gary bestGary Best (Artistic Director, Founder) is a founding member of Ventura Area TheatreSports (now Ventura Improv Company). After spending his youth on a hog farm in Central Illinois, Gary moved to Ventura in 1979 and soon attended his first improv workshop (directed by co-founder Tom Mueller) because, “it looked really scary.” Equally fond of acting with or without a script, he has performed in over fifty theatre productions all over Southern California. Gary enjoys creating in many different forms including songwriting, painting, and writing. He runs his own painting contracting business and is a volunteer for the Caregivers of Ventura. “Improv is great because it’s one of the few arts where the audience gets to witness the act of creation.” Gary on Facebook
tom muellerTom Mueller (Corporate Outreach Director, Founder) has been doing theatre since he was a little boy, when he played a pirate captain who had to walk the plank. His interest in improv goes back to the late 60s, when he was introduced to it at an Actors’ Workshop in Indianapolis. Even before doing improv, he was aware that what attracted him most to the theatre was the spirit of teamwork that the actors share. Improv encourages that teamwork even more than “legitimate” theatre. In the 80s, he attended workshops run by Paul Sills, the first director of Second City and the son of improv legend Viola Spolin. In 1989, he attended a TheatreSports workshop at the Santa Paula Theatre Centre. Out of that experience, he and his wife Sally and Gary Best and others formed Ventura Area TheateSports, which has now become the Ventura Improv Company. Tom on Facebook 
judy gottliebJudy Gottlieb (Managing Director) grew up in New York City and has been performing since she was 12 years old. While at UCLA, she discovered improvisational theatre at the Groundlings where she studied with Phil Hartman. Judy has been working with the Ventura Improv Company since 1994 when she moved to Ventura from Los Angeles. While she has been in various plays, the emphasis on teamwork — basic to improvisational theatre — is what excites her. During the day she is a market research consultant at JD Power and Associates, where she sees that improv skills and values are easily translated into a corporate environment. Judy on Facebook
becky haycoxBecky Haycox (Marketing Manager) spent her teenage years as a drama geek in New York (The Loft NY, Neighborhood Playhouse) and the UK (Joan White School of Theatre), then abandoned it all — until loneliness in a new town prompted her to walk through the doors of the VIC in 1996. She has not found the exit yet. She was one half of The Babcocks, the infamous Bay Area longform improv duo, and has taught and performed in various No- and So-Cal venues, showcasing her overly elaborate spacework and cornmaze mind. Becky enjoys candy, testosterone, crafting, and getting her fellow players to sing in falsetto. Here is her website. Becky on Facebook
jeanie haysJeanie Hays (Assistant Managing Director) began improvising with her imaginary friend at the age of three. She was an only child raised by hippie dropout parents who vagabonded their way across the US and Mexico for most of her early years. She learned to play gibberish games with the Mexican children she could not understand, and played solo scenes for the pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico. Only as an adult did she realize that it takes training, commitment and effort to have that much fun, training she got from the VIC. Jeanie also sings very loudly. Jeanie on Facebook

Richard AllenRichard Allen is our resident musical director, musician, accompanist, orchestra, sound effects man, and all around supplier of the live musical soundtrack to our improv and Spontaneous Broadway shows. Although relatively new to the VIC, Richard has performed with The Groundlings, The L.A. Improv, and currently entertains at the world famous Magic Castle, in Hollywood. Richard was also performer and co-author of The Golden Horseshoe Variety show at Disneyland (1995-2003) which later became “The No Show”, a two-man, one bird comedy and magic show. Richard’s brushes with greatness including working side by side with legendary Disney composer Richard M. Sherman, Neil Patrick Harris, Micky Dolenz, Carol Channing, just to drop a few names. In his rare spare time, Richard enjoys flying airplanes, downhill skiing, and spending time with his family. Richard’s website
amanda armitageAmanda Armitage has been a VIC member since 2001. A California native, she moved to Colorado in 1991, only to return again in 1997. After kicking around from theatre company to theatre company, she saw a VIC ad for improv classes and, after being inspired by Mike Myers’ interview on Behind the Actors’ Studio, she went to her first VIC workshop. She met the love of her life Jesse at the VIC and in 2006 met the next loves of her life, her beautiful twin boys, Jack and Luke! Amanda also loves Mexican food. Amanda on Facebook
jesse armitageJesse Armitage is, at 6’1″, one of the tallest members of the VIC family. Jesse has studied the art of comedy from afar throughout most of his life, writing countless college papers on the subject and invariably getting a degree in Business Administration (didn’t see that coming, did you?). After moving out of Ohio, he attended an improv show in 2002 and hasn’t stopped coming back. Fate would introduce him to his future wife at the VIC and would also introduce him to the world of raising twins. Jesse enjoys scotch, non sequitur thoughts and parenthetical references (who thought to name it Secretary of State? … that doesn’t make any sense … at least Attorney General sounds tough). Jesse on Facebook
Shana BrenionShana Brenion was born and raised in Ventura County, and has been making a fool of herself on- and off-stage for most of her life. She has parlayed that into a career as a professional children’s entertainer with her husband and their local small business, Nifty Balloons, and still somehow manages to pay the rent every month. Shana is a huge nerd with a passion for comic books and chocolate. Her guilty pleasure is indulging in cheesy shoujo anime. She joined Ventura Improv Company in late 2008, and hasn’t regretted it yet! Shana on Facebook
Jim BrucknerJim Bruckner has been with the VIC since sometime in the last millennium. He got started at the VIC by being pulled up on stage one night as an audience member and has been hooked ever since. In addition to appearing regularly on stage, he is the real mind behind the theatre — as Board member and accountant. Jim and his wife Cheryl are long-time residents of Ventura. At their son’s wedding reception, Travis and John provided improv skits instead of dance music. James has improv in his blood as he constantly is thinking of skits or rehashing what happened at the last show.
