The Knuckleball Now is (L-R) Michael Joplin (currently in LA), Lee Eddy, Ace Manning, Craig Kotfas, Mike D'Alonzo. Coming upon fifteen years, the accolade-riddled TKN perform their PEAK & POP method of improv comedy. A series of quick scenes build a mind-spinning energy that quickly create a collection of delightful themes and memorable characters.
TKN will be celebrating 18 years this Fall.
Ace Manning was once the little brother of Austin improv. At present day, he has lost his wet behind the ears status and is one of the scenes most prolific veterans. He cut his teeth with the legendary Well Hung Jury, and is one of the founding creators of the Out of Bounds Improv Festival. He is also a member of The Available Cupholders. He has toured the college circuit of the midwest and east coast. He received training at Improv Olympic in Chicago, and is also a talented screen actor. Ace spent time with the legendary BOOM CHICAGO as a company ensemble member. He is a wonderful bartender and constantly loses his keys.
Lee Eddy has over two decades worth of improv experience and has been involved in theater since her childhood. A graduate of St Edward's University, Lee recently returned to Austin after a 7-year hiatus in Brooklyn. While in NY, she trained with and was a house team member at The People's Improv Theater and is a company member for the incredibly fun Story Pirates. In Austin she's appeared in many productions at various venues in town, garnering several accolades from the Austin Critics Table Awards and voted Best Actress in Austin by the Austin Chronicle's Readers Poll. When she's not performing, she's busy being a mom to an active toddler and writing bios in 3rd person form. She is delighted to be back with her Knuckleball pals. Seriously. It's the best.
CK has been on stage since 5th grade... He has been working scriptless since 1994, and in Austin since 1998. Craig was one of the original 15 cast members of AUSTIN THEATRESPORTS (aka WE COULD BE HEROES/Heroes of Comedy), which built the Hideout Theater in Downtown Austin. He was a member of GRAVY, as well as the sketch group "CATCH 24". He Co-Founded TKN in October 2004. When not making things up on stage, he works as a Graphic Designer (craigkotfascreative.com). Another passion is as a Songwriter/Singer and currently has two albums out on iTunes/Spotify, and plays locally with a kickass trio.
Craig was born in Chicago, but grew up in Portland, Texas (outside of Corpus Christi). He graduated from Southwest Texas State (Now Texas State) with a degree in Communication Design. Kotfas is a Die-Hard Cubs Fan, and has learned to roll with failure because of it*... which is a huge tool for IMPROV.
*Cubs won 2016 World Series, new lessons being learned.
Mike is a founding member of The Knuckleball Now, and a long-time veteran of the Austin improv scene, as an original member of Austin Theatresports (then We Could Be Heroes), Gravy, and sketch troupe Catch 24. He is also a veteran of the Los Angeles comedy scene, where his sketch troupe, Players to Be Named Later performed all over town, as well as on the BBC's Michael Barrymore Show. He has had sketches on Comedy Central and NBC, and a short film of one of his sketched, "Nougat," won the Midnight Shorts Competition at SXSW and toured with "Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation." He is also a former member of LA Theatresports with Impro Theatre.
(Inactive while in Los Angeles)
Joplin has a B.F.A. in Theatre and Dance from the University of Texas. Michael has a wealth of stage experience both at the university, and with various theatre collectives in town. His credits include work with Salvage Vanguard Theater, Zach Scott, Tutto Theatre Company, and he is currently a company member of Gnap! Theatre Projects. He has over 13 years of improv experience in Austin and Chicago. He teaches improv classes with Merlinworks. He is a dj and is available for your theme party and/or your theme wedding. He owes his soul in student loans.
THE KNUCKLEBALL NOW is an Improv Comedy troupe based in Austin, TKN is also a philosophy, an energy and a way of thinking. It's all about having absolute trust, with fearless enthusiasm. It's having an unwavering faith in each other, where the brain synapses are in sync, and there is a connection through chaos. (Actually, its 4 people that genuinely love seeing each other, who unplug from the world and into each other. Lights down, they go back to their worlds)
They are creators of a style they call "Peak & Pop"... they get inspiration by asking for "the last text you received", then it's lights down. When the lights come up, the Ballers will fire through a series of scenes, perhaps even only one line long, while building up a contagious energy and a bank of characters and story ideas. Once the show is off and rolling, the scenes become longer and deeper. The edits and wipes are quick, organic, and often spin off into flashbacks or flash forwards, and "What ifs."
TKN prides itself in trying to give each other a great time in the moment, as well as every member of the house. They are constantly looking for the game, raising the stakes and hanging on what was just said.
