Artistic Associate

Dan O’Connor – Los Angeles, CA

Dan O'Connor is a co-founder of BATS (Bay Area Theatresports) and LA Theatresports/Impro Theatre. He was the Artistic Director of LATS/IT from 1988-2000
and he has recently returned to that position.  He has performed, taught and directed Improvisation all over the world since 1986.   Improv credits include Theatresports internationally, the long-running Wrought Irony at the Laugh Factory, and Pulp Playhouse at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen. He has also performed with The Groundlings, Off The Wall, The Comedy Underground, ACME Unplugged and
Second City at the Murphy’s Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Ireland. For LATS he co-created and directed the critically acclaimed "Shakespeare UnScripted" and directed "The Hell Show" and "Triple Play". He was in the ensemble of both the Off-Broadway production of Keith Johnstone's "Lifegame" and the TNN television series of the same
name.  He spent a year in Las Vegas headlining in the late night sketch/improv show “Boo” at New York/New York. He was the improv Director and sketch writer on “The Wayne Brady Show “ and was the producer of David Steinberg's Warner Bros pilot "The Phil Fuller Show". He co-created “World Cup Comedy” for NBC with Wayne Page and Kelsey Grammer, which ran for two seasons on PAX and which showcased over 100 improvisers. This past year he directed the ABC hybrid television series "Sons and Daughters" produced by Lorne Michaels, and most recently he directed two episodes of Oxygen Network's comedy "Campus Ladies".   

He has taught at USC, DUKE, Pepperdine and for the University of Texas MBA program. Training includes A.C.T and extensive work with Keith Johnstone (Creator of Theatresports) since 1986. He is a graduate of the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London and an Executive Board member of The International Theatresports Institute and is an Artistic Associate for the Chicago Improv Festival.

I don’t really have a philosophy of improv.  I have preferences about what I like to see and do.  I think that all schools of improvisation and formats are valid as long as no one gets injured and people enjoy watching them.  My favorite format has been unscripted theatre.  Taking a suggestion (or not) and improvising a piece of theatre, sometimes in the style of a playwright or genre or out of nothing.  I like this work because it challenges actors to produce a play out of nothing.  It challenges the player to bring all their skills to the stage.  They have to be equal parts storyteller, comedian, actor and writer.  To me that is very exciting.  I guess if I had a strong opinion about improv it would be a about the longform/shortform debate.  I have always felt that there were no differences between the skills needed to perform short format improv or long.  Good long format should give you something to hang your interest on, root for and laugh (if that’s the intent).  Good short form scenes should be pop songs of narrative.    Hero, obstacle, goal is the same structure regardless of how long the format is that you are improvising.  The moments of impro that have been most visceral for me are narrative... the ones you remember years later. Gags come and go but stories are always new. Not that there is anything wrong with a good gag