Paperback Rhino

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Paperback Rhino (PBR) is a short and long-form improvisational comedy group out of Iowa City, Iowa. Founded by Arthur Stewart in 2003, it is Iowa City's longest running improv comedy group.


Traditionally, the format of a Paperback Rhino performance was pseudo-competition style short-form improvisation. The group would use some sort of elimination game to divide the group into two teams, which the audience would get to name. Next, each team would get to play two games of their choice, alternating teams, with the audience deciding which team had the better performance after each set. After a short intermission would be another elimination game (to determine which team would go first) followed by another four games. The MC often assures that the teams arrive at a tie at the end of these games, and a final large game is played to determine the victor.

In 2008 the group began experimenting with long-form improvisation in their shows. The desire to do long form, and a reduced cast, led the group to develop a new format. The shows often begin with the majority of the cast dispersed throughout the audience for a town hall, infomercial, or tent revival type of game. Next the group is introduced, and they begin a 30-45 minute short-form set. After a short intermission the group begins its long-form set with an audience suggestion.

The format of a Paperback Rhino performance depends heavily on the size and mood of both the cast and the audience. With the recent increase in cast, the format will most likely continue to evolve.

As of 2016, Paperback Rhino focuses on short form and long form improv. Their home shows are normally an hour long and consist of 5 short form games and a 20 minute long form, followed up by a closing short form game reliant on audience participation.


Paperback Rhino performs often at Public Space One in downtown Iowa City. They also perform special events around Iowa City, Iowa and the Midwest


Founded by Arthur Stewart. Began as a student group at the University of Iowa.

On December 8th 2007, Paperback Rhino opened for talk show host Oprah Winfrey and presidential candidate Barack Obama. The group performed a written sketch humorously depicting the caucus process at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.

In 2009 Paperback Rhino began producing a radio show on University of Iowa student radio station KRUI. The show, The Cooldown, with Chaz Coolington, was a fully improvised talk show, hosted by fictional character Chaz Coolington, played by David Phillips. In 2011 Paperback Rhino began creating internet web videos as Paperback Video.

Paperback Rhino has had a string of recent success in the College Improv Tournament. Paperback Rhino was the Upper Midwest Regional Champions in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Paperback Rhino was crowned national champions of the College Improv Tournament in 2016, placing first in the nation beating out approximately 100 other collegiate improv teams. Paperback Rhino finished national runner-up in 2015, and placed 3rd nationally in 2013 and in 2012..


Founder Arthur Stewart named the group "after mishearing the lyrics to the famous Beatles tune Paperback Writer." [1]


Current Members

Grace Moore (Captain), Jamie Porter (Captain), John Smith, Leela Bassuk, Rizwan Sidhu, Dave Keffala-Gerhard, Keegan Konsor, Olivia Peters.

PBR Alumni

David Blum, Kevin Burke, Michael Goldberg, Nora Scherschel, Marty Scousboe, Shane Simmons, Amanda Pichler, Darin Webb, Will Roberts, David Phillips, Joe Meyer, Megan Renner, Andrew Daniels, Paul Gray, Vanessa Kurtz, Scott Myers, Ben Schlotfelt, Dylan Schreder, Mary Fessler, Ben Mackey, Chloe Metzger, Tyler Lynch, Spencer Hawk, Riley Cook, Zach Spindler, Shane Nielsen, Dan Wilkinson, Connett Croghan, Sirena Lindsay, Nick Kleese, Leslie Symonds, Ben Kasl, Hira Mustafa, Jacob Prall, James Geneser.

See Also

External Links