The St. Louis, Missouri native attended Princeton University, where she was initiated into improvisational comedy via the university’s comedy troupe Quipfire! After finishing her English degree in 2002, Ellie took up English in Oxford University, which furthered her mastery of the language.
Shortly after, Kemper settled in New York where she was exposed to comedy sketch groups and improv theatre companies such as Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Mailer Daemon, and People’s Improv Theatre.
Among the shows she performed in were The Improvised Mystery, Listen Kid, Death and/or Despair, and Gang Bang. During that time, Ellie collaborated with fellow Princeton alumnus Scott Eckert and wrote several sketch shows together.
She also began contributing articles to the satirical newspaper The Onion and to McSweeney’s literary journals. While performing improv at night and going in auditions for television roles, she supported herself by doing commercials.