Top Story! Weekly Cast



John Abbott

John Abbott grew up in Boston and graduated from Harvard, where he studied Classics and wrote for the Lampoon. In Los Angeles, he was a founding member of the sketch group the Joke Pimps and learned long-form improv at the iO West. Improv credits include Cog, Trophy Wife, Nite Terrors, and coaching Mud Hen and MPG. On the scripted side, he performed in the iO Mainstage Sketch show Three’s Company, Four’s a Conglomerate and is a member of the Top Story! Weekly cast. John also contributes the occasional ripped-from-the-headlines zinger to Top Story! Weekly. John, Mrs. Abbott, and Junior live in a charming cottage in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

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Bennie Arthur

Bennie Arthur is an actor, comedian and writer originally from Rustburg, Virginia. Bennie is a regular on Comedy Central’s Drunk History, and viewers of the network’s The Ben Show know Bennie as “the Mayor of Titty City.” Bennie has written and starred in many videos for Channel 101, including the series “Lone Wolf.” Bennie loves you.

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Mitchel Baldwin

Mitchel Baldwin grew up in Athens, Ohio and studied media at Ohio University. At school he became a cast member of “Fridays Live,” a weekly sketch show produced directed and written by students. In Los Angeles he produced the morning show for National Lampoon Radio and has performed in numerous sketches for MTV and Comedy Central. He has also hosted “Late Night LA” at numerous theaters around Los Angeles doing sketch and talking to independent filmmakers about projects. The Huffington Post has described him as a comedy trendsetter with his musical number about a KFC. When he’s not on stage, he can typically be seen in the background of General Hospital pretending to be a doctor and picking his nose.

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Christopher Biewer

Christopher Biewer moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in April 2007 after meeting the cast at Sketchfest. Christopher started as a writer and became an official cast member December 2007. Before moving to LA, Christopher studied and performed at iO and Second City Conservatory in Chicago, and was a founding member of Hippo Horsey Donkey Monkey, an improv/sketch troupe. Christopher can be seen starring in “Crash Down Hearts”, a feature film set for release later this year. www.christopherbiewer.com

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Kipleigh Brown

Kipleigh studied at the Steppenwolf Theatre and the Second City as well as performing in numerous theatrical productions around the Windy City. Her TV and film credits include “Star Trek: Enterprise,” Disney’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” CBS’s “The Magic Door,” “Relative Strangers” (starring Danny DeVito), and “Design” (official selection of the 2002 Sundance Film Festival). She was named one of the “Hot Leading Ladies” of film by Film Fetish for her role in YESTERDAY WAS A LIE. www.kipleigh.com

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Jen Cain

Jen Cain is from Texas, where she received her degree in Radio TV Film performance from TCU. Jen has performed at comedy theaters all over LA, festivals across the country, and with The Second City in Hawaii for eight months. She has done several national commercials and a handful of TV shows on the networks WB, MTV, CBS, ABC and Showtime. Jen was a writer and performer for the revival of National Lampoon’s Lemmings, working for them in the national tour, on a comedy album, and in thirteen half hour episodes. She recently shot a pilot created by Matt Williams (Roseanne, Home Improvement), and hosted her own live broadcast show called “Girls Night In.”.

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Colin Contreary

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Sean Cowhig

Sean is a Boston native - just ask his accent. He studied at Emerson College and found his love of comedy when he joined the school’s only all improv comedy troupe This is Pathetic, which was started by brilliant actor/comedians David Cross and Laura Kightlinger. His biggest achievement so far was being a featured extra in “Moonlight Mile” where he spent a day in a car with Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, and Jake Gyllenhaal. He was out of his element at the time. Sean can be seen in several ongoing iO West productions including Dr. God, Wikipedia Live, Top Story! Weekly, and iO West’s Mainstage Sketch show.