Julie DuganJulie Dugan hails from the East Bay — Antioch to be exact — in No Cal. She received her degree from CSUN and followed her dream of working with teens by eventually becoming a high school teacher. In 2011, Julie spontaneously auditioned for her high school’s production of “Oliver” and was recommended by the director to give improv a try. Julie imagines her classes as one performance after another, and she always loves the support of her students — who, by the way, receive NO extra credit to watch her perform!  Julie on Facebook
Brian FryBrian Fry is the owner of Zzyzx Café in Camarillo. Brian has been married to Mei-Ling Fry for over 11 years. Brian has lived in Camarillo for 8 years and is originally from Connecticut. He has also lived in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Boston and Miami. Brian is a graduate of the Santa Barbara City College School of Culinary Arts, and completed his education at Florida International University in Miami. On stage, Brian goes by the name “FRY”, the name given to him in a writing group that already consisted of 2 Brians. He has been performing improv for 3 years, mostly at the Ventura Improv Company. Along with improv, Fry has written a variety of short comedies with his writing partner Scott Robertson. Fry on Facebook
matthew goodkin-goldMatthew Goodkin-Gold has been improvising for long enough to be classified as legally insane. His earliest memories of on-the-spot theater are playing his favorite games from Whose Line is it Anyway? with his brother Daniel (a VIC alumnus) at age 7. Within a year he was enrolled in a children’s improv class hosted by Straight Up Reality Improv, and he hasn’t done anything premeditated since. He is also one of the VIC’s musicians, playing guitar at their Friday and Saturday shows. Matthew on Facebook
travis greerTravis Greer has been acting since he was 12, has appeared in over 35 plays, 15 films and 6 national commercials, and is a member of SAG. After studying with the Groundlings, Diane Sallinger, Candy Kanecki, and Jay Varela, Travis to VIC in 2005. Not only does he display his unique style on stage, he also plays guitar, drums, bass, harmonica, piano — and a mean beatbox rhythm. Loves swimming, Peanut M&Ms, bubble-gum-and-vanilla-flavored Sno-Cones, and the Beastie Boys. Travis appeared in the short Dissolution (award winner, SB Film Fest), and will be appearing as Truman Capote in an upcoming James Dean biopic, as well as a villian in an upcoming Army of Freshman video. Check out his website. Travis on Facebook
dan guntherDan Gunther was born and raised in Los Angeles, but has since recovered. A proud member of Actors’ Equity, Dan has appeared in 50 professional plays on stages throughout California, including the Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara, the Old Globe in San Diego and Ventura’s own Rubicon Theatre Company. He has also played numerous roles on television, ranging from the small to the vanishingly small, and had starring roles in independent films that graced the Cannes and Sundance film festivals. He enjoys improvisation for many reasons, not the least being its dependable lack of homework. He lives in Santa Barbara. Dan on Facebook
Nikole HollenitschDuring high school in Riverside, Nikole Hollenitsch had a teacher who used to commute from Studio City everyday to teach the drama program. “What’s Backstage West and why are you teaching us improv?” Nikole would ask. Every day Nikole thanks him because her desire to be an actor just needed a little push and guidance, and he offered it. Nikole studied/performed at I.O. West in Los Angeles for 5 years, coming to the VIC in 2008. Nikole is repped by Nancy Chaidez & Associates and you can view her list of credits and reel at www.hollenitsch.com. Nikole on Facebook
Cate HurstCate Hurst, a recent grad from Foothill Technology High School, has always been a silly and hyper person. When she was introduced to improv by Straight Up Reality Improv , she fell in love with the comedy and drama. Although she has not had much experience on stage, apart from a few school plays and dance shows, she fit in quite naturally. Her need to satisfy the right side of her brain caused an immediate love of improv as well as a love for art, dance, and music. Cate plans on keeping improv as a regular part of her life, along with her ongoing obsession with her chubby kitty-cat. Cate on Facebook
Kyle JohnsonKyle Johnson has been making stuff up since he was a little boy. He began acting in high school, performing in skits and videos for his church’s youth group. He then began writing, directing, and performing in a stage show created for children which produced over a dozen shows and two videos in a 7-year period. Kyle joined the VIC when he moved to the area in 2006 and soon after began doing social change theater with Straight Up Reality Improv . During the day, Kyle uses his creative skills as a computer programmer. Kyle on Facebook
katherine kasmirKatherine Kasmir started her show business career in kindergarten by putting on shows with neighborhood kids, then progressed to dancing on American Bandstand and studying bubblology. Now the Director of Straight Up Reality Improv, she uses improv theatre techniques to address social issues such as underage and binge drinking and bullying. Katherine has been with VIC since 1991 and has her own troupe of improvisers — her six children. Katherine on Facebook
john medeirosJohn Medeiros has been acting for over 25 years. He holds an AA degree in Theater Arts and a BFA in Theatre from UCSB. John has also apprenticed with Gold Coast Rep Equity, and has been in various commercials, films, and television pilots. John is proud to have been a member of VIC since 2002. John also heads up Ojai Improv, a unique class that combines the study of several acting disciplines, including improv, mime, clowning, and mask work. John on Facebook
helen merrimanHelen Merriman grew up on a farm in the central San Joaquin Valley and her first foray into public life was when she ran for Cantaloupe Queen at the age of eighteen. After getting her degree in English from San Francisco State University, Helen taught English until she retired in 2008 from Glendale College. Needing to escape the seriousness of life, she started attending improv workshops in Ojai, and now enjoys going to the Saturday morning workshop at the VIC. As a novice to theatre and acting, Helen says “I love the teamwork and spontaneity of improv, but I also need the silliness that can magically appear.”
