News Archives | Monkey Business Institute

December 20th • 5:30pm • The Brink Lounge 
Get your tickets today!

This magical night of holiday celebration starts off with cocktails and caroling, led by our very own Monkey Tabernacle Choir. Then, the MBI cast presents a never-before-seen holiday-themed improv comedy performance. To wrap up the evening, audience members are welcome to join the MBI Cast in a white elephant gift exchange*. We ho-ho-hope to see you at the annual MBI holiday hootenanny!

[*what in the world is a white elephant gift exchange? Read up here. Want to join the MBI Cast in a gift exchange? Be sure to bring a wrapped gift along with you! Don’t want to exchange gifts? No problem – you can stick around and watch, but it’s way more fun to participate.]

Tickets are on sale now – click the button below to purchase yours today!

Buy Tickets

The voting for Isthmus’ MadFaves 2019 reader poll is currently underway. Vote for Monkey Business Institute in the Favorite Performance Group category and help us land this coveted title. Click this link and cast your vote for MBI today!

And while you’re at it, consider casting a ballot for MBI cast members and friends of the troupe who’ve been nominated as well. Who are these people/entities? What a fantastic question! These are the folks we humbly submit for your voting consideration:

Also, don’t forget to spread the word that MBI needs all the votes we can get in order to win. Tell your friends. Mention it in passing to fellow travelers. Share on all the social platforms. You know what to do, so let’s make this happen, folks! Most importantly, make sure you get your vote in before the polls close on July 31st.

On behalf of everyone here at Monkey Business Institute: Thanks!

For more info on the MadFaves 2019 reader poll, head to isthmus.com/madfaves.

The second and final round of voting for Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison 2019 reader poll is currently underway. Vote for Monkey Business Institute in the Best Comedy Group category and help us land this coveted title. Click this link and cast your vote for MBI today!

And while you’re at it, consider casting a ballot for MBI cast members and friends of the troupe who’ve been nominated as well. Who are these people/entities? What a fantastic question! These are the folks we humbly submit for your voting consideration:

  • Local Actor: Al Hart
  • Local Band or Singer – Cover Band: VO5 (Andrew Rohn)
  • Columnist/Print Journalist – Dylan Brogan
  • Cup of Tea – Common Ground (site of our new, exciting Thursday show!)
  • New Restaurant – Common Ground (see above)
  • Pizza – Glass Nickel Pizza Co. (our regular stomping grounds)
  • Takeout – Glass Nickel Pizza Co.

Also, don’t forget to spread the word that MBI needs all the votes we can get in order to win. Tell your friends. Mention it in passing to fellow travelers. Share on all the social platforms. You know what to do, so let’s make this happen, folks! Most importantly, make sure you get your vote in before the polls close on October 31st.

On behalf of everyone here at Monkey Business Institute: Thanks!

For more info on the Best of Madison 2019 reader poll, head to madisonmagazine.com/bom.

MBI Meets Up With Future MBAs

Business is our middle name. Literally. So, naturally, MBI felt right at home during a recent playshop held for incoming MBAs at UW-Madison’s School of Business. Sheila Robertson, Professional Fun-haver and MBI cast member, conducted the playshop, which was held at Grainger Hall on August 21st. Thanks to everyone who joined us – we had a great time and can’t wait to be back next year!

To learn more about playshops, click here! Share the benefits of improv with your team – contact us today to set up a playshop!

House Blend – Monkey Business Institute’s brand new weekly show – makes its stage debut on September 4th at 7pm. Brewed fresh each Tuesday, House Blend is a well-balanced, exceptionally smooth improv comedy show featuring the talents of both up-and-coming performers and MBI’s seasoned professional cast members.

Get your tickets for the first ever House Blend show and be sure to visit our Events Calendar to find future House Blend performances.

Learn the Secrets of the Improv Mindset

What if everyone in your workplace communicated more clearly? That would be pretty sweet. But how do you get to that point? How do you teach people to listen to each other more attentively?

Enter Brad Knight, founder and creative director of Monkey Business Institute and a 26-year veteran of the improv scene and experienced keynote speaker. The skills improv comedians are taught to use onstage to delight audiences translate offstage as well, and Brad is skilled at teaching you how to leverage the power of improv to help your organization communicate.

Thanks to advances in technology, it’s easier than ever to hire Brad to deliver a keynote address to your business group or organization.

