Moms Who Improv: Mary O’Connell

In celebration of Mother’s Day on May 13, 2018, we want to highlight and celebrate our improv students, performers, volunteers and friends in our tight-knit community who are also moms. Get to know Mary O’Connell, IC company member you might also see performing with Hot Mic!

How and when did you get involved with improv?

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I started improv classes about five years ago at Playhouse in the Park, then completed improv and sketch writing intensives at Second City, then took classes here in Cincinnati with Matt Jent and Tracy Connor, and now I'm a company member at IC. To be 100 percent honest, the only reason I took improv to begin with was because there weren't any open acting classes that I wanted to take at the time-- and I'm so glad there weren't! I might've never discovered how much I love improv and how super good I am at it. Seriously, though, improv has led me to a world of new people, new experiences, new opportunities... 

Improv inspired me to take sketch writing at Second City, which led me to later writing and performing in a workshop (via OTRi) with Kevin McDonald, one of my heroes from the infamous sketch show, "The Kids in the Hall." This led me to meeting and working on several scripted and improvised short film projects with the very talented and hilarious fellas of Inquisinc. Through improv I met my friend, Daniel Zimmer, who started a radio show with me called, "Secret Family," where we make up stories with fellow improvisers set in familiar Cincinnati locations. Through improv I met Joe Boyd, who gave me the opportunity to be in a web commercial for Jolly Plumbing, where I made up a story about my favorite "sit" on the toilet. All of this has been very fun and very inspiring for me. All of this happened because of improv. 

What is your favorite thing about improv?

Creating and acting out a story with people from scratch, completely on the spot, and the crazy places that can go. I also love that the people I work and perform with always have my back, and I theirs, onstage and off. It's a really great community of support.  

In what way have you used “Yes, and …” or other improv principles in your relationships with your child?

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A few years ago, instead of reading bedtime stories to my son, we made voice recordings where one of us would interview the other and we'd play different characters. We called the series, "Back at the Studio." These days, we still like making up stories and making each other laugh. I don't know how often I consciously enact improv principles in our everyday life together, but I do know that I try my best to be a good listener.

Any interesting or fun fact you’d like to share?

I know he's my kid and this will be viewed as biased, but for real, my son is goddamn hilarious. He's funnier than me, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. Mostly...proud.