george morganGeorge Morgan has been involved with VIC since 1994. A produced playwright since the age of 16, George is a composer, musician, screenwriter and novelist. A self-taught writer, George decided in 2007 to enroll at Cal State Channel Islands as a Creative Writing major. George has been a member of the Writers Guild of America since 2001 and has been the Playwright in Residence at Caltech. He just published his book, Rocket Girl, this summer. www.nevadabelle.comGeorge on Facebook
chris o'tooleChris O’Toole‘s theatrical experience stretches back over twelve months. He was looking to get out of the house and do a bit of personal stretching when he stumbled into the VIC Monday night workshop conducted by Travis Greer. One thing led to another and Chris was invited to audition for and then, to his surprise and delight, to join the company. When reflecting on this he realized there had been signs all along, as various authority figures and members of the law enforcement community have always asked him the same question, “what are you, a comedian?” Chris grew up in Detroit, Chicago and parts unknown. He has lived in Ventura for 25 years. Chris on Facebook
betty pattengaleBetty Pattengale has been singing since the age of two, but then, who hasn’t? Her first theater gig was as an original member of the cast of Les Miserables at the Shubert Theater. A vocal chameleon, Betty has been known to sing jazz, blues, folk, rock, and show tunes a cappella on a moving train and/or with various local bands, including talented guitarist Mike Harris with whom she recorded their CD “Have Voice Will Travel.” As soloist with the Grammy nominated LA Jazz Choir she performed at The Hague and Montreux Jazz Festivals in Europe and the Playboy Jazz Festival. She has even improvised songs as a proud member of the notorious VIC. Betty on Facebook
Talia Savren-McCormickTalia Savren-McCormick has been participating in theater since kindergarten — her starring role was Rosa Parks wearing a babushka. Talia performed in all her school plays, and joined the VIC at the same time. She held the record for being the youngest VIC member at the time. She then went off to get her BA in theater from Cal State Northridge, where she was continuously busy on stage. Talia took advantage of being in LA, studying with the Groundlings and earning her memberships in both AFTRA and SAG. She continued her education, earning her Masters in Education from UCLA. It was a sad six-year loss for the VIC, but the good news is … Talia is back! And everyone is happy. Talia on Facebook
ron segalRon Segal grew up in Hollywood and attended Viola Spolin’s Young Actor’s Company from age eleven. His parents, always supportive of his acting ambitions, preserved his foot and hand prints in wet cement. Ron majored in theater at California State University in Los Angeles, and although his life path took him to a career in teaching, he has been active and continued his love affair with theater for much of his life. He has done plays in Los Angeles and at Ojai’s Theater 150. He loves improvisation because it gives his brain a chance to function!
david sharpDavid Sharp is a writer and stand-up comedian who performs nightly across Southern California. He is the producer of the BRAIN FARTS Comedy/Trivia show every Monday at the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club, a senior writer for The Whiskey Journal, and will soon be portraying Shell Scott in an upcoming adaptation of Richard S. Prather’s “The Cockeyed Corpse.” David on Facebook
paul tevisPaul Tevis has been performing pretty much since the day he was born (just ask his parents), but it wasn’t until college that the theatre bug bit him hard. As a Coordinator for the Rice (University) Players, he acted in, lit, designed for, built, stage managed, painted, and tech directed over forty shows between 1996 and 2000. After graduating and moving to Santa Barbara, he discovered he had to work for a living, which pretty much put an end to all those shenanigans. Fortunately he discovered with the VIC in 2007, and with no sets to build or lines to learn, Paul’s been happy ever since. Paul on Facebook