5 Questions w/ Ben Seeder
1. What is your improv journey? Where did you start, when, why? And how did you end up here?
I started at a now defunct school called a The Players Workshop and iO in Chicago after high school when I was 18. I started because I had absolutely zero plans or ambitions other than I seemed to be able to make people laugh, so I went to DePaul University in the city and decided to begin studying improvisation. I also graduated from The Second City Conservatory. I performed at iO for about 6 years on the long standing house team Cougars as well as The Playground Theater and The Annoyance. I moved to Los Angeles in 2008 and have done shows at iO West, UCB LA and NY, and a whole bunch of other places.
2. Who has been an influence on you as a performer/teacher and why?
I used to hang out at iO and watch shows constantly and my favorites were TJ and Dave, The Reckoning, 4 Square, Dassariski, 3033, and many many more. I like fast and goofy shows too, but the ones that really resonated with me the most were shows that had more three dimensional characters and more effort being put into the acting and performances, so it wasn’t just bits. I learned a lot from Noah Gregoroplous who coached Cougars for awhile, as well as a teachers named Paul Grondy, Christina Gausas, TJ Jagodowski, Pasquesi, the list goes on and on.
3. If you had to boil your improv approach down to a sentence, what would it be?
Actually be there.
4. Why do you continue to improvise?
Oh man…. I guess because on a good night it’s just the best and on a bad or mediocre night it makes me want to get up there again ASAP and try to be good. I like using my own words. Especially in LA, when you’re auditioning for things that are probably not very well written I like playing how I want to play and choosing the words I want to use. Plus, it’s one of the most honest and purest forms of creative expression. On a good night, there’s nothing more fun.
5. Where do you go for inspiration these days?
You know…not very much from popular comedy. I don’t know that I’ve seen more than a couple episodes of the American Office or Parks and Rec and those were probably when I was on an airplane. I know they’re probably very good but I just never think about them. I watch a lot of weird movies and read a lot, so probably from things like that. There’s a BBC sketch show from the early 2000′s called The League of Gentlemen that I just love, and I like Louie, I love the BBC Office, Colbert etc, but normally it’s from plays or insane dead old Russian writers, or Lawrence Wright’s book “Going Clear”, or something Mamet wrote or my neighborhood or some music or an old Robert Altman movie or something. I’m still not sure whether operating this way is smart or the dumbest thing I could possibly be doing.
You can see Ben Seeder all over LA performing as well as right here at NOW improv!