The Project

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The Project was an independent team-based longform improv comedy show based in New York City. It ran from 2005 to 2008 at various venues. The members of the teams came from the UCB Theatre, the Magnet Theater, and The Peoples Improv Theater.


The Project was created in 2005 by Terry Jinn. After having been on Harold teams at UCB Theatre and performing improv at other venues like Parkside Lounge and The PIT, he thought it would be an interesting experiment to create a show that was centered around a theater-agnostic (not affiliated with any particular venue or improv school) team system. Another reason to start the show was that there were an abundance of improvisers he had met and performed with along the way that were always looking for new opportunities to play. Furthermore, the way theater affiliated teams were setup required them to be disbanded and recreated with a neverending influx of new students that had graduated from their improv school classes. Of course, "older" improvisers had lost neither their skill nor desire to perform but the constant turnaround at venues with schools meant that they soon found themselves with no avenue to continue.

Each team had 15-20 minutes to perform any improv form of their choice. (No stylistic criteria was imposed other than having to be longform.) Teams were, in the beginning, limited to 6 players. The "draft" format allowed 8 max players. The final, "competitive" format returned to 6 players. The shows were hosted by Terry Jinn and often (during the initial run of the show) co-hosted by a different Project player every week.

On Saturday, January 8th, 2005, the initial "season" of the Project debuted at Juvie Hall (at Gene Frankel Theater.) The teams Tuscadero, Yar's Revenge, Primal Bias, and ¡Festante! kicked off the night along with the first Big Team Skirmish (which featured two random teams of improvisers vying for the audience vote.)

In Spring 2005, The Project moved to the Magnet Theater (being one of the first shows to be staged at that venue) where it ran for over a year. During that run, The Project experimented with a "draft" format. Team captains were chosen and in an undisclosed location those captains chose players from a pool of over 80 performers in a round-by-round draft.

In Summer of 2006, the show moved to The Peoples Improv Theater and once again evolved, this time to a "competitive" format. Team captains put together teams on their own, however, at the end of each show, the audience voted on each of the 3 teams that performed that evening. At the end of 3 months, the 2 lowest scoring teams were removed from the roster and 2 new teams were added. This was added to allow new teams to enter The Project schedule every so often and for the roster to evolve in a fair manner (based solely on performance and attendance.) Because the entire show had this competitive aspect (and also to keep the show a manageable length) the Big Team Skirmish was dropped.

On March 30th, 2008, The Project had its final show at the PIT, ending its run.

Big Team Skirmish

The Big Team Skirmish was the last portion of each Project show (prior to the final season) in which two teams performed 10 minute sets of improv, the winner of which was decided by audience vote. The reason for its inclusion in the show was to give an opportunity for some stage time to those who were not on teams or those who were on teams not performing that night. (Although, people who had played earlier that evening were eligible to sign up as well.)

Entry slips were filled out throughout the course of the show and placed folded into a FreshDirect™ logo baseball cap. For the very first BTS, two random teams were drawn from that hat. (A "Red" team and a "Blue" team.) The red team did 10 minutes of improv, followed by the blue team. The audience then voted (with official ballots) and the vote was counted and winner was announced at the end. The winning team continued on the following week, challenged by a new random team. If a player from the winning team did not return, he/she was replaced by a randomly selected player.

After the two teams were picked a final slip was picked out of the hat and that person would receive a consolation candy bar.

The Big Team Skirmish once hosted the "Masked Improviser Tournament" which lasted several weeks. Two masked, costumed improvisers (whose identities were unknown and with names like "Unknown Poultry" and "Box Head") faced-off against each other (along with regular unmasked improvisers who had entered the BTS.) A tournament bracket was even created, making it seem like a huge, nationwide Masked Improviser Tournament had been taking place for a while.

Set Patter

The preamble that was recited before each Big Team Skirmish (underscored by the theme to the video game Halo):
Since the dawn of Man, there has been conflict...
People fighting over scraps of food...
over territory...
over love...
After the Third World War, which nearly destroyed humanity,
the remaining people of the earth have abolished fighting,
and now settle their differences through improv comedy.
These are their stories.
This is Big Team Skirmish.

The team Primal Bias would be introduced in the following manner: "Please welcome to the stage the Hugo and Nebula award winning novel... Primal Bias!"

The team Dunaway would be introduced: "Please welcome to the stage an Oscar winning actress... Dunaway!"

The team Tuscadero would be introduced: "Please welcome... a new look for 2005... Tuscadero!"

