Ever sit through a comedy show and want to jump up onstage and join in the fun? With a little help from classes, offered by some of the same places where you may enjoy improvisation and sketch, you can.
At the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, you can follow your improv or sketch comedy dreams, or have a cool new hobby, thanks to a four-course core improv program that starts with the basics and builds to the long-form improv known as Harold, a series of connected scenes inspired by a single suggestion that'll have you thinking quickly on your feet. Each course culminates in a graduation show, where instead of walking down the aisle, you take what you learned and perform for family and friends as a group.
Improv not your scene? UCB also has a two-course sketch comedy program, where you can learn to write short, comedic scenes in a variety of formats with other writers. The theater also offers opportunity for advanced study, including master class courses, performance courses, and courses for those with a very specific goal, such as writing a one person show and writing in the style of Saturday Night Life.
Classes are taught by UCB performers and cost $175 for four-week courses $325 for eight-week courses. For a look at what's being offered currently, click here.
Nearby, the Magnet Theater provides improv classes, including the Harold form, beginning with the basics and working up to the fourth level - a senior project that focuses on one form for eight weeks, culminating in a four-week run of shows.
If you're not sure if improv's for you, the theater regularly offers a free intro to improv course. If it clicks, you can dive right in. Most courses are $299 for eight weeks and are taught by Magnet performers. For a full look at what's offered currently, click here.
Also in the neighborhood, the People's Improv Theatre provides improv and sketch writing classes for budding comedians.
Start at the intro level and work your way up to scenework, longform and advanced levels. Classes in musical improv, characters, sitcom writing and writing for SNL are also available.
Classes are taught by PIT performers and cost $150 for four-week courses and $325 for eight-week courses. For a look at what's being offered currently, click here.
Beyond theaters providing classes, New York also has its own comedy school. The American Comedy Institute provides classes in comedy writing and performing, including stand-up.
For the more serious student who's looking for a career, not just a hobby, the school offers a one-year professional program Though the institute lacks a public stage, students are provided the opportunity to perform at such comedy joints as Gotham Comedy Club.
Tuition is $450 for the stand-up workshop, which runs three-and-a-half weeks. The professional program runs September to April and costs $7,750. So before you sign up for that, you might want to try a free intro class.
Why? Enjoy a neat new hobby and put your comedic chops to the test
Where:UCB - 307 W. 26th St. between Eighth and Ninth avenues; Magnet - 254 W. 29th St. between Eighth and Ninth avenues; PIT - 154 W. 29th St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues; American Comedy Institute - 481 Eighth Ave. between 34th and 35th streets