Improv Training Center
Level 1: Introduction to Improv
In this class you are introduced to all the fundamental skills of improvising, while improving your ability to listen and explore the power of building off of other people’s ideas. Level 1 is a survey of the entire program, exposing you to the elements of scene work and the various skills involved in creating well-acted, comedic improvisation.
Passing Criteria: Students must demonstrate that their listening has improved over the course of the term and that they are willing to build off of their partners’ ideas, in addition to having gained some proficiency with the technical aspects of actually doing so on stage. Attendance at 5 of 7 of your scheduled classes, regardless of make-ups.
Level 1: Introduction to Improv (2 Week Intensive)
A two-week intensive option encompassing all of the material covered in Level 1.
Class meets seven times for 3.5 hours per class.
Level 2: Character & Game
With the basics of listening and building off of other people’s ideas under your belt, you will now go far deeper into all aspects of creating and playing characters founded in strong points of view. You will learn how to identify, create and play comedic games in your scenes, as we break down the elements of a comedic improv scene, demystifying what goes into making a scene funny and its comedic characters believable. Passing this level qualifies you to move on to Level 3 of our Improv Training program, as well as take any classes in our Industry Improv program.
Passing Criteria: Students must be able to consistently create believable characters with clear points of view, consistently identify the game of the scene and have gained proficiency in creating and playing games over the course of the scene. Attendance at 5 of 7 classes on your day, regardless of make-ups.
Level 3: Intro to Harold
You will learn all of the elements of the long form piece iO was founded on, The Harold, including openings, beat structure, non-scenic group games, organic group work, advanced support moves, and how to use variety and texture to create a show that explores an idea that the group creates together. This level includes four performances on one of the iO stages.
Passing Criteria: Students must demonstrate an ability to create and execute all of the elements of a Harold: openings, beat structure, non-scenic elements, editing/pacing, and variety and texture. Attendance at 5 of 7 of your scheduled classes, regardless of make-ups, and attendance at 1 of the 2 shows.
Level 4: Advanced Scene Work
Based on solid acting, character work and scenic game play, this level aims to vault you forward to high degrees of proficiency and consistency in all aspects of your scene work, building up the necessary skills to not just create rich comedic scenes that stand alone, but that can also serve as the main substance of a long form piece.
Passing Criteria: Demonstrate proficiency with advanced techniques for creating and playing characters and identifying and playing games in scenes. Students must be able to consistently perform scenes with believable characters, execute comedic games and focus on what is going on between the characters on stage in the moment that we are watching them. Attendance at 5 of 7 of your scheduled classes, regardless of make-ups.
Level 5: Advanced Harold
Armed with the ability to execute all of the elements of a Harold, you will now learn how to improvise the structure of your shows, leading to wildly inventive pieces that challenge you to express yourself to the fullest extent of your creativity, and help that creativity evolve. This level includes four performances on one of the iO stages.
Passing Criteria: Students must demonstrate an ability to navigate all of the elements of a Harold when those elements are not in a training wheels structure. Students must have demonstrated an ability to make choices within a show to drive it structurally using the various elements at their disposal from Level 5. Attendance at 5 of 7 of your scheduled classes and attendance at 3 of the 4 shows.
Level 6: Forms
This class looks at other advanced types of long-form improvisation such as the Armando, the Bat, the Slacker, the Living Room and more.
Level 7: Graduate Level - Creating Your Own Show
In this final level, the teacher takes on the role of director, working with you and your classmates to help you create a show based on your very own improv form. This level includes four performances on one of the iO stages and all shows will be considered for longer runs upon their completion.
Passing Criteria: Attendance at 5 of 7 your scheduled classes and attendance at 3 of the 4 shows.
Sketch Writing Program
Intro To Sketch (7 Weeks)
This class teaches the basics of sketch writing. What makes the premise of your sketch funny? Learn heightening and writing efficiently in your scenes. Different types of sketches will be introduced as will rewriting sketches, and writing with others. There will be home-work assignments each week. No prerequisite to start this class
Sketch Writing Level 2 (7 Weeks)
Students will build on the skills learned in Sketch 1 to generate material for stage and television. Notes from the instructor will become more specific and focused on producing professional sketches. The final weeks of class will focus on writing for Saturday Night Live and Television Talk shows like Conan and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Improv to Sketch (4 Week Elective)
Are you an improviser curious to try sketch comedy? Improv to Sketch will teach you how to take ideas generated from improvised scenes and turn them into sketches! IO West training center director George McAuliffe will take you through a process used with his main stage team Duke. The first two weeks, students will be led through a variety of iO West improv exercises to generate ideas and concepts for sketches. Students will have writing assignments each week and in the final 2 classes will read scripts, rewrite, re-improvise and block the scenes for a performance on the iO West Main Stage!
Television Writing Program
Intro to Television Comedy Writing (7 Weeks)
This class is recommended for anyone just getting started in television writing. Students will be instructed in the basics of how to write both a spec script and a pilot script, forming a strong foundation for writing half-hour television comedies. The instructor brings years of professional experience to the table in guiding students to attain a better understanding of story, character, process, structure, and pitching -- all elements critical to success in the field of television writing. The goal of this class is to get students to write either a spec script outline or a pilot pitch that they can write and workshop in Intermediate Television Comedy Writing. Class Taught by Ed Lee.
