Some of my favorite things to read, places to play, and people to learn from.
While these are mostly LA based schools, if you’re not in Los Angeles, many of these instructors teach all over the country. Your local community theater or university theater department may also have suggestions for where you can find classes in your town.
Improv, Stand-up, and Sketch Comedy
M.i.’s Westside Comedy Theater
Originally the “Westside Eclectic,” which was founded by friends of mine from business school. I cut my teeth in the world of improv here, and love the founders’ philosophy towards teaching the basics with an eye to creating your own way of improvising. They also have great improv and stand-up shows every night of the week.
In addition to being the LA home of the Harold (a form of improv comedy), they have a killer musical improv class. The show, “Opening Night,” is one of the longest running musical improv shows around. If you love musical theater, this will blow your mind.
Many of the folks who teach and play at iO also teach here. And the Second City musical improv program is really fantastic.
Along with Second City, this was one of the first improv schools I ever learned about. They focus a lot on how to find (and up) the game of a scene. You might have heard of one of its founders – Amy Poehler from “Saturday Night Live,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “Inside Out.”
Probably one of the most competitive improv programs, the Groundlings hold regular classes in improv, sketch and writing, as well as host some stellar sketch shows. They’re known for asking students to repeat classes before allowing them to advance, as well as for having to audition to get into higher level classes. That said, these are the folks who gave us “Pee Wee’s Playouse,” so they must be doing something right.
The Kalmensons (a husband & wife team) have offered VO classes for decades and have become known as a go-to place for getting VO instruction.
Joyce Castellanos and Gene Cordes share their knowledge of Promo VO with students, as well as lead regular workout groups for working VO actors. They offer group classes, workouts, demo production and private lessons.
Martha Mayakis and Gary Giambo offer group and private classes at a variety of experience levels. For working pros on the go, they also offer an affordable “Talk & Go” option for recording your auditions.
Originally taught by one of my first VO teachers, Dolores Diehl, this school is now run by the hilarious and fantastic Susan Boyajian.
Kelly Passinault and her team offer great workshops starting with the basics and up to working pros. In addition to classes, the studio offers casting services and inexpensive “VO & Go” studio time for auditioning on the fly.
Mary Lynn Wissner is a casting director and VO coach who hosts some really great workouts with agents and casting directors through her “Meet the Pros” nights. My pro-tip: make sure you’re pro-ready when you go to meet the pros – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Susan Palyo teaches a great fundamentals class, where you can learn mic technique, and practice working with commercial and animation copy. The studio also hosts VO workout nights and classes facilitated by a variety of talented instructors. (Check their Events page for more info.)
The definitive guide to all things VO. Includes classes, demo producers, studios, and much more.
Want to know where all the agents are? Who’s on their roster? This is where you go.
Theater news, a newsletter with some great advice for actors, and (mainly) theater casting notices from all around the country. There are also some on camera roles posted here as well.
The Drama and Theater Resource Guide
From SuperSummary, the DTRG aggregates all kinds of info – from studying and teaching Drama to basic vocabulary, history and even links to classic plays.
HollywoodReporter.com + Variety.com
News about the biz. Back in the day, the daily paper versions were a must read for anyone in the business of “the business.” Still a great resource for inside info on all things Hollywood.
A “plain english” digest of daily news. It’s a cheeky supplement to the regular stuff.
A daily digest of startup and entrepreneur related news. It’s a cheeky supplement to the regular stuff.
I read anywhere from 1-3 books per week. The ones I’ve really enjoyed will be posted here.
The Tools I Use to Run My Business
Project Management: Trello
Bookkeeping: QuickBooks for Self-Employed
Cloud Storage: Dropbox