The Houston Improv Festival is thrilled to be bringing exceptionally talented Instructors to Houston this year. In addition to our offerings from elite improvisers, we are adding dialect and stage combat experts to the mix. Here’s the lineup:
As a professional marketer of attractions and destinations like Sugar Land, Austin and the State of Texas, Jessica Brown has been putting butts in seats for more than 19 years. She is a native Houstonian and a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. As Director & Co-Owner of Station Theater, Jessica oversees Marketing & Public Relations. She also heads up the Applied Improv business training program and teaches long form improv. Additionally, Jessica serves as a Producer and Director of Marketing for the Houston Improv Festival and Trill Comedy Festival, and as Co-Leader of BeachProv – A Seaside Improv Retreat for Women.
Jessica completed the training programs at ComedySportz Houston and The New Movement (now Station Theater) and has continued to study improv and sketch comedy with inspirations from Kids in the Hall, iO Chicago, Annoyance Theater, Huge Theater, The New Movement and more. Jess toured nationally with TNM’s Tourceratops and has performed at the Trill Comedy Festival, Houston Improv Festival, Improv Wins, Megaphone Marathons and Houston Fringe Festival. Her current troupes include No More Words – Silent Improv, Bras Before Bros, Old Enough to Know Better, and Space Mutt.
H. Russ Brown began his career over 25 years ago in his native Texas. He has worked professionally across the country in the theatre as an actor, director, vocal/movement coach, fight director and nationally award-winning playwright. He has choreographed violence for over 100 productions and his fight work has been seen from New York to California and back again. He is a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors currently serving as Head of Theatre / Artistic Director at the College of the Mainland Theatre Program in Texas City, TX. He has also served in the past as the SAFD’s Governing Body Secretary and as Coordinator of the National Stage Combat Workshop (EXCELSIOR!). His areas of Performance Expertise include Acting, Musical Theatre, Playwriting, Voice/Dialects, Improv, Movement & Stage Combat. H. Russ holds an M.F.A. degree in Acting from Western Illinois University.
Michael Brunlieb is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s been improvising in Chicago since 2007. He improvises on Monday nights at Quenchers Saloon with Sand, on Wednesday nights with Tone at the Mission Theater, and on Saturday nights at the CIC Theater with Papa Legba. He also performs in the Holy F*ck Comedy Hour on Friday nights at the Annoyance Theater. Mike trained at the Paul Sills Theater Center and at iO.
Benji Cooksey is the Co-Owner and General Manager of CSz Houston – Home of ComedySportz. He has worked with the company for over four years and is also the co-founder of IMPROV! The Musical. Benji has a background in music and musical theatre.
Carolyn Johnson is an Equity actress, singer, director and dialect & acting coach with over 25 years of professional experience. She has performed with many of Houston’s major theatres; most recently, Houston Grand Opera and Stages Repertory Theatre. In Chicago, she was a company member of Noble Fool Theatre and Co-Artistic Director of Bugeater Theatre, and performed with numerous other companies. Carolyn has been the dialect and vocal coach on professional productions for Houston Grand Opera, Stages Repertory Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Main Street Theater, Texas Repertory Theatre and Unity Theatre, among others. In addition, she teaches privately and works with the online dialect resource, AccentHelp.com.
Kevin Miller has performed, coached, and taught improv in Austin, Texas for over 14 years. He is the dean of the Merlin Works Institute of Improvisation at the ZACH Theatre in downtown Austin. He has teaching experience around the US and as far afield as Tampere, Finland. Kevin owns one dog, two cats, and four chickens.
Chad Minchew has worked as an improvisor and trainer with CSz Houston for the last 8 years. Now the Artistic Director for the company, Chad’s role in the company is managing a team of over 40 players so that they are always sharp and engaged with audiences week in and week out. He also runs the education program for CSz Houston, as well as recruits and trains new trainers within the theatre’s own team.
Scott Nelson has been improvising and acting in Chicago since 2007. At the iO Theater he is a member of The Late 90s. Winner of Best Harold Team for three consecutive years. Scott has also actively involved with the Annoyance theater where he has been a part of eight original productions and several improv runs. Recently he returned from his second contract with Norwegian Cruise Lines, doing short form improv and sketch comedy with Second City Theatricals.
Lauren Pritchard started improvising in FL with Wayne Brady in 1991. She now performs in LA at iOWest, ComedySportz and UCB. She was a regular cast member on season 14 of MADtv. Lauren is currently recurring on Disney Channels: Stuck in the Middle, Gamers Guide, and Jessie. She was also on: HBOs True Blood, Comedy Centrals The Sarah Silverman Program, How I Met your Mother, Modern Family, Parenthood, The Crazy Ones, Vegas, Imagination Movers, Girlfriends, World Cup Comedy, Strong Medicine, ReelzTV, Acceptable TV, and currently three episodes of Andy Cohen’s Then and Now. She stars in the Film The Engagement Claus (Christmas 2016) Lauren was the face of Bank One and lots of commercials. She performed in the Made up Game Show with Wayne Brady. She Hosts the New Years eve countdown on the Castle at Disneyland. She has performed with The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast. She performs, teaches, and does corporate team building through improv with companies like Disney, Nestlé, Yahoo, Google, Sony..and many more.
Kelly Vrooman got her start as the first Live host of The Sunny Side Up Show on Sprout. She is the star of The Chica Show on Sprout/NBC Kids and the face of national spots for Bounty, Microsoft, Comcast, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and more! Kelly has created comedy content for LAFF TV and is a featured comedian for YouTube’s Equals Three. Her writing has been featured in The Huffington Post and Women’s Heath and her improv duo with Lauren Pritchard (MadTV) took the iOWest Main Stage Cage Match by storm this year. Kelly’s improv style is a playful and fearless mashup of all she’s learned from UCB, iO, Comedy Sportz, Miles Stroth, and watching people on the bus like a creeper.