Arcade Academy

Learn comedy, have some funny.

Have fun learning the art of comedy!

Whether it’s improv, sketch, or stand-up, the Arcade Academy can teach you the art of comedy, regardless of your experience. If you’re new to our training program, then start at the 100 level of improv classes and learn our philosophy from the ground up! Or if writing is more your style, we offer sketch comedy and stand-up classes too. Our classes are welcoming, accessible, and packed full of insights from some of the most experienced teachers in the city.

Get ready to have fun, meet people, and open yourself up to Pittsburgh’s growing comedy scene!

Want to take classes for half-off or free? Check out our exciting Internship Program. 

You may also be eligible for the Arcade Diversity Scholarship, now taking applications thru Dec 1 2019.


2020 Session Schedule:

Session 1: Jan 5 – Feb 29

Session 2: Mar 8 – May 3

Session 3: May 9 – July 3

Summer Session: July 12 – Aug 8

Session 4: Aug 16 – Oct 10

Session 5: Oct 18 – Dec 19

SESSION 1: Jan 6 – Feb 27

Registration ends Jan 3 at midnight

Introductory Classes

If this is your first time taking a comedy class at the Arcade, start with these!

IMPROV 101: The Basics

Improv 101: The Basics. This eight-week, three-hour class is open to everyone and appropriate for all levels of improv experience. Whether you are completely new to improvisation, or are a seasoned performer who wants to get back to basics, this class is for you. Learning skills through improv games & exercises, our focus is on: “Yes And” (agreement and extension), group mind, give and take, and basic environment and object work in a supportive, playful environment. The class culminates with a 45-minute “work-in-progress” showcase on the eighth week.

Session A: 6:30-9:30PM
Session B: 1:00-4:00PM
Registration $250
No prerequisites. 


Taught by Robin Hitchcock

First class January 6
Class show February 24


Taught by Greg Gillotti

First class January 11
Class show February 29 at 6PM

Intro to Sketch Writing

Intro to Sketch Comedy Writing. This class will focus on the very basics of sketch writing, including idea generation, brainstorming, comic premises and sketch structure. Whether you’re a beginning writer, a seasoned writer looking to learn a new form, or just want to refocus your writing in an encouraging, collaborative atmosphere, this class is for you. Through class exercises and assignments, students will learn to write comedy sketches from beginning to end. A notebook is required, because to learn to write, you have to write.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $250
No prerequisite


Taught by Jesse LE

First class January 8
Final class with readings February 26

Intro to Stand-Up

Have you ever wanted to try Stand-up Comedy but weren’t sure how to start? This class is for you! You’ll learn exercises, tools, and techniques for generating ideas, writing jokes, preparing your act, and analyzing and improving your performance. We’ll cover on-stage mechanics and “comedy etiquette.” This class explores the wide variety of styles of Stand-up, extracting lessons that can be incorporated into your act, in a supportive and fun environment. Through this 8 week course that culminates with a class show, you’ll discover and develop your personal comedy voice, while building a foundation for continued growth.

Tuesdays 6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $250
No prerequisite


Taught by Suzanne Lawrence

First class January 7
Class show February 25

Advanced Classes

These are upper level improv and writing classes, strengthening your comedic skills with every new level.

Advanced Sketch Writing

Sketch Writing 2: Techniques for Stronger Sketches. Building on the basics from Intro to Sketch Writing, students will gain more tools and techniques for sharpening their writing skills in order to create stronger sketches. Focus will be on developing comedic-characters and enhancing dialogue; along with strengthening and defining the writer’s unique point of view, all through in-class exercises, discussion and writing plenty of sketches. Bring your notebook back, because we’ll be writing again.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Requirements: Intro to Sketch Writing
Registration $250


Taught by Mindy Cooper

First Class January 6
Class Show February 24

IMPROV 102: Scenework

Improv 102: Scenework. This eight-week class focuses on one of the most critical elements of great improv: Scene Work. Building on the foundations and skills of Intro to Improv, here we focus on starting scenes with decisive initiations and confident stage presence.  Agreement and group mind will be taken to the next level as well as working on character development and emotional investment. Trusting yourself as well as your scene partner is the first step towards great scene work. Improv 102 concludes with a class performance showcasing the skills of building strong scenes.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $250
Prerequisite: Improv 101 


