2011 Year In Review

2011 has been an amazing, inspirational year for Funny Bones Improv.

I am honored to be involved in this organization.  More so, I am humbled by the amazing people who play integral roles in our ability to exist. Our players (in New Orleans and Chicago), our staff and our board of course.  Just as equally important, our friends, partners and donors; In improv, success on stage comes from supporting your team and we could not find success in this venture without your support.

But most importantly, we cannot extend enough gratitude to the children we visit.  They are so unbelievably strong every day in their personal fights.  We thank them for sharing their time, their laughter and their incredible ideas with us.  Together we have come up with some hilarious scenes and our lives have been transformed.  THANK YOU.

We have performed for over 200 sick children this year, along with 150+ members of their families.  Here are just a small sample of some of the brilliant scene ideas that have come out of our 2011 shows.

  • “Frozen Barbie Dream Fly Away” Ice Cream – Chicken finger flavored Ice cream that you eat with a Barbie Doll – created by Helga
  • Creating a new species of animal – the cow-frog.  Sound: Moooo-ribit.  Does it have udders or legs?  Is it lime green or black and white?  The adventure continues!
  • Did you know Hannah Montana has a lucky turtle named Terrence, who is made of spaghetti?
  • “Bieberology” is a new major at a Florida University – and it’s accepting applications today!
  • And so many more!!

We cannot wait to see what we explore in 2012!

We wish everyone a very healthy and happy holiday season filled with laughter.  See you in 2012!!


For the past two years, Funny Bones Improv has had the honor of performing for the residents of Misericordia (Heart Of Mercy) inChicago. Misericordia offers a community of care that maximizes potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities, many of whom are also physically challenged.  The exchange of joy, energy and laughter between the residents and Funny Bones Improv players is an incredible experience.


Last night was magical, spiritual, or perhaps a combination of both… WOW seems like such a trite word, but WOW seems to best describe how I felt as we concluded our performance last night.” 

Mike Barker, Funny Bones Improv player since 2009


“The amount of energy you got from 200 residents just blew our minds away with their excitement and you had to return the same amount of energy to them while on stage.”

                                                            Casey Whitaker, Funny Bones Improv player since 2009


“Misericodia always gives us the best audiences. These people know how to have fun.  It’s great to look out and see so many people laughing, playing, and singing along.”

                                                            Dana Kroop, Funny Bones Improv player since 2011


“I now understand the whole healing through laughter because every time they laughed, we were laughing… it made me feel great… Not only did we have an impact on them but they had an impact on us, and it was awesome.”

                                                            Nick Demos, Funny Bones Improv player since 2011


Before Funny Bones Improv players even set foot on Misericordia’s stage, we go into the audience. The residents, who saw the show in 2010, remembered the returning players. Smiles, high fives, laughter and hugs were abundant. The pre-show meet & greet is the reason that we have 100% audience participation during the show.


We started the show with a Laughter Yoga exercise by pretending to laugh. With 200 people, fake laughter quickly transformed into real and joyful laughter.


One of our favorite games to play is “Dance Party” where everyone dances. Even those who are less mobile got into the groove. Casey, Julia, Mike, Dana, Trey and Nick selected residents to bring on stage to dance whileLaurelplayed DJ. Because the energy was so contagious, players and residents formed a conga line around the performance hall. The conga line seemed to grow exponentially at that time, too.


We depend upon our audiences for suggestions to inspire our games and scenes. For example, we asked the residents to shout out their favorite food.  200 voices called out “steak!,” “pizza!,” “garlic mashed potatoes!” or “Misericordia Hearts & Flour Bakery cookies!” Okay, that last one is my favorite food.


Highlights from the evening included Trey and Nick running around the performance hall speaking in Moo, the language of cows. Julia and Casey showed off their pictures from their trip toHawaiiwhile Mike,Laurel, Dana, Trey and Nick re-created the photos live onstage. And Dana nearly beat out Nick in our Everyday Olympics of cleaning out the fridge.


At the conclusion of the show, we handed out the medals along with more high-fives, laughter and hugs. The residents went back to their lives and we went back to ours. But we hold on to the joy of another amazing improvised show at Misericordia.

A Star That Changed Our Lives

In the first half of 2009, we were only doing shows at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.  And at each of our shows, there was a young lady, age 11, who would always sit in the front ready to go.  But when showtime came, she would sit there, cross her arms and tell us that she was definitely not going to play.

We knew what that meant – it meant I’m going to pretend to not like your show but when you ask for suggestions I’m going to shout things out and see what you can do.  Almost as if she was challenging us.

We never know why the kids we see are in the hospital; we only know how many times we see them.  And this young lady was there for months.  We thought she didn’t like our shows.  We thought she was just bored and came to tease us.  We thought wrong.

This amazingly smart and playful young lady was there waiting for a heart transplant.  And she got one.  And for the first few days, she was doing really well.  Then sadly, something went awry and she passed away.  We, like everyone who knew her, were stunned and so unbelievably saddened that this young vibrant presence was gone.

We attended a memorial in her honor at the hospital and found out so much more about her.  She was the resident “star-maker” at the hospital and an inspiration to so many.  The stars that she made were offered to people to take so that we could hold onto her light.  So I have one.  And it sits next to my desk so I can see it everyday.

We later found out that this young lady in fact did enjoy our shows.  She would go back to her room and tell her nurses all about it.  She named some of us – the curly haired one, the blond one, the blond guy, etc – and told stories about the shows that she had seen the night before. We were speechless.

Sometimes it’s tough to know what affect we have on the kids who see our shows.  They are in a hospital and some days are really difficult and we can’t know what they are feeling.  They might not break out laughing hysterically during our show but through this amazing girl, we have learned how important it is to keep our energies high and our shows a-blazing because every child deserves it.  Whether we see a smile or not.

It was this young lady’s birthday yesterday.  And to her family we want to send our love and our laughs.  She still brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes and I only hope that she is at peace.

Happy birthday S.