About ‘The Ape’

The Ape is a comedy-based theater & training ground committed to creating new work that ignites, engages, and entertains. We offer classes and workshops in long form improv, sketch comedy, writing, performance, and collaboration. The Ape’s training is deeply rooted in the belief that solid acting is the key to great comedic performances.


The Ape

Alissa Jessup

Artistic Director/Head of The Ape’s collaboration training ground for writers, directors and performers. Alissa appreciates that clowns are kind of creepy.

Alissa is a writer, director, and actor with over 20 years’ experience creating and working in theater, film, and television. In 2015, Alissa founded Growly Pictures to produce content that is made by women for women.Alissa wrote, directed, and stars in the comedic short film, ‘chickadee’, which she produced with an all-female cast and crew.  As an actor, she has performed and developed new plays with Sundance Theatre Lab, The Flea Theater, ACT Theatre, 13P, Soho Rep, P.S. 122, and Playwrights Horizons. Selected T.V. credits include The Mindy Project (Hulu), True Blood (HBO), Grimm (NBC), and The Mentalist (CBS).  Acting reel here.

She has written and performed comedy at The Groundlings, Upright Citizen’s Brigade NYC and U.C.B. Los Angeles.


Brooke Totman

Head of The Ape’s Sketch training ground.

Without the ability to laugh at herself or to make others laugh, Brooke would surely be curled up in a corner with a box of old pizza crust and a remote control.  Comedy has always been and continues to be a savior for Brooke throughout her life.  One of Brooke’s many inspirations for The Ape is to create more space for laughter in this world .

Brooke is an actor, writer and sketch comedy performer.  After receiving a degree in Theater performance, Totman headed to the bright lights and smoggy hills of L.A. to train at acclaimed sketch and improv company, The Groundlings. Brooke became a member of The Groundlings Sunday company alongside Melissa McCarthy, Mitch Silpa, Nat Faxon and Ben Falcone. It is here that her skills for writing sketches and creating unique comedy characters was developed. Totman joined MadTV as a featured player during its 5th season. Other selected TV credits include: The King of Queens (CBS), Less Than Perfect (ABC) and Judging Amy (CBS). She is currently starring in the critically acclaimed series, The Benefits of Gusbandry, available on Amazon Prime. Brooke believes that art, community and comedy can cure what ails ya, and that’s no joke!

Chris Caniglia

Head of The Ape’s long form improvisation training ground.

Chris Caniglia started his improv career in 1986 with a group called Mental Floss in Miami. He performed over a crappy little garage that fixed foreign cars. After a little more seasoning and a move to the Big Apple he founded Big Black Car, New York city’s longest running long form improv team, and winner of Emerging Comics of New York’s award for best improv group. That group was Tom Ridgeley, Justin Akin, Ellie Kemper, Chris Caniglia, Megan Martin, Kristin Schaal, Scott Eckert and Matt Oberg. This was at the Peoples Improv Theater, where he was also a member of the teaching faculty. Chris has performed at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, The Magnet Theater in New York, where he was a member of House team Sweet Crude, UCB LA, I/O West the Chicago Improv Festival, and the D.C. Improv Festival.  Chris owes everything he knows to the many great teachers who helped him along the way, including Ali Farahnakian, Armando Diaz, Craig Cackowski, Kurt Braunohler, Michael Showalter, Kevin Allison, Ed Herbstman, Ian Roberts, Dave Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski.

Genevieve Sage 

Development Director of The Ape and company member of our sketch company, Big Mother. Genevieve comes to The Ape as a performer/writer with our sketch comedy Big Mother and she also serves as our donations coordinator drumming up sponsorship for our theater. Outreach and making connections is the name of the game, and she flourishes in tying all the loose ends together. We’re always looking to make friends, so feel free to reach out if you have ideas for donators! Email: talktotheape@gmail.com


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