Posted by: hankwillenbrink | January 5, 2009

IMPROVAPALOOZA 9 @ the Mex Theatre in the Kentucky Center, Jan. 9 & 10

She doesn’t just want to sell you car insurance.  On January 9 and 10 at the Mex Theatre in the Kentucky Center at 8 pm, Stephanie Courtney, a.k.a. Flo from those Progressive Commercials, will be joining Louisville’s premire improv troupe the Louisville Improvisors (site) for two nights of hilarious improvisational comedy.  Stephanie and her Groundlings counterparts performed their own set along the Improvisors this summer during the Irish Hill Improv Fest, but this time around she’ll be playing with Anger, Alec, and Josh.  In addition to Courtney and the Improvisors, the crew will be joined by Indyprov (from Indianapolis) on Friday and Improv Nashville (from Nashville) on Saturday.

I got a chance to speak with the newly minted Mrs. Courtney earlier this week and this is what she had to say:

When did you get involved with improv?

I saw a Groundlings show in 1998 and signed up to audition the next day.

Those Progressive commercials have gotten you a lot of exposure, do people call you “Flo?”

Yes! Some folks call me Flo. And I’m always pleasantly surprised, like “how did they know that’s her name?”. Then I remember… I AM wearing a name tag in the spots.

Do you utilize a lot of improv techniques in your commercial work?

Yes I utilize improv when they ask for it. Sometimes they’ll want a straight take as well.

You’re going to be a reoccurring character on “Kath & Kim”?  Right?

That would be great if the kind people at Kath and Kim make my T.V. husband (Mike Naughton) and I recurring folks! Let’s hope they’re reading this article!

What’s the difference for you between your work on sitcoms like “Kath & Kim,” commercials, and live improv?

Those are all such different mediums for sure! There’s always more risk in live performance, but a nice rush too. There’s a sort of “you can’t get off the roller coaster until the ride is finished” with live improv. Except if someone gets physically hurt on a ride or an improv, then you can stop. And that was a lame little joke, although I stand by it being true. Sorry. Kath and Kim is a scripted show with improv mixed in. Although they did let us improv a lot, what wound up in the show was all scripted. They got all they needed from the script and that’s great! Commercials are a lot more technical. As entertaining as they aim to make them, they still have a huge responsibility to sell the product. But not in a way that you the viewer would be hit over the head with. Plus they have 30 seconds to do it. They actually have that in common with an improv scene or a sketch. In a very short amount of time, set up a world, a conflict and a resolution. And with commercials, make sure people want to try what you’re selling.

How’d you get your start?

My start, I think, came when I was doing stand up in New York and my now manager (Naomi Odenkirk) came to see the show. She called me later and took me on as her first client saying, “if you move out to LA you have a manager.” I moved out to LA, and she’s still my manager and she’s awesome! But I was very grateful for all the years in acting class before that, so I felt ready to make the move.

What made you want to come back for Improvapalooza?

They called and I said SURE!

What was your favorite part of Louisville last time you were here?

My improv group (The Crazy Uncle Joe Show) and I spent a day shopping and walking around and it was so much fun! I don’t know the names of the streets but at one point off the beaten path there were all these old brick houses with lush green lawns that were so pretty.  All the back yards connected. It looked very Norman Rockwell.

If you could tell us one thing about you that isn’t on your resume what would it be?

Like a show I did or a skill? Hmmm. I did an independent film that was my first film acting. I had one line and the director kept saying “Less! Less!” So I’m literally barely moving my mouth uttering my line about picking up a paycheck and my brow is knitted and I think there was a fine misting of sweat on my upper lip. It should be on my acting reel for sure.

Yes or No?

Yes!

Double stuff or Mint?

Mint! It’s like having your cake and brushing your teeth too!

Sarte or Camus?

Camus parce que j’aime bien “L’etranger”.

Green Acres or Petticoat Junction?

Pitifully unfamiliar with both shows, but Green Acres does have that Gabor dame in it and she was the voice of the lady cat in “The Aristocats” and that sound tracks sizzles baby! SIZZLES!

Tickets are $15 and are available at the KCA Box office (584-7777) or online at www.kentuckycenter.org

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Responses

  1. This woman is a knockout.


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