Claire Halberstadt is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team Codenamed Shadowfax. She is also a member of musical improv group Suggestical.

How and why did you get into comedy?  I never intended to get into “comedy”. I was raised on musical theater and was actually introduced to improv through a musical improv group that I was in during college. I loved making up musicals on the spot, so when I moved to Philadelphia, I figured I’d give regular improv a try. I started going to the Improv Incubator on Sunday nights and pretty much fell in love.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I’m definitely inspired and driven by physical comedy, and my background as a dancer feeds into that. I also tend to play over-the-top characters, the ones that you find most often in musical theater.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? The good ole Shubin does it for me. It’s a good size, your audience can drink in the seats, and they’ve got easy access to electrical outlets- which we need for the piano in my musical improv trio- Suggestical.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? Haha, well I just love when people can leave a show talking about something that happened on stage or humming a tune that we made up during one of our improvised musicals with Suggestical. Most recently we sang a song called “An Ipod for Dolphins”. That was pretty fun. And then there was the time that I named Jess Ross’ mother’s maiden name: Magucci.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I try to meditate sometimes. I’m a big fan of Chicago Improv Associates’ ZenProv. They basically draw parallels between improv and Zen Buddhism. Check it out, it’s life-changing- they’ve got podcasts.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Honestly, I did theater for so many years and I don’t think I ever truly “got” what it meant to be “in the moment” until I started doing improv. Improvising makes real acting a lot more accessible. It’s a lot easier- and no, I don’t mean to say it’s “easy”, just “easier”- to be present, listening, and truthful when you don’t have a predetermined script that you’re following.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I love the Amie and Kristen show. I’m really inspired by their organic transitions and the awesome chemistry they’ve got.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? Don’t you know, I block out those memories.

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? A permanent space for PHIT definitely. More musical improv!

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I guess a personal goal of mine is to somehow keep my life balanced, as I will be hopefully going back to school in the next year or so for Clinical Psychology. I want to keep improv as a part of my life, but also be able to balance it with my other interests.