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Improv Class for Chicago Seniors Creates Ample Laughs and Strengthens Memory

Teri & her students in improv class

The Chicago area is known for improv comedy. Many stars of stage and screen got their start on Chicago stages, and now Teri McEvoy is bringing the action of improvisational comedy classes to residents of Westminster Place senior living community.
McEvoy, a 20-year acting veteran who trained with The Second City, the world-renowned improv and comedy school, has been teaching improv classes for more than 10 years. She was inspired to teach seniors when her own mother was going through chemotherapy, and she became aware of the importance of socialization opportunities for seniors.

Learning Through Laughter

McEvoy teaches a class at the community every Thursday at 2:30 p.m., and the capacity is capped at 20 people. It’s a popular activity for socialization, but it’s the laughter that keeps residents coming back time and time again. “I tell women not to wear mascara to the classes,” McEvoy shares, “because it will come off after laughing so hard you cry!”

A Cinematic Connection

Resident Ann Whitney, who’s 90, attends each week and has an interesting connection to McEvoy. Both women were in the 1990 movie “Home Alone,” which was filmed in Chicago. But it’s not just previous actors who participate in the class. Former doctors, lawyers, business people, and even a priest enjoy attending improv class.

Building Relationships, One Class at a Time

The classes at Westminster Place consist of warm-up exercises, dramatic readings, compound-word exercises, improv games and scenarios, teaching dialogue, and memory games specifically designed to benefit seniors. McEvoy remarks that she loves watching the friendships that are formed, and even some romantic relationships as well. “It really does help to laugh,” says McEvoy. “We all benefit from the medicine that is laughter. Class is a nice escape.”



Founded in 1904, Presbyterian Homes is an independent, not-for-profit, and faith-based senior living organization with Life Plan Communities located in Evanston, Lake Forest, and Arlington Heights, Illinois, serving 1,400 residents. Residents enjoy a purposeful lifestyle and a full continuum of healthcare services, with access to independent and assisted living options, rehabilitation services, memory support, and skilled nursing. In addition, the Geneva Foundation of Presbyterian Homes provides more than $6 million of annual charitable and additional capital support. For more information, please visit our website at PresbyterianHomes.org.