(also known as "IO") is a theater in the Wrigleyville area of Chicago, Illinois
dedicated to improvisational comedy
. It was founded in the 1980s
by Del Close and Charna Halpern. The ImprovOlympic approaches improvisation as an art form in and of itself; this differs from the Second City
approach, where improv is used as a tool in creating sketch comedy. IO also concentrates on "long-form" improvisational structures, in contrast to the "short-form" or "improv game" format of Theatresports
or the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway
ImprovOlympic's two theater spaces, the Cabaret and the Del Close Theater, run nightly shows mostly made up of teams of current and former students of IO's training center. IO is also involved in the annual Chicago Improv Festival.
A companion theater, IO West, opened in Los Angeles, California about five years ago. As well, the Upright Citizens Brigade, which is now based in New York and runs the UCB Theater there, was once an ImprovOlympic house team.
Annually, a clone of the ImprovOlympic is held for one night at the Nelson College for Boys in Nelson, New Zealand.
Notable ImprovOlympic alumni include: