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Dave Urlakis '03

We Are Knox...

Dave Urlakis '03

Improv Comedian

Director of Marketing and Analytics, Jellyvision

Majors: Economics & Theatre

What can be said of mice and men can certainly be said of improv comedian
Dave Urlakis '03: sometimes his plans go wonderfully awry.

Urlakis came to Knox College certain that he was going to double-major in theatre and biochemistry. His love for the stage was deep-seeded, but his devotion to lab work proved not quite as lasting.

"I realized if I continued to pursue a biochem degree, I'd be spending a lot of time doing work I really didn't enjoy," said Urlakis. "At the same time, I was taking an intro to microeconomics class, which I really liked, so I decided to drop the biochem major and pick up econ."

It was also during his college years that Urlakis experimented with different venues for performance.
"I did a lot of different types of acting and writing," said Urlakis, "but I also had a show on the radio station and took a dance class and wrote some remarkably awful techno music. It was a great four years."

Urlakis's willingness to change course almost makes it seem that he lives his life like an improv sketch, where the whim and the haphazard are not simply needed -- they're worshipped.

"I'm the kind of guy who will get ridiculously interested in something for six months and then be done with it and never pick it up again," said Urlakis. "Acting is the one interest I've had that I've never really been able to shake."

Dave UrlakisUrlakis now performs in the Chicago area, and his resume is as varied as his interests. He's performed Shakespeare -- both in Twelfth Night at Chase Park Theatre and in a Vitalist Theatre production of King Lear directed by Knox's own Professor of Theatre Liz Carlin-Metz. But he's also performed improv at the iO Theater (formerly known as improvOlympic), and he's currently an ensemble member at ComedySportz Chicago, which performs short-form improv. Urlakis is also half of the two-person improv group Batterymouth.

(Photo: Dave Urlakis performing in long form improv group Batterymouth's self-titled run at the Apollo Theater Studio. Photo by John Morrison.)

Most recently, Urlakis has been attracting attention for his partnership with fellow comedian Sean Cusick. The duo, collectively known as Urlakis & Cusick, recently finished a well-reviewed run at Stage 773, and in January, they performed in the 2012 Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, the world's largest sketch comedy festival.

But while Urlakis's nights glow with the dramatic aura of stage lights, he lives his days working in the offices of Jellyvision, a multimedia production company. Here, Urlakis helps to market the company's Interactive Conversations to Fortune 1000 companies.

"It's a great company," said Urlakis, "and I've really enjoyed my work there."

His worklife also seems to have informed his comedy. His YouTube channel, Awkward Spaceship, often features videos that make light of office hum-drum: the printer cartridge fairy siphons ink, and workers unprotected by their firewalls are burned to a crisp.

Urlakis admits that his two worlds are "wildly different," but they also share a lot in common.

"When you get right down to it, I think I'm interested in theatre and economics because they're both about figuring out how people work," said Urlakis. "I feel like Knox is a unique place, because it gave me the opportunity to find and pursue both of those interests."