Add life to your business!
Call Now: 770-213-7095

Artist Profile: Joe Lemmo

Crafting Laughs and Lessons Out of Life's Everyday Moments

By Ellen Samsell Salas

There’s more to improv than just getting laughs, a reality that becomes abundantly clear in talking with performer, director, and instructor of the art, Cherokee County resident and schoolteacher, Joe Lemmo.

A people person who has always been comfortable making others laugh, Lemmo had no background in performing when he stumbled onto improv.

“I didn’t even go to plays,” he said.

Eleven years ago, after being invited to join the board of Towne Lake Arts Center (subsequently Elm Street Cultural Arts Village and now Woodstock Arts), Lemmo was asked to try out for the improv troupe. And, with no experience, he made it.

“I fell in love with improv immediately,” Lemmo said. “It was a good outlet for me to meet new people, build friendships — and performing felt natural to me. I was never nervous. I always enjoyed entertaining friends just in the moments of life.”

He discovered that improv allowed him to enjoy being himself while building on what was happening at the moment.

Still affiliated with Woodstock Arts, Lemmo is the director and a performer in the iThink Improv Troupe. He teaches adult and teen improv classes and plans to add middle school classes in the spring. Performing one Friday night each month, the troupe offers family friendly entertainment.

Improv now touches all aspects of Lemmo’s life, not only his involvement in Woodstock Arts, but also his daily interactions with the fifth grade students he teaches (his primary “gig”), the presentations he does for retreats and workshops, and his role as a husband and father.

Now an avid student of improv, Lemmo says the art can teach much about healthy, trusting relationships.

“Improv relies on the ensemble, not the team approach,” he explained. “With an ensemble, every person has the same value.”

Performers build and create humor together, similar to people developing conversations.

“You want to focus on making your scene partner look good,” Lemmo said. “You should take care of yourself and be confident that you’re giving your scene partner something to work with.” And, setting up a big laugh for a fellow performer, he said, “is really fun.”

This selfless approach is key to creating scenes that entertain, and it also rings
true to life.

“People who are kind by nature, who are good listeners, who are confident and can empathize, who aren’t afraid to use their emotions and aren’t afraid to take risks are better suited to improv than are attention seekers or those who just want to be heard,” Lemmo said.

Whether he is teaching his fifth graders about honesty, coaching engaged couples at a marriage retreat, or speaking to a church group about faith, Lemmo uses improv exercises to get the message across.

“In one’s faith life, one’s friendships, marriage, or career, everyone gains by taking in, listening, and integrating what others say,” he said.

What are the rewards for the performer?

“If a scene is going especially well, it’s really fun, but you can’t show your excitement. It makes you really happy, but you have to stay focused,” said Lemmo. “Improv is what we do every day. I enjoy honing that craft. It helps you to be a better person, to bring joy to other people.”


For more information about Joe Lemmo, please visit or Improv Troupe.