I took Shawn Westfall's Harold Long Form class in 2004, and it remains one of the most effective and impactful learning experiences of my life. I was fresh off the collective effervescence of my first year with a "good improv team" and Shawn gave me the tools and structure to begin to understand why [italic] improv makes my brain buzz and how [italic] I could try to go about recreating that experience. This was vital when I returned to college and realized that group mind can be fleeting and has to be given careful attention.
Shawn's focus on showing real relationships on stage and his uncanny ability to get a group to coalesce through the sheer force of his enthusiasm created an environment where we had no choice but to raise to the occasion, to grow so fast that we got comedic shin splints.
In the years since, I have studied with improv teachers all over the country, including the world-famous iO Chicago. My time with Shawn remains the most, well, productive!
Shawn Westfall took a kid who was interested in improv because it was fun and transmogrified him into a Harold player, into someone who hunts for the gestalt supermoment. I'm still happily dealing with the repercussions."
Dan Mack is a SF Bay Area improvisor. He performs with the People's Republic of Improv and has taught improv to students of all ages, and for companies like Apple. He is most proud of teaching Harold to pre-teens with the Alameda Children's Musical Theater.
You're running a tight ship. Wonderful instructor (Shawn Westfall)
Thank you for all of the support. I have had the dream of doing stand-up since I was in high school but I didn't know how to go about it. Your comedy school makes dreams come true. I was very nervous before the show but I ended up having a good time. Chris is an amazing teacher who made everyone feel comfortable and that we had potential. He is also an amazing performer (my wife and I saw him perform last Saturday in Bethesda) and many of my friends said the same after the show. One of my favorite parts of the class is that I made so many new friends. Not one of the other 13 students had an attitude.
I plan to continue on with open mics soon and look forward to staying in touch and participating in your graduation performances.
Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to promote the program or DC Improv.
The class was very rewarding and structured in a way that was so helpful. it allowed everyone to keep moving forward in their own voice while gaining strength and confidence from the group. My set benefited directly form a couple of Chris's comments specifically and from some group suggestions as well!
"Great, thank you! I think it's a testament to what you and Shawn have done for improv in DC, that there are SO many improv troupes, now. It's definitely changed my life for the better. I can't wait for this class to start."
I can't thank you enough for offering folks like us this opportunity. Ever since I've started attending your classes and events my creativity has been reinvigorated. In addition, I'm doing things I would have never expected I'd do.
If there is anything I can do to support , in addition to continuing to take classes and attend events at the Improv, let me know."
"I took the Five Minutes to Funny class with Chris Coccia in June 2011. It was a great experience. I would recommend it to anyone interested in doing stand up. I had a couple months of stand up experience when the class started, but I still learned a lot. I ended the class with exactly what was promised, a solid five minute set that I can perform anytime I need to. I made a lot of friends that I am still in touch with. I became part of the DC Improv community. And the graduation performance was the best night of stand up that I've had so far and will probably remain that way for some time."
"I had always wanted to try stand-up and wish I had taken their stand-up class, "Five Minutes to Funny with Chris Coccia" years earlier. As a PR professional, it is very important to be confident in public speaking and in media interviews, so this helped me tremendously with that but it also is just so much fun. Since then I took the class "Writing for SNL" and that was way too fun to be legal. The DC Improv is very supportive and open, they do a great job and I cannot recommend these classes enough."
"Five or six years ago I signed up for a beginner's comedy class with Matt Kazam as a way of trying to conquer stage fright. The lessons I learned from that class are still within me today. For instance, I learned that people want you to do well. I learned I can adlib under stress! And I leaned that I like to perform on stage. The entire class transformed from day one being crass and 'mean' to a group of people truly striving to do their best. To this day I remain very proud that I conquered the fear of perfoming and brag to people that 'I have performed at the DC Improv; what have you done?' I love it!"
"I attended the June 2011 class of Five Minutes to Funny. I had been writing funny stuff for years but never had the motivation to put it together into a set. I tried for a couple of semesters to get into the class. When I finally did get in I couldn't wait for it to start. It was more than I had ever hoped it would be! Chris Coccia was our teacher. He is direct, a great coach, and funny to boot! His input and notes were right on and soooo helpful in tightening up our sets. The class input was invaluable as well. It was awesome having our classmates offering suggestions and supporting each other. I truly enjoyed the wide range of experience in our class. Some people had never been on a stage while others had quite a lot of experience with open mics, and there were those of us somewhere in between. Allyson is an excellent coordinator and principal. Our graduation showcase went so smooth and was such a rush! I knew getting up there in front of a live audience would be fun....but I never knew how much fun until that night! This class was the kick in the pants I needed to do what I'd dreamed of for a long time! Thanks Allyson, Chris and DC Improv for giving me this opportunity to live the dream!"
"I am a graduate of the DC Improv Class beginner class, advance class as well as the long form Harold Class. What started out as an idea to give Improv a shot turned out to be one of the best learning experiences of my life along with a lot of fun. Shawn and Allyson do a great job of organizing the class and shows. Shawn is a teacher that is funny and engaging but also demanding. His style makes you want to perform at your highest level in a way that is non threatening and encouraging. Improv is not easy nor is getting on stage in front of your peers/friends etc. However, with what I learned in class I was able to enjoy performing and become excited about being a part of some really memorable skits. Everything about the class is laughter and fun. From the warm up to the rehearsals to the practice it's all about learning and having a good time. I can recall leaving class and having my entire week be better from the boost of energy I'd get from performing with my classmates. It's pretty cool to experience new situations and learn not only more about comedy but about yourself and what you're capable of. It's great stuff."
"I took Improv Comedy 1 with Shawn Westfall in November-December 2004. That was actually my first exposure to performing improvisational comedy; two years later I joined the main stage team at ComedySportz DC where I've been performing ever since. People pay me money to be funny!"
"I took a FMtF class with Chris Coccia and loved it! There is nothing like being on a stage with the lights in your face and hearing people laugh! Chris is a great teacher - very supportive and helped me define a persona to create my act. It was so fun I took the second step - Five MORE Minutes to Funny. Since our graduation, I've launched a coaching business and am currently creating showcases for women. Whether you want to do stand-up or just take a comedic stand for something, this class is a blast. Go for it!"
"Pitchers of water. No, that isn't the name of my latest improv troupe, but one of the many small details that make improvising at the DC Improv Comedy School both fun and challenging. Each class provides an opportunity to socialize with your fellow classmates. Each class has an experienced teacher who is serious about the art of improvisation and will keep you up to date on the latest developments in the world of improvisation. And each class provides another challenge for expanding your improvisational skills. The Boot Camp and Harold classes I took with Shawn Westfall and the two day intensive I took with Ali Farahnakian were about learning improv and breaking down the barriers that might prevent you from doing your best improv. Throw in Allyson's ability at making each student feel like they belong to a community of artists (student performances, ticket deals, school parties, improv open mics), and you have a winning combination that makes any time spent at the DC Improv Comedy School time well spent."
About The DC Improv
Welcome to The DC Improv Comedy Club & Restaurant, the nation's No. 1 venue for all your comedy needs. We feature national touring headliners and local celebrities in two showrooms, while also serving as a full restaurant, a bar and a comedy school. The DC Improv launched in 1992, showcasing newcomers Ellen DeGeneres, Dave Chappelle and Brian Regan. Today, we continue to house the best talent in the business. We'll see you at the show!
Book your party at the DC Improv Comedy Club or hire a comedian for your private event -- the Improv is the perfect venue for any occasion. The club can be rented out as a unique environment for all types of events. A comedian from The DC Improv Talent & Management Agency makes a great addition to your special event.