Building a business on laughs
Sometimes women are funny. Other times they are business minded. And sometimes they are both.
Meet Amy Lisewski. She lives and breathes improv. In 2011, Amy had just finished training at The Second City Conservatory in L.A., which is basically the Harvard of comedy, and was seriously considering a permanent move to Los Angeles. But her love for San Diego and her dedication to her 13-year-old foster daughter inspired her to stay. She decided that she would start her own improv company in San Diego similar to the one she had trained at in L.A. Amy then found a 65-seat cabaret theater in North Park and that’s where Finest City Improv was born.
Now, the company performs hilarious shows every Thursday through Sunday. It provides a first-rate training center offering classes in improv to adults and teens from all walks of life, and it offers world-class entertainment and team-building programs to businesses. Recent clients include GoPro, Green Flash Brewing, and Harrah’s.
Q: If you were a superhero who would it be and why?
A: I’d be “All-powerful woman” because I’d have any power I wanted! I would use my powers to cure cancer, alleviate poverty, and end all violence with a wave of my magic wand.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions that people have about improv?
A: That you have to be funny and witty. We are more interested in creating scenes that explore relationships between people and finding comedy from universal truths or relatable situations. We teach people to simply listen to each other, respond emotionally and authentically, to agree with what is offered, and to PLAY! Funny is a byproduct of good improv.
Q: Favorite SNL cast member and why?
A: Tina Fey. She is an inspiration to all girls in that she shows them that they can be funny and smart and silly and achieve great things in typically male dominated fields. She is a Second City alum and her Second City shows are incredible.
Q: What you enjoy doing outside of making people laugh all the time?
A: I am an avid sailor and live in San Diego because I love the ocean. I used to live on my 34-foot sailboat and have sailed to Catalina and L.A. many times. When I was asked to create comedy for the San Diego Yacht Club my heart almost exploded with joy.
Q: The best character that you created while on stage doing improv?
A: I’m kind of a “tough girl”... strong and independent. The most satisfying character for my teammates and myself is when I am super vulnerable. In other words, when I let go of the wheel and ask for help the most authentic and relatable characters arise from me and those are the ones the audience responds to most.
Q: The best part about having your own business in San Diego?
A: The people. I am surrounded by amazing and dedicated people that are my “tribe” of happy, energetic, and wonderful friends. I also love that I can surf in the morning and create theater at night.
Q: The motto you try to live by everyday?
A: “Yes, and...” It’s the crux of improv. In a nutshell it translates to “be agreeable and add something.”
Amber Mesker is an entertainment and lifestyle reporter for DiscoverSD. She loves providing readers updates on Hollywood gossip, San Diego fashion and cool weekend events. You can follow Amber and laugh at her fun, crazy life at @ambermesker
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