Occasionally, The Project would be closed with the statement: "We know you can chose any airline, so we thank you for chosing The Project."

The Project intro music for the final, "competitive" season was "Heavy Action", also known as the Monday Night Football theme.

During the Juvie Hall run, a wireless microphone was used for hosting. A chant of "WIRELESS" was often heard from the crowd. During the Magnet run, a wired microphone was used for hosting. A chant of "WIRED" was often heard from the crowd.

For the Big Team Skirmish, audio clips from the video game "Halo" were used to signal which team was to take the stage, "5 minutes remaining" in the set, "10 seconds remaining" in the set, and the end.

Erik Tanouye was referred to as "The Anchorman" when he performed in the project in a not-too-exaggerated description of his ability to improve teams.


The name of the show was suggested by Louie Pearlman after seeing something referred to mysteriously as "The Project" in a comic book.

The improv show Uno is thought to be a precursor to The Project.

An IRC thread with rosters of past Project teams and players.

The team Death by Roo Roo was part of The Project's first season under the name "Team Roo Roo."

All the players were invited to perform in a half-hour slot as "Fat Kitchen" at the Del Close Marathon. Approximately 50 players performed in the show. At one point, almost everyone was on stage and were all dismissed in a giant tag out.

For holidays and other nights when the normal Project show could not be presented, an official replacement show called "Not The Project" would replace it. This show was hosted by Pat Baer.

When a member of "The Rebecca Factory" could not perform, their spot was taken by someone named Rebecca. These special guests included Rebekka Johnson and Rebecca Drysdale.

Pictures of the final Project show, including teams Team Fernandez, Strongers, and the reunion of Primal Bias. The show was capped off by a final Big Team Skirmish.


2005 ("The First Year"):

"Tuscadero" Pat Baer, Angela DeManti, Alex Marino, Tiffany Morningstar, Louie Pearlman, Zach Tabacco

"Yar's Revenge" Tony Carnevale, Stan Laikowski, JB Rote, Chris Schneider, Dave Warth, Becky Yamamoto

"Primal Bias" Kevin Cragg, Kevin Hines, Will Hines, Dave Lombard, Gavin Speiller, Erik Tanouye

"¡Festante!" Julie Brister, Matt Donnelly, Jim Festante, Rebekka Johnson, Caitlin Miller

"Butter" Amanda Allan, Michael Jeffrey Cohen, Elana Fishbein, Alan Fessenden, Jen MacNeil, Madalyn Mako

"Nice Squad!" Rob Cacy, Erin Rose Foley, Birch Harms, Matt Pack, Sean Taylor, Zach Woods

"Team Roo Roo" Neil Casey, Brett Gelman, John Gemberling, Curtis Gwinn, Will Nunziata, Joe Wengert

"Merchants of Chaos" Bob Acevedo, Dominic Dierkes, Dave Furfero, Dan Goodman, Ernie Privetera, Ben Schwartz

"Dunaway" Jessica Allen, Liz Black, Jeff Hiller, Lennon Parham, Amy Rhodes, Eliza Skinner

"The Impossibles" Chuck Dauble, Mo Fathelbab, Nick Gibbons, Mike Hagen, Rachael Mason, Andy Rocco

"The Biggest Dog in the World" BJ Gallagher, Sue Galloway, Federico Garduno, Rob Lathan, Silvija Ozols, Nate Shelkey

"Iditarod Stewart" Danielle Cook, Jen Hammaker, Porter Mason, Billy Merritt, Ryan Rogers, Ashley Sronce, Shelly Stover

"Fat Kitchen" Jane Borden, Brian Fountain, Chris Himes, Terry Jinn, Risa Sang-urai, Ptolemy Slocum

2006 ("The Draft Year"):

"Kitten Men" Kirk Damato, Dave Furfero, Fedrico Garduno, Louis Kornfeld, Stan Laikowski, Dave Lombard, LeMar McLean, Dave Warth

"The Vishnu-Bopp Improv Pandemic" Kelly Buttermore, Jim Festante, Silvija Ozols, Matt Pack, Ben Schwartz, Alix Sternberg, Erik Tanouye, Becky Yamamoto

"Megastore" Pat Baer, Tara Copeland, BJ Gallagher, Jon Gutierrez, Rebekka Johnson, Billy Merritt, Andy Rocco, Kristina Sepulveda

"Weiner Dog" Rob Cacy, James Eason, Madalyn Mako, Ryan Rogers, Risa Sang-urai, Nate Shelkey, Ryan Sturt, Beth White

