October 1, 2018, Myrtle Beach, S.C.- Gina Trimarco, founder and owner of Carolina Improv Company (CIC) announces the company’s 10-year anniversary as an improv school and training company and nine years as a theater inside the Myrtle Beach Mall. To celebrate, Trimarco is offering two promotions: 1) The Throw Back Thursday Show in November for the original $10 ticket price set in 2009 and 2) Free First Fridays, an ongoing promotion for locals to see shows for free the first Friday of every month. For more information about Carolina Improv Company, visit CarolinaImprov.com or call 843-272-4242. The theater is located inside the Myrtle Beach Mall at 10177 N. Kings Highway.
When Gina Trimarco founded Carolina Improv (CIC), it was what she calls “an accidental start up”. As a Chicago native Trimarco says living an improv comedy life is like living the beach life when you’re from Myrtle Beach. “I grew up going to improv shows at Second City, the home of improv, and during my freshman year in college as an accounting major I started taking classes there to stay creatively balanced. Little did I know that those classes would change my life,” Trimarco says.
Improv changed her life because she learned the improv philosophy of “yes, and”, which goes beyond the perception of just comedy. She explains that improv teaches people how to be better humans through active listening, collaboration and the acceptance of ideas. And that sometimes, “funny happens”. It’s because of improv that Trimarco changed her major to journalism and continued a career in television production, public relations and marketing.
Trimarco relocated to Myrtle Beach in 2007 to take over the IMAX 3D Theater at Broadway At The Beach. Overwhelmed by her new job and community, she sought out improv classes to re-charge herself, only to find out they didn’t exist. “Improv is like cheap therapy for adults. Over the years I’ve continuously taken classes to keep myself positive and playful as a person and business leader,” she says. Ultimately, someone suggested that Trimarco start an improv community, which required her to first learn how to teach improv. With teacher training under her belt and a marketing background, she created Carolina Improv Company and marketed her first class. With the help of fellow Chicagoan Chris Beattie, and then General Manager of Legends In Concert in Surfside, Beattie allowed her to hold her first Improv Level 1 class at Legends on Sunday afternoons in November 2008.
“I’m so grateful to Chris for helping out a fellow Chicago girl,” says Trimarco. “As an outsider in a new community, having a place to test out my idea was pivotal. I also had the support of Tim McGhee at Theatre Of The Republic for some of our classes,” she continues.
One week prior to that first Improv Level 1 class beginning, Trimarco lost her job as General Manager of IMAX during the economic crash of 2008. She continued to offer classes while looking for a new job, but by July 2009, the Myrtle Beach Mall approached her and suggested she build a theater inside the fledgling venue. In the spirit of improv, Trimarco “yes, anded” the idea and used her savings to build out a black box theater space, which opened in November 2009. Since then, other entertainment ventures took up non-traditional residency at the mall, including Atlantic Stage. Trimarco paved the way to think differently as a business start-up. “Oh, the stories I could tell you about re-zoning and licensing for a business that doesn’t meet the normal way of doing business in a mall,” Trimarco laughs.
Carolina Improv Company now offers five levels of improv classes, much more than the days of one class and very similar to Second City’s business model. Trimarco says, “Most people who take classes do so because they’ve heard it will help them get out of their heads, to be better communicators and have more fun in life.” Students can audition to join the cast, which is comprised of 20-25 Grand Strand residents at any given time (and even one from Florence). Many cast members also move on to become improv teachers of the various classes, all trained by Trimarco. The theater has ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for Nightlife Attractions since 2010 and has entertained more than 50,000 patrons (mostly tourists).
A recent recipient of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Business Diversity Champion Award, Carolina Improv is proud of its mostly female cast in a controversial time of the #MeToo movement and when many improv theaters throughout the country have been impacted by sexual harassment allegations, which is not uncommon in the entertainment industry, she says. “Our number company core value is ‘Take Care Of Each Other’. This is also an improv tenet that we teach as well, but we live and breathe to create a safe environment where everyone can grow and prosper,” Trimarco says.
As a giveback to the community, Carolina Improv opened its doors for the month of September to locals to see shows for free, following the continuous aftermath of Hurricane Florence. “The promotion was called Free Laughs For Locals and brought out many new customers who had never seen a show and just needed their spirits lifted,” says Trimarco. It’s that idea that inspired the newest, ongoing promotion of Free First Fridays to continue to give back.
It’s not just about the laughs at Carolina Improv. The company also offers improv-based corporate training in the areas of sales and leadership, using improv as a tool to be better communicators and collaborators. This training is offered through their spin off company, Pivot10 Results, which is now licensing their training programs throughout the country.
When Trimarco isn’t teaching, training or performing, she also produces a podcast called The Pivotal Leader, in which she interviews CEOs and thought leaders from all over the world.
For more information about Carolina Improv Company, improv classes, shows and corporate training, visit www.carolinaimprov.com or call (843) 272-4242 (HAHA).
About Carolina Improv Company
Founded in November 2008 by Chicago native and Second City trained Gina Trimarco, Carolina Improv Company (CIC) offers improv classes for adults, improv comedy shows and customized entertainment for private events and groups. Improv is an art form used for training people on how to think quickly on their feet and get out of their heads and this often leads to organic comedy. If you’re new to improv comedy, think of the television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” in which the performers create comedy spontaneously from suggestions. CIC is located at the Uptown Theater inside the Myrtle Beach Mall and also offers corporate training workshops to organizations that want to improve their abilities to connect with others, solve unexpected problems in the moment, generate more sales and create better ways of working together. Carolina Improv Company is the recipient of two awards from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce: 1) 2009 Business Innovation Award and 2) 2018 Business Diversity Champion. For more information about classes or shows, visit www.carolinaimprov.com or call 272-HAHA (4242).
Chicago native Gina Trimarco, CEO/Founder of Pivot10 Results and Carolina Improv Company, is a serial entrepreneur with 25+ years of experience in marketing, sales, operations and people training. When the economy crashed in 2008 she opted to do something seemingly impossible to many by starting an unproven concept business instead of finding a new job. That business, Carolina Improv Company (CIC), has been #1 on TripAdvisor for Nightlife Attractions in Myrtle Beach, SC since 2010 and is in the process of becoming a licensor of its programs. CIC also spun off a second business, Pivot10 Results, a training and strategy company that helps businesses and executives shift from people problems to performance results. She graduated from DePaul University and studied at Second City. Trimarco produces and hosts The Pivotal Leader podcast, is a Vistage Worldwide speaker and is also an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council and is a contributor to Forbes.com and TrainingMagazine.com.