Taught by Kevin O’Brien

First class January 6
Class show February 26

IMPROV 201: Short Form

Improv 201: Intro to Short Form. Building on previous concepts of scene work and game, Improv 201 focuses on short form improv. We’ll be delving into a variety of different performance games including character-based games, justification games, guessing games, gimmick games, and line games, teaching students how to apply their scene work skills and master the mechanics of each for successful gameplay. Students will gain valuable experience in short form improv mechanics — a skill that the Arcade believes is a fundamental piece of a well-rounded improviser.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $250
Prerequisite: Improv 101 & 102


Taught by Liz Labacz

First class January 8
Class show February 26

Improv 202: Advanced Short Form

Improv 202: Advanced Short Form. Let’s take your short-form improv skills to the next level!  Though thoughtful and constructive teacher feedback, students will sharpen game-play and hosting skills, initiate memorable characters and environments, and elevate their onstage performance. This level starts with four classroom session and concludes with four performance opportunities, where participants get detailed post-show notes and feedback, both as individuals and as an ensemble.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $250
Prerequisite: Improv 101, 102, & 201


Taught by Matt Solter

First class January 7
Class shows February 4, February 11, February 18, and February 25

IMPROV 301: The Harold

Improv 301: The Harold. This class focuses on the Harold, the gold standard of long-form improv, featured at both iO and UCB Theaters. Harold provides improvisors an opportunity to learn the basic building blocks commonly used in long-form improv: openings, edits, games, group scenes, and callbacks. Skills learned in earlier levels are critical to forging a group mind and building a spontaneous and evocative piece of improvised theater.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $250
Prerequisite: Improv 101 & 102 & 201


Taught by Nick Jaramillo

First class January 6
Class show February 24

IMPROV 302: Advanced Long-form

Improv 302: Advanced Longform. Building on the tools introduced in Scene Work and the Harold, Advanced Long-form widens our students knowledge and experience with various advanced improv long-forms. In this class, we delve deeper into techniques and how each best applies to different forms. The forms explored will vary from class to class depending on each class’s interest and ability. Potential forms include: Monoscene, Deconstruction, La Ronde, the Movie, the Living Room, JTS Brown, The Bat, The Armando and more.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $250
Prerequisite: Improv 101, 102, 201 & 301


Taught by Jethro Nolen

First Class January 9
Class Show February 27

Improv Electives

Take a deeper dive into specific topics with these improv classes.

Here’s what you need to know:

Arcade Academy sessions generally run eight weeks. Classes take place at either our theater at 943 Liberty Avenue or our education space on the second and third floors of 707 Penn Avenue. If you’d like to register for a class, just click the big buttons and you’ll be taken to our ShowClix registration page. It’s a fast & secure way to register for classes online with your credit card. Tuition is non-refundable and non-transferrable. Unless specified otherwise, these classes are for adults 18 and older. Teachers listed may be subject to change at the Arcade’s discretion or as a result of unforeseen scheduling conflicts — while we try to avoid teacher substitution, it does happen from time and time and is not grounds for a refund.

The Arcade is also accepting a limited number of interns. If you’d like to take a course for free or half price while also working at the theater on the weekends, just select one of the Internship options when registering for your class. Please note that there is a limited number of full and partial internships available, and that you’ll need to complete a 2-hour internship training. Arcade reserves the right to deny a student internship for any reason, and in that instance he/she will be refunded your registration.

We’ve revised our policy regarding course prerequisites: students need to meet all pre-reqs before signing up for an advanced level class. Every improv school approaches these techniques and philosophies differently, and so does the Arcade. So it’s good for you and your classmates if everyone has the same level of Arcade Academy training and vocabulary. Learn more about our philosophy.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to call us at 412-339-0608 and we’ll get back to you right away!

The Arcade Campus


Arcade is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all of our patrons, students, and performing artists. Our facilities at 943 Liberty Avenue are designed for wheelchair access both in our audience and on our stages. We also offer all-gender bathrooms and elevator access to all floors. Our classrooms at 707 Penn Avenue require the use of stairs and have an all-gender single-stall restroom. If you have any accessibility requirements, please contact us at:

943 Liberty Avenue

During the week, the Arcade transforms into an amazing, multi-classroom learning space with classes taking place in our downstairs and upstairs theaters as well as our second floor lounge.

The 707 Academy

This classroom space is located a block from the theater at 707 Penn Avenue, on the second and third floors above the 707/709 Gallery.