From L.A. Reality TV to First Coast Improvisation

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Before moving to Ponte Vedra two years ago, Christopher Schiavo had an exciting career in the L.A. Entertainment Industry.

Originally from New Jersey, Schiavo began his career as an assistant sound effects editor on blockbuster action films such as “Armageddon,” “The Rock” and “Con Air.” After that, he transitioned into reality television as a story producer for shows such as MTVs Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory and Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset and as story editor on Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules.

But after working in Hollywood for nearly 30 years, he knew it was time for a change.

“There were a number of reasons my wife and I decided to make the move to Northeast Florida. First, my wife is a native Floridian and loves it here,” Schiavo stated. “Second, we have two children. Los Angeles is an exciting place, but it can be a bit too fast-paced. We wanted our daughters to have a normal, stress-free, and fun childhood in a beautiful and safe place. I think we definitely found such a place here in the beautiful First Coast region.”

While working in L.A., Schiavo met his wife at an improvisational comedy class at the renowned Groundlings Comedy Theatre; a training ground to such comic greats as Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. After studying and performing there, Schiavo coached improv comedy groups at The Improv Olympic West Theatre where he also performed in a three-man improv group alongside Eric Stonestreet, star of TVs Modern Family.

Ten years of improv taught me so much as a writer, performer and person,” he said. “I played with such amazing talents and loved every minute of it. So when I moved here, I wanted to bring that love, knowledge and experience with improv to people here.”

And just what exactly can you learn by doing improv?

“Improv can help people from all walks off life, not just performers,” Schiavo explained. “Improv can help lawyers learn how to think on their feet, salespeople learn how to listen and connect with their customers, and it can help business owners become more comfortable with public speaking. Improv is also great for corporate team building. Also, there are a growing number of people taking improv classes to help with anxiety and depression because doing improv is simply one of the most fun things a person can do.”

Schiavo is teaching his first improv class on the First Coast this month. “Intro to Improv Comedy” starts Monday, Sept. 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at First Coast Technical College. The class is a six-week course and is open to the community at large, not just FCTC students. To register, visit fctc.edu/community/enrichment. Schaivo will teach a similar class at the University of North Florida in January.


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