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
- 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.
Janet Wilson, Executive Director
Janet Wilson has worked in Arts Administration for over 14 years. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Communications specializing in Marketing. She was named ‘Ad Person of the Year/Promotions’ by the New Orleans Ad Club in 2008 and that same year she co-founded Culture Collision a New Orleans based event that highlights visual and performing arts. More recently, in July 2015, Janet was awarded the first ever ‘Spark’ award from NPR. Her two favorite cities are New Orleans and Chicago but she is looking forward to adding more to the list.
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.
Emily Slazer, New Orleans Director
Emily Slazer is a south Louisiana native and a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana, where she studied Theatre. Emily has studied improv with a number of institutions over the years, and she has been involved in education programs for young artists throughout the state. Emily is a graduate of and performer with The New Movement Theatre. Additionally, Emily has performed in improv and sketch shows around New Orleans in shows such as ComedySportz, You Don’t Know the Half of It, By Any Scenes Necessary, and others. She has been involved with Funny Bones since early 2013 and is proud to be involved as a performer and a director.
Jolene Fehler, Founder
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.
Ana Maria Vizcaino
Laurel George (alumni)
Ruth J Kaufman (alumni)
Vanessa Bayer (alumni)