Music Improv Workshop

Have you ever wondered how they make up songs on improv shows like “Whose Line is it Anyway”?

Laura Hall (Musical Director, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, The Second City) and her husband, Rick Hall (actor, musician, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, The Second City) teach music improv workshops that will show you how it’s done.

Rick & Laura have taught music improv all over the world, at comedy clubs, theaters, high schools and universities. Even if you've never done song improv before, their workshop will introduce you to the basic concepts. And if you're already experienced with song improv, they'll stretch your skills and bring you to the next level.

Laura Hall is best known as the improvisational pianist and Musical Director on the hit TV show, “Whose Line is it Anyway”, which ran for nine years on ABC, with Drew Carey hosting. After a hiatus the show is currently in its sixth season on the CW Network, with Aisha Tyler hosting. In December 2018, Laura played with the Whose Line Christmas Show at Royal Albert Hall in London, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the British & American versions of the show.
Laura has toured the country with “Drew Carey and the Improv All Stars”, and played with many other improv groups around the country, including iO Chicago and iO West, The Groundlings, Theatresports, The Improv Institute and “Opening Night: The Improvised Musical!” While at The Second City, Laura was Musical Director and Composer for the Jeff Award winning E.T.C. revue, “Channel This!” She composed original musicals with The Annoyance Theater and Theater-A-Go-Go, including “Patty, Patty, Bang! Bang!” which won an L.A. Weekly award for Best New Musical.
Laura has written music for several indie films, including “Slice of Pie”, written by and starring her husband. She scored two award winning documentaries about the holocaust, “Swimming in Auschwitz” and “After Auschwitz”, as well as romantic comedies, “Anatomy of a Breakup” and “Look at Me”, and “The Wheels on the Bus” video series, starring Roger Daltrey as an 8 ft dragon.

Rick Hall was a founding member of Chicago’s Improv Institute. At The Second City he created and performed in two Main Stage shows, “John Paul Sartre & Ringo” and “Catch 27”. Rick continues to use his improv skills as a host/presenter at meetings and corporate events, as well as at auditions and on television shows and commercials.
Rick was a series regular on the improv-based TV show “The Factory”. He played Agent Johnson on 28 episodes of the hit Disney show, “KC Undercover”. He’s been on many other television shows including “NCIS”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “24”, “Key & Peele”, “The Middle” and “Seinfeld”. He's been seen in commercials for AT&T, Centrum, Sabra Hummus and many more.
Rick loves writing and telling stories. In November 2018 he headlined at “The Reboot: Storytelling Re-Imagined” on the Central Coast. In his one man show, “Pigboy”, he tells stories about growing up on a farm in Central Illinois. The show was chosen for the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and enjoyed successful runs in L.A., Chicago, and across the Midwest. Rick has recorded a cd of several of his stories and turned one of them, “Slice of Pie”, into a short film, which has won numerous awards on the film festival circuit.

To find out more about Laura, visit
To find out more about Rick, visit

When: Sunday, July 7th from 3-6pm
Where: “Mission Theater” located on the first floor of the iO Theater.
How many 18 students


Rick and Laura Hall

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Musical Improv Toolbox Intensive

The Musical Improv Toolbox is a 4 week intensive course for students already familiar with the basics of improvisation who are looking to expand their toolbox – by adding some music to the mix! Focusing on song structure, commitment to style, singing in character, creating memorable choruses and putting it all together into musical magic. We will experiment with both organic and narrative forms as well as touching upon many others!

With David Yontz as Musical Director

Stacey Smith is a loud Long Island who just relocated back to Chicago by way of Boston where she was the Comedy School Manager at ImprovBoston, in addition to a cast member in their Music Improv Cast and Mainstage cast. Stacey performs regularly at iO in both The Musical Armando and The Deltones. She also teaches in the A-E program, Youth & Teen Program and Wellness Program at The Second City in addition to teaching at international improv festivals. Stacey performed in many theatricals at The Second City, including Life Hacks, #DateMe and two cruise contracts on The Norwegian Breakaway. Stacey recently toured her solo musical improv show STACEJAM and taught musical improv in Bulgaria, Germany, Amsterdam, Greece, Belgium, Norway and Denmark. She is also the creator of the Chicago Musical Improv Festival. To find out more, check her out at

When: Sundays from 12-3pm from June 9th - June 30th (4 class meetings)
Where: “Del Close Theater” located on the first floor of the iO Theater.
How many: 16 student maximum


Stacey Smith

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Extereme Agent Workshop

MICHAEL McCARTHY, started the writing programs at both The Second City and here at The iO Chicago and, for the first time in over a year, he’ll be conducting one of his Extreme Agent Workshops where he basically shares what he wishes somebody had told him regarding the murky world of TV literary representation-- how to get noticed, how to get read, and how to get them to work for you: a) How to prepare the best, most relevant portfolio possible, based on your professional goals, and your emerging brand; b) How to develop the biggest, most narcissistic, pyro-technique, display of your wares; c) How to focus on the right representation; d) How to get them to read you; e) How to get them to help you, help them, help you, etc... Michael has done all these things, and in the process has written for SNL, “Sesame Street,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Mike and Molly,” and many Comedy Central projects; and, as was mentioned, along with creating the writing programs at The iO West, The iO Chicago and The Second City—he created a series for Channel Four in London, a comedy festival in Ireland and a morning radio show here in Chicago.

When: Sunday, June 2nd from 3:30-5:30pm
Where: “Del Close Theater” located on the first floor of the iO Theater.


Michael McCarthy

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