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. 

2019 Session Schedule:

Session 1: Jan 7 – Feb 27

Session 2: Mar 7 – May 1

Session 3: May 6 – July 1 On Sale April 5

Session 4: Aug 12 – Oct 7

Session 5: Oct 14 – Dec 12

SESSION 3: May 5 – July 1

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.

6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $225 ($200 early bird)
No prerequisites. 

MONDAY SESSION

Taught by Robin Hitchcock

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

MONDAY SESSION

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.

Session A: Sundays 6PM – 9PM
Session B: Tuesdays 6:30PM – 9:30PM
Registration $225 ($200 early bird)
No pre-requisite

SUNDAY SESSION

Taught by Tom Musial

TUESDAY SESSION

Taught by Suzanne Lawrence

Advanced Classes

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

MONDAY SESSION

Taught by Kevin O’Brien

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

WEDNESDAY SESSIONS

Two Sessions
Taught by Liz Labacz & Matt Solter

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

THURSDAY SESSION

Taught by Nick Jaramillo

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 $225 ($200 early bird)

TUESDAY SESSION

Taught by Sarah Wojdylak

Improv Electives

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

Deeper Scenework

In this four-week class, Advanced Scenework will push you into developing deeper relationships with your scene partner, focusing on different tools to enhance your emotional commitment, playing the truth of the moment, diving into specifics and playing patterns.

4-Week Class 
6:30 – 9:30
Registration $110
Requirements: Improv 102 or with teacher approval

 

THURSDAY SESSION

(Starts May 9)

Taught by Jethro Nolen

Coaching the Coach

Inspire, Lead, Communicate. An effective coach is all these things… and more. In this four week, three hour class, students will be both performing, receiving and learning to give player-specific notes. Through observation, discussion and hands-on experience, each participant will have opportunities to provide improv notes and get honest reciprocal feedback from fellow students about their notes’ effectiveness. We’ll work on strategies on how to better zero-in on individual player issues and various team issues. Gain confidence in side-coaching, delivering notes both in rehearsal and post-show. Includes discussion on how to structure a rehearsal, warm-ups, and treat improv coaching like the job that it is. Veteran improv coach, performer and educator Kristy Nolen brings over twenty years of experience to this unique and dynamic class where students will leave understanding more about coaching improv and have better understanding of your own improv skills.

4-Week Class *Starts June 6
6:30 – 9:30
Registration $110
Requirements: At least a year’s experience studying and performing improv, formal improv training/classes, participation on an improv team.

 

THURSDAY SESSION

(Starts June 6)

Taught by Kristy Nolen

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.