Aidy Bryant's Made It Big on Saturday Night Live, But Phoenix Still Feels Like Home

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It's no secret that Aidy Bryant's comedy career is thriving. The 27-year-old draws crowds to comedy clubs around the country and has a following of tens of thousands on social media. And on Saturday, when millions tuned into NBC to watch the classic show's 40th season première, perhaps no one was cheering for Bryant louder than her fans in Arizona.

From center stage, dressed as CNN correspondent Candy Crowley, Bryant took jabs at the NFL before announcing, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" Throughout the show, she starred in funny skits alongside host Chris Pratt and musical guest Ariana Grande. And as the SNL cast took its final bow, it was clear Bryant had earned herself a rock-solid spot on late-night television.

Years before Bryant took on the national spotlight -- and gained an arsenal of PR people at NBC (who, for the record, limited this story to a brief interview with the humble comedian) -- Bryant was taking on a much younger comedy scene in Central Phoenix.

During a phone call between writing sessions and rehearsals, Bryant describes getting the performance bug during middle school theater classes and summer camps, where she discovered the art of improvisation.

She says her mom, Georganne (whom you might know as the owner of Frances, a boutique in Central Phoenix), and dad, Tom, would take her to improv workshops at the now-defunct Arizona Jewish Theatre Company. Later, she would take short-form classes in the style of Whose Line Is it Anyway? with performers who eventually would open The Torch Theatre on Central Avenue.

"I was so lucky to have met those people -- Bill Binder, and the people who run the Torch Theatre," Bryant says. "I credit them for showing me what long-form improv was and what it could be."

After graduating from Xavier College Preparatory, where she often read the morning announcements, Bryant packed her bags and headed for Chicago, home to legendary improv houses The Second City, iO, and Annoyance Theatre.

She says she dove into the local comedy scene, took more classes, and developed her own sketches (that you can still watch on YouTube). After she graduated from Columbia College, she toured with the musical improv group Baby Wants Candy and was approached by Second City.

At Second City, Bryant says she honed the craft that audience members now see on stage.

"In Second City, it's all about ensemble and working together," Bryant says. "Everyone helps write every scene, but it's all about improv and saying yes to different people's ideas, and I think that was such a great way for me to start . . . I've taken all those tools from Second City and I've been able to apply them in a way that works for me."

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton