Company Member since 2014
A native of Massachusetts, Ethan Karson has been an improv performer for more than ten years. He trained in Los Angeles with Cynthia Szigeti, who also taught Conan O’Brien and Lisa Kudrow. He was a member of the main stage sketch and improv companies at the Acme Comedy Theatre, where he wrote as well as acted.
Ethan joined the BATS community as a student in 2009 and played in Cave Match teams in 2011 (“Live Studio Audience,” an improvised sitcom) and 2012 (“The No. 1 Ladies Improv Agency,” an improvised pirate adventure). His first appearance on the BATS main stage was as a company guest, beginning in 2012.
Ethan performed with Pixar’s in-house improv troupe the IMPROVibles for five years. When he’s not on stage, Ethan works as a software engineer, making up code.
Q & A
What do you like about improv?
I love to collaborate with talented storytellers. Co-writing is fun, but nothing beats the energy of creating a story together live on stage!
What was your first BATS Show?
When I started as a company guest, my first show was an improvised Film Noir, and I ended up playing the lead. It was a very sink-or-swim moment — fortunately my fellow players did everything they could to make me look good.
What was your first improv class?
The day I met Cynthia Szigeti, she told me that no matter what you say onstage, you should say it like it’s the best thing that anybody ever said. Learning that it doesn’t matter what you say — only how you say it — was a revelation to me.
What are your favorite formats?
Spontaneous Broadway and Theatresports — singing and silliness.
Best moment on the BATS stage?
Getting married to Paul Killam in an opera about giants and gay marriage. It was the perfect combination of ridiculousness and sincerity.
Why should people study improv?
Once you realize that your entire life is improvised, you can apply the same skills that let you carry off a stage performance with aplomb to just about any situation.
Any improv advice?
Look to your partner! He or she knows everything you need to make the scene fabulous.
What are your artistic influences?
I can only aspire to be as theatrical as Prince, as exciting as Die Hard, and as hummable as Avenue Q.