Arcade Academy

LEARN COMEDY, HAVE FUNNY

Academy Instructors

Kristy Nolen

Kristy Nolen

A Pittsburgh native, Kristy Nolen received her BFA in acting from Ohio University, and Marymount College’s actors training program in London, taught by professors from RADA and LAMDA. Next on to Chicago, where she trained primarily at the iO Theater and Second City Training Center with amazing teachers and directors such as Del Close, Martin DeMatt, Don DePollo, Jeff Richmond, Armando Diaz, Mick Napier, Charna Halpern, TJ Jagodowski and Susan Messing. Kristy’s Chicago improv credits include legendary venues such as the Second City Tour Co., Annoyance Theater, IO Theater, Noble Fool Theater and The Playground. She began teaching and coaching all levels of improv, including youth and teens and created the kids improv curriculum at the Art Institute with the Noble Fool Theater.

As casting assistant to Ms. Alderman at Jane Alderman Casting, Kristy has helped cast projects including ABC’s What About Joan, NBC’s ER, HBO’s The Mind of the Married Man, and feature films Normal, Joshua and Children on their Birthdays.

Ms. Nolen has performed at the Kansas City Improv Festival, the Big Stinkin’ Improv Festival in Austin, Texas, and the Chicago Improv Festival. A proud Boom Chicago alumni, Kristy performed and taught in Amsterdam all around Holland and some of Europe with other well-know alumni such as SNL’s Seth Meyers, MADtv’s Josh Meyers, The Mindy Project’s Ike Barinholtz, The Colbert Report’s Emmy Award winning writer Pete Grosz and executive producer and writer of Portlandia, Allison Silverman.

After ten years in Chicago, it was on to Los Angeles, where she improvised at iO West (with the iO Rep and teams Foster Kids and Hat Trick), The Boom Chicago Alumni Show at UCB and The imMEDIAte Improv at The Pasadena Playhouse. Kristy appeared in various national commercials, including Oberto Beef Jerky, BevMo, NFL Network, “What Happens in Vegas”, and Teleflora (Super Bowl Ad). Her television credits include ER and Early Edition, as well as the film credits, On Becoming Blonde, Liar’s Club, and the improvised film, Crushed.

Kristy and her family are thrilled to be back in da ‘burgh, where they now have both house and hound. You can find her performing most weekends with the Arcade’s house team, Player One and around town with the talented all-female sketch troupe, Frankly Scarlett. She’s happiest when coaching, teaching or hanging out with her tween daughter, Madeline. Being a founding member of the Arcade Comedy Theater is a dream come true.

Jethro Nolen

Jethro Nolen

Jethro Nolen has been improvising for twenty years.  After co-founding Texas A&M’s improvisational troupe, Freudian Slip, he moved to Chicago to further his studies.  In Chicago, Jethro studied and performed at IO and Annoyance and taught for the Second City Training Center.  He was fortunate to take classes from numerous legends of the Chicago Improv scene: Charna Halpern, Mick Napier, Susan Messing, Joe Bill, Craig Cackowski, Rich Talarico.

Jethro performed with the Lindbergh Babies (directed by Del Close), the house team Preponderate (directed by T.J. Jagadowski) and the Armando Diaz show.  He then went to Amsterdam to write, perform and teach for Boom Chicago (with Seth Meyers, Josh Meyers and Ike Barinholtz).

In Los Angeles, Jethro performed at IO West with Pretty Please and performed and directed imMEDIAte Theater with the Furious Theater.  Additionally, he took classes at The Groundlings.

He has attended numerous improv festivals performing and taking workshops with other great improv teachers:  Gary Austin, Adam McKay & David Koechner.

He has now relocated to Pittsburgh with his lovely wife, Kristy and their daughter. He is delighted to to be a part of the vibrant and growing Pittsburgh comedy community.

 

Abby Fudor

Abby Fudor

Abby is a graduate of The University of Pittsburgh where she earned a degree in theatre arts and communications (credits include: Death: A Play, The Boundary , and Bat Boy! The Musical). In May of 2008, Abby graduated with top honors from the Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University, earning a Master’s Degree in Art Management. Following graduation, Abby worked as Marketing Director of Dance Alloy Theater. Since 2005, she has been increasingly involved with the leadership of the once-New York based summer classical theater company Bakerloo Theatre Project, holding such positions as general manager, special events coordinator, and marketing director.

For the past decade, Abby has been a regular performer at Friday Nite Improvs at the Studio Theater, University of Pittsburgh, a show specializing in short-form improv and audience participatory theater. In 2010, she helped form Frankly Scarlett, an all-female comedy troupe which has appeared at the Cabaret at Theater Square, Arcade Comedy Theater, and as contributing artists to No Name Players’ Swan Day show.

She has taught workshops on short form improv and sketch comedy at Point Park University, Carnegie Mellon University, Pitt, and in Cape Town, South Africa. Most recently, she has taught improv as a faculty member of Carnegie Mellon University’s pre-college program.

At the tender age of 8, Abby also received dance instruction at the Abby Lee Dance Studio, of Dance Moms fame. Since Abby Lee is her namesake, she will strive to teach all of her improv classes with the same style of terror and sass.

 

Mike Rubino

Mike Rubino

Mike is a performer, graphic designer, writer, and filmmaker. He graduated from Seton Hill University in 2007 with a degree in graphic design and creative writing, and spends his weekdays working as a designer for a Pittsburgh-based marketing firm. He’s also the co-creative director & programming director at Arcade Comedy Theater.

Rubino began learning sketch comedy and improv at the age of 13, when he joined the Beaver County non-profit arts organization The Outlet for Creativity. Out of that, he became a leading member of the Rochester-based comedy troupe the Cellar Dwellers, where he worked as a performer, writer, and show producer for over 15 years. He is the co-creator of Dodge Intrepid and the Pages of Time, a scripted radio drama & podcast; writer & co-director of award winning short films and documentaries; founding member of the Arcade’s rep team Player One; and a current member of the Arcade house team Warp Zone. Rubino is also an original cast member of the popular Dungeons & Dragons stage show Knights of the Arcade.

Since founding the Arcade, Rubino has taught and coached dozens of up-and-coming performers, directed and produced countless shows, and has spread the Gospel of Short Form Improv across the land. He currently resides in Pittsburgh’s North Side with his loving and talented wife, Abby.

Matt Hartman

Matt Hartman

Matt has been performing for most of his life, starting in elementary school with the role of the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz and continuing today! He was raised in Pittsburgh and attended Penn State where he majored in secondary education and minored in theater. During his time at Penn State he was a regular contributor to No Refund Theater, as a performer, director, and writer (credits include The Foreigner, Noises Off!, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and Our Town).

Matt graduated in 2000 and moved to Washington, DC where he could be seen on stage in productions of Comedy of Errors, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Foreigner (again), and many others. He also began working with DC ComedySportz in 2002 and continued to perform there until moving back to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2013. He worked with the DC Unscripted Players (DCUP), Last Ham Standing, J Street Comedy, and The Big Honkin’ while in DC. In 2005, he was part of the New York Fringe Festival and has performed across the country in Philadelphia, Miami, Charleston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. And in addition to time spent on stage, Matt has been in various web series, industrial videos, and commercials, most recently as the Wal-Mart spokesperson for the DC-Metro region.

Matt worked as a teacher for 10 years, covering subjects from AP Environmental Science to Theater. He has taught improv classes to all ages from elementary students to adults and continues to work in education with the National Science Teachers Association. He lives with his lovely wife, Emma (whom he met on stage) and his cat Snax (whom he met at Animal Friends).

 

Larry Phillis

Larry Phillis

Larry Phillis started his improv career as a reluctant favor in 1997 at The Outlet for Creativity and hasn’t stopped since.

He helped found The Cellar Dwellers sketch-comedy and improve troup where for a year and a half, he wrote and performed in Comarama, an original weekly sketch-show. The Dwellers hit the road after that, writing and performing a dozen shows in 4 years.

During this time, he graduated from the Second City Conservatory Program, where he wrote and performed in He-Man of LaMancha or Cabaret Greyskull;  co-wrote the book  Sketch-O-Frenia: 50 short and witty satirical sketches (Meriwether Publishing); and the play Pilgrim’s Progression (Heuer Publishing).

He is a founding member of Hustlebot, where he helped write and perform in a lot of first place, second place and third place projects, including: Steeltown Film Factory: 2010 winners Roll the Dice; Runner up: Best Film and Best Writing: 48 Hour Film Project’s Shadows of the Shield; 2nd place: Harrisburg Comedy Throwdown 2011; National ATT Commercial Contest: 3rd Place; Finalist: 2012 Comedy Central Pilot Project Stoners with a Time Machine.