TKN has become a staple in the highly popular and annual WAFFLEFEST and "OOB" (OUT OF BOUNDS COMEDY FESTIVAL) in Austin. They can be found playing at the HIDEOUT THEATRE, THE INSTITUTION THEATER, COLDTOWNE THEATER and now the FALLOUT THEATRE.
Maybe you want to say "hi". Maybe you have a question. Maybe you want TKN to come entertain at your function/event. Whatever it may be, fill out the form below and let us know. Thank you very much. - TKN
Check out our collection of imagery by clicking on a photo below
TKN Founders: Mike D'Alonzo,
Craig Kotfas & David Modigliani
David Modigliani, Michael Joplin,
Craig Kotfas & Mike D'Alonzo
Out of Bounds Comedy Fest
David Modigliani, Lee Eddy,
Craig Kotfas & Michael Joplin
Eddy, Joplin & Kotfas
Kotfas & Joplin
Ace Manning, Kotfas, Joplin,
Saturday Night Special
Kotfas & Ace
Ace, Kotfas, Joplin, Deano Jones,
Deano, Lee, Kotfas, Joplin & Ace
Lee, Joplin & Kotfas
Joplin's Last Show
Joplin, Kotfas, Ace & Lee
Out of Bounds
The Knuckleball Now was born in Late 2004, the same night The Boston Red Sox began their impossible comeback down 3 games to 0 in the best of seven with the Yankees. That night roommates, Craig Kotfas & Mike D'Alonzo, who had been improv partners since 1998, met up with friends Mike Dolan, and David Modigliani. Their goal was to break down what makes improv fun and rewarding. Their first show was a month later at the Hideout Theatre's Annual Wafflefest (2004). TKN was then taking shape and over the next year or so the philosophy was refined on stage.
Mike Dolan, left shortly after the first couple shows to pursue a wonderful career in writing. and then in 2006 Mike D'Alonzo left for LA, but not before Michael Joplin (yikes, that is a lot of Mikes) tagged in. Joplin became a main stay. They had a blessed run of shows with the super talented and charming Lee Eddy, who bolted for the Big Apple. David eventually left and is now an award winning Producer/Director/Writer.
For a few years Kotfas & Joplin held the things together until they added power house Ace Manning (2009). During Joplin's year in Korea (2010), TKN was again a dual consisting of Ace and Craig, which allowed for intense chemistry to form while performing at the Savage Vanguard Theater, Institution Theatre and Hideout Theatre. Joplin soon returned and the trio was back together.... until it EXPANDED yet again with the addition of Deano Jones in 2012. The troupe was a bulletproof four. Each bringing a unique energy and talent to the stage. Deano not only brought a dynamic energy, but was another graphic designer skill to the group, to go along with Craig. Many of Deano's classic posters and imagery can be seen in the promo gallery.
The fall on 2014 saw the triumphant return of Lee Eddy to Austin and TKN, shortly before the departure of Deano. In 2015, the new foursome hit another gear and others took notice. They were awarded their first of two B. Iden Payne Awards (Rudy Kloptic Award for Outstanding Improv Troupe). By this time, TKN had monthly residency at The Hideout Theatre ("DATE NIGHT" along with lovely ladies of PHYSICS CURSE and the delightful THE ESCORTS. Meanwhile across town, at COLDTOWNE THEATER, they were aboard the 30+ PLUS PARTY BUS with legendary THE FRANK MILLS every Thursday. This supposed 3 week run soon became an unforgettable 6 month run at Coldtowne. In those months Lee stepped aside to give birth to a sweet boy. Back down to three, Craig, Joplin, Ace. That's when Ace was cast in BOOM! CHICAGO and left to spend a year in Amsterdam. It was back down to two (sound familiar). LEE RETURNS!!!
In December 2017, Joplin moved to LA the same time Mike D'Alonzo returned to Austin after 12 years away. Spring 2018, Ace returns to Austin & TKN... and that's where we stand.
Upon the first meeting, our only homework was to create a list of 10 possible names. The only word to appear on more than one list was KNUCKLEBALL. Thanks to the TV's constant mentioning of Boston Red Sox pitcher TIM WAKEFIELD's bread and butter pitch. But it was perfect... a knuckleball is a pitch that has no set path when thrown. Much like our style, we don't know where we'll end up. It has little to no spin, yep, that applies too. But we felt it was maybe sounding too much like a comedy version of Austin band FASTBALL, so Modig suggested adding "Now" to the end for more of a zen like feeling. It rolled off the tongue, it made sense, even more so now.
Lee, Ace, D'Alonzo & Kotfas
Hyde Park Theater