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.
2019 Session Schedule:
Session 1: Jan 7 – Feb 27
Session 2: Mar 7 – May 1
Session 3: May 6 – July 1
Summer Session: July 8 – July 30
Session 4: Aug 12 – Oct 7
Session 5: Oct 14 – Dec 12
SESSION 5: Oct 14 – Dec 12
Registration ends Oct 12 at midnight
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.
6:30PM – 9:30PM
Taught by Kristy Nolen
First class October 16
Class show December 11
No class November 27
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
Taught by Mindy Cooper
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
Taught by Suzanne Lawrence
These are upper level improv and writing classes, strengthening your comedic skills with every new level.
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
Prerequisite: Improv 101
Taught by Robin Hitchcock
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
Prerequisite: Improv 101 & 102
Taught by Liz Labacz
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
Prerequisite: Improv 101 & 102 & 201
Taught by Nick Jaramillo
Take a deeper dive into specific topics with these improv classes.
One of the purest forms of improv joy is performing in a duo with a drift compatible fellow improvisor. There’s just you and your partner on stage–no one to save your scene but also no one to limit your success! This course is an amazing opportunity to advance your play as an individual and discover your pair’s personality through the guidance of the inimitable pair of Brian Gray and Greg Gilloti, themselves the improv duo Iguanatron. Already established duos and performers looking for duo partners are both encouraged to sign up!
3 – 6PM
Prerequisites: Improv 102 or with teacher approval
Taught by Brian Gray & Greg Gillotti
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.