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Ross Crain

Ross Crain was born in Oklahoma City to Garry Crain, a wildcat entrepreneur, and Edwina Ross, an Oklahoma City bombing survivor whom Crain calls “his hero.” He’s had a wild life, from playing semi-pro baseball in Europe, to producing an online financial news show about small-cap companies, to performing comedy across the US. Some of his comedy stops include: San Francisco’s Sketch Fest, Chicago’s Sketch Fest (Time Out Chicago praised him as “the real standout”), and Los Angeles’s Scripted Festival. Training includes NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (Meisner Studio) and the Upright Citizens Brigade in NY and LA. His films have been seen in the Dead Film Festival, Skins Film Festival, and in May of 2015, the Cannes Film Festival.

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John Druska

John Druska hails from Berwyn, IL and studied theater, screenwriting and production at Indiana University. He has performed in Los Angeles as a founding member of sketch crew Moon County, as well as on iO’s Mainstage Sketch Show, and House Sketch Team Super Kudzu. He can also be seen at various venues around L.A. with his improv team Daddy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and his one-person show LOOPS: Tales From Behind the Bag (for a clip, click on this link). John resides in Hollywood and is still looking for literary representation, so, hook a brother up.

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Jimmy Guidish

Jimmy has been a part of this great cast since 2008. He is originally from Naples, Florida, and is a graduate of the Second City Los Angeles conservatory program . He can also be seen at iO West performing regularly with his improv group Freedom Snatch.

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Ashleigh Hairston

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Ashleigh Crystal Hairston is an actor, writer and improviser from Seattle, Washington! She received theatrical training from Howard University in Washington DC and now resides in sunny Los Angeles, CA where she enjoys running, hiking and eating. She can be found on the stages of the iO West Theatre showcasing her beloved original characters or performing sketch with iO West’s House Sketch Team, DUKE (2015 LASCF Cage Match Champs, 2015 SF SketchFest Dark Room Showcase). She is also a member of the improv group ESSENCE: Classy Black Ladies Doing Comedy (LAIIF, LAICF, Hawaii Festival of Improv), and Two Piece Chicken, a two person team formed with her first improv friend ever. Check out more pics, flicks and updates from Ashleigh at www.ashleighcrystal.com!.
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Matt Harbert

Matt Harbert earned his BFA in acting from West Virginia University. In Los Angeles he has studied improv & sketch writing at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, written/produced sketch and film, and performs theater, sketch, improv, standup, and music at various theaters. Recently he performed as Picasso in Picasso at the Lapin Agile and is happy to be part of the cast of Top Story! Weekly at iOWest. You can find all of his online content at mattharbert.com.

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Matthew Harris

Matthew Harris is a UCLA graduate with a BA in Theater. He was born in Stockton, California at a hospital between a graveyard and the county jail, hence his interest in comedy. Matthew has been in two national commercials, appeared on Comedy Central and Adult Swim specials, co starred on “The Lonely Island” opposite Andy Samberg, and starred in “The Pretty Boy Project” (winner best comedy short in LA Film Festival, Black Film Festival, and Cinevegas award) and Rock Obama! “The Barack Obama Musical” (official selection LA Comedy Festival, www.sadninja.com). He was also an extra in “Collateral” and got to have a gun pointed at him by Jamie Foxx (for the purposes of the movie he’s sure). Matthew continues to perform in various comedy shows around Los Angeles and sketches that pepper the internet. Top Story! Weekly is the most fun show Matt has worked on and he is proud to be among the very funny and talented players, writers and directors. Matt Harris defeated Chuck Norris’ high score in Tetris and invented the wheel, aeronautics and the helicopter but not in that order. Matt Harris is referred to by his mother as “a good boy” and only sleeps for one hour a day, which he does in 10 second stretches throughout an entire day. Whenever God wins a Grammy he thanks Matt Harris. Matt Harris rocks ass. www.nowcasting.com/matthewisaacharris

