What is Comics In Action?

Comics In Action at the 3rd Annual Iowa Improv Festival
Comics In Action at the 3rd Annual Iowa Improv Festival

Comics in Action is an improvisational comedy troupe performing intense, in-your-face, unscripted shows highly bent on causing audiences to split their sides with laughter. In other words, CIA is a hyper-intensified version of ABC’s “Whose Line is it Anyway?” with a “Men in Black” twist.


What can I expect from a C.I.A. performance?

Expect the unexpected and expect to have a good time. A typical CIA performance is 75-minute long (including a 10-minute intermission or “debriefing”), with the Agents performing ten improvised games. Of course, it’s improv, so each show is different.

How long has Comics In Action been active?

Since 2002. Wow. We’ve been at this a while…

How did Comics In Action begin?

Comics In Action performs for the New Bohemia fundraiser
Comics In Action performs for the New Bohemia fundraiser

The ‘concept’ of Comics In Action rose out of a mutual love for improv between friends Abe Peterka, Chris Hanel, L. Stephan Phelan, who in-turn enlisted Dennis Lambing and Josh Wasta, following an extensive series of try-outs. Within nine months, Dave Atwater joined the troupe, followed by a series of talented local artists in the Cedar Rapids / Iowa City corridor. Initially a “competitive” improv troupe like ‘Comedy Sportz’, Comics In Action quickly settled into the subtle vein of short-form improvisational comedy.


Where are the founders of Comics In Action?

Good question. Abe Peterka moved to the Illinois / Indiana area, became a Chicago actor, got married, and is now a resident of Tennessee… honestly, we didn’t see those last two coming. Mr. Phelan wrote and directed the independent film Open Up, and is a prominent married actor in the Chicago area. Agent Wastaman earned his degree in Education from the University of Northern Iowa and is currently empl0yed by CRST (way to use that degree, Wasta). Agent Wastaman joins us when he can, but he doesn’t get much a of a chance lately to spend time with his wife… so, we forgive his absence. Chris Hanal (Agent LB), left the troupe within months of its formation, earned his degree in digital visual-arts, married Kori, moved to California, moved back to Iowa City, formed Riff Raff Theater, hung-out for a couple years, did a couple Comics In Action shows, got a better job offer, and moved his family (Kori and the cats) back to California. Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up.

Fortunately for you, they’ve left the troupe in the capable hands of Dennis, Dave & Butters; three funny guys who LOVE improv and The Corridor.

Can Comics In Action perform at our event?

Comics In Action at Riverside's Trek Fest
Comics In Action at Riverside’s Trek Fest

You’ll be surprised what we can do. Follow the links to the ‘Contact’ page and drop us a line with the pertinent details. One of our Comics In Action staff members will get in touch with you shortly after.


Are your shows…’dirty’?

The Agents of Comics In Action strive for a PG-13 performance. We take pride in our ability to provide good, clean fun for the entire family and we firmly believe that one doesn’t have to swear in order to be funny. However, our shows are unscripted, which means that we can tailor our performances to match your tastes. Because, sometimes, the correctly timed ‘expletive’ (if used with proper diligence) can be absolutely hysterical.

Hey! Can I become a Comics In Action Agent?

Sure. If you can act, sing and tell a good joke. Give us a holler. Typically, we hold try-outs once a year. Come prepared, as we are our own harshest critics. 🙂