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Town Hall Seattle: Arts & Culture Series

The Arts & Culture series enriches our community with imagination and creativity. Whether reinventing the classics for a new audience or presenting an innovative new art form, these events are aimed at expanding horizons. From poetry to music to storytelling, this series leaves our audiences inspired, encouraged, and seeing the world with new eyes.

Checkout our new bi-weekly podcast "In the Moment"

Highlighting big ideas from both recent and soon-to-come events. A rolling Town Hall timeline, with you at the center. Every two weeks, hosts Steve Scher and Jini Palmer rewind through the recent past and fast-forward to the near future, catching you up on events you may have missed and offering a glimpse into the weeks ahead.

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Town Hall is a gathering place where ideas are planted and movements grow. It’s where we come together as a community to listen and be heard—to ask and answer the big questions facing our city and our world. Annually, we present hundreds of artists and scholars, and collaborate with more than 150 grassroots groups in our self-produced programs. Rooted in the belief that we all deserve a voice, our programming reflects—and inspires—our region's best impulses: creativity, empathy, and innovation. With our podcast series, we take one more step towards making our programming accessible to all. 

Dec 28, 2017

In many ways comedy is a great equalizer—a ubiquitous and nationally beloved form of entertainment. To give us some perspective on the meteoric rise of American comedy, Sam Wasson took the stage to discuss his book Improv Nation: How We Made A Great American Art, a richly reported, scene-driven narrative that moves fast and digs deep. Wasson tracked the origins of improv, from the experimental theater troupe Second City who set up shop in Chicago at the height of the McCarthy era, to Dan Aykroyd’s after-hours bar and home for icons like John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner.

Wasson was joined onstage by Jet City Improv Artistic Director Andrew McMasters. Together, they unpacked the evolution of improv comedy as an unscripted, interactive, consciousness-raising style and lead a conversation that took us through improv’s influence on landmark productions such as The Graduate, Caddyshack, and The Colbert Report. With signature verve and nuance, Wasson and McMasters offered their thoughts on why improv deserves to be considered the great American art form of the last half-century—and the most influential one today. 

Sam Wasson is a social historian of cinema and comedy whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and The Wall Street Journal. He’s served as a consultant for The Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMA Film. He is the author of five books including Fosse (NPR’s book of the year), A Splurch in the Kisser, and the 2010 bestseller Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman.

Andrew McMasters founded Jet City Improv in 1992, and then incorporated as the 501c3 Wing-It Productions in 1996. He is the Artistic Director of Jet City Improv and corporate consultant for his own company ImprovMindset, as well as the executive producer of the Seattle Festival of Improv Theater.