The Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe
School of Improv Faculty
History of Stevie Ray’s Improv Company
Stevie Ray and Pamela Mayne first began “making it up as they go” when they opened Stevie Ray’s comedy theatre & cabaret in 1989 in Uptown Minneapolis. At the time, it was the only comedy variety club in the Twin Cities, offering performers a chance to develop new styles of comedy; improvisation, one-person comedy shows, sketch revues, original comedy plays, and stand-up comedy.
The training center of Stevie Ray’s Improv Company, The School of Improv, opened with the mission of offering everyone the chance to learn the skills of improvisation for either the stage or personal growth. The school sought to help people from all walks of life. Soon after, the school added classes in stand-up comedy, professional presentation, and other related skills.
1989 was also the year the company began offering services in keynote speaking and customized workshops for companies and organizations. To date, Stevie Ray and Stevie Ray’s Certified Trainers™ have conducted workshops for over 1000 clients; from Fortune 500 companies to small organizations. Workshop topics include communication skills, team management, influence and persuasion, leadership, professional networking, stress management, and innovative thinking.
In 1991, the company had outgrown the Uptown venue, so they moved to 1819 Nicollet Avenue near downtown Minneapolis to build a new theater and classroom space. It was during this time that Stevie Ray’s began producing holiday shows at various Twin Cities theaters. Holiday shows included Walking in a Winter Wonder Bra, Dot Com All Ye Faithful, The Full Santy, and Y2K: How the Glitch Stole Christmas. In 1992, Stevie Ray’s began Improv in the Park, free outdoor comedy shows at the Lake Harriet Rose Gardens featuring a combination of members of The Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe as well as students from the School of Improv. Improv in the Park continues to entertain Twin Cities audiences to this day. In 1995, the company closed the Nicollet Avenue theater to focus on corporate entertainment, corporate services, the School of Improv, and Improv in the Park.
In 1996 and 1999, the company produced the Minneapolis Improv Festival, the first-ever national festivals in Minnesota; attracting troupes from across the country to a week of workshops and performances at the Mall of America.
In 1997 Stevie Ray became a columnist for the Business Journal Newspapers. His column has since been nationally syndicated to 41 markets the Business Journal serves, making Stevie the longest running columnist for the publication.
In 2010 Stevie Ray’s Improv Company was approached by The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres to become a partner in their entertainment complex. The CDT’s Playhouse Theatre became Stevie Ray’s Comedy Cabaret. Shows feature The Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe each weekend. Pamela Mayne also produced and directed a 2010 holiday show at the cabaret, O’ Little Town of Chanhassen, which broke attendance records for holiday productions at the theater.
In 2014, Stevie Ray’s Improv Company celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a gala event at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres that featured performers from throughout its 25 year history. In 2019, the organization celebrated its third decade bringing entertainment and training to the Twin Cities and beyond.
Today, Pamela works with Artistic Director Joseph Harstad to guide Stevie Ray’s Comedy Cabaret. Joseph acts as Director of the School of Improv. As Executive Director, Stevie Ray and focuses on keynote presentations and corporate training programs. He occasionally stops in at the comedy cabaret to join the troupe onstage.