032: Improviser Dan Sipp says yes to THIRD DATE and the Medical Improv Initiative

“Once I found improv, I knew I wanted to do that with my life…” So many applicable takeaways and specific examples! In the first half of this episode we discuss Dan Sipp’s decades of experience in improv and his improv company Third Date. In the second half, we delve into Dan’s work with the medical improv initiative within the Duke Healthcare System.

Dan Sipp is a Chapel Hill native who has worked in the theater as an actor, director and teacher for nearly 30 years. He began his improv career with Transactors Improv Company and performed with them for nearly 15 years. In 1998 he moved to Chicago and 8 spent years studying, performing and directing improvisational theater. He returned to the Triangle to run the iO-South Training Center in Raleigh. He currently performs with and directs his improv company, Third Date.

Dan started working in medical education as a Standardized Patient actor and a volunteer patient advocate in the Duke University Health System. He later joined the staff of Campbell University’s Osteopathic School of Medicine as the Standardized Patient Program Director. He’s now the Standardized Patient Training Coordinator for the Duke University’s School of Medicine.

In 2016 Dan launched the Medical Improv Initiative at Duke with Dr. Ray Barfield. Since then they’ve offered dozens of inter-professional workshops for learners of all levels in the Duke Healthcare System. Last August Dan organized the first ever meeting of Medical Improv instructors from institutions around the country at Duke.

This episode is brought to you by the Soapboxers, the official patrons of the Artist Soapbox. If you like these episodes and want more, get on the Soapbox! This episode was recorded at the ASBX home studio.

Time break-down:

[0:00] Episode intro and Dan’s bio.


[1:55] “Once I found improv, I knew I wanted to do that with my life…” How did Dan discover this? What was it about improv that lit his fire?

[5:30] One of Dan’s goals is to legitimize improv.

[8:18] Building the skills to become a great improviser: What are the skills and how do you build them?


[11:15] How was the THIRD DATE ensemble formed? How does ‘being funny’ fit in the work they do? Playing the relatable, realistic moments (no unicorns!). Understanding the form, playing well with others on-stage, zero-ing in on moments worth exploring. What does a rehearsal look like for THIRD DATE?


[30:39] How did the Medical Improv Initiative come about? What benefits would improv provide for healthcare professionals? What would a workshop look like (specific exercises) and how can we apply those exercises to our lives?

[40:30] A difficult conversation that a physician might have and the response that brought tears to Tamara’s eyes. And a little side-conversation about improv and parenting.

[44:00] It’s hard to practice improv off-stage even though we’d be better people if we did!

[47:44] Stories of light-bulb moments from students in these workshops. The deep bonds that form when people make art together, and when people feel like ‘they are on the same team.’

[58:30] What’s next? What are Dan’s goals and aspirations?

[1:01] Thanks and sign-off

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Artist Soapbox

Artist Soapbox is a platform for original scripted audio fiction and an opportunity for artists to discuss their creative work in their own voices. We do this through our interview podcast, our blog, live events, and original audio dramas.

Artist Soapbox is an anti-racist organization. We believe Black Lives Matter. In addition, as a podcast production company, ASBX has signed the Equality in Audio Pact on Broccoli Content.

Artist Soapbox is more than just a podcast.

We lead writers groups, accountability support, workshops, and events. We produce and create audio dramas too! Listen to the Master BuilderThe New Colossus Audio Drama, Jesus Pancake, Declaration of Love, Food for Thought, and ASBX Shorts. Stay tuned to hear about more projects written by the Soapbox Audio Collective Writers’ Group.

Audio Dramas

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Jesus Pancake

Jesus Pancake is the newest scripted audio fiction series from Artist Soapbox. Nine episodes of zany dark comedy.


The New Colossus

The New Colossus Audio Drama is a totally unhinged dark comedy reboot of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, THE SEAGULL.


Master Builder

This audio drama was adapted from Tamara’s 2018 stage play produced by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and inspired by Henrick Ibsen’s classic, The Master Builder published in 1892.


Declaration of Love

Co-producers Aurelia Belfield and Tamara Kissane of Artist Soapbox commissioned eleven NC playwrights to craft short audio scenes based on the prompt “Declaration of Love.”


Food for Thought

Three pilot episodes of new scripted audio fiction series inspired by the prompt Food for Thought.


ASBX Shorts

ASBX Shorts are six short audio fiction pieces created and produced by North Carolina artists. Artist Soapbox Shorts were specifically contributed by the artists to aid in fundraising and to get everyone excited about Jesus Pancake, our new audio fiction series in development.

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