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!

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

Session 4: Aug 12 – Oct 7

Session 5: Oct 14 – Dec 12

Look for New Classes Added!


Save up to $25 off full-price registration when you sign up early. The next session starts January 7, 2019


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: 6:30PM – 9:30PM
Session B: 1:00PM – 4:00PM
Registration $225 ($200 early bird)
No prerequisites. 


Taught by Robin Hitchcock


Taught by Kevin O’Brien

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.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $225 ($200 early bird)
No pre-requisite


Taught by Suzanne Lawrence

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 $225 ($200 early bird)
No pre-requisite


Taught by Mindy Cooper

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 $225 ($200 early bird)
Pre-Requisite: Improv 101 


Taught by Kristy Nolen

IMPROV 201: Short Form

Improv 201: Intro to Short Form. Building on previous concepts, Improv 201 focuses on short form improv. We’ll be delving into a variety of different performance games including: character-based games, option games, scenic games and storytelling games, concluding with the mechanics of putting the pieces together for a successful performance. 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 $225 ($200 early bird)
Pre-Requisite: Improv 101 & 102


Taught by Liz Labacz

Improv 203: Short Form Game Lab

Looking to up your improv game? Or maybe all of your improv games? This is your chance to take a closer look at the elements of short-form improv games and invent some new ones. So if you’re looking for a new choice when it comes to putting a short-form setlist together or you think your current repertoire of games is the world’s worst, join us in this lab class where we will explore old games, brainstorm new games and get them on stage and in front of an audience. There’s no feeling like seeing your game being played by someone else, so come experience that and expand your mind in the world of short form improv. This eight week class is comprised of four weeks of developing games in a classroom setting and four weeks of class shows that includes direction and post show notes.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $225 ($200 early bird)
Prerequisite: Improv 202 or with teacher’s permission


Taught by Matt Hartman

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 $225 ($200 early bird)
Pre-Requisite: Improv 101 & 102 & 201


Taught by Nick Jaramillo

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
Requirements: Improv 101 & 102. Strongly recommended: 201 & 301
Registration $225 ($200 Early-bird)


Taught by Jethro Nolen

Improv to Sketch

In this 16-week course that spans two-sessions, students will use improv to create material for an original sketch show. The culmination of skills and experiences learned in previous Arcade Academy classes along with skillful instructor direction, students will generate ideas through improvisation and then learn to refine those ideas into finished sketches. Using these sketches, participants will also get hands-on experience with all elements of putting-on a sketch show, including: acting skills, developing show order, utilizing props, developing ensemble rapport, marketing and production. Performance opportunities include both a work-in-progress show at the midway point and a fully formed sketch show at the end of the session with two-previews and two weekend mainstage productions.

Two mainstage shows: Friday May 3 at 9PM and Friday May 10 at 9PM.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $400 ($375 early bird)
Prerequisite: Improv 301 or with teacher’s permission


Taught by Larry Phillis

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 before being able to take the class. 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

943 Liberty Avenue

During the week, the Arcade transforms into an amazing, multi-classroom learning space. Every space within the building, including the restrooms, are accessible.

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. Classes in this space are not accessible — if you sign up for a class taking place in this building and have accessibility requirements, please email us in advance and we will make accommodations for you to take the class.