Teaching Pittsburgh Comedy for over 10 years!

Arcade Academy’s core curriculum

In July 2021, we released our revised Arcade Academy curriculum, with an emphasis on meeting students where they are in their “comedy journey.” Below, you’ll find the outline of our curriculum, which offers a structured approach to learning the skills of improv but also offers flexibility for everyone’s individual goals.

Please note: not every class is offered every session. For a current list of what’s being offered, visit the Arcade Academy homepage.

Improv Track

Improv 101: Foundations 

This class serves as an introduction to improv comedy for new students or a place for returning improvisors to revisit the foundations and fundamentals of the artform. Improv 101 is a great class for people hoping to work on their public speaking and communication skills, looking for a confidence boost, or just wanting to try a new fun activity.

Improv 102: Scenework

Once you’ve completed 101 and feel comfortable improvising on stage, Improv 102 gives you the opportunity to focus on the essentials of great scenework: establishing character, relationship, location, and all the details of a scene’s base reality. You’ll learn and practice these skills through exercises, short form and “medium-form” games, as well as a taste of longform improv through montages of scenes.

Improv 103: Game and Pattern

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.

Improv 201: Short Form Technique

After the 100-level classes, you’ll have the scenework and game skills you need to play short form games with precision and prowess. This class will teach you the mechanics of a wide selection of audience-pleasing short form games and give you the techniques to master them. Arcade Academy believes that short form improv gives improvisors the best training to be engaging performers who delight and entertain audiences in all of their comedic work!

Improv 202: Short Form Performance Lab

This class offers 4 weeks of additional training to finesse your short form performance, followed by 4 weeks of class shows so you can hone your skills in front of a live audience, getting the irreplaceable feedback of the laughter of a crowd. In addition to practicing more short form games, Improv 202 students learn the ins and outs of putting on a great improv show: creating setlists, hosting games, and working with audiences. 

Improv 301: Introduction to Longform – The Harold

This class focuses on the Harold, the gold standard of long-form improv. The Harold provides improvisors an opportunity to learn and practice all the basic building blocks commonly used in long-form improv: openings, edits, games, group scenes, and callbacks. This class will give you the tools to forge group mind and build a spontaneous and evocative piece of improvised theater.

Improv 302 Series: Longform Intensives 

These four-week classes each focus on a particular longform style. You’ll learn the methodology and mechanics of the form and practice performing it. You can take one, some, or all of these classes, in any order! Advanced experience with improv is required for these classes so the focus can be on the particulars of the form. 

Stand-up/Writing Track

Intro to Stand-Up

This class introduces students to the craft of Stand-Up Comedy, providing 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.

Intro to Sketch 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.

Arcade periodically offers other elective classes including Musical Improv, Comedic Acting, Coaching Improv, as well as online classes including Intro to TV Writing.