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Grace Harryman

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Troy Holden

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Joe Hospodor

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Michael Hughes

Michael Hughes’ duties with Top Story! Weekly include director, writer, actor, executive producer and TS!W Report co-producer. Mike holds degrees from Yale and Harvard, studied acting with Uta Hagen and Howard Fine, and studied improv and sketch with UCB, Second City and the Groundlings. Mike has also performed regularly at Second City with Masi Oka (”Heroes”) and in the sketch group Haja Fresh with Simon Helberg (”Big Bang Theory”), Derek Waters (”Drunk History”) and Ben Hoffman (”The Ben Show”). Film credits include “Factory Girl” opposite Sienna Miller, and “The Man from Elysian Fields” opposite Andy Garcia. Stage work includes productions at the Geffen Playhouse and the Knightsbridge Theatre, and he co-wrote and performed a song for National Lampoon. He writes jokes for the radio prep service The Complete Sheet, which you probably hear while you’re driving to work in the morning.
Commercial: Cris Dennis/Film Artists Assoc./(818) 883-5008

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EILEEN MARY O’CONNELL

Eileen (@i_Lean) is a writer and improviser. She was raised near Chicago and was a member of the Second City Teen Ensemble, which made her seem really cool in high school but only to herself. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Theatre Arts, and has studied improv/sketch with The Second City, UCB, Groundlings, iO West, and The Improv Space. Currently she writes for the iO West House Sketch Team Hashtag, and performs every Friday night with My Favorite Customer at The Improv Space. You can often find Eileen in her car, clutching a can of Diet Coke and mouthing along to the Space Jam soundtrack like there’s no tomorrow. .

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Amy Paffrath

Amy Paffrath was born and raised in the heart of the US, in St. Louis, Missouri. Young Amy was a busy kid taking dance and gymnastic lessons from the ripe age of 3. She is a middle child and thus has always loved attention. Amy accomplished this by putting on newscasts and plays for her family. She got the last laugh by charging them admission. Amy graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 2005. She moved to LA 6 months later and landed her first big gig as a video vixen in Paramore’s #1 hit “Misery Business.” In early 2007 she was given the amazing opportunity to host her very own show, “Broadcaster News.” The pop culture news show ran daily and racked up more than 200 episodes and hundreds of thousands of hits online. It was on “Broadcaster News” that Amy was able to explore impersonations and fell in love with doing sketch comedy. Since then, Amy has worked as a Fun Fearless Female reporter for Cosmopolitan.com, has been a series regular on MSN’s “The Big Debate,” stars in the upcoming musical “I Kissed a Vampire” and will appear on the new CBS comedy “The Defenders” this fall. Becoming the host of E! News Now and a Daily 10 correspondent was a dream come true for Amy. When she’s not dishing the latest from Hollywood and then skewering it on Top Story! Weekly, Amy can be found hiking, working with one of the many charities she supports, hanging with friends or traveling the world.

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Melissa Paul

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Artemis Pebdani

Artemis has done a lot of live theatre and comedy in Los Angeles. She has also done some tv. Most notably, she expertly plays the role of Artemis on FX’s “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
She is also a ninja.

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Brent Pope

Brent honed his acting chops on the mean streets of rural Nebraska, but he was born on the unpaved streets of the rural Philippines. Brent has appeared on a variety of tv, film and stage projects, including North Mission Road and The Investigators for Court TV, The Hollywood Fight Club’s production of the David Mamet classic Edmond, and a hilarious spoof of Million Dollar Baby, directed by On the Lot’s Sam Friedlander. Brent can currently be seen with his comedy troupe Dead Honkey (10 time iO West Sketch Cagematch champs), on his webseries Friendly Fire, and in Top Story! Weekly.

