Arcade Academy

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!

Learn more about our updated policies on our updated Academy FAQ page.

We had some totally new people playing with us that have never taken improv before … it was fun being a part of introducing new people to improv/Arcade

Academy Student

Classes at the Arcade: Fall Session

943 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15222

Intro to Stand-Up Comedy - Saturdays

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.

Teacher: Brittany Alexis
Saturdays 3–6PM
First class: Oct 8
No class: Nov 21
Class show: Dec 3
Prerequisites: none

$250 | 18+

Intro to Sketch Comedy Writing - Mondays

This class will focus on the fundamentals 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. We recommend brining a laptop or tablet to class but a notebook works too!

Teacher: Mindy Cooper
Mondays 6:30–9:30PM
First class: October 10
No class: November 21
Class show: December 5
Prerequisites: none

$250 | 18+

Improv 101: Foundations - Wednesdays

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. Improv 101 ends with a class show performance for friends and family!

Teacher: Beth Geatches
Wednesdays 6:30–9:30PM
First class: October 12
No class: November 23
Class show: December 7 

$250 | 18+

Improv 102: Scenework - Tuesdays

This eight-week class focuses on one of the most critical elements of great improv: scenework. Building on the foundations and skills of Improv 101, 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.

Instructor: Sara Kantner
Tuesdays 6:30–9:30PM
First class: October 11
No class: November 22
Class show: December 6
Prerequisites: Improv 101 or approval of submitted prerequisite exception form.

$250 | 18+

Improv 103: Game and Pattern - Wednesdays

This new class addresses one of the most common points of confusion for improv students: how do I find and play “the game of the scene?” By focusing on game and pattern for eight weeks, this class will give you the tools you need to kick up the humor quotient of any short form game or longform set you perform. Improv 103 is also a fantastic class for seasoned improvisers who feel they’re in a slump and want to sharpen up, or performers returning to the craft after some time away.

Instructor: Matt Solter
Wednesdays 6:30–9:30PM
First class: October 12
No class: November 23
Class show: December 7
Prerequisites: Improv 101 and 102 or approval of submitted prerequisite exception form.

$250 | 18+

Improv 201: Short Form Technique - Thursdays

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 master the mechanics of each and apply their scene work skills 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.

Teacher: Fred Frances
Thursdays 6:30–9:30PM
First class: October 13
No class: November 24
Class show: December 8
Prerequisites: Improv 101 and 102; or approval of submitted prerequisite exception form.

$250 | 18+

Improv 302J: JTS Brown - Tuesdays

This 4-week intensive will teach students JTS Brown: a longform developed by the legendary troupe of the same in the late 1990s, seen on Arcade’s stages with our long-running team Warp Zone. The form relies on a deep well of specific devices that create an improv set that strives to appear “formless”, creating unparalled group collaboration and unique opportunities for exploration of character and game. Liz Labacz, member of Warp Zone, will train students to use the form’s many devices to enhance their scenes and the set in full. Advanced experience with improv is required for these classes so the focus can be on the particulars of the form.

Instructor Liz Labacz
Tuesdays 6:30–9:30PM
First class: October 11
Final class: November 1
Class show: Thursday November 3
Prerequisites: Improv 101, 102, 201, and 301; or approval of submitted prerequisite exception form.

$125 | 18+

Here’s what you need to know:

Arcade Academy sessions generally run eight weeks. Classes take place at our theater at 943 Liberty Avenue or on rare occasions off-site at a nearby Cultural Trust-owned property. 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. Click here to learn more about our internship program.

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. You can find all of our current policies on our Academy FAQ page.

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!

Accessibility

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. If you have any accessibility requirements, please contact us at: academy@arcadecomedytheater.com

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.