Podcast Topic

Why Improv

The Blues Brothers

Guest: Daniel de Vise

Kelly goes deep with Pulitzer Prize winning author Daniel de Vise about his new book, “The Blues Brothers: An Epic Friendship, the Rise of Improv, and the Making of an American Film Classic.”

Comedy Studies

Guest: Anne Libera

Kelly explores The Second City's landmark college program Comedy Studies with it's Director, Anne Libera.

Chicago-Style Comedy: “The Perfect Amount of Wrong”

Guest: Mike Bridenstine

Kelly reminisces with Chicago-bred comedian and author Mike Bridenstine whose new book is called “The Perfect Amount of Wrong: The Rise of Alt Comedy on Chicago’s North Side.”

Keegan-Michael Key and Elle Key: Live at the CHF

Guest: Keegan-Michael Key and Elle Key

Kelly interviews Keegan-Michael Key and Elle Key live at the Chicago Humanities Festival to discuss their new book "The History of Sketch Comedy: A Journey Through the Art and Craft of Humor."

Jeffrey Sweet: Something Wonderful Right Away

Guest: Jeffrey Sweet

Kelly sits down with playwright and author Jeffrey Sweet to discuss the new edition of his legendary book "Something Wonderful Right Away," an oral history of The Second City.

Neil Mullarkey: In the Moment

Guest: Neil Mullarkey

Kelly connects with Neil Mullarkey, who began his comedy career with Mike Myers, improvised with London's Comedy Store Players, and applied his knowledge of improv to the world of business management training. He has a new book, “In the Moment."

Morten Christiansen & Nick Chater: The Language Game

Guest: Morten Christiansen & Nick Chater

Kelly has a fascinating conversation with scholars Morten Christiansen and Nick Chater to talk about their new book, “The Language Game: How Improvisation Created Language and Changed the World.”

Geoffrey Cohen: Belonging

Guest: Geoffrey Cohen

Kelly has a fascinating conversation with Stanford professor Geoffrey Cohen about his new book, “Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides.”

Mauro Porcini: The Human Side of Innovation

Guest: Mauro Porcini

Kelly connects with PepsiCo's first ever Chief Design Officer, Mauro Porcini, to talk about his new book, “The Human Side of Innovation: The Power of People in Love with People.”

Michael Alcée: Therapeutic Improvisation

Guest: Michael Alcée

Kelly plops down on the couch with Michael Alcée, a clinical psychologist and Mental Health Educator at Manhattan School of Music to talk about his book, “Therapeutic Improvisation: How to Stop Winging It and Own It as a Therapist.”

Deborah Gilboa, MD: From Stressed to Resilient

Guest: Deborah Gilboa, MD

Kelly reconnects with Doctor Deborah Gilboa (Dr. G), a go-to expert on raising and educating respectful, responsible, resilient young people. She has a new book "From Stressed to Resilient: The Guide to Handle More and Feel Less."

Melissa Daimler: ReCulturing

Guest: Melissa Daimler

Kelly talks to Melissa Daimler, the Chief Learning Officer for Udemy who has also worked for Adobe, Twitter, and WeWork. She has a new book: "ReCulturing: Design Your Company Culture to Connect with Strategy and Purpose for Lasting Success."

Leidy Klotz: Subtract

Guest: Leidy Klotz

Kelly talks to University of Virginia professor Leidy Klotz about his fascinating book "Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less."

Dr. Adrienne Boissy: Healthcare, Tech and Empathy

Guest: Dr. Adrienne Boissy

Kelly connects with the amazing Dr. Adrienne Boissy about her work for both The Cleveland Clinic and Qualtrics. She is always looking to lead with empathy.

Improvising Backable

Guest: Improvising Backable

Suneel Gupta and Anne Libera join the podcast to discuss their collaboration on a new class for Northwestern University's Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Zoe Chance: Influence is Your Superpower

Guest: Zoe Chance

Kelly welcomes Yale scholar Zoe Chance back to the podcast to talk about her new book: “Influence is your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change and Making Good Things Happen.”