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Ryan Pratton

Ryan can be seen on the Above Average Network, part of Lorne Michaels’ BVE, in the series “Charles, Your Hangover“. He has been featured in numerous National Commercials including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Clorox 2. Ryan has studied improv at The Upright Citizens Brigade, and performs regularly with his improv team Wild Caught.
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Joy Regullano

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Derek Jeremiah Reid

Derek Jeremiah Reid is the H.N.I.C. of Dead Honkey. If you don’t know what that means, just ask your black friend (probably Derek). Derek started doing comedy in Austin Texas at Esther’s Follies. Then he hosted the short lived show “The Basement” on the short lived channel Fox Family Channel. Derek is now a cast member of the improv troupe Robert Donwey Jr.Jr. Derek has studied at Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade. Derek doesn’t run on C.P.T., and if you don’t know what that means, you’re probably a Honkey.

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Stacy Rumaker

Stacy Rumaker is an improviser, comedy writer and performer. She is a member of several improv teams at iO West. Before finding a home at iO West in Los Angeles, Stacy studied at UCB (Paul Scheer) and The Magnet (Armando Diaz) in NY, as well as the American Comedy Institute.

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Tammie Smalls

In addition to performing with the cast of Top Story! Weekly, Tammie is a graduate of the conservatory at Second City, where she performs with the improv group The Tuskegee Experiment. Smalls is also an Emmy nominated television producer for her work on the Showtime Network series, “Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t.”  She also wrote and produced the award winning E! Celebrity Profile featuring comedian Margaret Cho. Tammie, who is also a VO talent and vocalist, is from New York.

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Paul Straw

Paul Straw is a writer/producer. He claims no hometown but is a graduate of iO Chicago and of Indiana University, where he was a member of the renowned sketch group “All Sorts of Trouble for the Boy in the Bubble.” Paul has also been a writer/performer for Moon County, iO West’s Mainstage Sketch Show and The Great Depression Happy Hour. Recently he produced the independent feature film “Green River Road.”

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Mike Truesdale

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Brian Vestal

A Sacramento native, Brian Vestal’s life long dream has just been to make people laugh. After many scholastic years of pencil mustaches and prat falls, Brian earned a degree in Theatre from California State University, Fullerton. A graduate of the Second City Training Center in Los Angeles in such shows as “Be Afraid” and “Gonzales Arrives”, he has also performed at UCB, The Open Fist Theatre, as well as iO West. Brian’s very excited to be in Top Story! Weekly, and pursue his new passion for “fake news”. He is very proud to have worked with Second City Chicago Mainstage director Ron West and SNL writer Anne Beatts. Brian also wants you to know that you are a special, pretty flower. High fives are free: just ask. www.brianvestal.net

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Cassandra Lee Walker

Cassandra Lee Walker is an actress, comedian, and singer who hails from upstate New York. Growing up in a small town nestled along the Hudson River Valley, Cassandra studied Theater from a young age and ultimately received a BA in Theater. Cassandra can be seen in numerous shorts and independent films as well as many comedy videos for Funny or Die and College Humor. She has studied and performed at iO West and UCB, as well as studied Strasberg’s Method at the Sharon Chatten Studio in LA, and also studied under Tony Greco in NY. A rock n’ roll horror musical titled, “Don’t Go In The Woods” created and directed by Vincent D’Onofrio kick started Cassandra’s scream queen career in 2008. Cassandra has been involved in numerous sketch teams here in Los Angeles (Top Story Weekly, Sketch Pool, Mr. Worm). Feel free to visit Cassandra’s website! .

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PHILLIP WILBURN

Originally from Texas , Phillip is known for his ability to imitate almost any voice, from Tom Cruise to George W. Bush, and everyone in between. The LA Times said Phillip’s George W. Bush is “played to squinty eyed perfection.” He has done voice work for “Dragon Ball Z” on the Cartoon Network and the “Lupin The Third” movie series Phillip produces and stars in viral videos that have received well over a million hits. His video “Leave General Petraeus Alone” received over 100,000 hits in just one day; MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann used it to open a speech by President Bush, and the video was also featured on Hardball with Chris Matthews. Election ‘08 kicked off with Phillip’s John McCain being featured on CNN’s Showbiz Tonight and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Phillip can be seen on stage in Top Story! Weekly at iO West every Sunday night at 8. For more info go to www.phillipwilburn.com.

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