  1. Shoot us a line – Tell us a little bit about yourself so that we can understand what you’re looking for from having Brad speak to your group.
  2. Iron out the details – Let’s have a quick chat about dates, locations, how many people will be attending, any special topics or areas that Brad should cover during his delivery – we’re totally cool with shaping the message to fit the needs and context of your event.
  3. It’s a deal! Once all the details are sorted out, let’s get it in writing and sign on the line which is dotted (figuratively, as least).
  4. Brad shows up! Brad slays, your audience wins the day.
  5. The wind shifts, Brad steps outside, opens his umbrella and is whisked away, soaring high above an Edwardian-era English cityscape.

Why settle for boring when you can hire Brad Knight instead! As you can see, it’s easy to do and, most importantly, your audience will never forget Brad’s engaging, entertaining delivery. Learn more here or email Brad at brad@monkeybusinessinstitute.com to get started!

Behold! Sheila Robertson, Professional Fun Haver

Bringing Improv To the People

Sheila Robertson has been performing improv, making things up, and – in general – winging it professionally since the early 1990s. She fell in love with improv comedy at 14 years old after seeing ComedySportz perform in Madison, inspiring an urge to become an improv comedian herself. Sheila began honing the craft of ‘Yes, and…’ by performing, DJing, and MCing hundreds of shows all over country, including Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. At one point she was performing four shows a week. These days, she can be seen doing shows, teaching improv, conducting Playshops, and making up songs and musical comedy with Monkey Business Institute’s The Music Department. Sheila is also a founding member of the all female improv show Yes Ma’am and loves being a professional Fun Haver.

Improv training has influenced my life from a young age. I’ve been able to use the improvisational theme of ‘Yes, and…’ in relationships, business, adventures, and life. It allows me to create quick connections, be present and engaged in the moment, think big, take risks, think creatively, and be open to possibilities that I can’t imagine on my own. – Sheila

Through the years with Monkey Business Institute, Sheila has taught countless Playshops to small groups, large groups, small non-profits, large corporations, school-aged kids, grown ups, and even a bunch of rowdy librarians. “Teaching the basic concept of improv to beginners is one of my favorite things. I absolutely believe that if people adapt their life to include just a little bit of the concepts used by improvisers to put on a fun show, the world will be a better place.”

Outside the comedy world, Sheila is an accomplished sales professional, becoming a top salesperson in several different markets, from small local businesses to large national franchises. She credits her success to improv comedy, in particular the way it forces performers to be attentive listeners, as well as being open to the ideas your scene partner throws your way.

Sheila is ready with the perfect ice breaker for any meeting and hosts a Friday at 4pm Dance Party at her work.

Improving Communication With Improv Comedy

A Custom Playshop By Sheila Robertson

Sheila Robertson (who? Get hip on Sheila now!) recently developed and conducted a custom Playshop as part of the 10th Annual UW-Madison Women & Leadership Symposium. Along with her co-presenter, Jacy Whitehead, Sheila demonstrated the ways in which the same skills utilized by improv comedians can be used to benefit one’s personal and professional life.

The UW-Madison Women & Leadership Symposium was fantastic! My favorite part of the day was looking around at the large group sessions and seeing 550+ powerful female leaders in one place. The energy in the room was palpable with a high frequency of greatness. Everyone I encountered was kind, interesting, clever, smart and open. I feel very lucky to have participated in the day. – Sheila

A big thanks to Jacy Whitehead, UW-Madison’s Learning and Talent Development department, and to all who attended this event.

Interested in learning more about our Playshops? Our website has lots of information – click here to head to our Playshop page. Still have questions? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us via email at info@monkeybusinessinstitute.com and let us know how MBI can teach valuable, lifelong skills to your team.

Monkey Business Institute Wants Your Vote

Choose MBI As Your 2018 Mad Fave

Voting has begun for the 2018 edition of The Isthmus’ Mad Faves. Winning this would mean a lot to us, so y’know… click this link and enter Monkey Business Institute in the Favorite Performance Group category. And when you’re done doing that, consider telling a friend to do the same. That would be pretty swell.

Please note that this year’s voting method is different from previous ones in that there is only one round of voting. That means we really need everyone to spread the word to friends, family, historic enemies, strategic allies, random strangers, specific strangers, interlopers, hanger-ons, ne’er-do-wells, ne’er-do-bads, or anyone else you may have contact with. Thanks in advance! You’re the best. (No, you are.)