Ayelet Fishbach: Get It Done

Guest: Ayelet Fishbach

Kelly catches up with noted University of Chicago scholar Ayelet Fishbach to discuss her new book “Get It Done: Surprising Lessons from the Science of Motivation.”

Paul Denniston: Healing Through Yoga

Guest: Paul Denniston

Kelly sits down with Paul Denniston, the founder of Grief Yoga to talk about his new book “Healing Through Yoga: Transform Loss Into Empowerment.”

The Reverend Doctor Jacqui Lewis: Fierce Love

Guest: The Reverend Doctor Jacqui Lewis

Kelly connects with public theologian, activist and minister, The Reverend Doctor Jacqui Lewis to talk about her new book, "Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal The World."

Deana Criess: Improv for the Visually Impaired

Guest: Deana Criess

Kelly talks to Deana Criess whose work at the Perkins School for the Blind has her teaching improvisation to the visually impaired.

Vanessa Bohns: You Have More Influence Than You Think

Guest: Vanessa Bohns

Kelly connects with Cornell professor Vanessa Bohns to discuss her new book “You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion, and Why It Matters.”

Pam Victor: Improvisation and Wellness

Guest: Pam Victor

Kelly catches up with Pam Victor, the Head of Happiness (aka founder and president) of Happier Valley Comedy, who shares a passion for improvisation as it is applied to personal well being.

Don Waisanen, Ph.D: Improv for Democracy

Guest: Don Waisanen, Ph.D.

Kelly introduces us to professor Don Waisanen, whose new book, "Improv for Democracy," offers that improv-based teaching and training can help the world.

Susan McPherson: The Lost Art of Connecting

Guest: Susan McPherson

Kelly connects with Susan McPherson about her new book “The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Relationships.”

Clay Drinko: Play Your Way Sane

Guest: Clay Drinko

Kelly talks improvisation and play with Clay Drinko whose new book is called "Play Your Way Sane: 120 Improv Inspired Exercises To Help You Calm Down, Stop Spiraling And Embrace Uncertainty."

Joseph Badaracco: The Art of Reflection

Guest: Joseph Badaracco

Kelly interviews Harvard professor of business ethics Joseph Badaracco about his new book "Step Back: How To Bring The Art Of Reflection Into Your Busy Life."

Beth Newell: There's No Manual

Guest: Beth Newell

Kelly connects with Beth Newell, co-founder and editor of the satirical woman's magazine "Reductress." They discuss her new book, “There’s No Manual: Honest and Gory Wisdom About Having A Baby.”

Vikram Mansharamani: Think For Yourself

Guest: Vikram Mansharamani

Kelly has an intriguing conversation with Vikram Mansharamani who contends that we outsource too much of our thinking to experts in his new book: "Think For Yourself."

Val Lantz-Gefroh: The Compassionate Practice

Guest: Val Lantz-Gefroh

Kelly connects with Val Lantz-Gefroh who is the first Artistic Director for the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine in Texas. She uses improvisational techniques to train physicians.

Bruce Daisley: Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat.

Guest: Bruce Daisley

Kelly has a fascinating conversation with former Twitter and YouTube executive Bruce Daisley about his new book, "Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat: 30 Hacks for Bringing Joy to Your Job”.

Kim Scott: Improvising Radical Candor

Guest: Kim Scott

Kelly connects with Kim Scott to talk about the latest collaboration between Second City Works and Radical Candor: a digital learning series called "Improvising Radical Candor."

Tom Rath: Life's Great Question

Guest: Tom Rath

Kelly keeps the questions going with longtime Gallup executive Tom Rath whose new book focuses on the importance of contributions over passions.

Ensemble-Made Chicago

Guests: Chloe Johnston & Coya Paz Brownrigg

Kelly talks with Chloe Johnston and Coya Paz Brownrigg about their new book "Ensemble-Made Chicago," which looks at the unique way that Chicago theater artists develop original content in a collaboration with their fellow artists and audiences.

MaryAnn Kibben Dana: God, Improv and the Art of Living

Guest: MaryAnn Kibben Dana

Kelly has a powerful conversation with pastor MaryAnn McKibben Dana whose new book explores how she has incorporated her improvisational training into her spiritual life and pastoral work.

