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Comedy and Improv Schools in Los Angeles and New York

Comedy and Improv Schools in Los Angeles and New York

As part of our Spotlight on Comedy and Improv, here is a list of comedy schools in Los Angeles and New York City. Each listing includes the school's specialties as well as their location and contact info.


Acme Comedy Theatre
135 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-525-0233 or 323-525-0202, ext. 525
20 students max; All levels; some classes require an audition; Auditing with permission

ACME offers improv, sketch, and standup classes for all levels, including improv and sketch fundamentals, as well as advanced classes. The "Elements" and "Advanced Improv" series are four-week blocks that can be taken at any time, with "Elements" eight weeks total, and "Advanced Improv" 12 weeks. Students are encouraged to take the full series, but transfer credit from training at other recognized improv schools is negotiable. The improv performance class teaches ACME's signature "Soap Opera" format, including character development and pitching, costume selection, and format structure. The 12-week class includes a performance on the ACME stage using characters developed in class. The sketch performance course is ACME's most intensive class. Students write, pitch, and perform three sets of three-week shows over the course of an 11-week period. Students can perform every week but not all sketches are approved, so collaboration is encouraged. The sketch comedy writing course is a collaborative class series that includes a show on the ACME stage, using sketches written in the class. ACME also offers a four-week "Stand-Up Comedy Course," which includes one-on-one instruction, group sessions, and a performance at the end of the course. Each student receives a DVD of their final performance. ACME additionally offers a 12-week performance lab ($575) focusing on performance skills that requires an audition.

Actors Improv Studio
10707 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
16 students max; All levels; Auditing is permitted; Ongoing

Bill Applebaum, former member of Chicago's Second City and founder of Actors Improv Studio, offers ongoing improv workshops that help actors and anyone who wants to become more creative, spontaneous, and relaxed.

Bang Comedy Theatre
457 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
14 students max; Auditing is permitted; By semesters

L.A.'s oldest home of long-form improv, Bang is known for bringing truth to actors' comedy and its classes take students from basics through complex character work and long-form improvisation in just over a year.

Barb & Steve North's Comedy Workshop
22647 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 422
Woodland Hills, CA 91364;
12 students per class; All levels; Auditing not permitted; Ongoing

Steve North ("The Comedy Coach") and his wife Barb's Comedy Workshops offer a complete comedy development environment from beginner to professional. The workshops focus on the Norths' "comedic character" method of training performers to be comedians rather than comics. Students regularly perform in the "Beyond Standup" show.

Anne Beatts

Beatts, the Emmy-winning original "Saturday Night Live" writer, teaches sketch comedy writing-performing in a course that culminates in a performance for an invited audience in a recognized comedy venue.

Bobbie Oliver - Standup Academy
Bobbie Oliver
Ice House Comedy Club Main Room
24 N. Mentor Ave.
Pasadena, CA
12 students per class; private coaching available; All levels; Auditing is permitted; Four sessions per year

Comedian Bobbie Oliver teaches three ongoing standup comedy classes in eight-week sessions. Class ends with a graduation show in the main room.

The Comedy Academy
Craig Anton
Limited class size; private coaching available; All levels

Comedy Academy emphasis is on comedy scene study. Classes show actors how to bring more of themselves to each role and how to digout and discover the funny.
Other: Acting Technique/Scene Study

Comedysportz Los Angeles
733 N. Seward St.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323-871-1193, Fax: 323-871-1192
10-20 students per class; All levels; Auditing permitted in the beginner class; 4- to 8-week workshops throughout the year; Internships available

This approach to improvisation organizes teams of performers in athletic-style competition. Since 1988, L.A.'s own professional team offers improv workshops plus a Sunday team that performs for the public.

The Empty Stage Improvisational Comedy Theatre
Bill Johnson
All levels; One-time registration fee required

Offers basic and intermediate improv classes as well as drop-in advanced classes. There are weekend performances as well as sketch shows on Thu. at 8 p.m., featuring members of the improv classes.

