Experience Talks 1/14: Dudley Riggs

Tune in to Experience Talks, our weekly “Radio Magazine for the Experienced Listener,” on Sundays at 5:30 PM PT on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles, 98.7 FM Santa Barbara, 99.5 China Lake, 93.7 N. San Diego, streaming live online, and now syndicated on up to 100 Pacifica Network stations! Experience Talks is produced by the non-profit EngAGE, Inc.


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Sunday 1/14 @ 5:30 PM PDT
Dudley Riggs
Host: Tim Carpenter

Dudley Riggs didn’t have to run away from home to join the circus. Home was the circus. Son of the acclaimed aerial flyers Riggs and Riggs, he made his circus debut as a polar prince parading in a wagon pulled by a polar bear. He has since worked as a circus aerialist, movie actor, vaudevillian, comedian, writer, stage director, and producer.

A noted improvisational comedian, Riggs created the Instant Theater Company in New York, which he moved to Minneapolis in 1958 and established as the Brave New Workshop.

Riggs also opened the Experimental Theater Company (E.T.C.) in the Seven Corners area of Minneapolis in the early 1970s. This theater provided a wider range of material including stand-up comedy, variety shows, and specialty acts, including the Flying Karamazov Brothers, Penn & Teller, Louie Anderson, and Lizz Winstead, among many others.

Riggs has attended the University of Chicago, the University of Tulsa at Oklahoma, the University of the Philippines in Manila, Mankato State Teacher’s College, and the University of Minnesota. His continuing education includes being accepted into the Harvard University Writing Program in 1996.

In addition to receiving a Kudo Award from the Twin Cities theater critics, Riggs received the Urban Guerrilla Award and the Charlie Award from the National Association of Comedy Arts. In 2009, The Ivey Awards, an annual celebration of professional theater in the Twin Cities, named Dudley Riggs its Lifetime Achievement honoree.

After selling the Brave New Workshop in 1997, Dudley Riggs started his third career as a writer. His memoir, Flying Funny, My Life Without a Net, was published in 2017. Here’s one review:

“The great Dudley Riggs is a titan of comedy. There was no laughter west of the Mississippi before him. He let us perform at his theater when we were just getting started, so we owe him a blurb. So buy this book.”—Penn & Teller




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