Brandstage: Using Improv and Comedy to Get to Truth.

Guest: Steve Kakos and Anneliese Toft

Kelly takes his listeners backstage with his colleagues Steve Kakos and Anneliese Toft as they discuss "Brandstage," a process that gets insights by putting brands and organizations through The Second City process.

Mike Birbiglia: Filmmaking + Improv

Guest: Mike Birbiglia

Kelly interviews Mike Birbiglia whose new film “Don’t Think Twice” is set in the world of improv.

Sam Wasson: Improv Nation- How We Made A Great American Art

Guest: Sam Wasson

Kelly and noted author Sam Wasson dig deep into his new book, “Improv Nation,” about the history of improvisation in America.

Awakening Compassion At Work

Guest: Jane Dutton and Monica Worline

Kelly talks to acclaimed scholars Jane Dutton and Monica Worline who show us the evidence based science that a caring workplace is a more successful workplace.

Ai-jen Poo: Improvisation For Care

Guest: Ai-jen Poo

Kelly talks to activist, author and co-director of Caring Across Generations about Second City’s new collaboration to bring improvisational skills and practice to the caregiving community.

Sarah Robb O'Hagan: Extreme You

Guest: Sarah Robb O'Hagan

Kelly connects with Sarah Robb O’Hagan whose career has included stints at Virgin, Nike, Equinox Fitness Clubs and her current role as CEO of Flywheel Sports. She is the author of “Extreme You: Step Up, Stand Out, Kick Ass, Repeat.”

Kelly McGonigal: The Upside Of Stress

Guest: Kelly McGonigal

Kelly talks to Stanford University psychologist and acclaimed TEDtalk Speaker Kelly McGonigal about her book “The Upside of Stress” and the cutting edge research that shows us how a healthy use of stress can make us happier and more productive.

Lisa Bodell: Why Simple Wins

Guest: Lisa Bodell

Kelly connects with the CEO of Futurethink and author of “Why Simple Wins,” Lisa Bodell. They explore simple techniques to help organizations embrace change and increase their capability for innovation.

Friederike Fabritius: Leading Brain

Guest: Friederike Fabritius

Kelly digs into the powerful science based strategies for achieving peak performance with neuropsychologist Friederike Fabritius who has co-authored a new book called “The Leading Brain.”

Dick Costolo: Great Leaders Are Great Listeners

Guest: Dick Costolo

Kelly talks to former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo about leadership, improvisation and working out with Gavin Newsome.

Peter McGraw: The Humor Code

Guest: Peter McGraw

Kelly talks comedy and humor with Dr. Peter McGraw, a professor with an expertise in the fields of emotion and behavioral economics. Peter wrote the book “The Humor Code” and directs the Humor Research Lab at UC, Boulder.

Emma Seppala: The Happiness Track

Guest: Emma Seppala

Kelly talks to scholar and author Emma Seppala about the connection between happiness and a successful career.

Duncan Watts: Everything Is Obvious

Guest: Duncan Watts

Kelly talks to Cornell professor and Primary Researcher at Microsoft, Duncan Watts. Duncan’s book, “Everything is Obvious,” shows us how and why 80% of our predictions are wrong and we invent stories to make sense of an often unsensible world.

Adam Alter: Irresistible

Guest: Adam Alter

Kelly is joined by Adam Alter, Professor at NYU Stern School of Business; best-selling author of “Drunk Tank Pink” as well as his latest book on our addiction to technology, “Irresistible.”

Adam Grant: Originals

Guest: Adam Grant

It’s our 50th episode! Kelly celebrates by talking to the great and smart Adam Grant, author of “Give and Take” and “Originals.” Adam has amazing stories and insights.

Tina Seelig: Insight Out

Guest: Tina Seelig

Kelly talks to Tina Seelig, a professor at Stanford’s Department of Management Science and Engineering about her research into creativity and innovation.

Charlie Todd: Improv Everywhere

Guest: Charlie Todd

Kelly goes behind the scenes with Charlie Todd, the founder of Improv Everywhere, the New York-based comedy collective responsible for public acts of creativity like the no pants subway ride.

