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Choosing An Improv Class

Cartoon explaining the difference between knowledge and experience.

Editor's’ Note: This week we are happy to bring you a second repost from the CSz Sacramento Blog - "All Things Improv...And More! "A special shout out to Chris Crotty for allowing us to share his insights from "I Promise It's Not A Shameful Plug: Choosing An Improv Class" . Chris has been performing since 1995. He has also been a member of ComedySportz® San Diego (now the National Comedy Theater) and CSz San Jose. Check out our Education/Classes section for upcoming Sampler and Adult classes.

Wait, don’t run! I promise this entry is not an advertisement about why our improv classes are better than the alternatives. In fact, I will agree that in some cases certain students might be better off with improv classes offered elsewhere. Instead, this article describes some of the key factors a student should consider when choosing an improv class. The unfortunate fact is that anyone, regardless of experience and qualifications (both improv and teaching) can call herself or himself an improv instructor, rent a room, and offer so-called improv classes. But as the Romans were fond of saying: caveat emptor (buyer beware). So here are some of the key factors a student should consider.

Improv Experience. How long has the instructor been performing improv? What types and styles? Is she active now? When was the last time he performed? And if an instructor lists experience with a particular theater, you might want to double check how long that person actually performed at the theater. Some people will pad their resume by joining a group for just a few months before moving onto another project.


Teaching Experience. Is this the instructor’s first time teaching, or has he been teaching for 10 years? Does the instructor have any other teaching experience such as leading Applied Improvisation workshops or working in schools? There are differences between doing improv and teaching improv.

Focus. Does the class focus on a specific style or does it cover fundamentals applicable to any form of improv? Don’t assume that the class is geared towards the main show offered at the theater. For example, CSz Sacramento’s main show, ComedySportz®, is so-called short form or games based improv. But our Beginner Class covers improv fundamentals and introduces several types of improv, not just short form or games. Another consideration: Is the class focused on a specific segment, e.g., actors, improvisers, or everyday people interested in adding a fun, useful life skill? Some one-off classes also focus on specific skills, styles, or forms. These specialized events can be especially useful to students seeking to fill out his or her improv education.

Class Size. Bigger classes offer the advantages of meeting more friend and playing with a diverse set of people. Smaller classes offer the advantage of more individual attention and coaching.

Price. Most improv classes cost between $10-$20 per hour. Classes are typically 2 hours long and organized into 6-8 week sessions. Ask if you’re allowed to make up missed classes during a future session in case you get sick or have work conflicts. If you’re financially challenged, ask if the theater offers any work-study or scholarships for members of underserved and underrepresented communities (CSz Sacramento does, for example). If you are really broke, consider drop-in classes or jams often offered by theaters in any given city.

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