Alumni & Testimonials

The American Comedy Institute has a wide variety of both professional and amateur alumni. Our talent come from around the world and have written for some of the leading shows and performed in the best comedy clubs.

Lena Dunham

 Writer, Actor, Director, Producer

Lena Dunham is the creator of the Golden Globe winning and Emmy nominated HBO series, Girls. She writes, directs, produces and stars in the show.  Her book, Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller. Lena has appeared in various films and tv shows some of which include This is 40, Happy Christmas, Don’t Think Twice, Supporting Characters, Saturday Night Live, Inside Amy Schumer, Scandal, High Maintenance, The Simpsons. Lena has written, directed and/or produced numerous short and feature length films, documentaries and tv series. Her film, Tiny Furniture, won the South by Southwest Film Festival’s award for best narrative feature. Lena has appeared and continues to appear on late night and day time talk shows on all networks.

Jim Gaffigan

jim-gaffigan Comedian, Actor, Writer

Jim is the creator, writer and star of The Jim Gaffigan Show airing on TV Land and Comedy Central. His standup specials, Obsessed and Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe, both received Grammy nominations. He is currently on another national tour, “Fully Dressed”.

His comedy book Dad is Fat spent 17 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and was named Hudson Book of the Year. His second book, Food: A Love Story, spent 10 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list.  He has appeared in various films and television shows most recently, The Bleeder and Drunk Parents.

Eric Slovin

 Writer, Producer, Comedian, Actor

Eric is the co-executive producer of Comedy Central’s Broad City and was a staff writer for Saturday Night Live. He has written for Comedy Central Presents, Human Giant, Important Things with Demetri Martin, Funny or Die Presents, and Night of Too Many Stars. Eric has appeared in various tv series and is half of the comedy duo, Slovin & Allen, who have appeared on Comedy Central and Funny or Die.

Michelle Buteau

michelle buteauComedian, Actor, Host

Michelle co-hosted VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live with Nick Lachey. She played Private Robinson in Fox’s Enlisted. She recently appeared on Comedy Central’s, The Half Hour. Michelle has also performed stand-up on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, Totally Biased with W.Kamau Bell, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Lopez Tonight and Last Comic Standing.

She has appeared in Key and Peele, @Midnight, and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Michelle is a regular on VH1’s Best Week Ever, MTV’s Walk of Shame, Oxygen Network’s Kiss and Tell, and was Jenny McCarthy’s sidekick on her late-night talk show Jenny. She currently hosts Comedy Central’s Snapchat series, I Can’t Even, and was cast as a series regular in the ABC pilot, Dream Team.

Yannis Pappas

yannis pappasComedian, Host

Yannis (One Year Program Alum) recently appeared in his first Comedy Central Half Hour Special. He has been featured on Gotham Comedy Live, VH1’s Best Week Ever and CBS.

He is currently the co-anchor of Fusion Live, a one-hour news magazine program on Fusion Network. He hosts the sports-comedy series 2 Point Lead on AOL. He tours the world doing stand up comedy and is known for his immensely popular characters Mr. Panos and Maurica. Along with Director Jesse Scaturro, he is the co-founder of the comedy production company Ditch Films.

Zach Woods

Zach-WoodsComedian, Actor

Zach plays Donald “Jared” Dunn on the HBO series Silicon Valley. Zach played Gabe Lewis on the hit NBC comedy The Office. He has appeared on numerous television shows including Playing House, The League, Veep, Kroll Show, The Good Wife, and Arrested Development. His film credits include Mascots, Ghostbusters, Other People, Spy, In the Loop, The Heat, and The Other Guys.

Jessica Kirson

jessica kirsonComedian, Actor, Writer

Jessica is a national headliner.  She has appeared on Kevin Can Wait, The Jim Gaffigan Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The View, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Last Comic Standing, Comics Unleashed, and Celebrity Apprentice. She made her film debut in Nick Cannon’s Cliques with Jim Breuer and George Lopez and acted alongside Robert De Niro in the film, The Comedian. 

