Arcade Academy

We've got more courses than a Thanksgiving dinner!

2015 Session Schedule:

Session 1: January 5 — March 1
Session 2: March 9 – May 3
Session 3: May 10 – July 18
Session 4: August 3 – October 4
Session 5: October 12 – December 13

Here’s what you need to know:

Arcade Academy sessions generally run eight-weeks. Our second session of classes includes Improv 101, Improv 102, Improv 201, Improv 301, and Intro to Sketch Writing.

If you’d like to register for a class, just click Register Online you’ll be taken to our Square online store. It’s a fast & secure way to register for classes online with your credit card.

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 the Internship option when registering for your class. Please note that there is a limited number of full and partial internships available, and that you’ll still need to be confirmed by our staff before being able to take the class. Don’t worry, it’s painless.

We ask that everyone be paid in full before the start of their first class. Classes start the week of March 9.

Tuition is non-refundable and non-transferrable.

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 707 Academy

Classes are held at either Arcade Comedy Theater (811 Liberty Ave) or at our educational space, The 707 Academy. It’s located a block from the theater at 707 Penn Avenue, on the second floor.

Interested in learning more about our upcoming Kids Improv classes?

Fill out this form and we’ll email you about kids improv classes starting soon at Arcade Comedy Theater! Don’t worry, your email address will only be used for this purpose.

Improv 101: The Basics

Mondays 6:30pm – 9:30pm @ Arcade Comedy Theater

This eight-week, three-hour class taught by Second City alum Kristy Nolen 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.
No prerequisites | Taught by Kristy Nolen | Registration $200

Register Online

Improv 102: Scene Work

Wednesdays 6:30pm – 9:30pm @ The 707 Academy

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.
Prerequisite: Improv 101 or a first-level improv class | Taught by Ben Mayer | Registration $200

Register Online

Improv 201: Intro to Short Form

Mondays 6:30 – 9:30pm @ The 707 Academy

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 perform in a 30-minute show during our Sunday Night Bonus Stage!
Prerequisite: Improv 101 & 102 | Taught by Abby Fudor | Registration $200

Register Online

Improv 302: Advanced Long Form

Thursdays 6:30 – 9:30pm @ The 707 Academy

Building on the tools introduced in Scene Work and the Harold, Advanced Long-form widens our students knowledge and experience with various advanced improv long-forms. In this class, we delve deeper into techniques and how each best applies to different forms. The forms explored will vary from class to class depending on each class’s interest and ability. Potential forms include: Monoscene, Deconstruction, La Ronde, the Movie, the Living Room, JTS Brown, The Bat, The Armando and more.
Prerequisite: Improv 101, 102 & 301 (Improv 201 strongly recommended) or with instructor approval | Taught by Jethro Nolen | Registration $200

Register Online

Intro to Sketch Writing

Tuesdays 7pm – 9:30pm @ The 707 Academy

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.
No prerequisite | Taught by Larry Phillis | Registration $200 (only partial-internships available)

Register Online


Improv 202: Advanced Short Form

Offered next session

Let’s take your short-form improv skills to the next level!  Though thoughtful and constructive teacher feedback, students will sharpen game-play and hosting skills, initiate memorable characters and environments, and elevate their onstage performance. This level starts with four classroom session and concludes with four performance opportunities*, where participants get detailed post-show notes and feedback, both as individuals and as an ensemble. *performances may fall on different evenings.
Prerequisite: Improv 101, 102 & 201 | Taught by Matt Hartman | Registration $200


Improv 301: The Harold

Offered next session

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.
Prerequisite: Improv 101 & 102  (Improv 201 strongly recommended) or with instructor approval  | Taught by Jethro Nolen | Registration $200

Intro to Stand-Up Comedy

Offered Next Term

This stand-up class will provide you with lots of ideas, exercises and techniques to help develop your writing, performing and critique of your own unique stage performance. Not everyone is a ‘Late Show’ jokester, not every one is a loud, charismatic performer, some of you are story tellers – we’ll find out what best suits you on stage and in your writing process. You won’t learn how to write jokes for your cousin’s wedding, be the life of the party or make business presentations hilarious – but we can discover how YOU can be funny on stage and create a stand-up performance from your own personality and experiences, whether you’re pursuing stand-up comedy as a hobby or as a career.
Prerequisite: None | Taught by Aaron Kleiber | Registration $200 (only partial-internships available) 

Sketch Writing 2: Techniques for Stronger Sketches

Offered Next Term

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.
Prerequisite: Intro to Sketch Writing | Taught by Larry Phillis | Registration $200 (only partial-internships available)

Improv for Kids


This eight-week course creates a supportive environment for kids to explore the basics of improv comedy. Through the use of imaginative games, students work on creative storytelling, building characters and teamwork.   Students build confidence as they discover how to be positive and take risks while sharpening their performance and public speaking skills. Class concludes with a “work-in-progress’ show for family and friends. Come discover the fun and excitement of improv and comedy! Recommended for ages 10-13.
Prerequisite: none | Taught by Beth Fogle | Registration $200 (no internships available)

 Intro to Music Improv

Offered Next Term

In this introductory class, we will start with the basic skills for improvising songs and build up to a class performance of a fully improvised musical. We will explore melody, song structure, lyrics, solos, duets, group numbers, backup support, rhythmic movement, character motivations, advancing narrative, and more. You will sing and dance in this class, but you don’t need to be a professional singer or dancer to participate. You just need to enjoy music and movement! The class will be taught by Brett Bavar, director and co-star of Your Life: The Musical.
Prerequisite: Improv 101 | Taught by Brett Bavar | Registration $200