May 25, 2012 People who matter – Bob Melley and Improv Asylum
Improv Asylum has been a staple of the Greater Boston area since 1997, putting on anywhere between 12-16 shows per week in their North End theater (seats 200), as well as shows across the country at venues housing 2000 captive audience members (captive with laughter…). In addition to their live performances, Improv Asylum is also responsible for a hit TV show, a corporate training program that serves everyone from 5 people operations to fortune 500 clients, and an Improv training program. A true asset to the Boston community, Improv Asylum works with Franciscan Hospital to put on Wacky Wednesdays for the children there as well as participates in other local causes. The Improv Asylum team is set to ride 50 miles on June 2nd to help raise money and
awareness for Best Buddies.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Bob Melley, the Head of Business Development for Improv Asylum, who filled me in on where the Asylum is heading, what it takes to make it in the industry and other fun tid-bits. See bellow!
How does comedy translate to corporate?
Improv does. [grin] When our guys and girls get on stage, they don’t have anything planned; they just work off of each other to create. When there’s a crowd of 200 expecting them to be funny, they can’t mess up. It’s a lot of pressure, and that kind of quick thinking is really valuable and a true asset in today’s corporate world. We work with all types of organizations and divisions, from sales to senior management, and it’s a unique and effective way to demonstrate and teach the tools of techniques of Improv to help folks with the skills to become better communicators, listeners and team players
to just name a few.
We also do a ton of work with local universities like Emerson, BU, Northeastern, not only with their performing arts departments but we also have been lucky to tap some of their incredible talent with some of our internships here.
What’s your favorite trend in Start Ups?
You know that company Life Is Good?
I love their culture. It’s all about what you can do, it’s very relaxed and rewarding, and they put out great products. I love that, keeping the culture where people love to come to work, to contribute to doing something good and to making an impact. Obviously you are tasked to achieve your goal and contribute to the continued success of the company but the environment inspires you. The energy is young, kind of like what we have here, and success is due to hard work not seniority.
What do you need to do to break into the entertainment industry?
Hard-work, and perseverance. It’s all about knocking on people’s doors and putting yourself out there until someone will give you that shot. I’ve done a lot, but I took chances along the way and I think that is really important.
What’s your biggest pet peeve in business?
When people don’t respond back. I’d always rather have the courtesy of a “Thanks for the note, but we’re not interested.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been left hanging and it really bothers me. Just take the time to follow-up, it’s professional courtesy.
Why is Improv Asylum such a staple in the Boston Industry?
We’re good! [laughs] But seriously these guys love what they do, and were willing to do what it takes to build the business. Norm and Chet paid themselves in beer in the early days, and are still here because they love it. All the people here do, and Boston returns that love. We were just named as one of Boston’s fastest growing businesses in 2012 so we are very proud and excited to keep growing in the years ahead.
Improv Asylum is graciously offering a pair of tickets to the first two people who email (bob at improvasylum dot com – just fix the address in your “to” field) them and mention this article. Tickets will be for a weekday show where available.
Happy Memorial day!