Funny Bones Improv is a registered 501c3 charitable organization. Our mission is to share the gifts and benefits of laughter with sick children, their families, and their caregivers, in multiple hospitals across Chicago and New Orleans through volunteer comedy improvisation performances.
Hospital visits and long-term stays can be stressful for everyone, especially children. Through Funny Bones Improv, we provide children with an opportunity to play with laughter and hopefully brighten their day, add a smile and a hearty laugh to reduce their stress.
There is an enormous amount of research to show that “a humor therapy program can increase the quality of life for patients with chronic problems and that laughter has an immediate symptom-relieving effect for these patients…” – Lars Ljungdahl, a Swedish researcher (1989).
- Sean Gerowin – President
- Stacy Swanson – Vice President
- Robert Rothman – Secretary/Treasurer
- Eugene Terk – Director
- Laurel Harlin – Director
Funny Bones Improv currently performs monthly shows at hospitals in both Chicago and New Orleans and hopes to expand to many cities across the United States and Canada. Our team is made up of more than 35 trained improvisation actors and Laughter Yoga Leaders who believe in the power of sharing all of the healing benefits of laughter.
Jolene Fehler, Founder & Executive Director
Jolene has been training and performing improvisation since 2001 in Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago and New Orleans. The positive effects on her life were instantaneous and it became immediately apparent that she wanted to devote her time to sharing this gift with those who don’t otherwise have the opportunity to play with it. In April 2008, this vision came to fruition at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago where Funny Bones Improv began. Jolene has also been certified as a Laughter Yoga Leader since December 2008 and in April 2010; Jolene took the next step and became certified as a Laughter Yoga Teacher. With an MBA degree and a professional background in marketing and events, Jolene’s experience lends itself to managing a multi-city organization committed to promoting the health benefits of laughter.
Jenny Finkel, Chicago Director and Coach
Jenny Finkel began her improvisational comedy training in New Orleans in 2006 as a way of seeking relief from post-Hurricane Katrina anxiety and loneliness. She soon became an improv teacher and coach for both long- and short-form styles, and her work with ComedySportz New Orleans (for which she later became Artistic Director) allowed her to perform in Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, and all over the Gulf South. Jenny became a founding member of the New Orleans team of Funny Bones Improv in 2009. Upon relocating to Chicago in the summer of 2011, she took over as coach of the Chicago team and transitioned into the role of Chicago Director in early 2012. When not working and performing with the talented FBI team, Jenny can be found teaching Vinyasa flow and therapeutic yoga for cancer all over Chicago.
Michelle DeMattina, New Orleans Director
Michelle did things a bit backwards. After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in Theatre and English Education, she jumped into teaching high school. During the summers she found any excuse to run away to be funny, namely spending time in Chicago studying improv and comedy writing at The Second City. After four years of teaching, Michelle realized a stable and dignified life was not for her, so she packed up the husband and cats and moved to New Orleans to pursue comedy.
Shortly after moving, Michelle began taking classes and performing with The New Movement and joined Funny Bones Improv, taking the reigns for Jolene in early 2012. She loves improvising for young audiences because they don’t mind if she is a dancing cat in every scene.
Eddie Wolfe, III
Kate Adair Labouisse
Ruth J Kaufman
Vanessa Bayer (alumni)