Jeff Michalski

Chicago born JEFF MICHALSKI is a legendary comic, improviser, director and teacher!

Jeff first appeared on the Improvisation scene in 1974 and has mostly been involved in projects that synthesize the theatrical experience with Improvisation. He worked in comedy clubs across the USA with the Original Comedy Rangers.

He took part in the development of Chicago’s famed Zanies comedy club in Chicago before settling in with the Chicago’s Second City in 1980.

During his years with the Second City Jeff studied with Paul Sills and his historic Story Theatre. While traveling the country with Second City’s National Touring Company he trained with Second City co-founder Sheldon Patinkin, and artistic directors Del Close, Fred Kaz and Bernie Sahlins.

In 1984 Jeff Michalski co-founded, with Jane Morris, Bill Applebaum and others the Second City etc! His directorial debut etc’s premiere show Cows on Ice made The Second City etc an instant hit and was followed by the even larger success of Mirrors at the Border. His achievements brought him to the Second City Toronto where he was nominated for a Dora Award for his direction of “Who’s Tory Now?” Michalski continued as director and Artistic Director of the the Second City etc until 1988 when his success in Chicago led him to be chosen as director of the premiere production of the Second City in Santa Monica, also a critical success.

While still in Chicago with the the Second City etc Michalski also co-developed the Second City Workshop Program, a comprehensive training program from which the next generation of Second City players are chosen. He also created the Second City Training Program in Santa Monica.

Jeff Michalski and Jane Morris founded the Upfront Comedy Showcase in 1990 and also headed the Upfront Comedy Showcase Workshop Program teaching people from all walks of life to improvise.

Jeff Michalski’s production credits include many Second City shows and Michael Moore’s TV Nation, as well as the feature film Family Values.

Jeff has also written for television shows including Helen Reddy, TV Nation, and Stephen Colbert’s Exit 57. He has also been a director at the Cats’ Laugh International Comedy Festival in Kilkenny, Ireland.

Jeff Michalski has taught all forms of improvisation for almost 50 years as well as developed his own long-form techniques. He has performed across the United States, Canada, Ireland, Sweden and Poland and has directed Second City companies in Chicago, Los Angeles, Kilkenny, and Toronto.

As a producer, director and performer, he has worked with Dan Castellaneta (Simpson’s), Chris Farley, Amy Sedaris, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert, Ryan Stiles, David Pasquesi and many more. As an actor he played in almost 40 movies and worked with Robin Williams, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Tom Hanks, and many others. Here is Jeff’s REEL! Check this out!

Jeff is currently teaching people to improvise at the Fanatic Salon in Culver City, California as well as traveling to international festivals to teach and perform with WePolak.

Invite Jeff and bring his unique approach to teaching improvisation to your team or festival!

Jeff Michalski with Meryl Streep, Peter Falk, Tom Hanks, Al Pacino, Julie Andrews

Jeff’s workshops

Learn From the Master and Improvise Like PRO

Half A Century Long Experience in Practicing Improv


Jeff Michalski has almost half a century long experience in practicing improv.
He has been directing, performing, teaching, writing, acting in movies and producing shows.

As a co-founder of The Second City etc, he worked with the best improvisers and has a wide knowledge on improvisation, performing, directing, show tech support and the shows production.

If you want to rise your improv or acting skills, produce the show, tv program, stand-up, check the list of Jeff’s workshops or ask Jeff to prepare workshop for your improv company, festival or theater, depending on your needs.



The most important thing in a good improv show is GREAT SCENE WORK based on ENGAGEMENT, LISTENING and ACTING SKILLS. This workshop is all about THE SCENE WORK! The Second City etc. creator and director Jeff Michalski worked on various projects with professionals like...

Shapeshifting to Discover Character in Relationship

Shapeshifting to Discover Character in Relationship

As improvisers we don’t have time to plan characters story and motivation. That’s why it s more efficient for us to explore shaping character from the outside in. This workshop will teach you how to keep your head free from motivation, backstory, and other blocks to...

Understanding the HAROLD

Understanding the HAROLD

Most People Think of the Harold as a map: Three scenes, game, Three Scenes, game, Three Scenes. Jeff Michalski Deconstructs the Classic Harold to introduce you to the practices you engage in when you improvise long form. Learning a focused approach with deeper...

Stand-up – Discovering and Writing the Bit

Stand-up – Discovering and Writing the Bit

In this workshop you will discover your stand-up persona (your own style). You will learn to deconstruct topics and to turn them into jokes that compose what’s known in Stand-up as the Bit. This workshop can end in a performance of your five to ten minute set or your...

Improv to Sketch (and more)

Improv to Sketch (and more)

Learn what professional actor director and writer Jeff Michalski has learned about transforming improvised scenes into scripts for Live Performance, Television and Film.Develop new skills of producing not only an improvised show but how to develop scripted sketch...

Workshop On Demand

Workshop On Demand

Jeff Michalski has almost half a century long experience in practicing improv. He has been directing, performing, teaching, writing, acting in movies and producing shows. As a co-founder of The Second City etc, he worked with the best improvisers and has a wide...

Jeff’s Testimonials

The Big Guns of Improv Speak Out about Jeff


Nothing About Jeff That Isn’t Good

That could anyone say about Jeff that isn’t good?”

Ryan Stiles, “The Drew Carey Show”, “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”

You Have To Learn To Love The Bomb

The first director I had at Second City (Jeff Michalski) said, “You have to learn to love the bomb,” and I didn’t know what he meant for a very long time. Imagine a child drinking a beer for the first time and they can’t possibly understand why you like it. And you can’t possibly explain why its tastes good.

Stephen Colbert, “The Colbert Report”, ”The Late Show Stephen Colbert”

Read more:

Stephen Colbert’s lesson on failure – You have to learn to love the bomb.

Jenny RiddleLearn to love the bomb.

Jeff Speaks Simply and Passionately

When I first started improvising in Chicago almost twenty years ago, I was desperate for guidance. In my search, I encountered numerous “mentors” and “teachers” who, in lieu of any practical advice, mostly offered vague theater platitudes such as “feel the space”. I felt lost. After performing in my first Second City show, Jeff, our director, walked back into the green room where Chris Farley, another member of the company, wondered out loud why a rather enormous choice fell to the stage with a thud. Jeff casually replied, “You went for the laugh and they hated you for it.” We had found our leader. Jeff speaks simply and passionately and when it comes to improv, he is always right. Jeff is such a masterful teacher, it’s easy to forget he is one of the finest improvisers to ever perform on a stage.

Paul Dinello, writer/producer “Strangers with Candy” & “The Colbert Report” consultant

He Encouraged Playing To The Top Of Your Intelligence

Jeff was my favorite teacher at Second City. HE always reminded us to have fun and to be supportive of one another. HE encouraged playing to the top of your intelligence and trusting the audience to be smarter than you. I loved Jeff’s classes and looked forward to going. Whenever I made him laugh was like a badge of honor and I would not be anywhere without his guidance.

Tim Meadows, “Saturday Night Live”


Enthusiasm And Obvious Love Of Improv

I have worked with Jeff Michalski both in improvised and scripted works. And I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to sit in some of his workshops and improv classes. Jeff’s enthusiasm and obvious love of improv makes it almost impossible to leave the class without being inspired and with great respect for the craft. Watching him throughout the years, remembering some this simple but effective methods, certainly served me well when I was on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Anyone who has Jeff as a teacher has distinct advantage over anyone else.

Colin Mochrie, “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”

Uniquely Qualified

I have known Jeff Michalski for over 20 years and have worked with him in many capacities. He has directed me in improvisation and sketch and I have written and performed with him. He is uniquely qualified to teach improvisation because of his experience, knowledge and passion for it. He personifies principles like “make the other person look good”.

He is a treat to watch and learn from. Time with Jeff is well spent.

Dave Pasquesi, TJ & Dave, actor, improviser and Improv Olympic Alumnus

He Inspires

Jeff not only teaches, he inspires. His joy and sense of play are contagious. Whenever anyone asks me who they should study improvisation with, Jeff is at the top of that list.

Daniel Passer, Clown Master, Cirque du Soleil

True Artist

Jeff Michalski was one of my first teachers at Second City. He is true artist, he is not only knowledge about improv, he is passionate and inspiring about what it can do. He is constantly evolving as great artist do and he is great person too.

Jimmy Carrane, Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane

Incredible Teacher

Jeff is a mentor of mine. An incredible teacher. If you are always stuck in the plot and want tools to help with that, this is the class for you.

