4 Practical Pointers From Eric Stonestreet
Two-time Emmy-winning funnyman Eric Stonestreet has found a way to combine two of his greatest passions: improvisational comedy and giving spot-on acting advice.
“I came up with this idea, a hybrid of what long-form improv is and what I do with colleges and universities—and what I do in my daily life—which is to answer people’s questions about my career, my job, my personal life, how I got where I am,” he says of his ongoing monthly appearances at Los Angeles’ comedy venue iO West Theater. Stonestreet takes career-oriented questions from the audience and turns his candid responses into long-form comedic riffs, with help from fellow improv veterans Michael Bunin and Dana Powell. “This show is for everybody, but it’s great for actors because I have a really talented group of friends that will pop in and improvise based on my answers,” he says.
The evening shows, titled “Who Is Debbie Powell,” are perfect for fans of improv as well as early-career performers hoping for the kind of career trajectory that has made Stonestreet a household name. “It’s never the same, and you never know what the questions are,” he says. “More than anything, it’s funny and an opportunity for actors here in town to come and ask [advice from] somebody who’s been there and done that.” Bunin and Powell, Stonestreet’s former improv teammates at iO West, are total pros, similarly equipped with the kind of insights that benefit working actors and comedians today.
Topics in past shows have included social media, commercial auditions, and the inevitability of rejection. (Upcoming performances take place Nov. 14 and Dec. 12.) Stonestreet says it’s a laid-back and celebratory environment, “but I don’t pull punches. I give honest answers.” When one audience member asked why he wasn’t booking more jobs, Stonestreet gave a response that was as realistic as it was difficult to hear: “Maybe [you’re] not very good.”