Broken Pencil Improv Comedy


Was Broken Pencil’s performance at Broadway Street Stroll in July its first?

We officially formed in May out of the Fort Wayne Improv Comedy Practices. Our first performance as the Broken Pencil group was in May at a Guerrilla Theater show.


Where are each of you from and when did improv comedy start for you?

Jeanne: Nashville! I fell in love with comedy. I’ve always been a fan of Second City. William really taught me about the layers to improv. This was his dream; I was just following along!

Will: I’ve been a fan of all forms of comedy for a long time, but improv struck me as one that was particularly magical. Since Fort Wayne was building its own homegrown comedy scene, I thought we should add improv to that mix. The first time we got a large group for a practice and played games like Buckets and Freeze, I saw the sheer joy on someone’s face when they had to shout out “fuzzy nerfherders” or start a scene standing in the Karate Kid flamingo stance, and I knew this was something people needed.

Phil: Fort Wayne. After college, I moved to Chicago, and then to Indianapolis. Beyond seeing TV shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyways?”, “Wild-N-Out” and such, my involvement in improv started over a decade ago when I was living in Indianapolis and started taking the adult improv classes at ComedySportz. I took those classes for fun without knowing what to expect, because I was getting to the age where the recreational sports I was playing was requiring too many ice packs. After taking the classes for a while, I was invited to join ComedySportz’s performing group where the fun continued, but entertaining an audience was added to the experience.


Is comedy perspective or commentary?

Everyone has their own style.

Will: Given that question I’d have to say it’s both. Showing people different, and sometimes imaginary, perspectives on life is a great source of comedy. One’s perspective contains a great deal of intrinsic social commentary.  I’m still finding my voice, but it’s usually about pointing out how absurd life’s twists are and to not take anything for granted or normal.


Is anything in humor sacred or off limits? I know there is always a time and place, but classic moments aren’t always classy.

We keep it PG13.


What does improv comedy do for an individual?

Jeanne: My background is public speaking, never funny, never quick. Comedy gets you out of your head and helps you play loose, pay attention and be spontaneous. It helps your reactions to new situations and it’s good for confidence.


How do you feel it can help Fort Wayne communities?

I believe it’s a good thing by helping people forget their problems and not be isolated. It gives an opportunity to, in a “safe” environment, do something they haven’t done before.


“Fort Wayne.” What does it make you feel?

Jeanne: Diamond in the rough – of all of the cities I have lived and worked in, I am so grateful to have landed here. The people are phenomenal, there is optimism and room for growth, and the city isn’t tired. At this point, I feel that it’s on a good trajectory and unspoiled.

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What are some of your favorite places, or events?

Jeanne: I would like to shout out to Wunderkammer company for featuring such an artistic Environment and head space.

Will: Let’s Comedy and CS3’s Tiger Room for comedy shows. I’m a podcast lover and they bring some of the biggest podcasters and performers.

Phil: The parks and their history in general. Relearning the area, I’m seeing the art culture building up, the construction downtown, and culture happening.


Would you ever perform on the riverfront, if they had an open square?

If it was an organized event, improv could be anywhere, it just may not be as ideal. There have been flash mobs in Circle Square called “start a scene.”


Fill in the blank: You haven’t experienced Fort Wayne until you’ve __________.

Will: Powers hamburgers
Phil: Komets games
Jeanne: Johnny Appleseed Festival. It’s so perfectly Midwestern. I never realized he was a real person until I stumbled upon his grave site.


What would you like people to take away?

Will: Find your core. Two years ago there wasn’t improv. I found a core group that was passionate about improv comedy.

Phil: Everybody is creative. Find the outlet that works for you. And that there is improv in Fort Wayne, haha.

Jeanne: Even shy people can find empowerment. If you learn the language of it and start paying attention, you’ll find you’re not alone.

Alex Modarressi

Author: Alex Modarressi

Living Fort Wayne committee member since July 2017

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