Jay Sukow, Today Improv

One Of The Most Inspiring Actors

Jeff is one of the most inspiring actors and teachers you’ll ever encounter. I highly recommend ANY workshop he offers.

David Razowsky, former Artistic Director of The Second City Hollywood

Power Of Michalski

Count me among those who had Jeff as one of their first teachers. My blathering plaudits about him on Facebook are legendary, to the point of being ALMOST embarrassing to one of my finest teachers and wonderful colleagues. But, I’ll resist that angle here and take another route perhaps more palatable to my friend…if you don’t have Jeff’s name on your resumé yet, NOW IS THE CHANCE!! Grab those last slots people, and give that Improv CV the POWER OF MICHALSKI!!!

Joe Bill, co-founder of The Annoyance Theater


More of what Jeff’s students say:

One Of The Best

I’m going to pile on with the praise. The workshops I took years ago (2010) with Jeff remain some of the best I’ve ever taken.

John Windmurller

Fantastically Talented

Jeff’s workshop is a masterclass in the fundamentals of the improvisational tradition starting from Neva Boyd and Viola Spolin and further developed by The Compass Players and The Second City. Partaking in the workshop, I was taught new means of approaching improv through engaging with other players and focusing on character relationships. Jeff is fantastically talented teacher who promotes the importance of engagement and play in scenes and teaches it in a cognizant and considerate manner.
I highly recommend Jeff’s workshop to anyone who wishes to continue learning and working with improvisation and is looking for unique insight into its fundamentals. 

Olaf Bystörm, SWIMP, Uppsala, Sweden

Technique & Feedback

I traveled from Greece to Poland so that I could attend Jeff’s workshops as I had heard a lot about his work at Sweden International Improv Festival 2022 and IT IS TOTALLY WORTH the effort and time! Jeff is a very good teacher in terms of technique and feedback. I really loved not only the method he teached, but also the way he taught it. It helped me understand and help more my teammates and myself, build stronger relationships on stage and also be clear about the “theme” of the scene. The fact that a show followed the workshop, made me understand all those that I learned. I definitely recommend working with Jeff, it will elevate your scenework!

Maro Lesioti Rigakou, Greece

Kinesthetic Playing

I remember the workshop with Jeff Michalski very well. Jeff does a good introduction to the topics of the workshop, and then observes and guides the workshop participants through the exercises and tasks. The workshop topics of kinesthetic playing with space and body and deconstructive exploration of the scene are very useful skills for an improviser. At the same time, it is a concrete topic – possible to use on its own as a performance technique – and can also be used as an extension of an improvisation style already in use.

Wiktor Walentynowicz, Jo! International Improv Festival, Toruń, Poland

Extremely Good Teacher

Jeff is an extremely good teacher, not only that he has a lot of experience in improv, he is also a nice person with whom you can talk about everything. I was given new tools and toys to work on stage. As good as after these workshops, I have not played for a long time. I got new energy and confidence, and the quality of my scenes went up. At the end of the workshop, we had a performance by our group. We played as we were taught. In my opinion, it turned out great. A new way to play and discover story in a scene. It was an amazing experience. The scene verified that what Jeff teaches is just right.
And at the end? Icing!

Robert Cichocki, Warsaw, Poland

One Of The Best Improvisation Teachers

I’am blessed to be able to work with Jeff in our WePolak project. He is one of the nicest and the kindest people I know and one of the best improvisation teachers I have ever worked with, and I worked with many. Although his method seems challenging at first, it gives you the opportunity to spread your wings and make a fast progress in learning. His approach made me a fearless improviser, awakened my creativity and gave me many tools to play better scenes. Discovery, character relationships, engagement in your partner, commitment, humor, satire, physicality, mindfulness are the things on which his teaching is based. Being his student and friend is the biggest gift.

Monika Ozdarska, WePolak, Warsaw, Poland

Workshops Are Blessings

Those who take this workshops are blessed.

Martin Cohen, USA

Read more here:

About Us

WePolak – A Team Of Professionals

What WeOffer

WePolak Show   •   Workshops     Directing


Actor, Improviser, Director


Jeff has been performing for half a century.

In that time he has developed his own unique methodology and now you can learn the practice of improvisation from the master.


Monika ozdarska

Improviser, improv teacher, corporate development trainer


With more then 13 years of experience Monika has synthesized her wide knowledge of improvisational techniques to develop her personal approach to train professional improvisers and run corporate training sessions.

Contact me

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