviser and charismatic host with a wonderfully weird sense of humor who not only performs onstage in our shows, but also serves as our accompanist for musical improv. A disturbingly proficient multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, self-engineered recording artist, and cat dad (tone it down, Brandon), Brandon brings sneaky hilarity and refreshing immediacy to the mix.

Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson is an aficionado of film, literature, music, and theatre whose improv style is full of joy and wit. He’s developed a theory about the archetypes of improvisers that you should ask him about some time. He excels at games that play with genre and character and is just as comfortable taking the lead in a scene as providing a delightfully unexpected supporting role.

Claire Kannapell

As our “Jill of All Trades,” Claire both performs on stage and provides piano accompaniment for our musical shows––and only on rare occasion does both at the same time. She plays bass in the indie rock band “Woodrow,” a classic jazz quartet, and the neo-soul group called “Bad Mustard.” She loves being surprised by scene partners, and is both introverted and capable of instituting a fierce side tackle.

Brad Knight

Brad Knight is the co-founder of Monkey Business Institute. A brilliant and passionate improviser, Brad has taught hundreds of improv classes to thousands of students and always brings an open mind and sharp sense of storytelling to the stage. A talented singer, actor, impersonator of all D&D monsters, lover of snow, Santa, and Wisconsin winters, Brad excels at improv guessing games as well as our more advanced brain- bending games such as Adjacent Spaces and ABC.

Adam Loux

Adam Loux plays piano, has the voice of an angel, and shines in musical improv games like Songs from a Hat. A world traveler, Lego expert, native Iowan, video gamer, and all-around delightful human being, Adam is an observant and supportive player who brings unexpected characters and bright energy to every scene. He looks great in purple.

Kelly Maxwell

Kelly is a writer/actor/graphic artist with Madison theatre collective Are We Delicious?, a writer/director of two Broom Street Theater productions- “Held: A Musical Fantasy” and “Playscapes”, and a singer with Madison band The Fauxtons.

Could You Be Our Next Member?

Would you like to be the next Monkey Business star? If you’ve taken our classes (or are taking them), have improv experience in another city or organization, or simply dream of becoming a professional improv performer—email us at info@monkeybusinessinstitute.com

Joe Molloy

Joe is a true connoisseur of the art of comedy. You’ll see him not only in our improv shows, but also as a comedic actor, on the stand-up stage, and in sketch comedy shows. He displays the art of full commitment. He makes smart, deliberate choices on stage, and fearlessly embodies his character choices and rides them as far as they will go. He also has some pretty great hair.

Scott Montague

Scott Montague is a Monkey Business Institute DJ. A genuine, sweet guy who truly cares about people’s feelings, does good without needing to take credit for it, serves as a volunteer fire-fighter, and loves to watch his kids play sports, he is a valued member of our team. You can catch him outside of the DJ booth when he improvises with his team at our Tuesday night King of the House shows.

Tara Ptasnik

Tara Ptasnik is a brilliant, brave improviser whose amazing brain works a million miles a minute. A teacher, devourer of podcasts and books, spreadsheet-maker, master of wordplay, walkin’ talkin’ encyclopedia of presidential and other facts, Tara is a force onstage. When Tara is playing, expect silliness and greatness.

Doug Reed

Doug Reed is an accomplished playwright whose limitless imagination and knack for storytelling make a killer combination in scene games like Replay or Movie Synopsis. An avid road tripper, visitor of presidential gravesites, ukulele strummer, Beatles lover, novelist, and creator of theater, this blue-eyed crooner is always up for an improv adventure.

Sheila Robertson

Sheila Robertson may be the actual sun in human form; we can’t confirm or deny. An experienced improviser who plays hard, loves to dance and sing, never stops teaching, learning, and helping others grow, she radiates energy and is up for anything as long as it’s ridiculously fun.

Sarah Rogers

Hailing from Central Illinois, Sarah discovered she was lactose intolerant in 2007, right after she moved to live among you Cheeseheads. She arrived to comedy late, but is otherwise notably punctual. You can rely on Sarah to tell you if have something in your teeth.

Andrew Rohn

Andrew Rohn is our beloved music man, bringing creativity, inspiration, and skill to his role as musical improv accompanist. A prolific composer of beautiful songs for musical theatre and beyond (he wrote and performed the Monkey Business theme song we play at the beginning of our shows!), Andrew loves nature, massages, uninhibited dancing, disco, animals, vintage fashion, cooking delicious food, and singalongs with friends.

Peter Schell

Peter has been the heart and soul leader of our weekly House Blend shows, building a strong MBI community around dedicated to the art of improv in its most pure and joyous form. He is thoughtful and enjoys the art of discovery. You’ll likely find his brain working differently than yours when he makes original, fresh, choices on stage; ones you probably won’t expect. He engages fully with his scene partners, on and off the stage, and expects the same engagement in return.

Jess Schuknecht

Jess Schuknecht takes good care of the people in his life, both onstage and off. One of our most experienced players, Jess possesses a deep knowledge of graphic novels, comics, movie trivia, and improv games. He’s a strong storyteller, instinctual “yes, and- er”, and an extremely supportive scene partner who improvises with his whole heart and mind, approaching every warm-up and game with unrelenting laser focus.