She is part of Howard Stern’s prank call team and the MAC Association in New York City named her “Best Female Comic.”

Tom Shillue

tom shillueComedian, Host

Tom is the host of the Fox News show, Red Eye. He starred in his own Comedy Central Special and made his television standup debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. He has toured with fellow ACI Alum Jim Gaffigan.

Tom also sings with Jimmy Fallon’s barbershop quartet “The Ragtime Gals” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. As part of the Ragtime Gals he has sung with Justin Timberlake, Billy Joel, Kevin Spacey, Sting and Steve Carrell. Tom was a regular correspondent on The Daily Show.

Esther Ku

esther kuComedian, Actor

Esther was a finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and is a regular on MTV’s Girl Code.

“The American Comedy Institute’s standup comedy classes helped me write clean jokes for network television when all I could think of were dirty ones.

I started at ACI in November of 2007 and by May of 2008 I was a finalist on Last Comic Standing.”

Michael Somerville

michael somervilleComedian, Host

Michael made his late night debut on The Late Show with David Letterman. He has hosted shows for Nickelodeon, Encore, and Hallmark Channel and contributed to numerous publications from Time Magazine to Maxim. He appeared on NBC’s The Apprentice, Comedy Central, Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies, History Channel and hosted Starz’s Stand Up or Shut Up, a miniseries about the ACI Stand Up Comedy Workshops.

He headlines at Gotham Comedy Club and other major clubs across the country.

“When I first started standup comedy, the idea of standing in front of people was pretty intimidating. Moreover, with so many comedians in New York, just getting on stage was a challenge. That’s why I was thrilled to discover Stephen Rosenfield’s stand up comedy classes.

I started taking the comedy classes regularly, finding that I was getting more comfortable in front of audiences and was actually starting to accumulate material. I was starting to feel like a comedian.

Stephen’s instruction is the most constructive I’ve seen. He doesn’t try to fit you into some preconceived notion of what comedy should be. He embraces who you are – be it an alternative performance artist or classic setup-punch comedian – and helps you find and hone your voice. Now that I am making my living in the business, I continue to use the standup comedy classes as as a place to try out new material. What takes weeks of stage time to create and refine, happens in a few days working with Stephen. For anyone from a beginner to an experienced comedian, I highly recommend Stephen’s stand up comedy class. In fact, I’ll probably see you there!”

Joe Grossman

joe grossmanComedian, Writer

Joe is a writer for TBS’s, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. He was a writer for The Late Show with David Letterman and appeared on the show as a performer.

Nick Cobb

nick cobbComedian

Nick (One Year Program Alum) recently appeared on Inside Amy Schumer and had his late night debut on The Late Show with Craig Ferguson. He was featured in Time Out New York’s Joke of the Week.

Nick has appeared on Live at Gotham and was a finalist on Last Comic Standing. He is a regular at Gotham Comedy Club.

Aaron Karo

aaro caroComedian, Writer

Aaron has performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and starred in his hour Comedy Central special The Rest Is History. The comedy album for The Rest is History reached number one on Amazon.com’s comedy bestseller list.  He is author of the novels Me You Us (Simon & Schuster), Ruminations on College Life (Simon & Schuster), Ruminations on Twentysomething Life (Simon & Schuster), I’m Having More Fun Than You (HarperCollins), and the critically acclaimed young adult novel which was translated into three languages: Lexapros and Cons (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux).  

Aaron has developed sitcoms for 20th Century Fox, MTV, Warner Brothers Television, The CW, and CBS Television.  He has written pilots for Comedy Central and CBS.

Joseph Opio

joseph opioComedian, Writer

Joseph (One Year Program Alum) is a writer for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Gregory Korostishevsky

gregory korostishevskyComedian, Actor

Gregory plays Dmitri on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.

He has appeared in the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with Academy Award winners Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. He has guest starred on White Collar and The Blacklist.