Intermediate Pilot and Spec (7 Weeks)
This second in a series of three, INTERMEDIATE PILOT & SPEC writing is recommended for graduates of the first class OR students who have a general knowledge and structure of script writing (meaning you’ve written at least one or two specs) and you’re looking to hone your abilities and learn the skills that will help you deliver a script head and tails above the rest. Taught by a seasoned sitcom veteran who has written hundreds of hours of television as well as sold over a half dozen original pilots to such networks as HBO, FOX, and DISNEY, this seven-week course focuses entirely teaching tricks of the trade to bring your skill set to a network level. With a strong emphasis in story and character, this course is designed to push writers from neophyte to professional. Whether you’re looking to start a brand new spec or punch up the one you’ve been working on forever but never managed to finish, this class will provide a “writer’s room” atmosphere to create a strong collaboration and support for your original work. Whether you’re looking to create your own original pilot or craft a spec to help you get into one of the studios various writers’ workshops or fellowships, this intermediate series is a MUST to learn what it takes to take a script from good to GREAT. The goal for every student in this INTERMEDIATE course is to deliver a workable FIRST DRAFT by the end of the seven weeks.
Advanced Pilot & Spec: Rewrite, Punch & Polish (7 Weeks)
This third in the series, the ADVANCED class is recommended for graduates of the first series or students who have a general knowledge and structure of script writing (meaning you’ve written at least one or two specs on your own), and you’re looking to take your finished product to the next level. Taught by a seasoned veteran who has written hundreds of hours of television as well as sold over a half dozen original pilots to networks including HBO, FOX, and DISNEY, this seven-week course focuses entirely on the REWRITE process with an emphasis in the punch and polish. This seven-week course provides the students a “writer’s room” atmosphere to create a strong collaboration and support for your original work. Students are given the opportunity to table their scripts with the class so they can hear their material read out loud and illuminate the writer to what works – and what doesn’t. In this advanced series, writers are given tips, suggestions and tricks to help make their material rise above the competition. Geared for student writers ready to make their mark, whether it’s to create a piece of material that will get agents and managers to take notice or to rise above the competition in studio writer’s workshops or fellowships. By the end of the seven week program, students should have a fully polished script ready to start submitting. Starting 11/4/14
Late Night Packets (7 Weeks)
This class lays out the submission requirements and provides practice in writing packets. We’ll cover Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It’s a great low-pressure environment to workshop your writing and get feedback from peers. We spend most of our class time working on effective packet writing. There are weekly writing assignments and viewings outside of class. Sometimes industry folks may stop by to share what they know. Additionally, material you write in class paired with a spec script can be a great way to find an agent!
Screenplay (7 Weeks)
Intended for students new to the screenwriting process, this course grounds you in the crucial elements of story structure, plot, scene development, character, theme, genre, and dialogue, and shows you how they work together to create a compelling film experience. You learn how to create and evaluate loglines and story ideas; explore how characters' inner wants and immediate goals shape and drive a screenplay's action; see what constitutes compelling plots and subplots; and learn how to construct a scene. Throughout the course, you complete a series of exercises which serve as the basis for your script outline, a prose description of your screenplay. The course goal is to create a 4-5 page outline which clearly delineates your script's beginning, middle, and end. The ability to write an effective outline is a critical skill for the professional screenwriter, serves as the basis for most pitches, and is crucial part of the screenwriting process.
Object Work and Space Work Master Class (3 Weeks)
Do you want to boost your scene work? Learn a skill that's not taught that often. Taught by INNY award-winning improv teacher Bill Chott (Dana Carvey Show/The Ringer/SNL's Ambiguously Gay Duo)
Object Work is often overlooked, so is Space Work. What's the difference? It's not just a skill that some people have and some people don't. It can be taught, and when you do it well it's the hallmark of a great improviser! Learn the secret to great physical comedy, silent work and superior long form. It's the one thing that people can point to that a good improviser always does well. It's visible, virtually tangible and it engages the audiences imagination. You can learn how in just three weeks.
A staple of iO West's early days, Bill was a member of the original Armando Show, Opening Night: The Improvised Musical and was also in UCB's earliest ASSSSCAT. He stood out at The Second City and Comedy Sportz for his dedication to this skill. REGISTER NOW!
Creating Your Character Showcase From Start To Finish (3 weeks)
You have one shot to impress when you do a character showcase - so don't blow it by creating your showcase in a vacuum. In this class, Megan Grano (director, coach and former staff writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live) will prepare you for SNL auditions, sketch team auditions, and TV pilot auditions that ask for you to show your best characters. The feedback you get from Megan and your peers will shape your showcase into a strong, funny piece that shows you off in your best, most cast-able light.
Class 1, we find the characters and impressions that are best suited to you from a casting perspective
Class 2, we shape and hone your impersonations, putting your characters in the funniest possible scenarios
Class 3, we shape and hone your character monologues, again putting your characters in the funniest possible scenarios. Then we assemble the strongest possible running order for your material. Finally, you will do a show in the Mainstage so you get the practice of performing the whole showcase in front of an audience.
Class 1: Saturday November 15th, 12PM - 3PM
Class 2: Saturday November 22nd, 12PM - 3PM
SKIP THANKSGIVING WEEK
Class 3: Sunday, December 7th, 12PM - 3PM
Show: Sunday, December 7th - 7PM on the Main Stage
Comedic Storytelling with Margot Leitman (1 day)
Learn how to use your untapped humanity and embarrassing moments in a way that can reach a wide audience. You will finish this workshop able to fill in the blank, "----------- is the story of my life."
Each student should leave class with a basic concept of how to make painful, strange or even mundane experiences from their life funny. The students learn to dig inside their own lives to find humorous, relateable material, which unifies an audience making them laugh at their own experiences through the student's performance. Instructor, comedian and Moth Grandslam winner Margot Leitman will work with each student honing their stories to a performable place. Students will leave class with a strong direction of how to structure a story for comedic purposes. Additional focus will be on getting through the fear of being judged for our honesty. In the past, many students have left saying, "I can't believe I told a room full of strangers about that and I can't believe they all laughed!"