Ben Seidensticker

Ben is a patient and thoughtful improviser. He has relentlessly risen through the ranks of our group through sheer moxie and persistent belief in his abilities. His philosophical approach creates sudden breakthroughs and moments of magic and mayhem. Catch him on other stages around town or directing his sketch group Lucid Dreaming in one of their brilliant productions.

Jason Stephens

Jason Stephens is a consummate voice actor and impressionist (ask him for his Morgan Freeman). His trivia knowledge of video games, music, and pop culture is hard to top. He has the weird skill of being able to name a movie off of one still frame. This whole Monkey Business Institute was Jason’s idea, as he asked Brad to co-found it with him. Jason’s improv is smart and giving. You may see him committing to a background character harder than anyone. He excels at challenging games like Naive Replay and Guess What.

Vanessa Tortolano

Vanessa Tortolano is a fearless performer of stand-up comedy and improv with a big heart and big hair. An accomplished singer, songwriter, and guitarist, creator of the most delicious craft kombucha on the planet, mother of sons, and lover of herbs, oils, and vegetables, when Vanessa is playing you can expect bold choices and loud voices.

Marc Turnes

Marc Turnes is a Monkey Business Institute DJ. Lover of clever wordplay, superheroes, games, and all things nerdy, Marc’s positive personality shines through in his work as a DJ. He is the host of the improv podcast “It Came From the Headlines”, and is a prolific internet comic artist who holds a degree in history and enjoys scolding politicians.

Alumni

Monkey Business Institute has been active in Madison for over a decade. During this time, some of our very favorite cast members have moved on to new cities and new adventures. However, they remain part of our troupe and visit us on occasion for very special performances.

Luke Arthur

Luke was born on Tatooine a long time ago. During his teenage years, he and his brother Bo were notorious bootleggers who flattened hills and straightened curves for the Georgia Department of Transportation. He then wrote a short biography of Jesus that remains popular to this day.

Colleen Berg

Colleen’s thighs are muscular, but her soul is gentle. It is the fusion of these two parts of herself that have led her to her passions in life: teaching social skills to middle schoolers, running through the wilderness with her dog, eating too many raw carrots and/or radishes on a daily basis, and improvising silliness with friends (since 2011).

Benson Gardner

Benson Gardner is just the sort of person you’d expect to be a video/film creator, government communicator, one-time public radio journalist, Splu Urtaf co-founder, aspiring historian, happy father, husband and meditator. Except for the cutlass.

Linda Hedenblad

Linda is a graduate of the first Monkey Business class. In fact, for a while, taking classes from Brad Knight and Jason Stephens was her part-time career. When Linda isn’t performing, she is using comedy to keep people awake while teaching professional ethics.

Jennifer Javornik

Having been raised on formulaic 70s sitcoms, our resident Canadian lives by two mantras: “Always have your next party and your next vacation planned.”

Sean Moore

Sean Moore is an accomplished improviser and stand-up comic, for which he won Madison’s Funniest Comic competition in 2010. He is well known for his physical comedy and firm handshake.

David Rodriguez

David dabbles in the arts, which means cooking, photography and ― since 2007 ― making you laugh. In his free time, David likes to cook gourmet four-course meals for his friends or anyone who will pay him. Then he takes pictures of the food (see “arts” above).

Ari Salinger

After being kicked out of the Shaolin Temple, Ari decided he had no choice but to cut his teeth on stage. He once played under the direction of Irving R. Feldman (deceased). If Ari was a dog, he’d be a small one. He enjoys sweets and coffee and his family and coffee and science and coffee.

Matt Sloan

Matt is the co-creator of Chad Vader and the voice of Darth Vader for various video games and commercials. He can be seen on the web in “Beer & Board Games” and “Welcome to the Basement” and on stage with the Are We Delicious? ensemble. He collects old records and has cats.

John Steeno

John Steeno cannot be contained by any walls, especially the fourth one. John is one of our most respected teachers and a skilled actor and writer with a passion for sketch writing which he has shared with many Monkey Business students. His improv style is at turns bitingly sarcastic and disarmingly sincere, emotionally resonant and ridiculous, often electrifying and always truthful. He knows a lot about superheroes, football, Pokemon, and hugs, and loves the long form style of our Monkey Business Improv Lab shows. He is also a traitor who can’t be trusted not to move to a different state.

Aaron Yonda

Along with co-creating the Chad Vader series (120+ million views), Aaron created a gaming channel on YouTube called GameSocietyFilms with 5 million views in 6 months. Watch Aaron and his friends get drunk and play board games online at Blame Society Films or see everything he gets up to at aaronyonda.com

Admin

Our admin staff keeps things running smoothly behind the scenes. Here’s their contact information in case you need to get in touch with them.

Ryan Walters

Our House Manager, Ryan Walters, is truly the troupe’s biggest fan, and the only known human to have moved from another state specifically to join MBI. Ryan loves to make people laugh, and that’s one big reason he loves being a part of the MBI crew. He loves seeing MBI’s customers and interacting with them – it puts a smile on his face every time! Email Ryan if you have questions about shows or booking The Vault: ryan@monkeybusinessinstitute.com

Press Inquiries

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Kindra Goehler
Dirigible Studio
kindra@dirigiblestudio.com
2002 Atwood Avenue, #208
Madison, WI 53704