It's important for students to grow by seeing experienced improvisers perform. All currently enrolled IC students can get free Student Rush tickets to weekly Saturday shows. Once you arrive at the theater, check in with the Box Office staff. Depending on show pre-sales, they'll have you remain standing or sit down in the student area until 5 minutes before the show begins. If the show doesn't sell out, you're in and can then sit where you'd like!
Paying audience members get priority seating, so if you REALLY want to see a show be sure to buy a ticket or volunteer.
Student Facebook Group
Keep abreast of relevant IC news at the Improv Cincinnati Academy Current and Former students Facebook Group. Have an announcement (improv-related or not)? We've got plenty of students who double as artists and philanthropists and have interesting info to share. Feel free to share it in the group!
Ongoing Community Events
Town Hall - Twice a year we host an event for the entire IC community. This is an opportunity update everyone on recent accomplishments, present projects, and future plans. We also recognize our volunteer SuperStars who have gone above and beyond for the theater. And we request feedback about what is going well and what could be better. These events are always well attended and the discussion is super helpful and super appreciated!
Monthly Mixer - The best way to improve at improv is to perform in front of an audience. The Mixer is an opportunity to do just that. Everyone who wants to participate puts their name in a mixer bowl. The host, Sean Dillon, pulls names out to determine who will play in what game. Sean takes special care to make each player feel as supported as possible. Not only will you gain additional performance reps (often with veteran improvisers!), you'll also get to meet other great members of the IC community. The Mixer is held the 4th Sunday of every month at Chameleon in Northside. Keep an eye on the Student Facebook group for Facebook events and exact start times.
Game Night - The second best way to get better at improv is to play board games! Ok, maybe not, but it's still a great to building friendships with other IC community members and students. Bring your favorite board games or just show up. Game Night is held the 2nd Sunday of every month at Chameleon in Northside. And check out the reoccurring Facebook event here. (Update: Game Night is presently on hiatus, but if you’d like to participate in the next one email us!)
Students who wish to retake a class they've already completed can do so for half the full class price (with permission). Students will not be eligible to retake if the registration is already full. To insure your space in the class, register at full price.
Referral Bonuses for Students
Want to help Improv Cincinnati? Tell someone about your experience with us! If you refer a friend who takes a class in a future round, you'll get $50 off a class of your choosing. And if you make a referral that results in a team building workshop or private show, you'll get 50% off a future class. Not too shabby! Contact us to take advantage.
See the Our Compass page. Important stuff!
Going out together after class
Like any team, connection and chemistry between performers leads to greater success. We foster connection between our class ensemble by going out together after class. Teachers have a tradition to join their students after the first class and after the penultimate (aka seventh) class, but we encourage you to go out with each other more often than that. Not only does this develop the ensemble, it's also a lot of fun. Please make sure to prioritize this tradition, even if you are only able to go out for a short while.
IC has ongoing community events all year round (see the Student Perks section), but did you know there are SPECIAL events? These include special annual Mixers, like the Outdoor Mixer - campsites! campfires! bring you dog! - the Halloween Costume Mixer - like a Secret Santa event, but here your “Santa” assigns you your Halloween costume - and the Winter Holiday Mixer - complete with White Elephant gift exchange. These community events are definitely not-to-be-missed!
Each class we celebrate each other’s fun/creative/clever choices and discoveries by giving kudos at the end of class. All core curriculum classes have a class showcase at the end to perform for friends and family, and to grow as improvisers!
The Student Path
Let's say you're a Level 1 student who has been bitten by the improv bug. What adventures await on your improv journey?
Improv 101: Improv Fundamentals - Learn "yes, and", listening, justification, discovery, and the rest! Play short-form games and have all the fun!
Improv 201: Theatricality - Focus on two-person scenes that are grounded and vulnerable. Learn techniques that can save any stalling scene. Realize that the funny comes when we aren't trying.
