Thinking/Speaking on My Feet
September 8, 2006 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Good improv classes/courses/teachers in Los Angeles?

I looking to take an improv class to improve social and speaking skills. In the land of acting coaches and classes, does anyone have good recommendations/experiences. I know of the Groundlings, etc. but I am looking for a class that is a little less comedy oriented, if there is such a thing.
posted by goalyeehah to Education (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here are some of my experiences at improv schools in the area. This may be way more information than you wanted, but one never knows.


Improv Olympic (IO West): This is where I took my first improv classes. The main training program is a little over a year long. It has six levels, with student shows during levels 4 & 5, and two months of grad shows after completion of level 6. This program is very good. My teachers always emphasized the importance of not trying to be funny or clever, supporting your partner(s), finding the core of the scene etc. Dave Hill is a great instructor, as are Karen Graci, Craig Cackowski and Eric Hunnicutt.

Second City: I've taken a few classes here, but I've not yet been through the main training program. They do offer Intro to Improv and Improv for Actors (description below previous link target) as classes, and I've heard those are both pretty good. Dave Razowsky (one of the directors of the theater) is an absolutely amazing teacher, and if you manage to snag a class with him, he will blow your mind and change your life.

bang. studio: I haven't taken any classes here, but I have several friends who have, and they all say great things about it. bang. is a bit different from IO and SC in that you stay with the same group of people throughout your time at the school, building a real team in the process. bang. also seems to be more focused on improv as an art form rather than a vehicle for comedy, so that might be good for you.

The Groundlings: I know you already mentioned Groundlings, but I figured I'd pass along my (brief) experience with them. I auditioned for their professional training program and was accepted, though I never took any classes there. The audition is set up as a mini-class, with about ten people total. On the whole, Groundlings seems to be VERY character- and individual-focused, and they train people to be (or try to be) funny. A friend of mine who is a casting director says that she can always tell a Groundlings person almost from the moment they walk into an audition; they dominate the scene, often to the exclusion of the other person. I may still take classes here one day, but it's definitely not a priority.


I've also been re-reading my copy of Impro recently, and the author doesn't really talk about traditional comedy at all. He mainly stresses the importance of unblocking the creative mind, and taking everything that comes out of your head and treating it as equally valid. It's a great book, and I highly recommend it if you haven't read it.
posted by Shecky at 10:52 AM on September 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

a friend of mine has started a podcast about improv (primarily in LA) at In addition to the theatres listed above, they also talk about taking classes at the new-to-LA Upright Citizens' Brigade.
posted by thebigpoop at 7:59 PM on September 8, 2006

I also recommend the UCB Theatre in L.A. They opened more recently (June '05) and their focus is more in "finding the game" which isn't necessarily less comedy oriented, but it certainly hones your listening skills and awareness. I enjoyed the level one taught by John Bowie a lot, since he's very supportive and knows his stuff.
posted by ambulance blues at 6:18 PM on September 9, 2006

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