Teaching Pittsburgh Comedy for over 10 years!

Academy Instructors

On stage and off, our teachers are experienced, welcoming, and very funny. Meet the instructors who are actively teaching our most recent or upcoming sessions.

Brittany Alexis

Brittany Alexis is an up and coming comic in the Pittsburgh comedy scene. She has performed on stages across the city including Burning Bridges Comedy Club, the Improv, Arcade Comedy Theater, and the Byham Theater and has opened for the likes of Franqi French. She began her comedy journey to become a better public speaker but fell in love with the craft. She is very excited to be teaching stand-up comedy and hopes that whether you’re taking this class to get over stage fright or tape your Netflix special, you learn a lot and have fun doing it!

Alex Conti

Alex Conti began doing improv in 2014 during her time at Penn State. UCB trained in New York, Alex was on several improv teams before moving back to Pittsburgh in 2020 where she currently performs with duo team Fondue for Two and house team Drew’s Dad. Alex loves to teach and is excited to get engaged with the Pittsburgh comedy student community!

Liz Labacz

Mindy Cooper

Mindy Cooper is a comedy-force-about-town. Since 2014, she has been in more than 27 sketch comedy shows, including performances in Laser Eyes: Star Wars Sketch Show, Stranded with Rangers: A Power Rangers Parody Show, Secondhand Sketch, and the Julia, Sarah & Mindy Experience. She also writes sketch and has a love for the writer’s room, which has led to projects like Looking for Parking, Write Night at Arcade, and Sketch Café. Beyond sketch, Mindy performs with pizza-obsessed improv troupe Well Known Strangers and is the Programming Coordinator at Arcade Comedy Theater. She has been in a variety of comedy festivals including Del Close Marathon, Sketch Fest in New York City, Chicago Improv Festival, Baltimore Improv Festival, and Big City Improv Festival in Toronto. Mindy has also brought her sense of humor and energy to immersive theater productions, with performances in Uncumber Theatrics’ Serpentine, Dead Letter Office at Bazaar, and Bricolage’s Grand Benedum Hotel micro-immersive.

Raina Deerwater

A relative newcomer to Pittsburgh, Raina Deerwater has been performing long form improv at Arcade since 2021. She studied at Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles where she performed on UCB team Rat King as well as indie team Ashley Quit. In Pittsburgh, Raina regularly coaches and performs on teams Fondue For Two, Barbara A Mother, and Arcade house team Grandpa.

Fred Frances

Fred Frances has been improvising since 2017. He is a Pittsburgh native and a product of the Arcade Academy. He has appeared at Arcade as a member of the house teams Joystick, World Class Track Meet, Snake, and Kill Screen, as well as the indie teams and duos SNACKS, Rucksack, Godson (with Drew Sieber), and No Cops (with Chris Laychak). During the pandemic, Fred produced and hosted Dial-Up for Arcade with his brother, Matty Frances. He’s also been seen as a frequent cast member for the shows Comedy Royale and You’re the Next Contestant,among others, and has appeared in numerous immersive theater productions for Bricolage Production Company, including the acclaimed DODO at the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History.

Fred is a visual artist and cartoonist, and posts an improvised comic strip every day on Twitter and Instagram.

Brian Gray

Matty Frances

Pittsburgh born and bred, an Arcade Academy alumni, and active comedian since 2017, Matty Frances is an absolute unit. Some of Matty’s career comedy highlights being a part of the 3x Best of the Burgh Winning Children’s Improv Troupe Penny Arcade, Former Arcade House Team Zero Suit, Producer and Host of The Award Winning Dial-Up Program during the pandemic (along with his brother Fred), Producer and Host of Date Night: An Intimate Evening of Improv (Shout out my current/former depending on when you read this roommate Drew Sieber), 2020 Comedy Royale Improv Madness finalist, Teaching Improv to Children as apart of the Outreach program and most importantly winning the “Funniest Son” Award 1992-Present.
Matty loves teaching and talking about comedy (improv especially) to anyone who will listen, and if that’s not your bag he also knows sports, digital marketing, superheroes, and some other b.s. he’s sure he’s forgetting. OH WAIT ONE LAST THI…
Brian Gray

Beth Geatches

Beth Geatches joined the Arcade community in 2016 after moving to Pittsburgh and has been improvising since 2001. She has trained with Arcade Comedy Theater, The Second City Training Center, and Houston ComedySportz. She has taught improv workshops for all ages in Tulsa, Edmond, Houston, and Pittsburgh–including the 2020 and 2021 Weekend Comedy Camp for teens at Arcade. She coaches the team Select Start, co-produces the variety show Nebby Neighbors, performs with the family-friendly improv show Penny Arcade, and has produced and/or performed in over 50 Arcade at Home Online Shows. Some of her favorite Arcade credits include JFLE Take Broadway, The Music of Leap Day, Live Read: Clue, and All Hallow’s Quarantine. Beth served as Arcade’s first Director of Development for two years. 

