This week we interviewed Kari Ann Stamatoplos about here experiences in both Florida & Indianapolis as a short form and long form improviser. Here's the conversation.
How did you get started doing improv? What's your story?
As a kid, I was always interested in theater, and in 7th grade took my first improv class at our local civic theater. Even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t get another opportunity to try it. Then as an adult, my aunt took me to Madison, Wisconsin to see my first ComedySportz Match (a franchised, short-form improv show in a sports format.) I was an immediate fan! When I later moved to Indianapolis, I was in a production of Brigadoon and Ed, one of cast mates, mentioned he was part of ComedySportz Indianapolis. I had no idea there was one there! I became a loyal fan and Ed encouraged me to audition (even though I kept saying there is no way I could do it.) Well…I auditioned and made the cut, along with my boyfriend (now husband), Tony. I was a player (troupe member) with ComedySportz for over 17 years. Before moving to Florida, I also used my improv skills in my full-time job as an actress at the World’s Largest Children’s Museum, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
It wasn’t until my husband and I moved to St. Pete three years ago that I started doing long-form improv. Although I was an experienced improv performer, Tony encouraged me to take classes to learn more about the long-form style. I took one class at American Stage and then auditioned for BLANK SLATE, the premier mainstage show at Unscripted Theatre.
What have you been involved with at Unscripted? What's your favorite memory so far?
I started with BLANK SLATE, which has stayed together and is still performing at UT (catch us at some upcoming Friday Showcases!) This season I am part of Unscripted Players in the short form comedy show, Whose Line St. Pete. I will also be appearing with my husband Tony in our Duo Show, ‘bout time, various Saturdays this season. My favorite memories so far…the surreal BLANK SLATE show where our characters were at the “aquarium” and the night we were all shot with the same arrow (it’s improv so we are all ok.) Pure improv magic!
What's your personal approach to improv?
Be committed…bring your best…be a team player…encourage others…entertain…and HAVE FUN! If you aren’t, then there is no point. Improv allows you to play as you did when you were a kid. Awesome!
If you had to choose one memory about doing improv that sticks out in your mind, what would it be?
It is hard to pick just one, but it might be the first time I stepped onto the ComedySportz playing field as a player. I DID IT!!! It was amazing to be encouraged and supported by a small group of folks to create something out of thin air that entertained and made people laugh. That first response from an audience…priceless!
What sort of advice would you have for a new person who wants to be part of the Unscripted community?
Just do it! Don’t be afraid to give it a try. Even if you are not sure if you want to get up in front of people, take a class. You will use these skills the rest of your life. You are improvising every day anyway! You will learn a lot, and meet some fantastic folks along the way.
What do you hope for the future of the theater and the St. Pete improv scene?
I hope and pray that it will continue to thrive! Please visit often and bring your friends. Tell everyone that Unscripted Theatre exists. We need this type of venue in St. Pete and can’t do it without the community’s support. Improv fills the void that no one knew they had, and Unscripted is that one-of-a-kind place for improv in the bay area.
I am so thankful that Unscripted Theatre exists. I appreciate having such a wonderful place to perform and connect with people…performers and audience members alike. I look forward to many more performances ahead!
You can catch Kari Ann playing with her long form team Blank Slate & 'Bout Time in the Improv Showcase, Duo Show & Comedy Cagematch, as well as The Unscripted Players in Whose Line St. Pete this season.