Flappers University
Dave Reinitz
102 E. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91502
6-10 students per class; All levels; Auditing is permitted; By sessions and ongoing

At Flappers University we believe that comedy is truly an art form, a combination of raw talent and technique. Talent can be lost without technique, so we first teach joke structure and the basic language of comedy. We also believe that what makes a great comedian is being personal and authentic and, perhaps, a rule-breaker, so we provide a safe and fun environment where you can be just that: authentic, inspired and successful. Whether you are already a working comedian or looking to make it your profession, or simply need help with that next presentation or just want to come and have fun, we can help you find the path to funny.

The Gay Mafia Improv Comedy Workshop,
10-12 students per class; All levels; Auditing is permitted; Work study is available

This workshop is led by Mike Player, director and head writer for the improv/sketch comedy troupe The Gay Mafia and a graduate of the Warner Bros. comedy writers' workshop.

Gerry Katzman's Standupcomedyclass.Com
1822 Hyperion Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
10 students max; Beginning, intermediate, and advanced; Auditing permitted in some cases; By sessions

Voted "Favorite Comedy Class in L.A." by Back Stage magazine's readers' poll, Gerry Katzman has a magical and kind way of coaching people into being themselves onstage with unique, fresh, innovative, personal and laugh-out-loud standup routines.

The Groundlings School
7307 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
323-934-4747 ext. 21
16 students per class; All levels; Auditing not permitted but auditions are run like the first day of a class and are free; Sessions every six weeks throughout the year; Email résumé and cover letter for internship opportunities

This 30-year-old sketch comedy institution, home of the famous Groundlings performing troupe, offers improvisation classes taught by Groundlings and alumni in a safe, structured, and supportive atmosphere. Students with previous acting or improv experience are recommended to audition for Basic, the first level of the core program which teaches the fundamentals of the Groundlings's world-renowned form of improv. Extension workshops for beginners are also offered that do not require an audition. Sessions begin every six weeks; specific registration dates are available on the website or by phone.

H2F Comedy Workshops
Barbara Holliday and Dave Reinitz
3406 W. Burbank Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
All levels; Auditing not permitted; By sessions

Classes focus on joke structure and building the basics of riffing, tagging, joke writing, creating charcater, finding a voice, improv, sketch, and working the crowd.

Harvey Lembeck Comedy Workshop
Helaine Lembeck, Artistic Director
20-22 students per class; private coaching also available; Beginning, intermediate, and advanced; Audits by arrangement only; Ongoing

Emmy-winning director Michael Lembeck and his sister Helaine Lembeck took over these comedy classes 28 years ago, 19 years after the late Harvey Lembeck began the workshop. The workshop offers classes aimed at the trained working actor wanting to specialize in comedy. Workshops are designed to teach the actor how to play comedy legitimately in a scene, using improv as a tool to enhance comedic skills for sitcoms, TV, and film. Students participate onstage three or four times each night. Critiques are by instructors only. Former students include Robin Williams, Bryan Cranston, Penny Marshall, John Ritter, Kim Cattrall, John Larroquette, Jenna Elfman, Ted McGinley, Marilu Henner, Mary Kay Place, Lenny Clark, Alan Rachins, Scott Baio, David Leisure, Sally Kirkland, and Sharon Stone.
Other: Acting Technique/Scene Study

Impro Theatre
1727 N. Vermont, Ste. 211
Los Feliz, CA 90027
15 students per class; Nonactors to professional; Auditing not permitted; Ongoing and workshops; Internships programs available

The Impro Theatre School teaches the skills necessary to improvise full-length plays. They focus on truth in the moment and allow comedy to arise out of that.

Improv Comedy Way With Andy Goldberg
Andy Goldberg
Avery Schreiber Theatre
11050 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Private coaching available; Ongoing

Goldberg, author of "Improv Comedy," has been teaching for more than 20 years. His classes emphasize character development through exercises, games, and scene work.

IO West
6336 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Varies; Beginning, intermediate, and advanced; Auditing for improv teams permitted with special permission; New sessions every 7 weeks; Internship program available

Born in Chicago more than 30 years ago, IO is best known for its long-form improvisation, including the signature form "The Harold" (and for its alumni: Mike Myers, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Chris Farley, and Andy Richter, to name a few). IO West offers seven levels of improvisation classes as well as writing and acting classes. Stage time is guaranteed with showcase and performance opportunities in the improv and writing classes. New classes begin every seven weeks.