Alison Larkin

alison larkinComedian, Actor, Writer

Alison’s one person show, The English American successfully ran at the Edinburgh Festival and London’s West End. Her novel, also called The English American, published by Simon and Shuster, is an award winning best seller. Alison is currently writing the screenplay adaptation of her novel for Bright Pictures UK. While living in Los Angeles, she was a regular at the Comedy Store.

“Before I met Steve Rosenfield, I was an actress in England. Now I’m a comedian in America. This man changes lives!”

Carmen Lynch

carmen lynchComedian, Actor

Carmen was a finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. She performed standup on Conan and the Late Show with David Letterman and appeared on Comedy Central’s, Inside Amy Schumer and @Midnight. Carmen also performed in Wanda Sykes’ show Herlarious on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. She stars in the webseries, Apartment C3.

Christi Chiello

Comedian, Actor

Christi has appeared on Comedy Central’s Jeff Ross Presents: Roast Battle, TruTV, IFC, MTV’s Girl Code, College Humor, Funny or Die, JASH, and MNN’s The Special Without Brett Davis. Christi is a regular on the Keith and The Girl Podcast, where she received an award for “Best New Guest”. She has performed at the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival and regularly performs at the top comedy clubs throughout New York.

Carl-Einar Hackner

carl-einar hacknerComedian, Illusionist, Actor

Carl is a Swedish illusionist, actor, and comedian who has performed in Sweden, Germany, Austria, Spain, The UK, and Australia. He performed in the long-running variety show at Liseberg in Gothenburg. He starred as Robert in the TV series Herbert & Robert.

Zinat Pirzadeh

zinat pirzadehComedian, Actor

Zinat won Comedy Festival Sweden’s award for Female Comedian of the Year and has appeared in several Swedish films.

“If you want to make a lot of money as a comedian study with Stephen Rosenfield. He’s an outstanding comedy teacher and amazing at guiding your career.

When I first took his standup comedy classes in 2008 I was already a comedian in Sweden, but only after working with Stephen in the standup comedy classes was I able to make my art my full time profession.”

Shabana Rehman

shabana rehmanComedian

Shabana’s (One Year Program Alum) one-person play, For Kingdom and Fatherland, co-written and directed by Stephen Rosenfield, has been performed in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Oslo. She is one of Norway’s leading comedians.

“As a comedian you never live a normal life. At the American Comedy Institute you learn how not to be normal – in a professional way.

Stephen Rosenfield and his team at ACI give you the feedback you need to develop your own unique comedy and grow as an independent artist.

Stephen Rosenfield is not only a great comedy teacher and coach, he also manages to perfectly catch every comedian’s unique personality and the way they can grow and develop it. The teaching is actually a training to produce new material constantly, and become more and more professional as you are performing in front of a real audience.

My one person show, For Kingdom and Fatherland that was featured at the New York International Fringe Festival, and which is now touring nationally, was first developed in American Comedy Institute’s One Year Program.”

Rene Franco

rene francoComedian, Host, Actor

Rene is a Mexican TV Show Host, journalist and actor. His show Es De Noche y ya Llegue has been running for over 5 years in Mexican television and broadcast all over the world by the popular El Canal De las Estrellas Network. He is currently leading a Mexican national tour of Mexico’s best stand-ups.

Mary Dimino

mary diminoComedian, Actress, Author

Mary recently released her book Scared Skinny No More!, based on her one-woman show Scared Skinny, which won the New York International Fringe Festival Best Solo Show Award. Mary is a winner of the MAC Award for Outstanding Female Comedian. She has appeared on The Chris Rock Show and The Graham Norton Effect. She also appears in national commercials for Dunkin’ Donuts, Chase and Nicorette Gum.

Dana Eagle

dana eagleComedian, Actor

Dana was a semi-finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. She opens for Bill Maher and has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Comics Unleashed and Premium Blend. Her solo show Stones From Glass Houses was featured at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival.