Improv 301: Characters & Status - Learn to generate full characters based on physicality, emotion, voices, and more. Understand and play around with the behaviors that make characters low or high status.
Improv 401: Game of the Scene - Upright Citizen Brigade's bread and butter. Learn about "game", the unusual or absurd thing, of a scene, and how it can be heightened and explored. Experience how simple patterns are so effective at tickling audience funny bones.
Improv 501: The Harold - Behold, improv's most famous long-form format, The Harold. You'll learn it all - Openers, Beats, Group Games, Runs! Create a dynamic ensemble and perform your own Harold in the class showcase.
Electives: Each round Improv Cincinnati offers one or two class electives. These are usually open to all students who have completed Level 1, though check class requirements to be sure. Typically, students who take both an Elective AND a Core Curriculum class can receive a discount.
Special Missions Teams: You've completed the Core Curriculum and you're ready for more? Audition for a Student Team. Student Teams are ensembles that rehearse weekly with a designated coach. You'll work together to create your improv format and perform at least twice at designated Student Shows.
Become an Improv Cincinnati Performer: Periodically IC will hold auditions to join House Teams or Main Stage shows (Hot Mic, Veracity). We recommend all students audition, whether they're feeling confident or not. The fact is, auditioning can be scary. Facing that fear will help expand your comfort zone and make you better prepared for future auditions.
“How can I improve outside of class?”
1) Spend time with your fellow improvisers.
Just like any team, group chemistry is determined by how well you know one another. So spend time together! Go out for a drink after class. Attend Mixers/Game Nights together. Some class groups have even scheduled rehearsals outside of regular class times. Anything you can do to socialize together will ultimately benefit the class showcase and, more importantly, your group's cohesion.
Improv Cincinnati has a warm and welcoming community, so become part of it! Say hi to students in other classes at the bar, attend Mixers and Game Nights, volunteer at shows, become a part of jump teams. There's a ton you can do to get involved, and you won't regret it!
2) See improv shows.
Seeing improv shows will expose you to a variety of improv skill levels, formats, and creative options! You'll realize how often silence is employed, the difference between invention and discovery, and that even the best improvisers fail (just another reminder that it's OK for you to fail too!).
3a) Learn! Read books: Below are some books we recommend.
Most practical book for new improvisers: Improvise by Mick Napier
Jon and Colin's favorite books for improvisers who have at least a year of experience:
How to be the Greatest Improviser on Earth by Will Hines - Easy to read, extremely useful, and packed with great examples. One of our absolute favorites.
Behind the Scenes by Mick Napier - For those who enjoyed Improvise (see above), more solid tips from Mick Napier.
Upright Citizen Brigade's Comedy Improvisation Manual - Game is SUPER heady, but if that’s your jam this is where to start.
Impro by Keith Johnstone - 4 big sections. The first three are neat and helpful. The last one is tripppppy!
Truth in Comedy by Charna Halpern - Absolute classic, but be mindful: the writing and applicability is lacking.
An incredible and fascinating account of the history of Improv: Improv Nation
3b) Learn! Listen to podcasts:
Improv Beat by Beat - Each episode focuses on one aspect of Improv and is explored through one-on-one interviews with performers.
IRC podcast - Kevin Mullaney interviews improvisors to find out what exercises and techniques they use in their improv comedy rehearsals and classes.
The Backline - Canadian Comedy Award winners Rob Norman and Adam Cawley discuss weekly improv-based topics based on a theme
Improv Nerd - Chicago Improviser Jimmy Carrane interviews other imrprovisers.
Improv Noise - Brad Kula and Stefan Schuette talk shop and improvise with some of the best improvisers from across the country.
UCB’s Long Form Conversations - Now in its fourth incarnation, this podcast is a LaRonde, where the guest of episode 1 becomes the host of episode 2, the guest of episode 2 becomes the host of episode 3, and on, and on, and on. Sporadically, we also present “Palate Cleansers”, where UCB teachers and staff present official UCB news/updates, and offer experimental one-off episodes.