Heart,

The Collective Consciousness of Monkey Business Institute

P.S. Go Vote! (Please)

Renaissance/Freaking Hilarious Woman

 

In addition to being a Monkey Business Institute cast member, Vanessa Tortolano is a stand-up comic, an entrepreneur (she is a co-founder and co-owner of NessAlla Kombucha), a musician, a scholar of herbs and natural healing, and a badass mother. Hey, Vanessa – save some talent for the rest of us! Learn more about Vanessa below, including how she came to be a cast member, what it’s like doing stand-up and how it compares to improv, and projects in which she’s involved.

It all started with a little bit of kombucha.

A roving, rakish, rabble-rousing renegade reporter – Dylan Brogan –  was doing a story on the local food scene. He tried some booch. He loved the booch, gave Vanessa some tix to an upcoming MBI performance, and she fell in love, knowing that this is where she needed to be – on stage with a bunch of other weirdos, having a blast in front of an audience. A classic booch-for-improv-classes swap-a-roo took place and Vanessa became a troupe member in 2012. And it’s all thanks to the booch.

Performing and Hosting

Today, Vanessa performs with Yes Ma’am, the popular Improv Lab show featuring the Women of Monkey Business and hosts The Merge. The Merge is our stand-up/improv mashup and Vanessa is in charge of coordinating talent – scouting up and coming local and regional stand-up comics

New Adventures in Being Funny

Vanessa started doing stand-up about three years ago, which is still pretty fresh for stand-up comics. In that short amount of time, she’s found herself onstage in all sorts of venues, locally and other states. Including Lady Laughs Comedy Festival, Madison Comedy Week, State Street Comedy Club, and even some time on stage in New York City.

See Her Around Town

Follow Vanessa on Facebook and get updates on her shows: https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.tortolano

The Merge: A Reckless Nexus of Improv and Stand-up Madness!

The Merge returns to the stage on Friday, May 18th (tickets available here). Are you ready? Can you handle this revolutionary mashup of improv and stand-up comedy? Before answering, let’s first take a look at what The Merge has to offer.

What is… The Merge?  

Listen up  – The Merge isn’t your average comedy show. Far from it. The Merge is all about blazing new trails. Shifting paradigms. Reimagining what a comedy show can be. The Merge isn’t concerned with “rules” or “norms” or “traditions” or falling in line. Nope, not a single care in the world for that kind of nonsense. Save that for The Squares, ya dig? When The Merge starts worrying about fitting in, you’ll know that The Merge has lost its way. Or that its been taken over by Big Comedy. Or bodysnatched and replaced with its Evil Twin or some sort of cyborg doppelganger. Short of those randomly posited scenarios taking place, The Merge will always be the real deal: An unconventional, iconoclastic comedy show that’s reshaping the comedy world.

How so?

With variety. Mixing things up. By bringing together comedy’s most polarized camps – improv and stand-up – and having them put on a show together. The result of this devil-may-care approach is an Improv Lab show that combines stand-up sets from local and touring comics followed by the unpredictable improv comedy from MBI’s madcap cast. And in the night’s final act of brazen nonconformist behavior, the stand-up comics join MBI cast members onstage to play improv games.

Tell me more!

You can catch The Merge on Friday, May 18th. Follow the link for details and to purchase tickets.

MERGE DETAILS AND TICKETS

Improv: A Uniquely American Art Form

As American As Jazz, Baseball, and Roadside Firework Stands

If you’re interested in the history of improv, be sure to listen to this episode of 1A, entitled Yes, And: How Improv Remade Comedy (episode link here). First aired on December 12, 2017, 1A host Joshua Johnson talks to author Sam Wasson about his book, ‘Improv Nation: How We Made A Great American Art’. During their discussion, Wasson dives into the history of improv and talks about why improv deserves recognition as a uniquely American art form. In addition to talking about improv’s history and how his book came about, Wasson spends time explaining the basics of improv and provides examples of how improv skills are being utilized away from the stage.  And while you’re listening, stick around for the second segment to hear Joshua Johnson’s interview with Ryan Asher, who performs with Second City’s MainStage in Chicago.

Use the link below to listen to this episode, as well as an excerpt from Wasson’s book. And if you see improv in the news or getting some quality media attention, let us know by emailing info@monkeybusinessinstitute.com.

Listen: 1A | WAMU | Yes, And: How Improv Remade Comedy

Front cover of Improv Nation: How We Made A Great American Art by Sam Wasson