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Humans of SSB: Justin Zell and Kasey Daley with Steel City Improv


Listen. Commit. Play.

Justin and Kasey are truly a passionate and invested couple, not only in their personal journey but in their business growth as well. The common thread throughout their interview was the idea of community and bringing people together through the act of improvised theater. From the very beginning, Justin and Kasey took their love for improv after meeting in New York City and created a unique niche that can’t really be found in our city.

Justin and Kasey met at an Improv Theater called “The PIT” in New York. It took a while for them to connect, as they are both shy, but once they started dating, Kasey and Justin wanted to teach and coach as much as they could without being bound to someone else’s expectations. Kasey had mentioned Pittsburgh as a great location where they could start this type of business, as it would be easier than in New York. From there, Steel City Improv Theater (The SCIT) was born.

Steel City Improv Theater is Pittsburgh’s Original Home for long form improvisational comedy.  The theater “opened” before there was a physical space back in 2010 and at that time, there wasn’t anything like their concept. “There are comedy theaters that do improv, but we focus solely on improv. The big difference between us and anyone else is that with our classes, we don’t expect anyone to be ‘funny’. When we talk about our classes, there is no mention of comedy… Comedy is a byproduct of what we do.”

One thing they focus on is the principle of improv called the “Yes… And” strategy with improv. Say yes… and add to it. There are no “wrong answers”. They try to teach authenticity and effortlessness. They are more focused on helping individuals to make connections, understand their relationships better, and communicate more effectively through the act of improv. Overall, Justin and Kasey are doing everything they can to break down the barriers and misconceptions that most people attach to improv. “It isn’t really about us… it’s [about establishing] a community.”

After celebrating Steel City Improv’s 9th anniversary earlier this year with one of their biggest events yet, Justin and Kasey see no end in sight for their growing improv community. Both agreed that this accomplishment, bringing together eleven groups to perform and a full house of guests, was one of their proudest moments since they opened their doors. Over the years they have established a community of individuals who are committed to “this thing” … making it even more meaningful to them.

Even with the growing community of committed individuals coming through their doors each week to learn and grow with improv, Kasey and Justin believe that there is still such a small percentage of people that know what they do at SCIT. Over the next ten years, Justin and Kasey would like to double down and grow their improv community by spreading the word about what it is that they do and how people can benefit from experiencing what they have to offer. For example, along with weekly shows, they offer comprehensive and professional training in long-form improv comedy, and even a free sample class on a regular basis. Specifically relating it to business and corporate training, Justin and Kasey take the tenants of long-form improv (listening, communication and collaboration) and apply that to your life and your work. Through this, individuals become better listeners, become more positive and improve their ability to truly live in the moment.

One of the biggest things that Justin and Kasey hope to impress upon those that walk through their doors is written on the walls of their entryway… “You are enough”. In a world so filled with negativity and the constant battle of trying to “fit in”, it is wonderful to know that there is a place like SCIT that will welcome anyone with open arms. Whether you are a seasoned professional on the stage, or you want to challenge your fears of speaking in front of a crowded room, there is an opportunity for you with Justin, Kasey and their welcoming community at Steel City Improv Theater.

For more information on Justin and Kasey's business, Steel City Improv, please visit their website or Facebook Page.

If you or someone you know is interested in bringing their business to SSB Bank, please feel free to contact us to sit with one of our staff members and discuss the advantages of banking with us to support your business growth.

Get to Know 

Justin and Kaseyjustin zell and kasey daley of steel city improv at ssb bank

What words of wisdom would you provide to someone looking into opening their own business? 

"Find the balance of planning and leaping." Ideas are worthless without execution

Personal Mantra(s): 

You are enough.

Favorite TV/Book/Blog that you would recommend: 

Bar Rescue and The Profit.

As far as blogs, anything Marie Forlio or Gary V.

If you could interview one person (dead or alive), who would it be: 

Justin would interview PT Barnum or Harry Houdini.

Kasey would interview Victoria Woodhall.

You are happiest when...

"...I'm improvising with my wife and surprising her on stage." - Justin

"... Doing musical improv with my husband." - Kasey