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Meet Brian Palermo of Palermo Improv Training

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Palermo.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’m an actor who has been deeply involved in the improv comedy scene for decades. I was a member of the Main Company of The Groundlings Theatre in Hollywood, where I still teach, direct and regularly perform (in The Crazy Uncle Joe Show.) But I weirdly fell in love with my side hustle of teaching improv as it’s applied outside of comedy.

So now I do a lot of training in the corporate sphere and specialize in helping science communicators connect more effectively with audiences.

I am absolutely passionate about sharing improv training in all of these different aspects.

And I am so grateful that my career is now a mashup. I’ll perform a lot of ridiculous silliness on one day and then train engineers at JPL (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab) or executives at Google the next.

Originally from New Orleans, I’ve lived in L.A. for a long time. We’ve been in Redondo Beach for the last ten years.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Smooth career in the entertainment industry? Uh…No!

When I started out, I had all of the challenges that many of us face; balancing the thing you want to do with a necessary day job. That plus driving a million miles for classes and auditions and performances.

Facing the self-doubt as well as the real world competition.

Over the past 20 years of auditioning, I’ve had over one thousand auditions. And I did NOT get hired on over 95% of them.

That’s a rejection rate that can absolutely grind you down. (BTW, I’m a Virgo list-maker and have the data to back up these stats. This mindset often connects me with my technical folks whom I love to work with.)

When I began facilitating training in the corporate and science communication worlds, I used to fight a lot of imposter syndrome.

But the small percentage of auditions that I did book for TV, commercials, voiceovers and even some professional writing gigs provided me with an incredible career. I’ve learned so much about connecting with audiences.

So I love sharing improv stuff whether it is for a Children’s Show at The Groundlings or San Francisco’s SketchFest or at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
I teach different applications of improv. I love my comedy roots and still enjoy teaching people to perform improv comedy. But the twist is that I surprisingly fell in love with facilitating trainings that have absolutely nothing to do with comedy.

I work with corporate clients such as YouTube, Twitter and Disney. I always customize the workshops for the clients’ learning objectives, but the subjects are generally Interpersonal Communication, Presentation Skills, Collaboration, Team Building, Utilizing Emotional Intelligence, etc.

I specialize in working with the science community. Communicating technical information is HARD. And many in the field trend towards introversion which makes it even more challenging to connect with colleagues and audiences. I use low-stakes improv exercises to share skills that help technologists turn their data into stories and help them present more effectively.

I share my 10,000 hours as an improv veteran with every person I work with. This training is experiential. Participants are on their feet, engaging their brains and bodies. This aspect really helps imprint the lessons much more effectively than a lecture. And, it is genuinely fun. So I employ the edu-tainment model. And it’s been very successful for my clients.

I train internationally when travel is allowed and virtually through online platforms.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Risk taking is absolutely necessary if you want to grow as a person and within your career. But humans are risk-averse. It is scary as hell to put yourself in that position.

So I practice a lot of “safe-to-fail” exercises with my clients. It’s a perfect way to expose yourself to the anxiety that risks entail, but where the stakes are low.

If you improvise a story about a frog who rides her bicycle to the beach, who cares? You’re not presenting yourself as the world’s most engaging storyteller. But you are practicing the mechanics of managing anxiety, connecting with others, collaborating, pivoting with agility, etc.

It is extremely important to take risks to grow. Improv training allows risk taking in a safe, supportive environment so that you build the confidence and courage to make bolder choices in real world situations.

It’s an incredibly valuable life skill.


  • I work with private clients at a rate of $75/hour.
  • Group workshops start at $500 and rise pending number of participants and duration of training.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

The Groundlings Theatre, Aly Isaef -San Francisco Sketchfest

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