Laughing with improv troupe Einstein Simplified for 25 years

Positively Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Saturday, Aug. 24 is a special day for comedy lovers in our area: It’s the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Knoxville improv troupe “Einstein Simplified.”

You see them on Tuesday nights at Scruffy City Hall in Knoxville’s Market Square.

Einstein Simplified has lasted so long because it has a following of folks who love immersive theatre.

The talented team makes improv look easy.

But as many a failed comedian can tell you, being funny is tough.

Founding member Paul Simmons recalls the 8 week improv course hosted by UT Professor David Alley that started the Einstein Simplified shows.

“We would go over improv skills, sort of the rules as it were, what do you need to do to get the feel for it, ” Simmons explains.

It’s not just a “free for all.”

“Improv is a little like a sport, like pickup basketball,” troupe member and longtime radio personality Frank Murphy told us. “If you know the rules of the game, you can play with almost anybody.”

Murphy has been part of Einstein Simplified for 17 of its 25 years, catching a show right before his first job interview in Knoxville.

“And I thought, ‘wow, this is fantastic’ and it really helped me in my decision to ultimately take the job and move to East Tennessee,” Murphy says.

He joined the team in 2002 and as they say, he has never looked back, contributing his talents to timely topics the troupe can talk about.

Einstein Simplified also caught the eye of Knoxville producer John Hudgens of Z Productions. He is working on a documentary about the world of improv.

Einstein Simplified is a centerpiece of the film. The title is simply, “Chair.”

“At Einstein, the catchphrase is ‘Chair,’ so that seemed like a natural fit because it’s a much better title than ‘Comedy Improv,'” Hudgens says.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs have proclaimed Saturday, August 24th , 2019 as “Einstein Simplified Day.”

The troupe is also getting global recognition, with a feature on a British website:

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