A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization | info@improvutopia.com
Slanted CIU 2 logo

OUR TEAM

18766019_10155294428133397_6055848578953600952_n

Nick Armstrong - a.k.a. Boss Hogg
Founder and Executive Director
nick@improvutopia.com

Nick is an Actor, Improvisor and Writer living in Los Angeles, CA. Onstage Nick has trained at The Groundlings and iO West. He is a Sunday Company alum at The Groundlings and is the former Artistic Director of Mi's Westside Comedy Theater.  He is also the co-owner of Voodoo Comedy in Denver, Colorado. You can catch him on LA’s critically acclaimed Harold team King Ten and County Line at M.I.'s Westside Comedy Theater.

On TV, Nick has been on the Emmy-Award winning shows The Office and Grey’s Anatomy. He has also made appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Stan Against Evil, Raising Hope, New Girl and Parks and Recreation. Nick has been improvising and teaching for over 20 years and has taught and performed at many festivals in the U.S. and around the World including: The Phoenix Improv Festival, San Francisco Improv Festival, Improv Fest Ireland, Seattle Improv Festival, Red Rocks Improv Festival in Utah, Out of Bounds in Austin, TX and many more. He is also Co-Founder of the The Improv Network. Feel free to following him @nickarmstrong on Twitter and @mrenergy on Instagram

thumbnailHSJacque

Jacque Arend - a.k.a. Goldtoothe
Education and Operations Manager / Assistant Camp Director West / Camp Director East & Yosemite
jacque@improvutopia.com

Jacque Arend found improv in 2005 through iO Chicago's summer intensive. After that experience Jacque joined with other improvisors in Phoenix, Arizona to found The Torch Theatre in 2007. Jacque was a Board Member, Senior Instructor, Administrator, Operations & Theater Manager, building infrastructure, managing students, producing shows, managing volunteers, updating the website and handling ticketing services until 2018. Jacque joined the Phoenix Improv Festival team in 2006 and shortly became the Hospitality Manager and then the Managing Director of the Festival until 2017.

Jacque is now an Associate Artistic Director, Improv Instructor & Operations Manager/Admin for Arizona Actors Academy & has been with Improv Utopia on staff since 2015. She is also a freelance artist & coach offering applied improvisation as part of her diversified portfolio.

20170224_202905

Wendy Penrod - a.k.a. Leopardess
Camp Director / Camp Improv Utopia West
info@improvutopia.com

Wendy is a founding member of OTC Comedy and the current Artistic Director. She has been studying and performing improvisational theatre for over 15 years. She is also a member of Pawn Takes Queen and has performed internationally. Wendy co-founded both the Red Rocks Improv Festival and Ye Olde Improv Competition. She is currently one of OTC Comedy's instructors and has taught improv to people of all ages for over 10 years.

Studio Session-091-2-X4

Anita Nicholson
Interim Diversity Advisor

diversity@improvutopia.com

Anita Nicholson has trained at Philly Improv Theater and the Magnet. Regionally, she performed with Bright Invention Improv, ComedySportz's LongForm Team, Darkwood, and Liberty City Radio. Her M.A. from Cornell and undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania surround representations of the Other in Western Culture. At Booz Allen, she served on the board for the company's Workforce Leadership Council which partnered with the company's Women's Organization, Environmental Group, and Community Partnerships. She is currently on the board for Gamma Phi Delta's Trenton  branch, a group focused on supporting diverse Women of Color in Business. She currently covers diversity in theater with Broad Street Review.

12304445_10156350524565192_1336215750694476778_o

Chris Moody a.k.a. JunkPunch
Assistant Camp Director / Camp Improv Utopia East
chris@improvutopia.com

Chris performs regularly at the Pointless Brewery and Theatre (pointlessbrew.com) in Ann Arbor, Michigan with the League of Pointless Improvisers and at festivals around North America with Consolation Fries and Holiday Road. He is one of the founders of the Detroit Improv Festival and the Detroit Improv Collective, Inc. and he volunteers and teaches improv workshops regularly at Gilda's Club Metro Detroit. He spends his weekdays as the Show Operations Manager with SME and travels regularly for work to improv cities around North America. He is also the husband of Improv Utopia East's Arts & Crafts instructor Beverly Moody and the owner of Giuseppe the Camp Dog. 

Staff__0006_Young

Jessica Young - a.k.a. Lady Supreme
Activities Director / Board Member
info@improvutopia.com

Jessica is an improviser/actress/stand up comedian in Los Angeles who performs weekly at I.O. West since 2003. Her first group was the infamous Nite Terrors along side Nick Armstrong and John Abbott. Jessica has been an original cast member of the Kind Strangers for the last 5 years. They have traveled to Improv Festivals across the country bringing their unique style of genreprov, their signature form being improvised Tennessee Williams. Jessica’s latest endeavor is stand up comedy which you can see live, on YouTube, or if you’re lucky, on the back porch of Mozzi’s Saloon during Improv Utopia. She loves the outdoors and attended her first sleep away camp at age 8. Jessica can’t wait to bring the “Arts to the Crafts” at camp this summer.

Staff__0008_O'Connell

Brian James O’ Connell -a.k.a. Papa Bear
Board Member

Brian James O’Connell is an actor, writer, director, filmmaker and improviser in Los Angeles. Brian is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts and moved to Los Angeles in 2000 to follow his dreams of a career in filmmaking.

 Brian has been with the iOWest Theater since March of 2003. With his internationally touring improv duo Billyhawk and iOWest’s legendary improv group Dr. God, Brian has performed in festivals in Denver, Phoenix, Toronto, Philadelphia, Austin, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chapel Hill, NC. Brian can be seen performing at iOWest currently with Dr. God, EXTRA STRENGTH, garguilO’connell, and Tigerpants. 

