An improvisational Valentine’s Day treat

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Actor Marc Evan Jackson joins local comedians and improvisers at Atlantic Station Feb. 11.

For those looking for last-minute date ideas for Valentine’s weekend, a group of local improv comedians have decided to make Atlantic Station a ‘Good Place’ to go by inviting special talent to perform.

Comedian Marc Evan Jackson, known for his extensive work on TV sitcoms like “Parks and Recreation,” “The Good Place,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Babysitters Club,” will perform with several talented Atlanta improvisers at 8 p.m. Saturday in a special Valentine’s-themed tent show at the venue.

Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Tickets are available at

During a recent Zoom conversation with Jackson and event organizers Jon Carr and Kevin Gillese, who are producing the show through a new venture called Vaguely Specific Productions, the Hollywood-based actor immediately set the bar high for the interview.

“I don’t want to put any undue pressure on this conversation,” Jackson said in a deadpan tone. “It’s just important to me that this be the most meaningful exchange that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will have ever printed.”

Jackson said he has become more familiar with Atlanta as projects have brought him to town, and he became acquainted with Carr during his stint as executive producer of Second City, based out of Chicago. Since then, Carr and Jackson have served in leadership positions in The Detroit Creativity Project, which teaches improv and theater techniques to encourage inner-city youth.

Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

“I feel like Jon’s a real up-and-comer and has shown some great potential in the worlds of arts administration and improvisation,” Jackson said to Carr. “And I’m just, you know, trying to give you a leg up.”

“I appreciate it,” Carr replied.

Carr returned to Atlanta in 2022 and founded Vaguely Specific as a way of connecting high-level talent to the excellent local improv comedy scene.

Credit: Courtesy of Vaguely Specific Productions

Credit: Courtesy of Vaguely Specific Productions

“It’s tough when you’re doing improv all over the country, you’re going to places that are in different levels of development,” Carr said. “For a performer or improviser, sometimes you want to have a group of people with you that you can trust. Having been around the country, I feel like Atlanta has some of the best improvisers in the world, so I love to bring people out here to work with amazing improvisers.”

Carr and Gillese both served as artistic director of Dad’s Garage at different points, yet this special show is taking place outside of traditional theaters to give the evening a special feel.

“I think the big overall idea behind the company is that, because we’re doing this outside of the normal theater system, it gives us an opportunity to do shows that are bigger,” Carr said. “At Dad’s, we’re limited by the number of seats that we have. The way we’re doing it here, we have as many seats as people will buy tickets. So we can expand it. That allows us to be able to take on the burden of flying someone in, paying their rates. We can bring them in, put them in a position to make money and then connect them to other theaters. We can start connecting some great performers to theaters around us.”

Carr said this first show with Jackson — which will also feature Amber Nash from TV’s “Archer,” Karen Cassady, Freddy Boyd and Gillese — will hopefully be the first of many such performances mixing local talent and notable names.

Gillese also said that, when possible, the shows will be in unique sites to make the occasions special.

“Our tent is going to be smaller than Cirque du Soleil’s tent, just for the record,” Gillese said. “I just want to manage expectations.”

“Should I be stretching?” Jackson asked in reply. “What’s happening?”

In addition to his acting, Jackson has performed improv around the country for decades, including performing in a troupe called The 313, which he formed with Keegan-Michael Key and other comedians with Detroit roots. During previous trips to Atlanta, he has performed as a special guest in shows at Dad’s Garage.

“Whenever I’m there, I try to drop in at Dad’s Garage or somewhere, and I was there in the summer,” he said. “I called Jon and asked who to talk to at Dad’s for a good Thursday night thing. With one day’s notice, we put on a show, and it was packed. It was really fun.”

Gillese said it was a delight to perform with Jackson.

“I was in the cast that night, and we found out at the 11th hour that we had a special guest,” he said. “You can tell a lot about somebody by improvising with them. Your personality is revealed by the choices you make and the way you engage with other people. My big takeaway was that Marc was kind, humble, very funny and a true improviser.”

“I can’t confirm or deny,” Jackson replied.

Jackson said that knowing you’re in a strong, “bulletproof” ensemble like this weekend’s cast allows you to make choices and take risks onstage.

“It allows me the opportunity to show an audience some things I don’t do on television,” he said. “If I’m super sweary or physical, it comes out of nowhere for them.”

Improv is a skill that helped him adapt in life, Jackson said, and he’s always grateful to elevate the artform, promote local theater and meet new performers.

“Improv made my life so much better,” Jackson said. “Before, I was afraid of the unknown. Improv teaches you to embrace the unknown. And that not knowing something yet doesn’t make you a failure or weak or dumb, you just don’t know it yet. It’s so curiosity-building and empathy-driving. I love it.”

Cassady said that she is stoked to share the stage with Jackson and other local performers, particularly for Valentine’s Day.

“Valentine’s Day lends itself to some good improv,” she said in a message. “Since we base our scenes on audience suggestions, they come spilling out of the flood gates when it’s about that holiday. You get horror date stories, romances turned into marriages or long-term relationships, break ups, people that hate the holiday, single people looking for love or looking for fun. There’s something for everyone.”


Marc Evan Jackson and Friends

8 p.m. Feb. 11. $45; $100 VIP. Atlantic Station, 241 20th St., Atlanta.