Funny, Right?

Tara DeFranciscoHailing originally from Columbus, Ohio, and a decorated graduate of Ohio University (BFA/BS) – Tara knew she wanted to follow her childhood dream and pursue comedy, full on! Around 2000, she made the move to study improv and sketch in the learning mecca of Chicago, at the famed iO (formerly ImprovOlympic) and Second City institutions. Quickly, she joined several independent improv troupes at theatres like the Playground, where she performed on her very first team, The Cleaning Ladies, a few times a month.

Tara became involved in stand-up comedy, and focused her energies there as she continued classes at iO and SC. Stand up took her on a joyride, and she began receiving a lot of attention and building a fan-base, even culminating with a midwestern tour of colleges. As magazines and papers took notice, Tara could not deny her undying devotion to the art of improv and sketch, and began spending more time in that arena. Tara began performing at iO, and worked with such teams as The Tour, BFF, Merman, and as a sit in for many others. In 2002, Tara was hired at ComedySportz, an interactive short-form show of genius, which is still one of her favorite places to play. There, she won Most Valuable Player of 60 ensemble members 2004-2007, and became a part of their Artistic and Educational Staff.

In-between, Tara began utilizing the skills she had honed for stand-up in the corporate world, and began writing and acting in live industrials for the company Dave & Co. She wrote scripts, roasts, and business workshops for several corporate clients across the US, both via ComedySportz/Creative Conceptz and Dave & Co. She continued to perform and began to teach more, winning an award in the Windy City Times for “30 Under 30”, celebrating young notables in the big city. Meanwhile, she realized she was doing 5-10 shows a week with CSz, iO, and lauded musical troupe Baby Wants Candy.

Then, In 2006, Tara reached a lifelong goal – she was hired at the infamous Second City Theatre as an understudy; over 700 auditioned, and 3 were taken. Tara worked as an understudy for about a year, and then was bumped to a spot on the exclusive Second City Touring Company (TourCo for short). She traveled over 30 states solely with TourCo for an additonal two years, working a full three years in touring. She was fortunate enough to travel all over this nation doing shows for thousands of people each month, writing new sketches and performing many from their rich library of archived material by celebrated alumni Tina Fey, Alan Arkin, Chris Farley, Bill Murray, Rachel Dratch, Steven Colbert, Steven Carrell, Amy Poehler, and hundreds more.

Now, after touring, Tara is performing back in the city that gave her more love for the artform: Chicago. She loves performing at iO (formerly the ImprovOlympic) with the musical house ensemble the DelTones, and occasionally in the acclaimed Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience and Hootenany (Armando for Short) on Monday evenings. Recently, she did the one-off show Messing With A Friend, with mentor and friend, Susan Messing. Tara continues to perform for the Second City as an understudy for the resident stages, and at CSz several times a week. Tara teaches improv and sketch-writing classes at iO, Second City, and ComedySportz, and coaches a Harold team at the iO theatre as well. She has been to large improv festivals as a performer and instructor in Wisconsin, D.C., NY, Indiana, and Seattle. She has performed in over 2000 improv and sketch shows during her career so far.

Recently, she was awarded “Funniest Person in Chicago” by the Free Press for her ventures in stand up, sketch, and improv. She was added in 2008 as “One to Watch” in Time Out Chicago, and just this month she won “Top 25 Funniest Women” in Curve Magazine. In the fall of 2008, she was scouted for SNL, and 1 of 6 women flown to the studio to audition from across the nation. This year, she has been scouted by other production companies, and has landed work in print ads, voiceovers, and industrials. She teaches improv courses and workshops to people of all ages and backgrounds, and that’s about the most rewarding thing ever. She is going to spread the joy that was spread to her anywhere she can get to. There are no words to express how very thankful she is.