Prior to Pittsburgh, Beth performed with family-friendly troupe Crayons Improv for 5 years throughout Oklahoma, and in various improv and sketch shows at The Comedy Parlor. She served as Director of Heller Theatre Company’s Laughing Matter Improv and co-founded the University of Tulsa’s first improv troupe, Spiked Punch Lines Improv. Beth is a Carnegie Mellon University and University of Tulsa graduate and works at City Theatre.

Brian Gray

Greg Gillotti

Greg Gillotti has been alive since 1983 and performing improv in Pittsburgh since 2006. Greg has spent the last 10 years coaching, teaching, and running workshops helping improvisors of all levels of experience explore and enhance their craft. He was a founding staff member and the Director of Improv for the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival. He currently performs in Irony City, Hotel Nowhere, Iguanatron, and The Death Show.

Robin Hitchcock

Robin Hitchcock

After a decade as a semi-professional improv audience member and self-designated “unfunny friend”, Robin started writing comedy in 2010 to escape the drudgery and despair of law school. In 2011, she joined best friends Abby Fudor and Liz Labacz in forming all-female comedy troupe Frankly Scarlett, known for their Frankly Scarlett Comedy Hour variety shows and numerous other appearances at the Arcade and CLO Cabaret Theater, and participation in SWAN Day and other lady-celebrating events.Robin moved to Cape Town, South Africa in 2012 for her husband’s career in science. She continued to write sketches for Frankly Scarlett, and began studying improv at a weekly drop-in class taught by Mark Sykes. Robin became a regular Drop-In instructor in May 2013. At this time Robin also joined The Long Shots, a short-form and long-form troupe in Cape Town, and directed their show One Word Please for the 2014 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa’s preeminent fringe theatre festival. In 2014, Robin joined Improv Cape Town Director Jason Delplanque to create the Extra Butter Improv Jam, a monthly night of experimental comedy In early 2015, Robin wrote, directed, produced and performed in the sketch comedy show Mother City Sketch, which sold out its run at the Upstairs Theatre at Alexander Bar in Cape Town.Robin returned to Pittsburgh in spring of 2015, hopefully permanently. She and her husband are the two oldest people living in South Oakland.
Liz Labacz

Liz Labacz

Liz Labacz is a native of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh convert, who started improvising in 2001 at the long-running Friday Nite Improvs. She studied psychology and theater at the University of Pittsburgh and later earned a Masters degree in Public Policy and Management from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Her theater credits include Everything in the Garden (Pitt Rep), Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival (Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater)and Private Lives (Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theater). In addition to her day job at a large medical center which will go unnamed (but you could probably guess) and her work with Arcade, Liz is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Toast, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, the Hairpin, and xoJane. Liz is a founding member of Frankly Scarlett and currently improvises with Arcade teams Warp Zone and Player One. She was the coach of Arcade team 8-Bit from 2013-2017. Liz lives in Highland Park with her boyfriend, and they aren’t even home enough to have a dog, but would like to, one day.

Liz Labacz

Suzanne Lawrence

Suzanne Lawrence has performed all over the country and has been a featured performer in the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival (2016, 2018), the WDVE Comedy Festival (2017), and the Burning Bridges Festival (2016, 2017, 2018). She recently opened for Chris Kattan at the Pittsburgh Improv, and can be seen regularly at Arcade Comedy Theater, Club Cafe, Hambones, Slapsticks Comedy Clubs. A graduate of WVU (BFA Acting, MS Psychology), Suzanne then moved to Los Angeles with her husband and earned a number of acting jobs, including the coveted role of “office floozy” in a network pilot, before moving to Pittsburgh and diving into the world of stand-up comedy. Suzanne lives in Dormont with her husband, their three-year-old daughter, and various morbidly obese pets.

Liz Labacz

Kyle Longsdorf

Kyle is a 2010 graduate of Ohio University. He quickly put his degree in Recreation Management on the world’s highest shelf to collect dust forever. A Pittsburgh native, Kyle began his improv journey in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. Kyle performed with the Arcade team Warp Zone for 6 years, including a performance at the Chicago Improv Festival. Kyle has taken workshops with many improv notables across the country and continues his improv education to this day. He regularly coaches and is an instructor of Arcade’s “Improv Pop Up Night”. He can currently be seen performing with Arcade house team Power Surge at Bonus Stage on Sunday nights.  When Kyle is not on the stage he is figuring out ways to be on the stage.

Nick Jaramillo

Nick Jaramillo

Nick is a native Texan who has been improvising since 2008. Beginning in New York, he studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Magnet theaters under such greats as Amy Poehler, Zach Woods, Russ Armstrong, Jordan Klepper, Peter McNerney, Will Hines, and Curtis Gwinn. He has also taken workshops with Susan Messing, Christina Gausas, and Ian Roberts. He should probably mention that his incredible parents, Tommy and Karen, have taught him quite a bit too.

Since moving to Pittsburgh, Nick regularly performs on the Bonus Stage team, Kill Screen, and with his wife, Erica Sera, in their duo, Seramillo. He is also a regular on the monthly shows The Playlist, Arcade Hootenanny, and CMOA CrawlSpace. In addition, he has performed at the Del Close Marathon, Chicago Improv Festival, Boston Comedy Festival, District Improv Festival, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, and Hartford Improv Festival.