He has written and performed in corporate sketch shows for Stifel-Nicholaus, Sodexo and Adult Literacy Action; and taught writing, improvisation and acting for the Outlet for Creativity and the Pittsburgh CLO Outreach Program; teambuilding and theater improv workshops for The Boy Scouts, The Girl Scouts, numerous local high schools and colleges.

Robin Hitchcock

Robin Hitchcock

After a decade as a semi-professional improv audience member and self-designated “unfunny friend”, Robin started writing comedy in 2010 to escape the drudgery and despair of law school. In 2011, she joined best friends Abby Fudor and Liz Labacz in forming all-female comedy troupe Frankly Scarlett, known for their Frankly Scarlett Comedy Hour variety shows and numerous other appearances at the Arcade and CLO Cabaret Theater, and participation in SWAN Day and other lady-celebrating events.Robin moved to Cape Town, South Africa in 2012 for her husband’s career in science. She continued to write sketches for Frankly Scarlett, and began studying improv at a weekly drop-in class taught by Mark Sykes. Robin became a regular Drop-In instructor in May 2013. At this time Robin also joined The Long Shots, a short-form and long-form troupe in Cape Town, and directed their show One Word Please for the 2014 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa’s preeminent fringe theatre festival. In 2014, Robin joined Improv Cape Town Director Jason Delplanque to create the Extra Butter Improv Jam, a monthly night of experimental comedy In early 2015, Robin wrote, directed, produced and performed in the sketch comedy show Mother City Sketch, which sold out its run at the Upstairs Theatre at Alexander Bar in Cape Town.Robin returned to Pittsburgh in spring of 2015, hopefully permanently. She and her husband are the two oldest people living in South Oakland.
Brian Gray

Brian Gray

Brian is an improviser, coach of the Arcade max team Change Machine, member of the Arcade Leaderboard, and the Community Programming Director of the 2016 Pittsburgh Comedy Festival.

Brian began acting at age 8 and performed with children’s and community theaters through high school where he directed a production of Harvey. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with an Information Systems degree, a Film minor, and a Communication Design concentration. During his time at CMU, Brian was extensively involved with the non-major theater group Scotch ‘n’ Soda. While at CMU, Brian joined the No Parking Players, CMU’s short form improv troupe and later became their Artistic Director (AD). As AD, he coached the performance team and taught two public workshops per week.

After graduation, Brian co-founded Irony City–one of Pittsburgh’s longest running improv groups–and served as director for four years. He designed and led a monthly workshop series at Pittsburgh libraries for 2.5 years, then taught Level 1 at the Steel City Improv Theater for another two years. He has taught improv in Pittsburgh, Austin and New Orleans and lead workshops for for toastmasters, designers, technologists, and other non-performance audiences.

Brian has performed at the Detroit Improv Festival, DuoFest in Philadelphia, Phoenix Improv Festival, the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival and the Del Close Marathon. He currently performs with Irony City, Iguanatron, The Writers’ Room, hosts Talking Shop: an Improv Podcast and blogs at Beyond Yes And. He lives in (and loves) Squirrel Hill.

Nick Jaramillo

Nick Jaramillo

Nick is a native Texan who has been improvising since 2008. Beginning in New York, he studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Magnet theaters under such greats as Amy Poehler, Zach Woods, Russ Armstrong, Jordan Klepper, Peter McNerney, Will Hines, and Curtis Gwinn. He has also taken workshops with Susan Messing, Christina Gausas, and Ian Roberts. He should probably mention that his incredible parents, Tommy and Karen, have taught him quite a bit too.

Since moving to Pittsburgh, Nick regularly performs on the Bonus Stage team, Kill Screen, and with his wife, Erica Sera, in their duo, Seramillo. He is also a regular on the monthly shows The Playlist, Arcade Hootenanny, and CMOA CrawlSpace. In addition, he has performed at the Del Close Marathon, Chicago Improv Festival, Boston Comedy Festival, District Improv Festival, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, and Hartford Improv Festival.

Nick has coached house teams and indie teams in New York and Pittsburgh and has taught workshops at the New Movement Theater in Austin and The Clinton School for Writers and Artists in NYC.

Working by day as a graphic designer, he has designed the books “How to be the Greatest Improviser on Earth” and “Improv Nonsense: All the Posts” both by Will Hines, not to mention more improv show posters than you can count.

In his spare time, he daydreams of owning a chihuahua named Michelangelo, traveling the world with his amazing wife and daughter, Erica & Elouise, and eating Tex-Mex for every meal.