Improv Obsession - Stephen Perlstein brings you new guests from the improvisation community to have an enlightening talk about improv comedy.
Improv Yak - Los Angeles improviser and teacher Carla Cackowski interviews veterans of the improv scene, including Cincinnati’s own Kat Smith and Kevin Crowley.
For entertainment: (Note: These aren’t necessarily IC’s “style”, but they’re still helpful to get ideas of what’s possible in a scene)
Mission to Zyxx - Each episode features a special guest comedian who plays an inhabitant of the Zyxx Quadrant unlucky enough to encounter our crew. Episodes are fully improvised, then lovingly edited and sound designed.
Hello From the Magic Tavern - Arnie fell through a magical dimensional portal behind a Burger King in Chicago and found himself in a strange magical land called “Foon.” He still somehow is getting a weak wi-fi signal from the Burger King so he hosts a weekly podcast from the tavern the Vermilion Minotaur, interviewing monsters, wizards and adventurers.
Harmontown - Dan Harmon, creator of Community, Rick & Morty, Channel 101, and Jeff Davis from Whose Line Is It Anyway interview celebrities and guests.
With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus - Veteran improviser Lauren Lapkus is always the guest on this improvised podcast. Each week, one of her funny friends “hosts” and interviews Lauren’s new character.
Off Book: The Improvised Musical Podcast - Each episode, Jessica McKenna, Zach Reino and a special guest create a new musical on the spot.
Improv4Humans - UCB co-founder Matt Besser and guests perform fully improvised scenes.
Superego - The “doctors” of Superego explore the pathologies of absurd characters
4) Play with improv-based board games and toys
Rory's Story Cubes - a fun, simple way to start work off random suggestions. The nine cubes have pictures on each side. Roll them and use the pictures to tell a story. It's a great way to work on, ahem, rolling with whatever emerges - just like on an improv stage. Jon is a big fan of the classic red box version, but they make all sorts of bundles now...
Improv Against Normality - Not in wide scale production at the time of this update. The game assigns key elements of a scene (character, location, activity, want, etc) allowing the players to then play them live. It’s basically improv with training wheels. Looks fun!
5) Follow the below tips for when you’re IN class.
Tips for Class
These tips will help ensure you have the most positive experience you can!
In improv, failure is celebrated - so fail early and fail often! Try every single game and exercise you can.
Keep it Classy
'Nuff said. (Please see the Super Important section at the bottom of this page in the event you ever encounter a problem with someone else.)
If it's your goal to one day perform for Improv Cincinnati, taking notes is encouraged - *unless you're in Level 1 Improv Fundamentals, in which case just focus on having fun!
Improv Cincinnati is a small business that is sustained by the help of volunteers like you. The primary way to volunteer is to help out at shows. There are two primary show roles, Box Office and Bartending. Box Office means you welcome audience members and sell tickets. Bartending means you give audience members drinks - beer or wine - at the bar. (There's no mixing cocktails). Plus it means you get definitely get to see the show for free! We always need volunteers, so if this is something that interests you please sign up here. Questions? Contact our House Managers, Cait Riley and Erica Bauman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We've also got some Jump Teams that can definitely use your help! If you'd like to learn more or be involved with any of these, please reach out to email@example.com!
Northside 4th of July Parade
Website Face Lift
Marketing Upgrade and Outreach
Cincinnati Sketch Show
Have a Challenge or Need to Report Something?
Hey, we're all human (except for Sean Dillon, who is part cyborg). Problems are rare, but they do happen. If you ever have a problem with another student, please first try to address it with that student directly if you feel comfortable. If this isn't an option or if that doesn't resolve it, your next step is to talk with your teacher or coach. If that isn't an option (or if your problem is with your teacher/coach), you are encouraged to come to Jon or Colin. Conversely, IC has a couple Community Advocates who can bring the issue to Jon/Colin while maintaining your anonymity. These include: