Sherpa is a longform improv comedy group that performs in New York City. They have a website at http://sherpaimprov.com. Sherpa is an independent improv group, but all members were trained at the UCB Theatre, and some also at the Magnet Theater. Sherpa regularly hosts a show twice a month-- usually at Under St. Mark's Theater, and occasionally at The Red Room-- where they introduce two other improv groups and then perform their own set.
Sherpa had its beginnings in a practice group consisting of Mike Cavanaugh, Damian Chadwick, Terri O'Reilly, Hal Phillips, Steve Slate, and Joe Spellman. This group met twice in late 2006, with Zach Woods coaching the first time and Bobby Moynihan coaching the second time. The second time, a series of funny scenes about sherpas led Steve Slate to announce that he was quitting the group, but that they should call it "Sherpas" (leading to a lengthy debate among "Sherpa", "Sherpas", "The Sherpa", and "The Sherpas").
The group called itself The Military Industrial Complex for about a day, before settling on some sherpa variation, and finally just Sherpa. Taking a break for the holiday season, Sherpa replaced Steve with Beth Cartier, Aubrey Plaza, and Craig Rowin. Thus was born Sherpa's original lineup: Aubrey, Beth, Craig, Damian, Hal, Joe, Mike, and Terri. After a highly successful first rehearsal, Sherpa performed at School Night and then two nights later at Gotham City Improv with Bombardo. Sherpa's coach during this time, and longest-running coach to date, was Bobby Moynihan.
Sherpa performed throughout 2007, with a notable highlight being its May 2007 Cagematch victory against the Jawnee Conroy Allstarz. Around that same time, Terri moved to Boston, and Sherpa replaced her with Paul Welsh.
Late in 2007, Sherpa rented Under St. Marks for the first time, drawing a large enough crowd to afford two more dates. Those dates also drew large crowds, and before long, Sherpa had settled into a groove of doing two shows a month at USM. With occasional breaks, this tradition has continued to this day.
Also late in 2007, Aubrey left the group. She was later replaced by Rory Panagotopulos. When Bobby eventually stopped coaching, Sherpa's semi-regular coaches for periods of time included Ben Rodgers, Erik Tanouye, Adam Pally, and Jon Gabrus. Sherpa also invented the warmup Sherpa Tag, which has spread to other groups.
In January of 2008, Sherpa hosted an anniversary show at Under St. Marks. In addition to performing with two other groups (one of which, Twelve Thousand Dollars, included members of Sherpa), Andy Rocco hosted, and Sherpa played with several guest-performers: former members Steve Slate, Terri O'Reilly, and Aubrey Plaza, and past coaches Erik Tanouye and Ben Rodgers.
Throughout 2008, Sherpa continued to perform regularly, mostly at their twice-monthly USM show. They appeared in the Cagematch tournament early in the year, losing to Derrick, and later performed in Cagematch again, losing to Death By Roo Roo. Their Under St. Marks shows will resume on November 22nd.
Bobby Moynihan coached Sherpa for about the first eight or nine months of its existence. Ben Rodgers, Erik Tanouye, Adam Pally, and Jon Gabrus have coached them a bunch as well. Other people who've coached Sherpa once or twice include Sue Galloway, Jim Santangeli, Dominic Dierkes, Eliza Skinner, Gil Ozeri, and Kevin Hines, among others.
Other group overlap (current only)
- Beth is a member of Magnet Megawatt Team The Boss.
- Beth is a member of UCB show The Spin.
- Craig is a member of UCB Harold Team Bangs and UCB Maude Team 27 Kidneys.
- Craig and Rory perform improv and sketch together as Rory and Craig.
- Damian is a member of UCB Maude Team Mixtape '98.
- Joe is a member of UCB Maude Team Stone Cold Fox.
- Mike and Paul are members of UCB show Hot Lather
- Paul is a member of indie improv team Daddy.
- Rory is a member of indie improv team Daystallion.
- Contrary to popular belief, Craig is heterosexual.
- Sherpa once took a trip to Connecticut to do a show at Connecticut College (Craig and Rory's alam mater). On that trip, while Hal Phillips was passed out drunk, Joe Spellman took out one of his balls and dangled it above Hal's head. The photo is out there somewhere.
- One practice, a puppy that Beth Cartier was dog-sitting, joined the group. The dog memorably shit during the practice.