But what only true fans might know is that he got his start in improv. He got his start with the predecessors to Second City in Chicago, the Compass Players. He also had a collaboration with fellow Compass Player Elaine May as the duo Nichols and May. Unlike many comic duos from the time - who stuck to stereotypical straight-one-funny-one or smart-one-dumb-one routines - Nichols and May really played their act as improvisational scenes. Their comedy style has been cited as influential to comedians such as Steve Martin, Bill Murray and Lily Tomlin.