Photo Credit:  Peter Hellberg

Ian Covell - Founder/Artistic Director/Education Director

Ian has over 20 years of experience performing improv and sketch comedy across the U.S. and Canada. He has extensively trained in the Meisner Acting Technique and regularly works in film, commercial, and voice-over acting. His unique blend of improv and acting skills is a rare commodity. Coming up, he can be seen as Darren Spazzio in the film Christine -- which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival 2016. 

Since moving to Atlanta in 2010, Ian has performed at some of Atlanta’s most respected improv theatres including Dad’s Garage, Relapse Theatre, The Basement and The Village Theatre, and he is also the former Artistic Director of Automatic Improv. 

 Photo Credit:  dimnikolov

Amanda Rountree - Artistic Director /Associate Education Director

Amanda Rountree has been performing improvisational theatre professionally since 1992, teaching since 1998, and directing since 2002. She recently moved to the Atlanta area from Chicago, where she was a faculty member with the Second City Training Center, an ensemble member with WNEP Theatre, and a writer/puppeteer with SNORF. Her one-woman shows, The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey and 185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar… both had successful runs in Chicago and tours to other cities. Previously, she was a performer and instructor with Unexpected Productions and a performer and co-artistic director of Playback Theater Northwest in Seattle. Amanda has entertained audiences in seven countries and countless North American cities utilizing a wide variety of styles, disciplines, and formats. She’s performed everything from improv games in Kentucky and improvised Shakespeare at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival to drama therapy in Japan and breakthrough formats in Germany.

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Michael Sokol - Director of Content Marketing /Dean of Sketch Comedy

Michael Sokol has written and performed comedy for over 14 years. He has developed original TV series for VH1, TBS, Food Network, and Comcast. He also  produced and co-wrote M'larky, a web series for Comedy Central, starring Dan Fogler, Jeffrey Ross and Gilbert Gottfried. He also wrote and produced for the hit web series FarkTV on Turner’s Superdeluxe and is a commissioned screenwriter. Michael has created branded campaigns for the Lung Cancer Alliance, the Transportation Security Administration,, and National Association of Latin Elected Officials and was awarded a small-business grant from the National Institute of Health in conjunction with Emory's Rollins School for an anti-tobacco campaign.


Sara Gaare - Faculty /Sketch Comedy Instructor & Improv Coach

Sara Gaare has been writing and performing sketch comedy for eight years. She has written sketch shows at iO West, iO Chicago, Second City LA, Second City Chicago, CIC, The Playground, The Annoyance, The Public House Theater, SketchFest Chicago, Works by Women in Chicago, and The Mary Scrugg's Works by Women Festival at Second City. In Atlanta, she wrote The Muffins: Pop Music Sketch Comedy Extravaganza, a three woman sketch show that premiered at Relapse Theater. She also wrote and performed in Sketchy McLoven', Highwire Comedy Co.'s first sketch comedy show. See her Friday nights at 8 in The Soapbox Show.


Joel Byars - Faculty /Stand-Up

Joel Byars is a mainstay of the Atlanta comedy scene.  He has years of experience performing in other prominent cities such as New York, Chicago and L.A., but Atlanta is his home. Besides hosting his own show at Java Monkey in Decatur, Joel has developed his unique style while sharing the stage with veteran comedians like Ron White, Brian Regan, Kathleen Madigan, Louie Anderson, and Margaret Cho. Having a sketch and improv background allows him to deliver a transcendent experience fans have described as “an emotional roller coaster of laughter and insight.” For Joel, stand-up comedy is an outlet to examine the fine print of life, and he will continue to provide authentic entertainment until deemed illegal.




Mark Kendall - Faculty /Improv Instructor & Coach

Mark Kendall is an alumnus of Northwestern University where he studied film and television and was a member of Northwestern Sketch Television, a College Emmy- winning comedy group. He's worked at Comedy Central through the Chris Rock Summer School Program for up and coming comedy writers. During his time at Comedy Central, he got to train with the writing staffs of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." Mark currently performs comedy around Atlanta including Dad's Garage Theatre Company, Highwire Comedy Co., The Basement Theatre, and Sketchworks Comedy among other groups. Mark has spent time studying at iO Chicago, Second City Chicago, and The Annoyance Theatre.


Tom Rhoads - Faculty /Improv Instructor & Coach

Tom Rhoads is an improviser, actor, writer and comedian. Tom spent several years studying and performing at The Second City Training Center of which he is a Conservatory graduate. He has performed and written original sketch comedy shows on stages in both Chicago and Atlanta.  Tom established himself as fixture of Chicago’s underground comedy scene as both a stand up comic and a solo performer while crafting his one man show The Little Things That Make Me Big. Upon moving to Atlanta, Tom joined the cast of HighWire’s Soapbox show along side some of the best improvisers in the city  He is also the coach of The Blast, a HighWire house team.