Neil Flynn Talks Del Close


Neil Flynn, star of sitcoms Scrubs and The Middle, sat down with The AV Club for an interview today, in which he talked about his early days as an improviser at the ImprovOlympic theater. At iO, he studied under improv guru Del Close and performed alongside Ian Roberts, Matt Besser, and Adam McKay in the legendary group The Family. Here’s Flynn reminiscing about his Chicago days:

“Del and I were both in a production of Hamlet in the mid-’80s with Chicago native Aidan Quinn starring as Hamlet. Del was Polonius, and that was pretty much his crowning glory, although he still had more than a decade left to live. In fact, I can’t be proven wrong by him now, so I’ll say that it was probably the thing that he was the most proud of. And rightfully so: He was excellent …With nothing to do on a Wednesday night or whatever, I passed by this sign that said ‘ImprovOlympic,’ and I remembered that. So I went in and saw the show, and I realized, ‘Oh, this is Del’s place!’ And I ended up signing up, pretty much for a lack of nothing else better to do, and… as I’ve said before, it was probably the single best professional decision I ever made. Before the year was out, I was playing with the house team, having the best slot: Friday and Saturday night, every week … That was 20 years ago, but you look at that group and … you had a bunch of people in the same place at the same time with the same interests and approximately the same skill level who knew each other better. Some went to Second City, some didn’t. But an alarming number of people from that short chunk of time ended up having success in TV or movies. Amy [Poehler], Tina [Fey], Horatio Sanz… And a number of people became writers. I mean, I’m not talking Tom Cruise-level fame or anything, but just the number of people who’ve gone on to successful careers in comedy? It’s not a very common thing.”