Nick has coached house teams and indie teams in New York and Pittsburgh and has taught workshops at the New Movement Theater in Austin and The Clinton School for Writers and Artists in NYC.

Working by day as a graphic designer, he has designed the books “How to be the Greatest Improviser on Earth” and “Improv Nonsense: All the Posts” both by Will Hines, not to mention more improv show posters than you can count.

In his spare time, he daydreams of owning a chihuahua named Michelangelo, traveling the world with his amazing wife and daughter, Erica & Elouise, and eating Tex-Mex for every meal.

Nick Jaramillo

Sara Kantner

Arcade Academy alum, Sara Kantner, has been making people laugh since 1988. She started her onstage comedy journey in 2015 and has performed for kids, anglophiles, and regular folks. A delightfully well-rounded comedian and person, Sara has performed with children’s improv troupe Penny Arcade, written and acted in sketch shows like Looking for Parking, and dabbled in the art of stand-up comedy. She frequently performs in long-form improv sets and has been a member of Arcade teams, Power Surge, Change Machine, World Class Track Meet, and Side Quest. She also coaches both short-form and long-form improv teams – bringing along a wealth of knowledge from the incredible teachers that she’s had along this journey. One of her comedy career highlights is teaching kids improv skills that can help them embrace the changes and challenges of life. She brings some of that childlike wonder to her character Trombone, a cult favorite.

Sara believes that improv can open anyone up to embracing mistakes and yes anding anything that comes your way. Her personal journey has benefited greatly from the tools that comedy has given her. In her spare time, Sara enjoys exploring mindfulness, paddleboarding, and listening to Steely Dan.
Nick Jaramillo

Tyler Ray Kendrick

What can be said about Tyler Ray Kendrick that hasn’t already been said about the Arby’s on McKnight road? For the last several years he has performed in all the major comedy markets in the US New York City, Los Angeles, and Bridgeville Pennsylvania. Mr. Tall, dark and grandson himself. He’s a lover and a fighter. A lover of Pho and a fighter for human rights. Just a real Gen X’er trapped in a millennial’s body. He was voted Best Comedian in  2022 Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best of the Burgh’.

Frank McDade

Frank McDade is a writer, producer, performer, puppeteer, and business guy with over a decade of bringing fun, creativity, and strategic ideas to the comedy world. In 2009, he started studying improv and sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC before moving to Chicago to study at iO and work in the marketing department for the B2B division of the famed comedy theater, The Second City. Frank has mastered both long-form and short-form improv, written many sketches for video and stage, dabbled in clowning but couldn’t master the pratfall, co-produced and wrote for a transmedia web series “I Made America”, completed two TV pilots that he swears he’ll submit to festivals one day, ran many creative corporate workshops, puppeteers in his puppet comedy group “Stranded with Strangers”, and is currently writing a near-finished book called Playtivity that demonstrates how improv comedy + toys + design thinking come together to impact business. Frank can currently be found performing, producing, coaching, writing, and teaching at Arcade Comedy Theater where he has helped bring many Sketchvilles and the recent Sketch Comedy Lab to life.

Larry Phillis

Renee Rabenold

Renee Rabenold has a BFA in Acting from Point Park University. She is also creative director of Vigilance Theater Group, an immersive theater company. She’s regularly performed at Arcade Comedy Theater with Irony City and Your Life: the Musical. Renee performed monoscene for several years with long running improv team Hotel Nowhere.

Liz Labacz

Matt Solter

A Pittsburgh native, Matt started studying improv in 2014. Since then, he’s felt very fortunate to learn from amazing instructors such as Susan Messing, Craig Cackowski, Rachael Mason, Bill Arnett, Rich Talarico, and Armando Diaz, as well as all the excellent instructors at Arcade Comedy Theater.  Matt has performed on various house and indie teams over the last several years, and is also the co-creator/producer of The Playlist, a show which blends long-form improv with live music. He’s performed at comedy festivals in New York City, Detroit, Columbus, Toronto, and Chicago.  He’s also done corporate shows for Arcade, both in and out of state. Aside from coaching for Arcade’s house team program, Matt has appeared in numerous scripted programming at Arcade, from live reads to sketch shows and everything in-between.  Additionally, he was the recipient of the “Outstanding Supporting Actor” award for his work in the 2019 Pittsburgh New Works Festival.  He’s always open to talking about rom-coms if you happen to run into him.
Liz Labacz

Scott Trampus

Scott has been involved with Arcade Comedy Theater since January 2014 when he took his first Improv Level 1 class and has been hooked ever since. Originally from Cleveland, Scott graduated from Miami University, where he was president of the Men’s Glee Club. His passion for music and comedy led to his involvement with the High Scores, Arcade’s Music Improv House Team. Scott is currently the Student Team Coordinator, a position he proudly took on because of his love of improv, class shows, and watching the artistic growth of members of this community.