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Variety called her one of the top ten women to watch in entertainment. Mike Myers named her the Uta Hagen of Comedy. Charna Halpern, the co-creator of long-form improvisation with her partner, the late Del Close, has changed the face of improvisational comedy forever. Halpern and Close created their famous signature long-form piece, the Harold, a meta-game that "ate" short-form improvisation and became popular worldwide. Halpern and Close have been responsible for creating the talents and sensibilities of some of the biggest comedic stars in show business. Together and apart, their alumni include John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Andy Dick, Andy Richter, Adam McKay, David Koechner, and many other illustrious cast members and writers of Saturday Night Live, MADtv, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report. As director of iO Chicago (formerly ImprovOlympic), and iO West in Los Angeles, Halpern recently celebrated her twenty-fifth year in business with the return of all of her alumni in a star-studded celebration in Chicago that will soon yield a DVD and a television special. Under Halpern's guidance, iO is producing the next generation of artistic geniuses.
In addition to directing and teaching at iO, Halpern travels the world teaching seminars in improvisation. She was hired by The American Embassy in Cyprus to teach her philosophy of agreement to the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in an effort to bridge their communication gap.
Her first book, Truth in Comedy, is considered the bible for improvisation in the entertainment industry and is mandatory reading in theatre departments on most college campuses.
Halpern is not just a leader in the entertainment industry, she also has a reputation as the premier provider of corporate comedy and corporate training. Her workshops for corporations are customized to teach techniques in communication, team building, and creative thinking. Her methods of teaching agreement, building upon ideas, and turning a negative into a positive make for great sales tools and draw the parallels that exist between the improv world and the corporate work environment.
Halpern recently returned to acting in a cameo role in a movie written and directed by Andy Dick, called Danny Roane: First Time Director.
She lives in Chicago with her two dogs, Chief and Mia, and travels back and forth to her theatre in L.A.
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