Ian Prior

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I was born in Boston, England (“the original” is how I describe it to Americans) on Christmas Day 1954. I grew up in a small town near Scarborough, of the fair fame. I started performing sketch comedy in the UK when I was 18. After coming to the states, I did sketch work and tried my hand at stand-up.

I was rather English in those days and knew I needed to loosen up. So I tarted taking improv at Chicago City Limits in 1981. Got totally hooked, as we all do. My teachers were the usual suspects from the early days of CCL: the late George Todisco, Carol Schindler, LInda Gelman, Paul Zuckerman, Bill McLaughlin, Chris Oyen. Also, Del Close and others whom I now forget. I actually met my now ex-wife in the CCL classes.

I joined the CCL touring company in 1982 or ’83. I also performed at the “Improv Jam,” run first by Joey Novick and then the wonderful Jane Brucker, throughout the mid-1980s, mostly at Folk City in the Village. I began hosting the Jam in the late 1980s and ran it until 1993. The improv impresario Tom Soter became the host of the Jam shortly after that. I also performed, now and again, with the brilliant crew at the First Amendment, as well as with a couple of other groups. I taught corporate improv classes and workshops for quite a few years in the late 1990s, which was a lot of fun.

I am now a senior writer for a large U.S. bank’s “high net worth” division (i.e., people with gazillions of dollars). I stopped performing improv a decade ago but began again, at Sunday Night Improv, just last month, after attending an improv workshop run by the fabulous Carol Schindler.

Tom graciously invited me to do a show and I’m so glad I agreed. It was a delight to be back in the world of “Yes And.” My goal in doing SNI is simply to let the old instincts kick in and just have fun. My first time back was my most rewarding improv show in a decade. My most challenging improv moments are always the improvised songs. I am brilliant at them – in the shower.

I have done no other performing. I made some videos in the early 2000s with my friend and mind meld, Sean Gillia: How to Start Smoking. They’re probably still kicking around on YouTube. I wrote some screenplays, including, Christmas Baby, about growing up annually gift-deprived. I’m a fourth degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Soo Bahk Do. I also appeared a lunatic doctor in Christian Doherty’s Subliminal Mutilations.

My thanks to my daughter, who has taught me so much about life.