Jacquie Lowell's Improvisational Comedy Classes
San Diego, CA
8-16 students per class; All levels; Sample class available for $20; Ongoing

Lowell has taught improv in San Diego for the last 35 years and has performed with and directed multiple improvisational comedy performing troupes. She leads creativity communication, and team-building workshops for organizations, conferences, and events.

Judy Brown's Stand-Up Comedy Workshop
Santa Monica, CA
Private, intensive coaching; All levels; Ongoing

Brown helps students turn their natural sense of humor into a professional comedy act. Along the way, she says, they'll learn comedy timing, delivery, and joke writing, and graduate with a comedy monologue.

L.A. Connection Comedy Productions
Kent Skov, artistic director
13442 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
All levels; Auditing permitted in some cases; Ongoing; Work-study opportunities in office and theater.

L.A.'s longest-running improv company, voted "Best Place to Laugh Until You Cry" 2011 by Cityvoter, offers performance training and an adult improv repertory company that allows members to perform before a live audience on a weekly basis.

M.I.'s Westside Comedy Theater
1323A Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
16 students max; All levels; Ongoing

Offers a full calendar of shows and classes every night. The WCT was recently named one of the best places to scout talent in L.A. by Variety. We're committed to fostering a down-to-earth, supportive, professional environment to create opportunities for talent to gain exposure and further their careers.

Merilyn Carney: Improvisation and Cold Reading/Classes and Private Coaching
8-12 students per class; All levels; Auditing is permitted; Ongoing every Wednesday afternoon; Scholarship program available

Carney believes improvisation is the best training for actors. Carney says, "In this workshop actors become fearless, emotionally free, and driven in their careers."

Jodi Miller

Miller offers a standup course separate from the curriculum at the ACME that consists of group classes, private lessons, and a final performance, after which the student receives a DVD.

Musical Improv With Michael Pollock

Pollock is the author of "Musical Improv Comedy: Creating Songs in the Moment" book and CD, now in use at the Second City Training Centers. He is the musical director at Second City Los Angeles and teaches musical improv classes.

Paul Ryan's TV Hosting & Comedy Studio
4645 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste. 202
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
818-788-2190, Fax: 818-788-0706
8 students per hosting intensive; private coaching available; All levels; Auditing not permitted; Ongoing; Possible work study available

Hosting intensive takes place the last Sunday of the month and comedy classes are weekly for both adults and kids/teens. Private coaching for auditions and on-set are available. Paul is the author of "The Art of Comedy: Getting Serious About Being Funny," published by Random House. He was recently on the Emmy ballot for his role as Bruce on "Desperate Housewives."

Sandi C. Shore's Stand Up Comedy Workshop
The Comedy Store
916 Pearl. St.
La Jolla, CA 92037
Auditing is permitted; Ongoing; Check website calendar for class dates

Shore offers eight-week sessions culminating with a showcase in Week 8. A textbook is required: "Sandi Shore 's Secret to Standup Success." Workshops are held at The Comedy Store in La Jolla.

The Second City Training Center
6560 Hollywood Blvd., 2nd Fl.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-464-8542, Fax: 323-464-1861
16 students max; All levels; Auditing is permitted; Ongoing; Work study/internships available

Classes in improvisation and sketch comedy for actors of all ages. Called the "Ivy League of Comedy," the Second City has trained many of the country's leading comedy actors, writers, and directors.

Tim Simek
10-12 students max; private coaching available; All levels; Auditing is permitted; Ongoing; Occasionally will have interns help at improv shows

Founder/director of the comedy improv group, Slow...Children at Play (13th season), Simek offers ongoing improv and scene study classes, including character development and audition techniques. He has 20 years' experience in the entertainment industry as an actor, director, producer, and instructor.
Other: Acting Technique/Scene Study

Steve Kaplan's Comedy Intensive
10-16 students per class; Advanced to professional; Auditing not permitted; Fall and spring sessions; Work study available

Day One: The hidden tools and techniques of comedy are explored through exercises, improv, and theater games. Day Two: You apply the tools to text TV, theater, and film.


