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).
- Laurel Harlin – President
- Stacy Swanson – Vice President
- Robert Rothman – Secretary
- Stephan Bernick – Treasurer
- Eugene Terk – Director
- Sean Gerowin – Director
- Camalla Kimbrough – Director
- Mary Ann Pittman – 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 Schecter, Development Director
Jenny Schecter first discovered improv comedy at The Second City as a teenager and fell in love with the intellectual challenge and the rewarding laughter. After a formal education in creative writing, literature and African-American studies, she studied long-form improv at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre in New York City. It was in New York that she also began her career in the nonprofit sector, specializing in fundraising, development and executive leadership. She relocated to New Orleans and was a member of the first Ha!spital Training Program that Funny Bones Improv ran. Since then she has been performing with Funny Bones Improv and is honored to be working to help spread the benefits of laughter in the community.
Jill Olson, Chicago Director
Jill graduated Cum Laude from Towson University with BA in Theater Arts. She is a graduate of the iO and Second City Conservatory improv programs and has performed around Chicago with iO, Second City’s Skybox Theater, Moving Dock Theater Company, Redtwist Theatre, and WNEP with Seven Deadly Plays and 365 Sketches. She also studied playwriting at The Chicago Dramatists. Writing credits include Left Unnamed as part of the 5th Annual Women’s Performance Art Festival with Stockyards Theatre Project, Eleanor in American Machine and Other Works. She wrote and produced Mayfly: A Collection of Short Plays. Jill is the founder and producer of Storytown, a fully improvised, interactive story for children 3-10 years old and their families. Jill Olson has served as Program Coordinator for This Is ME and Child Whisperer for The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival. She is a drama teacher in Chicago with Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop and teaches improv with The Laughing Academy.
Laurel George (alumni)
Ruth J Kaufman (alumni)
Vanessa Bayer (alumni)