Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department Alum Aidy Bryant: ‘Columbia by Day and Improv by Night . . . I Found My Comedic Voice’ in Chicago

Aidy Bryant (Illustration by Dani Knight; image provided by NBCUniversal)

Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alum Aidy Bryant ’09, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Acting and now a regular cast member on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, is profiled in an article in DEMO, Columbia College’s alumni magazine. In an interview titled “Aidy’s Chicago,” Bryant –a native of Phoenix, Arizona – recounts how she came to Chicago to study theatre at Columbia College Chicago and to take advantage of the city’s sprawling improvisational comedy scene. “From freshman year on, I would do Columbia by day and improv by night. All night, every night of the week,” Bryant says. (She even met her future husband, fellow comedian Connor O’Malley, when they performed together at Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre.)

Aidy Bryant

After Bryant graduated from Columbia College in 2009, she began performing with the touring comedy group Baby Wants Candy, which presents original, improvised musicals. Her work with BWC caught the eye of talent scouts from The Second City, Chicago’s premier comedy theatre and training center. Second City is Columbia College’s partner institution on the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Comedy Writing and Performance. Bryan joined Second City in 2009, and it was there that she was spotted by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels. In 2012, at 25 years old, Bryant joined the cast of SNL.

As previously reported in this blog, Bryant is also the co-creator and star of Shrill, an original series for Hulu based on blogger Lindy West’s memoir Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman. Bryant plays Annie, a young woman trying to make it as a journalist while the world around her deems her not good enough because of her weight. The series’ first season debuted in March 2019; Season 2 will premiere in 2020.

In the DEMO feature, Bryant declares that Chicago “was certainly where I found my comedic voice, which was very fortifying for getting to a place like SNL or going through something like writing my own show for Hulu. I knew my comedic voice, and it’s really all thanks to my time in Chicago.” To read the full interview in DEMO 30, click here.

As previously reported here, DEMO 30 also features an interview with Tony Award-winning directors Anna D. Shapiro ’90, HDR ’15 and David Cromer HDR ’17 — two of the leading artists in contemporary American theatre — who met as fellow students at the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department in the late 1980s. To read their interview in DEMO 30, click here.