Group History

Hustlebot: John Feightner, Joe Wichryk, Larry Phillis, David Fedor, Anne Marie Sweeney

Hustlebot: The Story

As an alumnus of Chicago comedy troupe Mission Improvable, Ryan Kiessling brought the Chicago style of long form improv to Pittsburgh through a series of improv workshops in the summer of 2006. At downtown Pittsburgh's Future Tenant, Ryan molded performers from across the city, building upon their shared experiences. Within a few weeks, members of the workshops represented virtually every troupe in the area.

In time, the focus of the workshops shifted from learning and teaching long form improv and began directing towards performance. With this new goal, the revolving door policy of the workshops had to change. The demands of a regular performance schedule required a dedicated group of performers who were able to regularly rehearse. Six performers emerged to create what would become Hustlebot; they were David Fedor, Drew Ludwig, Christine Nangle, Larry Phillis, Anne Marie Sweeney, and Joe Wichryk II.

Hustlebot l. to r.: Fedor, Sweeney, Wichryk, Nangle, Ludwig, Phillis, ladder, Kiessling
(l. to r.: Fedor, Sweeney, Wichryk, Nangle, Ludwig, Phillis, ladder, Kiessling)
Under the guidance of Ryan, these performers trained in the longform style, and Hustlebot  marched forward as the main attraction of Future Tenant's EVICTED series. Performing alongside other local talents, Hustlebot anchored the bi-weekly showcase, created by Kiessling and Abby Fudor. It was at these shows that Hustlebot garnered attention, earned its stripes, and proved themselves to be Pittsburgh's best comedy troupe.

It was early 2007 that saw a few changes in the Hustlebot lineup. Drew exited the team, relocating to Buffalo for an exciting job opportunity. It was at his farewell party that Hustlebot's official toast was coined, "To Drew!" a toast that is still employed to this day. Actor and improviser John Feightner became the newest member of the team shortly thereafter. One month later, in May of '07, Christine left the troupe to further pursue comedy in New York City. Hustlebot's founding father, Ryan Kiessling, ended his run as director of the troupe in the summer of '07, focusing his energy towards family and planning for his eventual move away from Pittsburgh. To ease the transition away from having an external director, Hustlebot hired professor Michael Fuller as an acting coach and advisor through the end of 2007.

Hustlebot peformed at the EVICTED shows at Future Tenant until the fall of '07.

Hustlebot l. to r. Sweeney, Fedor, Phillis, Wichryk, Feightner
(l. to r. Sweeney, Fedor, Phillis, Wichryk, Feightner)
The dawn of 2008 also brought with it the dawn of a new path for Hustlebot. Partnered with a new venue, ModernFormations, Hustlebot embarked on a more ambitious project; hosting their own weekly show, appropriately titled Hustlebot: The Show. Occuring every Thursday, Hustlebot: The Show not only included long form improv and the famed "Steel City Set," but also featured weekly filmed videos. To open each show, Hustlebot Films would present a "move trailer" for its latest release, and an occasional filmed sketch or short film had been presented during the show as well. Additionally, Hustlebot frequently invites special guests to add variety to the weekly show, bringing back alot of friends from the old EVICTED shows.

In the fall of '08, Hustlebot began performing at the Cabaret At Theater Square in downtown Pittsburgh, headlining the show Pittsburgh Improv All*Stars, a part of their late-night series. To end 2008, Hustlebot partnered with First Night 2009 to ring in the New Year with two shows at the CAPA auditorium in downtown Pittsburgh. The performances, which also featured the video The Year Hunters,"Pittsburgh's "2009 Resolutions," and a Steel City Set, were highlighted by a celebration of the 250 year history of Pittsburgh; Hustlebot wrote and performed their abridged "history" of the city.

Hustlebot l. to r. Phillis, Feightner, Wickryk, Sweeney, Fedor
(l. to r. Phillis, Feightner, Wichryk, Sweeney, Fedor)
In early 2009, Hustlebot celebrated the one-year anniversary of Hustlebot: The Show with a night of special guests and the premiere of a self-produced documentary, True Hustlebot Story. The new year also marked a continued association with the Caberet At Theater Square, headlining the Serious Comedy Show on the last Saturday of each month. In April of 2009, Hustlebot ended it's run at ModernFormations by retiring Hustlebot: The Show to begin working on short films and special performances.

Hustlebot has received awards for their work in the PIttsburgh 48 Hour Film Project. Their film, Shadows of the Shield, was the winningest film in the competition, claiming the awards for Best Writing, Best Use of Dialogue, Audience Award, and Runner Up for Best Film.  They again performed at Pittsburgh's First Night celebration, ushering in 2010 with new videos, sketches and their improvisations.

In April of 2010, Hustlebot wrote and performed a sketch show (appropriately titled "Hustlebot: the Sketch Show") at the Cabaret at Theater Square in downtown Pittsburgh. In addition to live sketches, the night featured several new videos such as the popular Going Down on Pittsburgh.

Winners of the Steeltown Film Factory compeition, Hustlebot produced their short film, "Roll the Dice" at the Pittsburgh Film Festival in November 2010.  It also went on to win awards at the Harmony Ridge Film Festival and the Johnstown Film Festival.

In 2011, Hustlebot wrote and produced a comedy pilot, "Stoners with a Time Machine" and submitted it to the New York Television Festival where it advanced to the top 25 finalists. They have the opportunity to further shop the pilot at the NYTF in October '12.

Hustlebot presents Stoners with a Time Machine


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