Carolina Improv Company Mission Statement: Carolina Improv Company strives to bring the art form of improvisation to both the locals and visitors of the Grand Strand through classes and shows, as both a creative outlet and hobby for players and as a unique form of intellectual and family-friendly comedic entertainment. We value CIC as a brand that is open to anyone who wants to learn, practice or watch improv in a team environment with unconditional support and respect for people’s own personal values and goals.
Founder Gina Trimarco Cligrow started Carolina Improv Company (CIC) in September 2008 on a fluke because she was in need of a refresher improv class to re-energize herself. She had relocated from Chicago to Myrtle Beach in 2007 to re-launch the IMAX 3D Theater Myrtle Beach after being recruited away from the successful Navy Pier IMAX Theater. The overall relocation and job took such a toll on her that she thought an improv class was just the thing she needed to “re-adjust” her attitude since improv was always her remedy when times got tough. She searched and searched for a place to take classes and sadly discovered that not only did improv not exist in Myrtle Beach, but many people didn’t even know what it was (and many still refer to it as “improve”). Someone suggested that she teach classes instead of taking classes and introduce the artform to those on the Grand Strand. With the help of Zach Ward and DSI Comedy Theater, CIC was born in September 2008 as a hobby for her, with the first series of classes scheduled for that November at Legends In Concert (LIC) in Surfside Beach, SC. Ironically and unexpectedly, Gina and IMAX parted ways in October 2008, one week before the first class was scheduled to begin!
As the classes grew more popular Gina needed to seek locations that were accessible at night for those who worked during the day and were interested in this new hobby choice. From LIC, CIC moved on to Theater of the Republic (TOR) in Conway, using their dance studio and green room. TOR was so busy that CIC quickly overstayed their welcome and had to move again to a photography studio. Exactly one year later (in 2009) the Myrtle Beach Mall offered CIC a space of its own to teach classes and start an improv comedy theater with local residents as the performers.
Uptown Theater, named after the Uptown Theater in Chicago, opened at the Myrtle Beach in November 2009 with shows for all ages, plus more classes. At the same time CIC became the 2009 recipient of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Business Innovation Award. The popularity of the original Improv 101 resulted in more levels of classes for those who became addicted to the artform, with more than 200 students in two years. The popularity of the family friendly shows resulted in becoming #1 for Nightlife in Myrtle Beach on TripAdvisor. As audience members became repeat customers, new shows were created to appeal to different ages and demographics. Repeat customers are both locals and tourists, with many tourists making CIC their annual family tradition for affordable entertainment for all ages.
Gina studied improv at the famed Second City and Players Workshop of the Second City while her career in entertainment marketing blossomed in Chicago. What started out as a hobby for Gina, turned into a foundation for everyday life. “The primary tool of improv is re-learning how to say ‘yes’ to whatever presents itself to you in life. When you say ‘yes’ life becomes before interesting and less restrictive. Just watch how children behave. Anything is possible to a child. We forget that as adults,” says Trimarco. “This concept can be applied to anything in life,” she continues. Improv training during Trimarco’s college years helped her land a career in television and film production and ultimately as a marketing director for entertainment companies.
For those unfamiliar with the art of improv, the quickest way to explain it is to equate it to the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? hosted by Drew Carey in which the actors create unrehearsed skits, games or songs, relying only on their quick wit and improvisational skills. For those familiar with Saturday Night Live, the skits are written based on improvising ideas and scenes and many of the performers also studied at Second City, including Tina Fey, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert, George Wendt, Chris Farley, Bill Murray, Bonnie Hunt and John and Jim Belushi and many, many more!
Carolina Improv Company offers improv classes to adults and team building and public speaking training to groups and organizations, in addition to public improv comedy shows and customized entertainment for private events. Improv classes are not just for actors because they provide the tools for anyone interested in learning how to think quick on their feet, be spontaneous, be more creative, become more flexible and much more. At Carolina Improv Company they like to say “funny just happens”.
For more information about classes or shows email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (843) 272-HAHA (4242).