Michael Lewis: Ownner/Director
Michael Lewis started improvising over 20 years ago with The Hermit Colony in Bakersfield, California, and founded his own improv company, Empire Improv, in 2007. Michael trained with ComedySportz for several years before moving on to iO West where he studied and performed for five years. He taught his first improv class in 1996 for ComedySportz Bakersfield. Since then Michael has created the three level Foundations curriculum for Empire Improv, along with several workshops he teaches at other improv theaters: Leap First, Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body, Improvising Shakespeare, and Group Work. In addition to teaching for Empire Improv he has taught workshops for The LA Improv Festival, The California Improv Festival, University of Nevada Reno, Blacktop Comedy, Made Up Theatre, Reno Improv, and Truckee Meadows Community College.
As a performer he has performed with Empire Improv’s Hostel Greetings, Police Cops!, and Bow Tie Kitty. He has improvised Shakespeare style with the Backstreet Bards, The Spontaneous Shakespeare Company, and continues to perform with Made Up Shakespeare and Shakespeare: First Draft. An alum of iO West, he performed with both The Award Winning Documentary and The Improvised Documentary helping to develop the improvised documentary as a performance form. He has been on iO West Harold teams, cage match teams, and performed at Magnet Theater: New York, PIT: New York, The Comedy Spot: Sacramento, Reno Improv, Blacktop Comedy: Rocklin, and Made Up Theater: Fremont. He regularly performs at Made Up Theater as well as continuing to perform in the successful duo show Party of Two with improvisers from all over.
Tim Dufrisne: Alumni
Tim Dufrisne currently resides in New York where he continues to perform stand-up, write, and improvise with Magnet Megawatt team Sexy Baby. He has studied improv at iO Chicago, Magnet Theater, and Empire Improv. He has published two books of his own poetry and a book of short stories and poems and was co-writer and publisher of a satirical magazine distributed by Tower Records. Tim wrote, starred in, and toured with the acclaimed sketch group "TV You Can Heckle". Tim was a founding member of Empire Improv's first house team Hostel Greetings and helped to create with the now retired Police Cops!. Although Tim has moved on to further his comedy career he will always be a part of Empire.
Ben Craig: Alumni
Ben Craig has studied at Second City both in Chicago and Las Vegas. He performed in student showcases at Second City in Las Vegas performing in improvised long and short form and musical shows. He was a founding member of the improv group “Speed birth” in Las Vegas that performed weekly in Bourbon Street Casino. Ben has also done stand-up for many years in Reno and Las Vegas. He was also a member of the retired Empire shows Police Cops! , Hostel Greetings, and Bow Tie Kitty. Ben created Empire's Expanding The Harold: Level 4 class. Ben founded Reno Improv and you can see find him performing and teaching there. Even though Ben remains in Reno, he will always forever be a valued member of the Empire Improv Family.