Phil Nieto


How long have you been working with Stagelight?
Since the fall of 2016. This is my 8th season
What do you love most about your job?
I love creating fun things with the students and using our imaginations! I love seeing an art form that has brought me so much joy doing the same for a new generation
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
More work! I love doing plays, murder mystery dinners, performing improv, and being a pretend cowboy as part of Ghost Town Alive at Knott’s. Outside of ALL my work, I love stories in all their forms. Which is a my way of saying I’m a big ole nerd who loves books, video games, movies, tv shows, live theater, and any other method of storytelling out there
What are 3 fun facts about you?
Oh goodness. FUN facts. How about just facts?
1. I recently heard someone describe bologna as a flat hot dog and it’s basically ruined hot dogs for me
2. I honestly don’t believe George R.R. Martin will ever finish the Game of Thrones series and that makes me sad
3. One of my favorite movies growing up was Top Gun and it’s a very effective piece of of military propaganda. So much so that when I was in high school I wanted to go to college at the Naval Academy to become a fighter pilot. I got to the point of looking into getting a letter of recommendation from a congressman when I was told by a naval officer that my shoulders were already too broad for a jet cockpit and I would never be a fighter pilot. I, of course, could still have been a pilot of other things like larger planes or helicopters. But this discouraged me enough to not even apply. It was fighter pilot or nothing. Bonus Fact! If you read fact 2 and thought “Actually, the book series is called A Song of Ice and Fire”, we’ll probably get along just fine
Why did you choose to pursue a career in your field?
I realized that it’s what brought me joy. I spent most of my twenties chasing a paycheck at a job I hated and I dreaded waking up every morning. I decided I’d rather live more simply and give my dreams a shot. Now I wake up every day excited
If you weren’t a teacher, what other job could you see yourself pursuing?
I had a friend once who suggested getting master diver certifications, buying a boat, and moving to Costa Rica to take people on SCUBA expeditions. I scoffed at the time, but now…seems fun.
What’s your favorite musical, movie, and/or show?
I’m tempted to say something indie and cool, that no one’s ever heard of, is my favorite musical, but let’s be honest, it’s Hamilton. Favorite movie is so hard so I’ll just say I’m a huge Sci-fi/fantasy fan with every great series associated with that genre. Favorite TV show has to be a tossup between Firefly and Ted Lasso.


Improv Acting Instructor

Phil Nieto is a handsome and mysterious man. If you would like to know more about him you should take him out to dinner sometime. He enjoys meats of most any kind. A graduate of the Conservatory Program at The Second City, Hollywood, Phil learned improv and sketch from some of the very best. He’s been involved in several shows there, sketch and improv alike, as both a writer and actor, including The Really Awesome Improv ShowRuiz Must Die and Picture Show: The Show!, among others. Phil performs bi-weekly with his improv team Fancy Hobo at various locations around Orange County, and can also be seen performing with his long form musical improv team, Fancy Cookin’, and in special events with Spectacles Improv Engine in Fullerton. Finally, Phil would like to impress upon all of you just how much he abhors writing about himself in the third person as it makes him feel pretentious and silly.

Improv is an odd but wonderful art form. There’s always a bit of a thrill knowing that you have an audience that expects something wonderful and hilarious from you yet having absolutely no idea what that thing is going to be when you walk onto the stage.  It can be daunting. But it can also be the most fun you’ve ever had. You have complete freedom to build whatever world you want and to be whoever you want in that world, and to share that building experience with other builders and a crowd of onlookers. Improv has played a huge roll in my life, with the relationships I’ve forged through it lasting for years. It teaches and rewards listening, acceptance, intelligence and wit. Because, as Del Close said, ‘The more you know, the more you can make fun of.’ – Phil Nieto
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