Charna Halpern

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Charna Halpern
Born (1952-06-01) June 1, 1952 (age 68)
OccupationImprovisation teacher, writer
Years active1980–present

Charna Halpern (born June 1, 1952) is an American comedian who is co-founder of the ImprovOlympic, now known as iO. Upon iO's founding, in 1984, with partner Del Close, she began teaching Harold to many students in the Chicago theater community. Many prominent comedians performed at iO, from Neil Flynn (The Middle) to Jack McBrayer (30 Rock). Also appearing were up and coming comedic minds such as Craig Cackowski (Drunk History).

Halpern opened the iO West located in Hollywood, California, in the early 2000s. In February 2018, she made the decision to close the theater citing the reasons as the neighboring nightclub and lack of attendance.[1][2][3]

She and Close co-authored the book Truth in Comedy: The Manual of Improvisation with editor Kim "Howard" Johnson in 1994.[4] She published Group Improvisation in 2003 and Art by Committee in 2006.[5][6]

The remaining theater in Chicago, originally located in the Wrigglyville neighborhood was forced relocate due to neighborhood development. In 2017, the theater reopened in the Clyborn North Area across from a Whole Foods flagship store, and next to VIPs strip club.

In 2020 during a forced shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a targeted racial justice outcry, she closed the only remaining Chicago location.


  • Truth in Comedy, 1994[4]
  • Group Improvisation, 2003[5]
  • Art by Committee, 2006[6][7]


  1. ^ "iO West Is Shutting Down Next Week". 13 February 2018. Archived from the original on 22 February 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  2. ^ Obejas, Achy (2001-04-03). "Comedy Guru Charna Halpern Carries On". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
  3. ^ Hicks, Margaret (2011). "10 Truth in Comedy". Chicago Comedy: A fairly Serious History. The History Press. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
  4. ^ a b Halpern, Charna; Close, Del; Howard, Kim (1994). Truth in Comedy. Meriwether Publishing. ISBN 978-1-56608-003-3.
  5. ^ a b Halpern, Charna; Gwinn, Peter (2003). Group Improvisation. Meriwether Publishing. ISBN 978-1-56608-086-6.
  6. ^ a b Halpern, Charna (2006). Art by Committee. Meriwether Publishing. ISBN 978-1-56608-112-2.
  7. ^ Armour, Terry (2006-03-26). "Personals: Who's Who & What's Up". The Chicago Tribune.

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