American Comedy Institute
Stephen Rosenfield, director
481 Eighth Ave., Ste. 736
New York, NY 10001
212-279-6980, Fax: 212-279-6981
14 students per class; All levels; Auditing not permitted; By sessions and ongoing

One-year professional comprehensive program in comedy performing and writing. Also offers standup comedy workshops covering comedy writing, improvisation, sketch comedy, sitcom audition technique, commercial technique, and acting. Professional program culminates in an industry showcase at Gotham Comedy Club. Also offers individual classes and private writing sessions to create a standup set.

Chicago City Limits
318 W. 53rd St., Ste. 207
New York, NY 10019
212-888-5233, Fax: 212-888-0810
10-15 students per class; All levels; Auditing permitted for some classes; By sessions; Offers work study program (interns take classes for free)

Classes teach the improv techniques of the theatrically based, emotionally grounded comedy style used by the performers of CCL. Also offers music improv classes.
Other: Young Performers

Face Off University
Joe Tex, instructor
c/o The Secret Theatre
44-02 23rd. St.
Long Island City, NY 11101
5-10 students per class; All levels; Auditing not permitted; By sessions

Face Off provides a comfortable, judgment-free, and creative environment in which to explore the fundamentals of improvisation. Using group games and exercises that any novice can master, our class is ideal for discovering "what improv is" and unlocking the creative potential inside all of us. A Face Off class can be very physical, and is always a lot of fun! At the end of the five week course, you will show off your newly honed improv skills for your friends and family as you take part in a professional show that features other graduating students, headlined by a Face Off cast member.

Gotham City Improv
48 W. 21 St., 8th fl.
New York, NY 10010
10-12 students per class; All levels; Auditing not permitted; By sessions and ongoing; Offers work study program

Sister company of the L.A.-based Groundlings, Gotham offers short- and long-form improvisational comedy classes for writing and character development.
Other: Young Performers

Gs Improv
Greg Sullivan, instructor
Producers Club Theatre
358 W. 44th St.
New York, NY 10036
13 students per class; All levels; Auditing is permitted; Ongoing
Improv classes since 1997. Taught by the author of "There's No I in Improv."

Holly Mandel, Brendon Hunt
Center Stage
48 W. 21st St, 4th Fl.
New York, NY 10010
12 students per class; All levels; Auditing is permitted; By sessions and ongoing; Work study available

Founded by Groundlings alumna Holly Mandel, Improvolution! is an improv school, performing group, and—dare we say—philosophy of how to live, create, and collaborate on and off stage.
Other: Acting Technique/Scene Study; Audition Technique/Cold Reading

Magnet Theater
254 W. 29th St.
New York, NY 10001
212-244-2400, Fax: 212-244-1880
12-16 students per class; All levels; Free introductory class; Ongoing and by session; Internship program available

Magnet is an improvisational comedy theater and improv school in New York City, located a few blocks below Madison Square Garden in Chelsea.
Other: Acting Technique/Scene Study

Joy Newman
founder, The Grown-Up's Playground
New York Comedy Club
241 E. 24th St.
New York, NY 10010
All levels; Auditing is permitted (free sample class); Ongoing

Classes are taught in a comfortable, relaxed environment. Improv helps actors to develop characters, build confidence, and be quick on their feet.
Other: Audition Technique/Cold Reading

The Pit - People's Improv Theater
123 E. 24th St.
New York, NY 10001
16 students per class (improv); 12 students per class (writing); elective classes vary; All levels; Auditing not permitted; free shows on Wednesday nights; By session and ongoing; Limited number of work-study slots for students (improv classes only)

PIT is dedicated to the instruction, performance, and development of original comedy and strives to entertain and educate the community about the comedic arts in a safe and nurturing environment.
Other: Acting Technique/Scene Study

Tom Soter at the Wingnut Comedy Studio
1264 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10027 or
5-10 students per class; All levels; Auditing not permitted; Ongoing

Classes concentrate on characters and scene work. Studio address: 78th Street Theater Lab, 236 W. 78th St., New York, NY, 10024.

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