Ted Greenberg

ted greenbergComedian, Writer, Actor

Ted (Faculty) is an Emmy Award winning former writer for The Late Show with David Letterman. He appeared on The View, selected by Barbara Walters as her favorite comedian. He is starring in the off-Broadway hit The Complete Performer, now in its 7th year at the Soho Playhouse, directed by Stephen Rosenfield.

“If you could only have one relationship in standup comedy, make it ACI.

Over the last 25 years ACI’s comedy classes have established itself as the National Center for standup performance. Headliners find their voice at ACI’s comedy classes and return year after year to brush up their technique. Just about every comic you’ve ever heard of has passed through ACI.”

Sofia Nino de Rivera

sofia nino.pngComedian, Actress

Sofia starred in the TV show, You Should be Working at This Hour, in Mexico on TV Azteca. She is pioneering a comedy movement in Mexico City. Sofia has written and performed for MTV, Comedy Central and VH1. Her stand up was featured in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Sunda Croonquist

sunda croonquistComedian, Host, Actress

Sunda is host of JLTV’s top rated variety and comedy talk show James and Sunda. She also appeared on Law & Order and Strong Medicine. She has been featured on Oprah’s OWN Network, Comics Unleashed, Comedy Central and The Today Show. She performed on Direct TV’s Laugh Factory, Live!

“People often ask me if I believe in ‘Comedy Classes.’ I don’t. Unless it’s Stephen Rosenfield’s Standup Comedy Classes…

He’s not a wannabe comic who’s just teaching while waiting for his big break. Steve Rosenfield is simply a teacher, professor, a Master of the art of comedy and that is why he’s the best. Plus I never have to worry about him stealing my jokes!”

Brad Zimmerman

brad zimmermanComedian, Actor

Brad is touring in his one-person show, My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy. As a comic, Brad has opened for Joan Rivers and George Carlin.

Brad Trackman

brad trackmanComedian

Brad is a national headliner, appearing regularly at Carolines, The Comic Strip, Standup NY and Gotham Comedy Club. He has appeared on Comedy Central’s “Heroes of Jewish Comedy” and “New Joke City” with Robert Klein. His CDs include “Safecraker” and “Live at the DC Improv.”

“Steve Rosenfield teaches students what they need to know about standup comedy from ‘A to Z’, everything from microphone technique to finding your own original persona.

His standup comedy classes will definitely speed up your understanding of the ins and outs of the business and give you a strong foundation that will stay with you forever.”

Mara Altman

mar altmanWriter, Author

Mara’s (One Year Program Alum) first book, Thanks for Coming, was translated into three languages – German, Portuguese and Spanish- and was optioned by HBO. She has written four Kindle singles- That’s What She Said, Bearded Lady, Sparkle, and Baby Steps. She has also written for New York Magazine, The New York Times, and First Things.

“I was already a writer; ACI’s comedy classes helped develop me into a confident performer.

ACI also gave me a like-minded community of sharp and funny people who were down to collaborate and give invaluable feedback.

And Steve, well that guy is a one-of-a kind mentor who shepherded each student more deeply into who they were at their core and then helped them exploit it in their work as writers and performers of comedy.”

Craig Todaro

Comedian

Craig (One Year Program Alum) performed in American Comedy Institute’s 25th Anniversary Show where he was selected by Gotham Comedy Club owner Chris Mazzilli to appear on Gotham Comedy Live. Craig is now a pro regular at Gotham Comedy Club and will appear in an upcoming episode of Gotham Comedy Live.

Ben Rosenfield

ben rosenfieldComedian, Actor

Ben (ACI Board Member) plays Danny in the Woody Allen film Irrational Man, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. He starred in the Off-Broadway play The Nether with Peter Friedman, Frank Wood, and Emmy winner Merritt Weaver. Ben played the role of Willie Thompson in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

He starred in the film, 6 Years, alongside Taissa Farmiga. Other film credits include A Most Violent Year starring Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain and Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo, Song One starring Academy Award winners Anne Hathaway and Mary Steenburgen.

