Course Catalog | DC IMPROV | Comedy Club, Restaurant, Bar, School N.W. Washington D.C.

Comedy School Course Catalog

Below is a list of the classes offered on a regular basis at our comedy school. If a class that you're interested in isn't currently on our calendar, get on our wait list! We'll keep your e-mail address on file, and we'll notify you as soon as we plan to offer the course again.

WAIT LIST POLICY: If you'd like to be placed on the wait list for any class, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and specify the course in the subject line. Please note all classes are 18 and over, and once you make a tuition payment there are no refunds, exchanges or cancellations. The wait list is done via e-mail, and once a class is announced via e-mail, the first people to pay in full get into the course. Payment must be made online, with a credit card. If you miss out on registering and you’d like to continue to stay on the wait list, you must e-mail that request to the Improv. You are not automatically enrolled into the wait list for the next announcement unless you request it.

Beginning Improv


Learn basic improv skills and short form games, with an emphasis on teamwork, creative thinking and having a good time.

  • Instructors: Chris Ulrich or Anna Bethel
  • Meets once a week for five sessions (150-minute classes) or six sessions (120-minute classes).

"Level 2" Improv Classes


Level 2 Improv. Students will focus on making powerful choices at the top of the scene and how building fun and dynamic characters will enhance their overall experience. Through short-form scene work and games, students will explore how physicality, object work and interacting with their environment can inform the scene and set them up for success.

  • Instructor: Chris Ulrich
  • Meets once a week for five sessions (150-minute classes).
  • Concludes with a graduation performance at the DC Improv.
  • Prerequisite: Beginning Improv or permission of the instructor and principal.

Short Form: Characters & Emotions. This course builds on the skills learned in Beginning Improv to develop characters through emotion. Specific characters grounded in strong emotions are why we care about a scene. Expanding off the "Yes and..." foundation, students will learn how to engage with each other while creating interesting characters who interact with each other in meaningful ways.

  • Instructor: Anna Bethel
  • Meets once a week for five sessions (150-minute classes).
  • Concludes with a graduation performance at the DC Improv.
  • Prerequisite: Beginning Improv or permission of the instructor and principal.

Advanced Improv Classes


Advancing the Scene Workshop. Builds on the skills of "yes and," active listening, observation, structure, and support to expand how we approach scenes and play at the top of our intelligence. We will focus on bringing presence into scenes, finding the funny or game within the scene, honing characters and relationships.

  • Instructor: Chris Ulrich
  • Meets once a week for five sessions (150-minute classes) or six sessions (120-minute classes).
  • Prerequisite: Level 1 and 2 courses, or permission of the instructor and principal.

Short Form: Relationships & Story. This course fine-tunes skills learned in Beginning Improv, as well as the character development emphasized in the "Characters and Emotions" class. Students will learn short-form improvisational games and exercises that harness the skills of listening, making strong choices, acceptance and other improv fundamentals. All this helps create interesting narratives which allow for engrossing character interactions.

  • Instructor: Anna Bethel
  • Meets once a week for five sessions (150-minute classes).
  • Concludes with a graduation performance at the DC Improv.
  • Prerequisite: One Level 2 course or permission of the instructor and principal.

Reading the Room Workshop. In improv comedy the audience is the biggest uncontrollable factor a performer faces. Explore the skill of "reading a room" in order to harness the admiration of the audience. Students will work together in exercises to improve spontaneous mental recall and learn how to perform and moderate short-form improv games. The result of quick thinking and reacting will give a performer the confidence to face any crowd.

  • Instructor: Anna Bethel
  • Meets once a week for five sessions (150-minute classes).
  • Prerequisite: One Level 2 course or permission of the instructor and principal.

Introduction to the Harold. This class focuses on the creation of the long-form improv style developed by Del Close. With particular attention to recognizing organic opportunities in the moment, students will learn how to create believable characters, discover themes, and make scenic connections in the moment. Students will learn to explore the signature elements (openings, scenic beats, edits, character pulls, group games) that bring together this dynamic structure.

  • Instructor: Chris Ulrich
  • Meets once a week for five sessions (150-minute classes).
  • Concludes with a graduation performance at the DC Improv.
  • Prerequisite: One Level 2 course or permission of the instructor and principal.

