Many of today’s comedy stars have been through some kind of formal training at one of several well-known improvisational schools like Uprights Citizens Brigade Theatre, Second City, The Groundlings, or ImprovOlympic (now known simply as iO). The latter is where two of the most legendary improvisational comedians taught and performed, and now their story will be told on the big screen.
Del & Charna is a new movie from Pitch Perfect writer and Blockers director Kay Cannon that will tell the story of improv comedy pioneers Del Close and Charna Halpern, the duo who founded improvOlympic in 1981 and influenced and trained comedians like Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch, Mike Myers, Gilda Radner, Bob Odenkirk, Amy Sedaris, Chris Farley and many more. Comedy wouldn’t be what it is today without the contributions of these two.
Deadline has the news of the Del & Charna movie in the works from Red Crown Productions, who also have Honey Boy hitting theaters this week. Here’s the official synopsis:
Del & Charna tells the true story of the unlikely pairing of eccentric improv legend, Del Close and feisty comedy theater owner, Charna Halpern. The movie chronicles their tumultuous 19-year relationship, which saw them as friends, saviors, and soulmates. Together, these two helped each other overcome his addiction, financial ruin, and their own personal demons to ultimately establish improv as an art form, launching the careers of some of our most beloved comedians, writers, and directors.
Kay Cannon will be working from a script by writers Rich Talarico and Alex Fendrich, and all three of them were fortunate enough to study under Del and Charna at improvOlympic. The trio also all graduated from Second City in Chicago, which has also been a rich bastion of comedic talent for decades.
Cannon will also be producing with Laverne McKinnon through their K&L Productions banner. The filmmaker said in a statement:
“Improv has been such an instrumental part of our lives that we’re incredibly honored to tell this special, unique story with the blessing of Charna Halpern. Dan and Yoni are amazing champions, and we’re excited to have Rich and Alex writing because they bring a wealth of knowledge to the project as former students of both Charna and Del.”
The film has the blessing of Charna, who added, “My life with Del was always funny, sometimes scary and extremely profound. I’m overjoyed to finally share our story with the world.” Unfortunately, Del Close passed away in 1999, so he won’t get to see his story told. But his legacy and work has influence comedy greatly in the 20 years since his passing, and this movie will immortalize the work and love Del and Charna poured both into each other and comedy.
We’ll keep our ears to the ground for more on Del & Charna. There’s also supposed to be another movie simply called Del that was meant to be a biopic about Del Close with Mike Myers playing the man himself. We’re not sure what happened to that project, but we hope to see it get off the ground at some point.
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