One Month At A Time

Improv Comedy: Getting to Know You -Jim-Bob Williams

For this edition of Profiles in Comedy, we move on to the Improv 304 group (these are the people who are letting me hang out with them in the basement of Taylor Books. It’s just like high school. We even have beer!)

This is Jim-Bob, probably one of the nicest guys I’ve met through this project, and really encouraging, which is important. I need encouragement, and also to know whether Pina Coladas are vegan (one thing at a time, one thing at a time)

Unrelated, it’s his birthday today. So, happy birthday, Jim-Bob.


Name: James B. (Jim-Bob) Williams

Age: 59

Hometown: St. Albans, WV by way of Brooklyn, NY

Occupation: Disabled Environmental Engineer Reinventing Himself

Jim-Bob as the Ghost of the Maytag repair man. Is Maytag still a thing?

What’s your life like outside of comedy?

Presbyterian Elder. Tai Chi novice. Acting or trying to act. Working out at Anytime Fitness. Going to doctor’s offices.

How did you get started in Improv/Comedy?

After being bitten by the acting bug by hamming it up as Marley’s Ghost for the Alban Theater’s “A Christmas Carol” , wanted to do something to improve acting skills. Found the Charleston Improv Practice Group (aka Improv 304).

What was your first workshop or show like?

Open mic night at Kanawha Valley Unity. They gave us 10 minutes and didn’t throw us off after 20. Major adrenaline surge – better than a performance appraisal.

In comedy or the improv comedy world, who do you look up to?

Locally, the No Pants Players. I love them all – special mentions to Joe Wallace, Jeff Bukovinsky, and Tony Slack. May they forgive me for suggesting “Bird Flu” as a topic – and also remember I also offered “It’s a Wonderful Rash”. Outside of NPP, the Fearless Fools. Tijah Bumgarner was our first coach. Bill Goff gave us a boot camp that was amazing.

In the professional world, Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams, and Second City. T.J. and Dave (the guys from the Sonic commercial) do magnificent long-form.

What’s the best part about what you do?

Meeting interesting people and making magic. Not that engineers and Presbyterians aren’t interesting and/or magical. Doing an intro class for kids and watching them play.

What’s the hardest part?

Taking my time. I love a good punchline, but if it’s not relevant to the scene I struggle to remind myself to take it out of the RAM and save it to the hard drive for later retrieval. Also, realizing I should have started doing improv in 1973.

What’s (almost) always funny?

Fifty Shades of Greyhound.

Advice for someone who might want to do Improv?

Tuesday nights, 6 PM, basement of Taylor Books.

Are two drink minimums necessary or are they just a rip off?

If you have to force someone to drink, you’re either a bad entertainer or a waterboarder.

Do you believe in Santa Claus, unicorns or global warming (choose one)?

Santa Claus is a friend of mine. I trust him unquestioningly. I am also in a play he wrote called “Sherlock Holmes and the Beast of Whitechapel” [ Yes, that was a shameless plug ]

If you could ask Drew Carey one question, what would it be?

Which door should I pick?

Is prison really as bad as they say or is that just the media?

Let’s put more of the media in prison and find out.

How good is your spelling?

My spelling are greats but me grammar not so much.

Do you have any time/money saving tips for our readers?

You know those signs the janitors put in the hallway saying “Wet Floor” ? They really don’t want you to.

Have you ever been to Ohio? I have seen sewage treatment plants and dioxin-contaminated landfills there. Ohio is New Jersey without the glitter.