Improviser, author and all-around great guy, Tom Neile is in the spotlight for this week’s cast member Q&A!
Tell us, Tom, how did you find out about Sick Puppies Comedy?
I met Casey at a summit meeting of improv theater owners/team leaders years ago. He mentioned that he was thinking of starting an improv troupe in Boca. I live in Boca. I jumped on and volunteered to help. Been with Sick Puppies ever since.
What got you involved and interested in improv?
When I was 6, my dad sat me down in front of a tape recorder and began doing audio improv comedy with me. He wasn’t an improviser. Just a clever, funny guy. Did it in college as well, and did improv and sketch (audio) on the radio. Never really stopped doing it.
Tell us about your first improv show ever. What was it like?
The first improv that I did for an audience was on radio. My old friend and partner, Steve, and I had a late-night radio show in upstate NY. In addition to music, we also did comedy. Most of it was sketch comedy, and most was produced in the studio and prerecorded. But we started by doing Improvised stuff live on the radio. The first one of those was an interview show. He was the host and I was a guest who had invented, as I recall, fertilizer for artificial turf. That bit later became a continuing sketch.
What’s your favorite game/form of improv? Why?
Duo improv. It’s all about finding the right partner. Lennon finding McCartney. Simon finding Garfunkel. Establishing chemistry. Then creating a whole lot of stuff with just two people. I find that to be the most rewarding improv I do. It’s pure, and when done right, proves the power of improv.
What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had based on your life in comedy?
I don’t do mosts or bests. The times when I get it right, am totally in the moment and present and thoroughly connected with my partner are rewarding. The times when I delight my partner are rewarding.
Newer improvisers might be surprised by how much you continue to learn from improv, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. What’s something you recently learned, or that you’re currently working on?
My team has been innovating continually. We never stop. We’ve currently invented and perfected a long-form format called Deja Vu. It’s staggeringly cool. We are in the process of inventing another piece that lampoons and is in the style of corporate America. It doesn’t have a name yet. But it will probably come to fruition in the next few weeks. We are also experimenting with a format involving a large family dinner setting.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new improvisers?
Look for a generous, intelligent person who truly sees the world in a very unique way, then beg them to partner up with you until you mesh. As The Killers once sang: I don’t shine if you don’t shine.
Catch Tom at Robot Brewing Co. this Sunday for Local Craft Improv! Be sure to check out his book, “The Tao of Improv” and sign up for the 4-week Tao of Improv: An Improv Dojo class today!