August Player Profile: Caleb Sjogren


Caleb Sjogren is not just a player at Westside; he’s a coach and teacher as well. While he teaches students Advanced Improv, improv has taught him how to be an advanced human.


Westside: So, tell us your name

CS:  Caleb Sjogren  (Pronounced Shō-gren around these parts) AKA Caleb.

What Westside teams do you play on?

The Unwritten Works of William Shakespeare

Where did you grow up?

the US Midwest

Favorite improv team you’re NOT on:

Gotta go with Circus Police

What drew you to improv?

It was 1997. At Illinois Theater Fest, I saw an improvised musical. It absolutely blew my mind. I too wanted to blow people’s minds. So I returned to my high school, gathered a team of funny people (poor choice) and clever folks (better choice), then tried to establish an improv team. Upon arriving at my college, with all the hubris of an 18-yr-old, I announced that I would become part of the improv team. I was right, but it was still hubris.

Then improv taught me to love others. Before improv, I had never really known how to love people who weren’t like me. So now I’m still drawn to improv because it connects human beings to one another, and there is a special grace to be found in that kind of unity.

Do you have a favorite improv moment?

When our Shakespeare team traveled through time via a telephone booth, rescuing various figures from history. Ending the show by replaying our first scene.

Where have you studied improv?

Formally? I completed the Second City Conservatory program. I have also taken occasional classes/workshops at iO, Under the Gun, and Westside Improv Studio.

If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room, what song would you choose?

My musical tastes consist of show tunes, brass band music, and pensive Christian singer-songwriters. So let’s go with “Because of You” by Keith Green.

If you could only own 5 things, what would they be?

 a bike, a water bottle, an e-reader (with books on it), and two banana slicers

What’s the first thing you notice about someone?

Facial expression. Does this person look approachable? About to bite?

Do you have a favorite TV show to binge watch?

Black Mirror; or Star Trek the Next Generation

If you could be transported to any decade to live in, which would it be and why?

1930s, but without the fascism.

What five albums do you think everyone should own?

Another music question? Gah! Why are these so hard?
Conversations (Sara Groves)
Ragtime (original cast)
Jubilee (Salvation Army International Staff Band)
Steal Away (spirituals)
anything by Keith Green

How about a favorite podcast?

 The History of English Podcast, a podcast about the history of the English language

How has Westside changed you?

 Improv is one of my primary ways of connecting with people, so for over three years Westside has been a focal point for social, emotional, and spiritual growth. Playing with these folks has given me new insight into life; coaching a team has taught me hard lessons about leadership and difficult decisions; teaching classes has taught me how to care for people’s needs, more than simply disseminating knowledge. Improv is one of the four or five things that have made me who I am today.

What’s your secret talent?

I play the accordion. Badly.

If you could go back 10 years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

You have all this free time–what are you doing with it? Learn another language and write a book or two now, before your children are born.

What are five books you believe everyone should read?

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)

The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)

Eifelheim (Michael Flynn)

Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (David Mitchell)

How about the best tabletop games?

Glory to Rome

Things to ask a woman you suspect might be pregnant?

Nothing. Keep your mouth shut.
(Every month we’ll meet a new Westside player and get to know him or her better.)