About: Players

The Improvised Shakespeare Company

Joey Bland

Joey Bland moved to Chicago from Virginia, where he attended the College of William and Mary. Outside The Improvised Shakespeare Company, he has performed with ComedySportz, the iO Theater, and The Second City. For two years, Joey traveled the world with The Second City Touring Company, and in 2009, he played the title role in The Second City's hit, original musical, Rod Blagojevich, Superstar. Joey is a two-time Jeopardy champion.

horizontal line

Ross Bryant

Ross Bryant is from coastal North Carolina, and is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts and Appalachian State University. Previously, he has performed in comedy festivals all over America with the hip-hop improv show The Beatbox, in Maine with Improv Acadia, and in the Mediterranean with Second City aboard the Norwegian Jade. In addition to The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Ross is an ensemble member of The Second City National Touring Company, the critically acclaimed Baby Wants Candy, and the iO house team Bullet Lounge. Time Out Chicago magazine recently named him one of “10 things that made us laugh this year.” Ross is beyond grateful for the love and support of his family and friends.

horizontal line

Joe Burton

Joe Burton has been improvising in Chicago since graduating from N.C. State University in 1999.  In Chicago, he has performed with various ensembles such as Otis, American New Year, The Fowler Family Radio Hour, as well as The Improvised Shakespeare Company.  He has taught improvisation at The Second City.  He has also taught at high schools and theaters throught the country, and internationally.  He is the founder of Bughouse Theater in Chicago.  He would like to thank his family and friends for their love and support, especially his wife, Shelby and son, Crash.

horizontal line

Andy Carey

Andy Carey performed, toured, and taught for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, and the Boise Contemporary Theater after receiving his B.F.A. from the University of Idaho.  Since moving to Chicago he has trained with the iO Theater, The Second City Conservatory and the Annoyance.  In addition to The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Andy is a member of Baby Wants Candy (Chicago), Willie Nelson Slept Here (iO Theater) and A Crew of Patches theater company. Much love to his wife Christy and son Keagan. 

horizontal line

Brendan Dowling

Brendan Dowling is a Massachusetts native and a graduate of the College of William and Mary.  In Chicago, he has toured with The Second City's National Touring Company and has been a member of ComedySportz.  He also performed in The Second City Denver's inaugural production of Red Scare, as well as writing and performing The Second City Denver's How I Lost My Denverginity.  Brendan can also be seen creating improvised musicals with Baby Wants Candy. He would like to thank his family for being so great.

horizontal line

Randall Harr

Randall Harr spent two years in Amsterdam performing with the comedy theatre Boom Chicago.  In addition to this, Randall wrote and performed in the Second City Cleveland reviews Who's yer Baghdadi? and No Shirt, No Shoes, No WMDs. His other Second City credits include Sex and the Second City, Rod Blagojevich Super Star (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), and Peach, Drop, Stop and Roll (Atlanta's Alliance Theatre).  Randall has also performed for the Second City on the high seas aboard the Norwegian Dawn.  Randall would like to thank his family for their continued support and love.

horizontal line

Greg Hess

Greg Hess is a founding member of the critically acclaimed Cook County Social Club. Credits include the TBS Just For Laughs Festival, the Second City national touring company, Baby Wants Candy and the pilot My Mans for Comedy Central. He is a contributing writer for the Onion News Network, and is the co-creator of "Schlub Life," a pilot currently in development with Comedy Central. Greg is a graduate of William & Mary, and has trained at iO Chicago, the Second City and the School at Steppenwolf. Follow him @heygreghess or www.greghess.me.

horizontal line

Thomas Middleditch

Thomas Middleditch joined The ISC during it's birth back in 2005. Now residing in Los Angeles, he can be seen in shows like Diamond Lion, Gravid Water, and Baby Wants Candy. You may also see him doing his various characters at various variety/standup shows and in College Humor videos. He was the lead in the indie feature, Splinterheads, and can be seen for about two seconds in Catherine Zeta-Jones' The Rebound. You can also see him in the upcoming feature films Road To Nardo and Fun Size.  He is a big tough man-guy and made his own website with his BARE HANDS. www.thomasmiddleditch.com.

horizontal line

Blaine Swen

Blaine Swen is the creator and director of The Improvised Shakespeare Company.  He can also be seen at iO Chicago performing in the two-person group Blessing with Susan Messing.  His other iO credits include the house team Bullet Lounge, the one-man improvised musical, BASH!, The Armando Diaz Experience, The Deltones, and Challenger. He has also performed in Chicago with The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pegasus Players Theatre, The Second City Education Company, and The Backroom Shakespeare Project. He has toured the country with The ISC, the iO Road Show, and The Second City's BizCo.    He recently shot a comedy sketch pilot for NBC.  His other television credits include Crisis (NBC) and Odd Couple (CBS). The Chicago Reader has named him the "Best Improviser in Chicago." Blaine has a PhD in philosophy from Loyola University, Chicago.  Find him on Twitter @BlaineSwen.

horizontal line

Ric Walker

Ric Walker is an actor, director, and teacher who has toured extensively for Wavelength, an education based comedy troupe and for The Second City in BizCo and BoatCo, where he toured the Mediterranean and European ports. In addition to The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Ric can be seen performing locally with the Serendipity Theatre Collective in Second Story.

horizontal line

Steve Waltien

Steve Waltien hails from Shelburne, VT. He is a proud graduate of Middlebury College and has been living and performing in Chicago since 2001. In addition to The Improvised Shakespeare Company, you may have seen Steve improvising with the iO Theatre house ensemble Bullet Lounge, The Armando Diaz Experience, Whirled News Tonight, or the Second City National Touring Company. He recently wrote and performed his first one-man show Scenes With Ghosts at iO. He also writes and performs sketch comedy with Jordan Klepper. Their two person show Jordan and Steve are Steve and Jordan, Respectively was named 'the best sketch show of 2008' by the Chicago Tribune and 'one of 2008's funniest moments' by TimeOut Chicago. The pair were also correspondents for two seasons on the television show Friday Night Tailgate on the Big Ten Network. Recently Steve was thrilled to be a part of the live Mr. Show Reunion with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross.

horizontal line

Martin Wilson

Martin Wilson grew up in Washington DC, and is an alum of the College of William & Mary, where he served as co-director of Improvisational Theatre (aka 'I.T.') for three years. Outside of The Improvised Shakespeare Company, he is an emeritus ensemble member at ComedySportz, and a part of the exclusive Billionaire Boys Club, having performed in their productions Concept Album: Shuffle and Toast at iO, as well as The People in Your Neighborhood at ComedySportz. He has taught all ages and skill levels as a CSz faculty member, in addition to running workshops and trainings for corporate and other groups through The Corporate Learning Institute, Dave & Co, and others. Last but certainly not least, he loves and thanks his beautiful wife Marianna.

horizontal line

Matt Young

Matt Young is an actor, writer, improv coach, teacher, and proud member of the Improvised Shakespeare Company. He is a founding member of Whirled News Tonight, the long-running improvised satire at iO Chicago. Matt leads the inept crew of the U.S.S. Sisyphus as Captain Baxter in Improvised Star Trek (sometimes a live show, but always available as a podcast on iTunes). In addition to this, he has appeared in other improvised shows such as The Welcome to Your 30s Boys and Concept Album. He has also appeared in commercials for companies such as Long John Silvers, YouTube, Honda, and Comcast.

Photos random photos

"staggeringly brilliant"

TimeOut Chicago

"Smart, sophisticated, downright hilarious"

TimeOut Chicago

View all awards and quotes.
mail bag

Ask The ISC a question. Maybe your question will be answered in the ISC video mailbag.