His first feature film as writer/director, KILLER VIEW, will be released theatrically in the Fall of 2010 by Fabrication Films/Grindstone Entertainment.

B37D39F8-9D9F-4311-B6A4-77B17121C9A7_1_201_a

Sean Geary a.k.a. Gym Bear
Head Counselor Camp West 2022

Sean Geary is from the San Francisco Bay Area. He trained, performed, and taught for Endgames Improv. He was a founding member of an indie team named Wachaa! who created their own spin on the Harold in 2015. He was most recently seen in a show called San Francisco Tonight performing scenes based on local headlines. Yes, it was inspired by Whirled News Tonight. He currently works as a personal fitness coach in scenic Los Gatos, California. Sean has attended every Improv Utopia at least once. If Nick Armstrong creates another location, he will attend that one, too.
445A0299 - quarter

Michael J. Astrauskas
Activities Manager at Camp West & Camp East 2022

Michael J. Astrauskas is an improvisor, photographer, and producer living in the San Francisco Bay Area.  After getting a taste of improv in high school, Michael has trained and performed in the Bay Area as well as at many festivals and workshops around the world, including in Utah, Pennsylvania, and Ireland.  In San Francisco, Michael has trained, performed, taught, and produced at Endgames improv; plus helps produce the San Francisco Improv Festival and independent comedy show SFBarprov.  His improv background includes Shakespeare, masks, Viewpoints, and various other forms.  He can be seen capturing moments at Bay Area festivals and shadows, and is staff photographer for Leela Improv.    Michael is part of trio Leaves of Three, duo Charmers Duo, Vintage Improv Festival house team Team Merritt, and InterCity Improv house team Unicorn Kingdom.  Outside of SF, he is a producer for the Improv in Action Network and InterCity Improv.  Festival credits include the Red Rocks Improv Festival, Countdown Improv Festival, San Jose Improv Festival, and Wasatch Improv Festival.    Making friends is what got Michael into improv, and the community is the number one reason he’s stuck around.

brandon bell

Brandon Hensgen - The Manager
Lead Designer

Brandon Hensgens has been performing improv since 2011. He is a teacher and performer at Finest City Improv in San Diego, CA. Brandon started his improv journey by auditioning for his first group, Roar. Since then, he has been non-stop. He has trained at iO West, Pack Theater, Dosage Improv, and Roar Theatre. You can catch him perform with his indie teams, Roar, Greg Hess’ Hair, and Craft Beer Festival. He is also the director and producer of the Harry Potter improv show, Dungeons and Dementors. Since 2013, Brandon has worked as an actor in the cast of Dinner Detective.

Outside of improv, Brandon is a graphic designer for a local news affiliate. When he isn’t working or performing, Brandon is traveling for the sole purpose to eat more food, watching Great British Bake-Off, sitting in the front row of a Robot Teammate show.

mv5bmtcxnjg3mtm4nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnza2odqxmze-_v1_ux214_cr00214317_al_

Craig Cackowski - a.k.a. The Captain
Advisor and Consultant
info@improvutopia.com

Craig Cackowski has been performing, teaching, directing and coaching improvisation for the iO and iO West theaters since 1992. While in Chicago, he was part of such groundbreaking productions as Frank Booth In The Blue Velvet Lounge, Close Quarters and JTS Brown. He also worked as a performer and director for The Second City, acting in and co-writing five revues on the Mainstage and ETC, including the Jeff Award-nominated The Revelation Will Not Be Televised. Since moving to Los Angeles, he has performed extensively at the iO West, UCB and Second City theaters, and is the three-time Del Close Award winner for iO West Teacher of the Year. Along with Bob Dassie and Rich Talarico, he has performed all over the country with Dasariski (check out their website at dasariski.com) and their short film Jakarta Boom Boom played at HBO’s Aspen and Las Vegas Comedy Festivals.

Other festival appearances include the Chicago Improv Festival, Del Close Marathon, SF Sketchfest, Out Of Bounds Austin, Just For Laughs Montreal, Phoenix Improv Festival, Denver Improv Festival, Telluride Comedy Festival, and Dallas Comedy Festival. As an actor, he may be seen in his recurring role as “Officer Cackowski” on the acclaimed NBC sitcom Community, as well as TV appearances on How I Met Your Mother, Workaholics, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, and in the film Year Of The Dog, directed by Mike White. He is also a original member of the Workjuice Players, the cast of the popular live radio show (and podcast!) The Thrilling Adventure Show. Subscribe at iTunes or on Nerdist.com.

Staff__0005_Curran

Neil Curran -a.k.a. Father Ted
Assistant Camp Director - Improv Utopia Ireland
info@lowerthetone.com

Neil has been teaching and performing improv both in Ireland and abroad for many years. Aside from running improv courses for people from beginner to advanced level, Neil also runs bespoke courses. Outside of Ireland, Neil has taught in London, Brussels, Shanghai, San Francisco, Barcelona, Krakow and San Jose.

Neil has taught at the Slapdash Festival London, Barcelona Improv Festival, Improfest Krakow and San Jose Improv Festival.

Neil has also provided key training solutions and workshops to many well known organisations both in Ireland, UK and the US including Google, Facebook, IMI, Smurfit Business School, Dropbox, AdRoll, AIB and UCD, to name but a few. He is a certified Personal & Executive Coach. Neil is currently in the middle of a Masters in Training & Education.

Have Questions for Us?

Need a question answered? No problem! We are here to help, we would be glad to assist you. Go ahead and fill out our contact form and we will be in touch soon!