Elena Alexandratos

Elena Alexandratos

Elena Alexandratos comes to the Arcade as an Actor and Educator. She has graced nearly every theater in Pittsburgh, from playing Olga Katrina in Public Theater’s “You Can’t Take It With You,” to Bricolage’s “Midnight Radio: It’s a Wonderful Life.” She has taught classes in Shakespeare at The Public, children’s classes at The Center for Theater Arts and was a teaching artist at the University of Pittsburgh, where Elena taught a variety of classes from “Intro to Performance” to “Stage Makeup.” Elena is a proud member of Actor’s Equity. and delighted to join the Arcade as an acting instructor.

Liz Labacz

Liz Labacz

Liz Labacz is a native of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh convert, who started improvising in 2001 at the long-running Friday Nite Improvs. She studied psychology and theater at the University of Pittsburgh and later earned a Masters degree in Public Policy and Management from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Her theater credits include Everything in the Garden (Pitt Rep), Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival (Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater)and Private Lives (Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theater). In addition to her day job at a large medical center which will go unnamed (but you could probably guess) and her work with Arcade, Liz is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Toast, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, the Hairpin, and xoJane. Liz is a founding member of Frankly Scarlett and currently improvises with Arcade teams Warp Zone and Player One. She was the coach of Arcade team 8-Bit from 2013-2017. Liz lives in Highland Park with her boyfriend, and they aren’t even home enough to have a dog, but would like to, one day.

Liz Labacz

Mindy Cooper

Mindy Cooper is a comedy-force-about-town. Since 2014, she has been in more than 27 sketch comedy shows, including performances in Laser Eyes: Star Wars Sketch Show, Stranded with Rangers: A Power Rangers Parody Show, Secondhand Sketch, and the Julia, Sarah & Mindy Experience. She also writes sketch and has a love for the writer’s room, which has led to projects like Looking for Parking, Write Night at Arcade, and Sketch Café. Beyond sketch, Mindy performs with pizza-obsessed improv troupe Well Known Strangers and is the Programming Coordinator at Arcade Comedy Theater. She has been in a variety of comedy festivals including Del Close Marathon, Sketch Fest in New York City, Chicago Improv Festival, Baltimore Improv Festival, and Big City Improv Festival in Toronto. Mindy has also brought her sense of humor and energy to immersive theater productions, with performances in Uncumber Theatrics’ Serpentine, Dead Letter Office at Bazaar, and Bricolage’s Grand Benedum Hotel micro-immersive.

Liz Labacz

Kevin O’Brien

Before moving to Pittsburgh in 2013, Kevin studied music at James Madison University and got his Master of Music degree from the University of Tennessee. Always learning new instruments and styles, Kevin’s performance history ranges from classical symphonies to experimental, from bluegrass to funk, and from madrigal choirs to barbershop quartets. Working in music education for the last decade, Kevin has taught choirs, marching bands, jazz bands, dance troupes, African drumming ensembles, Indonesian Gamelan ensembles, piano studio classes, music theory, and music history. As a researcher, Kevin’s has presented his work on American popular comedy songs at numerous musicological, anthropological, and historical academic conferences. While pursuing his Ph.D. in music at the University of Pittsburgh, Kevin fell in love with the Pittsburgh comedy scene and began coaching improv as well. He performs with his long-form improv teams The Ted City Yodelers and Arcade Comedy Theater’s max team Kill Screen; co-produces the monthly improvised musical “Your Life: The Musical;” plays guitar in his musical improv duo “Miniature Table Concerts;” and coaches Arcade Comedy Theater’s max musical short-form team, The High Scores. When he is not on the Arcade stage, he’s often working behind it as a stage manager.

Liz Labacz

Suzanne Lawrence

Suzanne Lawrence has performed all over the country and has been a featured performer in the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival (2016, 2018), the WDVE Comedy Festival (2017), and the Burning Bridges Festival (2016, 2017, 2018). She recently opened for Chris Kattan at the Pittsburgh Improv, and can be seen regularly at Arcade Comedy Theater, Club Cafe, Hambones, Slapsticks Comedy Clubs. A graduate of WVU (BFA Acting, MS Psychology), Suzanne then moved to Los Angeles with her husband and earned a number of acting jobs, including the coveted role of “office floozy” in a network pilot, before moving to Pittsburgh and diving into the world of stand-up comedy. Suzanne lives in Dormont with her husband, their three-year-old daughter, and various morbidly obese pets.