May 2011

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live in a man’s world someone who had seen me perform called about interviewing for a writing position at an ad agency. I interviewed because I didn’t know what I would do after graduating. I [got] the job, and it was perfect. How has your improv experience influenced your career? When you’re on an improv comedy stage, you learn instantly what works and what doesn’t. Improv comedy is [about] collaboration, listening and teamwork, but it [requires] energy and effort as well. In advertising, if you are going to succeed, you have to work your tail off and focus on positivity more than negativity. [Improv] was the best training ground for advertising I could imagine. “ ” To go up and make a funny face and get a laugh is a piece of cake. Is the creativity you channel at your company today different from being on stage? They are different. Creativity in improv comedy and music is for its own sake. [At work] there’s a bigger purpose behind the creativity, which makes it harder. To go up and make a funny face and get a laugh is a piece of cake. To really sell behavior change … is a hell of a lot harder than getting a quick laugh out of somebody. Andy Wallman Letting creativity rule at home, at work and every destination in between By Anna Asendorf There are nights when you’ll find him on stage as a tambourine- playing, vocal-styling member of The Gomers during Madison’s favorite live-band karaoke experience, Gomeroke. Then there are nights when he’s at home, playing dad to three daughters—a feat he says is his greatest creative challenge yet. But by day Andy Wallman is busy playing president of Knupp & Watson & Wallman (KW2), a Madison-based creative communications company with a do-good reputation. Known as an affable entertainer who has channeled his bound- less creativity and enthusiasm into a career, Wallman attributes much of his success to the lessons he learned from another one of his pastimes: improv comedy. Whether he’s on stage or in the of- fice, his ability to always draw a laugh and stay creative is part of everything he does today. What brought you to where you are today? Luck and hard work. I was in an improv comedy group called Com- edySportz in college [at UW-Madison]. It was perfect for me—I’ve always been an extrovert. About two weeks before graduation, 26 BRAVA Magazine May 2011 You’ve been with your band, The Gomers, for about 20 years. What has kept you involved for so long? The Gomers was a ComedySportz connection. I only play about once a month, because [my work] gets in the way of my rock-and- roll career! When I bought the company I thought I would be done with The Gomers, but I realized I still needed that outlet. My whole life I’ve done something creative. I don’t know how to hang it up and walk away. Long after The Gomers have played their last Jour- ney cover song, I would love if Gomeroke goes down in Madison history as one of the coolest institutions. That’d be great. Can you tell us more about Goodstock, the annual event where your KW2 team spends 24 sleepless hours developing advertising and public relations projects for a host of Dane County nonprofits—free of charge? Goodstock started about seven years ago. We wanted to do some- thing dramatic for the community, and we heard about a 24- hour all-nighter a group of agencies had done on the east coast. The premise that’s driven Goodstock is: How much good can you possibly pack into 24 hours? We give back more and more each year, focusing on Dane County and helping our neighbors in the backyard. Why do you feel it’s important as a company to be involved in the community? It goes back to my dad who was a World War II prisoner of war. He would talk to community groups about his war experiences and he’d wrap up his speeches with two [messages]: Whether you know it, or not, your community does a lot for you, so you should do something for your community. And help the other guy because someday you might be the other guy. Those two points together, to me, are Goodstock. ••• Photo by David King

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