Nir Eyal: The Powers Of Habit

Guest: Nir Eyal

Kelly talks to Nir Eyal, an entrepreneur and consultant whose book “Hooked” shows how habits are being used to create and sell powerful new technologies.

Cal Newport: Deep Work

Guest: Cal Newport

Kelly sits down with Cal Newport, Georgetown professor of Computer Science whose latest book, “Deep Work,” is a cautionary exploration of how our digital habits are making our lives and our work shallow.

Zoe Chance: Woo The Gator

Guest: Zoe Chance

Kelly talks to Zoe Chance, who is a marketing professor teaching influence and persuasion at the Yale School of Management.

Charles Limb: This Is Your Brain On Improv

Guest: Charles Limb

Kelly talks to Dr. Charles Limb, who has studied the effects of improvisation on the human brain.

Caroline Webb: How To Have A Good Day

Guest: Caroline Webb

Kelly talks to Caroline Webb, author of the fantastic new book How to Have a Good Day. Caroline is an Oxford and Cambridge trained economist who spent 15 years at McKinsey before opening her own firm, Sevenshift.

Howard Tullman: Chicago: Collaboration Capital Of The World

Guest: Howard Tullman

Kelly talks to Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, the tech hub that serves as a community for cutting edge digital designers, engineers and entrepreneurs working in Chicago.

Phil Clement: Risk, Manchester United And The Value Of Pride

Guest: Phil Clement

Kelly talks with Phil Clement, Global CMO of AON about working at the intersection of risk and people; managing AON’s robust relationship with the Manchester United Football team and the value of pride for the London-based company.

Angela Duckworth: Grit, Resilience And Passion

Guest: Angela Duckworth

Kelly talks to Angela Duckworth, the author of the New York Times Bestselling book Grit. Angela’s insights on how the term “talent” is doing us a disservice and the grit of one her favorite Second City alums, Tina Fey.

Josh Wolf Shenk: The Powers Of Two

Guest: Josh Wolf Shenk

Kelly talks to Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of “Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs,” which looks at the creative DNA of dyads, from Lennon and McCartney to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Charles Duhigg: Smarter, Faster, Better

Guest: Charles Duhigg

Kelly sits down with Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times Best Selling author Charles Duhigg about his latest book, “Smarter, Faster, Better” as well as smash hit “The Power of Habit.”

Kim Scott: Radical Candor

Guest: Kim Scott

Kelly Leonard connects with Kim Scott who is the author of the book Radical Candor.Radical Candor is the sweet spot between managers who are obnoxiously aggressive on the one side and ruinously empathetic on the other.

Craig Dubitsky: The Entrepreneur CEO

Guest: Craig Dubitsky

Kelly talks Craig Dubitsky, the CEO of Hello Products and the co-founder of EOS products – the iconic spherical lip balm that your kids are always bugging you to buy for them when you’re checking out at Target.

Bob Sutton: The No A****** Rule

Guest: Bob Sutton

Kelly talks with best-selling author and Stanford University professor Bob Sutton about the defining characteristics of assholes and the damage they can do to a business.

Julie Mason: Electoral Dysfunction

Guest: Julie Mason

Kelly talks with Julie Mason, host of the Press Pool on Sirius/XM’s Potus Channel about Trump, Clinton, Media Bias and funny politicians. Julie spent ten years as a White House Correspondent covering both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Gretchen Rubin: Happiness And Habits

Guest: Gretchen Rubin

Kelly talks to Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” and “Better Than Before” about her insights into how we can make ourselves happier people and understanding ourselves and our best habits.

Simon Sinek: Starting With Why

Guest: Simon Sinek

Kelly talks to thought leader Simon Sinek about his new book Together is Better, on the importance of finding your “why,” and how companies need to put their employees first.

Katie Elfering: The Secrets Of Millennials

Guest: Katie Elfering

Kelly mines millennial insights with Katie Elfering, Senior Design Researcher for Microsoft. Katie studies the behaviors of Millennials and Generation Z and shares her research and thoughts around generational differences and...

Dan Kois: Politics & Parenting

Guest: Dan Kois

Kelly Leonard sits down with Dan Kois of Slate Magazine to discuss politics and parenting.