When did you realize and hone that skill of being an improvisor AND a business? Is the first question I asked Jon Barinholtz & Rob Belushi from the audience of the Improv Nerd Podcast at CIF19 almost two years ago. We’ve since had the opportunity to sit down and discuss the topic further.

It’s not just “get on stage and hope that someone sees you” and at the same time it’s not hard selling everyone you meet. Here are some ideas from Jon & Rob to bridge the gap between being a performer and being and entrepreneur.


 Don’t be afraid to name what you want and then say it

Meaning: Know WHY you’re doing improv! If you’re doing it as a hobby for better interactions with your family or career, say it! If you’re getting into improv because you want to have your own TV show or movie someday, say it!

Whatever it is don’t be afraid to say it and don’t be ashamed. Because you’d never be ashamed to say ‘I want to go to law school because I want to be a lawyer’


Sometimes improvisors look at themselves as students for a long time or we want to be humble.” Being humble

doesn’t mean being silent.. You can be humble and do all the work and take notes AND also say ‘I want to be on stage at Second City’ so I’m going to do things that will help me get there. Such as:

  • Cultivate relationships. AKA – Engage in a LOT of Networking.
  • Email people, leverage social media and bring the audience to YOU by sending out invitations to your shows.
  • Ask yourself: What and who is Second City looking to cast? What needs do they have that you can fill to get on stage?
  • If you want to be a writer on a show. Pick your favorite show, study it and find out what the producers are looking for. Then CREATE what they’re looking for

That’s humble AND that’s also DOING the work and being SMART about the work.


No one is proactively trying to make your career. No one is doing that for you.

Jon shares “My moment that I knew I had to leave Chicago because I had had already done everything that I found joy in here. I know what I want and I can’t necessarily grow anymore here so I decided to move out to Los Angeles.  After two and a half years of waiting tables I was like this is not what I want to do. In 10 years I don’t want to be waiting tables so I wrote a short little web series with Rob and another buddy and we got it made by Comedy Central Digital”.

He could have waited for a producer to meet him while waiting tables, instead he took his passion and a product TO producers.

Find out what people want through research and building relationships. Connect YOUR passion to what THEY are looking for and bring it to them. If you love low budget horror moves and there’s a need in the market for them – fill it. Don’t try to recreate another superhero movie because they’re popular now but you’re not passionate about the genre.

Waiting to “get discovered” can take a LONG time if you’re not taking leaps of faith and constantly putting yourself out there. Every entrepreneur and business faces that challenge. According to Jon & Rob realizing that they ARE a business a huge “a-HA!” moment for improvers and a HUGE opportunity to spend their lives doing what they love.