"Dystopia" Tony Carnevale, Danielle Cook, Kevin Cragg, Nick Gibbons, Dan Goodman, Jen MacNeil, Stacy Mayer, Chris Schneider

"Danger Death Ray" Mike Hagen, Damon Ketron, Rachel Korowitz, Dyna Moe, Tiffany Morningstar, Pamela Murphy, Ernie Privetera, JB Rote

"The Fightin' Lobcats" Bob Acevedo, Matt Decoster, Birch Harms, Chris Himes, Caitlin Miller, John Murray, Megan Neuringer, Jodi Skeris

"Confession Mobile" Carl Arnheiter, Jane Borden, Lou Fernandez, Terry Jinn, Rob Lathan, Rachael Mason, Ptolemy Slocum, Shelly Stover

"Pancake" Amanda Allan, Matt Donnelly, Mo Fathelbab, Dan Gregor, Jen Hammaker, Kevin Hines, Shannon O'Neill, Eliza Skinner

"Breathalyzer" George Basil, Christian Cappozolli, Angela DeManti, Dominic Dierkes, Alex Marino, AJ Morales, Sean Taylor, Dave Thunder

"The Rebecca Factory" Michael Jeffrey Cohen, Paul W. Downs, Alan Fessenden, Elana Fishbein, Erin Rose Foley, Louie Pearlman, Marian Rosin, Rosemary Stevens

2007/2008 ("The Competition Years"):

"Aunt Kathy" Kelly Buttermore, Diana DePasquale, Jen MacNeil, Michele Medlin, Jen Nails, Sarah Nowak

"Touchdown Dierkes" Jon Bander, Greg Burke, Dominic Dierkes, Donald Glover, Dan Gregor, DC Pierson

"Bright Eyes" Jessica Allen, Eugene Cordero, Alan Fessenden, LeMar McLean, John Murray, Jean Villepique (later addition: Amy Heidt)

"The Ghosty Teen Cartoon Mysteries" Lynn Bixenspan, Kirk Damato, Violet Krumbein, Mary Regan, Ainsley Waller, Dave Warth (later additions: Betsy Todd & Ernie Privetera)

"Strongers" Elna Baker, Will Hines, Terry Jinn, Ptolemy Slocum, Shelly Stover, Kevin Townley (later additions: Ellie Kemper & Andrew Secunda)

"Super Breakout" Kevin Cragg, Matt DeCoster, Rob Lathan, Andy Rocco, Sean Taylor, Dave Thunder

"The Adoricorns" George Basil, Tara Copeland, Paul W. Downs, Marcy Jarreau, Garrett Palm, Nicholas Zimmerman

"Gift of the Wild" Amanda Allan, Pat Baer, Tiffany Morningstar, Pamela Murphy, Risa Sang-urai, Eliza Skinner (later addition: Katie Cheek)

"Trademark" Jodi Skeris, Bob Acevado, Birch Harms, Eileen Mullane, Jim Santangeli, Phil Wedo

"Team Fernandez" Lou Fernandez, Ashley Ward, Matt Stinton, Nate Starkey, Matt Oberg, Sarah Nowak (later addition: Kevin Cragg)

"Mice Cream" Erin Rose Foley, Jon Golbe, Ethan Kaye, Shannon Manning, Louie Pearlman, Betsy Stover

"Fiefdom" Chris Camp, Shelly Kauffman, Pat Love, Kim Rittberg, Jamey Shafer, Trevor Williams

"Jon & Mo's Salute to Feminism featuring Leggy Dames!" Sarah Burns, Mo Fathelbab, Amey Goerlich, Jon Gutierrez, Katie Schorr, Ari Scott

"Hop Fries" Karisa Bruin, Cliff Campbell, Hannah Chase, Andrew Dahl, Sean Taylor, Joe Thistle

"Longbottom" Jenny Gabel, Bob Grady, Madalyn Mako, David Murray, Rebecca Teran, Charlie Whitcroft (later addition: Corey Grimes)

"Kid Friendly" Joe Garden, Kara Klenk, Mark Lee, Johnny McNulty, John Meigs, Jill Morris

"Machine Wash Tuxedo" Lauren Bahlman, Jen Bartels, Stu Goldstein, Alex Malaos, Chris Schell, Neal Shukla

"Afternow" Benjamin Apple, Christine Nangle, Josh Patten, Jennifer Schwerer, Ryan Wilensky, Terry Withers