Jess Schuknecht | Monkey Business Institute

How many years have you been a troupe member with MBI? I honestly don’t know. Two? Three?

How many years have you taught classes with MBI? 1

What other improv or performing experience do you have?

I began teaching improv in 1999 with ComedySportz, where I performed for six years. I co-founded Atlas Improv Co. in Madison, where I also performed, taught classes, and spent time serving as their artistic director.

Briefly describe yourself:

In numerous ways, improv changed my life: It contributed to landing my current job, created countless friendships, and even my family. I love stories and storytelling. I am that person that wants to make everyone around them happy.

Favorites/hobbies?

A good grilled steak. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Weird Al Yankovic. The outdoors. Swimming. Games of almost any kind.

What’s your favorite part of teaching improv for MBI?

Watching students’ brains go from running in slow motion to a full-on sprint as they take the tools they’re taught and start putting them to use.

People often equate improv with being funny, and thus try to be funny while doing improv. First, anyone can be funny, even if you don’t think you are. Second, don’t try to force humor into improv – it’s a trap, and fails more often than it succeeds. My philosophy on improv is this: Tell good stories with good characters and good improv will follow. The funny will come on its own, beautifully and organically.