Advancing the Harold. Building on "Intro to the Harold," this class delves deeper into the Harold structure. We'll be playing with new openings, deeper scene connections and building trust to organically discover theme- and game-based 3rd beats. Also, it focuses intensely on mapping, acting, editing, creating multiple storylines and deepening group mind. The class is an opportunity for improvisors to express themselves, continue to hone their Improv skills and deepen trust within the ensemble in order to create a dynamic long-form piece.

  • Instructor: Chris Ulrich
  • Meets once a week for five or six sessions (150-minute classes).
  • Concludes with a graduation performance at the DC Improv.
  • Prerequisite: Introduction to the Harold class or equivalent Harold training.

Stand-Up Classes


Five Minutes to Funny. Through hands-on training, you'll learn how to prepare, polish and perform a five-minute stand-up comedy set. A tight, funny, five-minute set can carry you through a comedy career from start to stardom. It can be your open stage set, it can be your audition set and it can be your spot on any number of late-night shows. Lots of people have dreamed about giving stand-up comedy a try. This class gives you the structured environment that will finally get you on stage.

  • Instructor: Chris Coccia
  • Meets once a week for four sessions (210-minute classes).
  • Concludes with a graduation performance at the DC Improv.


Level 2 Stand-Up. For grads of our Five Minutes to Funny, or relatively new comics trying to strengthen their sets and break into the scene. In this four-week program we'll dig deeper into your 5-minute set; work on strategies to hone it; and create new material based off it. Classes will also focus on joke-writing techniques, how to get booked, and the unsung secret to comedy success: becoming a sought-after host.

  • Instructor: Rahmein Mostafavi
  • Meets once a week for four sessions (180-minute classes).
  • Concludes with a graduation performance at the DC Improv.
  • Prerequisite: Five Minutes to Funny or six months of open mic experience.

Sketch Classes


Please note: Some sketch classes are taught by special guest instructors and are usually offered on an annual basis.


Intro to Sketch Comedy with Bad Medicine. A beginner's guide to sketch comedy that will take you from a premise to a fully realized sketch in one afternoon. This course will walk you briefly through the history of sketch comedy and how to write good sketches. You'll be invited to brainstorm a few ideas for sketches, "pitch" them to your classmates, set about writing and finessing your final idea, and perform a read-through. You'll walk away with a solid grounding in the foundations of sketch comedy, as well as the knowledge of how to craft and write sketches of your own. Your instructors for the course come from Bad Medicine, DC's premier sketch comedy troupe!

  • Instructors: Members of Bad Medicine
  • One-day class (6 hours + 1 hour lunch break)
  • Limited to 16 people.


Sketch Comedy: Page to Stage with Bad Medicine. Turn your comedy writing into a comedy show! This class will help you take one of your sketches from the page to the stage -- and give you the tools to make any sketch stage-ready. We'll cover techniques like editing with live performance in mind, finding the jokes not on the page and casting considerations. Plus, we'll workshop each sketch in groups so you can see the myriad ways that your sketch can be realized. [Prerequisite: Students must bring a pre-written sketch to class. Your instructors for the course come from Bad Medicine, DC's premier sketch comedy troupe!

  • Instructors: Members of Bad Medicine
  • One-day class (6 hours + 1 hour lunch break)
  • Limited to 16 people.


SNL Sketch Writing. This two-day workshop is for anyone who has thought about writing sketch comedy for stage or television. If you've got the ideas and want to know how to build a sketch, this class is for you. This class will demystify what an SNL sketch looks like, what a "packet" for SNL or other sketch shows consists of and what "readers" are looking for in a packet. The class will focus on a commercial parody for the first day (which you will bring to the first class) and a two-person, five-page page sketch for the second day. As one of the only former SNL writers teaching in the country, Ali Farahnakian will give you a clear, concise point of view of someone who has been in the belly of the beast.

  • Instructor: Ali Farahnakian of the Peoples Improv Theater
  • Two 3-hour sessions on consecutive days
  • Limited to 12 people per section.


Sketch Workshop with Kevin McDonald. Spend two days working and learning with Kevin McDonald, a co-founder of the legendary sketch troupe "The Kids in the Hall." Kevin will help you and your classmates write, rehearse and perform sketch comedy.

  • Instructor: Kevin McDonald
  • Two-day weekend workshop (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day with one-hour lunch breaks)