Ben played the title role Tim Buckley in the film Greetings From Tim Buckley. He co-starred with Carrie Mulligan in the Atlantic Theatre production of Through a Glass Darkly and with Amy Ryan in the Roundabout Theatre production, Love, Love, Love. Ben is featured in the PBS TV series Live from Lincoln Center in the production of Carousel with the New York Philharmonic.

Victor Verhaeghe

victor verhaegheActor

Victor played Ward Boss Fleming on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. He has also appeared on The Good Wife, Fringe, and Law & Order.

John O’Boyle

john boyleProducer

John (ACI Board Member) is a producer who is currently represented on Broadway with the Tony nominated Matilda the Musical and It Should’ve Been You starring Tyne Daly and directed by Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce. He is a Tony Award winner for Best Play for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Andrew Goffman

andrew goffmanActor, Author

Andrew is the author and star of the hit Off-Broadway Show, The Accidental Pervert, currently running in its 7th year at the 13th Street Repertory Company.

Megan McCormick

megan mcCormickComedian, Actor

Megan (One Year Program Alum) was the host of the travel adventure series Globe Trekkar on PBS and the Discovery Channel’s Sea Nation.

Andrew Ginsburg

andrew ginsburgComedian, Actor, Writer

Andrew (One Year Program Alum) has released four comedy CDs- Eat the Yolk, Pumping Irony, Live at Gotham, and Dragonslayer. Eat the Yolk reached the top 10 on itunes comedy album list.

He is a headliner at Carolines on Broadway and has appeared in numerous Saturday Night Live sketches and digital shorts. He performed in American Comedy Institute’s 25th Anniversary Show.

Andrew recently signed a book deal with Skyhorse Publishing, for a comedic fitness book to be released in Spring 2017.

“The comedy classes at American Comedy Institute’s One Year Program launched me as comedian and an actor.

The comedy classes cover all facets of comedy, and equally important, provides you with a clear idea of how to approach and navigate the entertainment industry. That’s why so many people who study at the American Comedy Institute are working.

I played “Officer Bernstein” on All My Children, appeared in episodes of The Sopranos, and continue to make appearances on Saturday Night Live. I filmed my first principal role in the movie The Tourist with Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor.

I signed a two-year deal with a major talent agency. I’m headlining in standup clubs and colleges across the country, including Carolines, Gotham Comedy Club, and The Comedy Cellar. If you want a career in comedy and want a head start, take the American Comedy Institute’s One Year Program”

David Baker

david bakerComedian

David is an international headliner who performs across the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. David has performed with many of today’s top comedians, including Chris Rock, Louis CK, Dave Chappelle, Aziz Ansari, Garry Shandling, Dave Attell, Jim Gaffigan, Tom Papa, Colin Quinn, and Jeffrey Ross.

Carla Vasconcelos

carla vasconcelosComedian, Actress

Carla (One Year Program Alum) co-starred in the film Love Actually. She is a leading actress and comedian in Portugal where she appears in numerous television series and films.

Steven Fales

steven falesComedian, Actor

Steven’s album Confessions of a Mormon Boy LIVE from London has been released on iTunes and Amazon.com. The album is based on his critically acclaimed solo play, Confessions of a Mormon Boy for which he received the New York Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance.

Ethan Herschenfeld

ethan herschenfeldComedian

Ethan Herschenfeld originated the roles of Aguirre and Hog Boy in the opera Brokeback Mountain, which premiered in Madrid. He played Pinky Rabinowitz on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. He was a guest star in HBO’s Girls and High Maintenance, NBC’s Unforgettable and CBS’s, Madam Secretary.

Federico Cyrulnik

federico cyrulnikComedian, Actor

Federico Cyrulnik is on the creative team at Disney Channel (Latin America) and is the Director of the Disney series The U-Mix Show. He performed in Comedy Central Latin America’s special Comedy Central: Stand-up is Our Religion.