2017 Boston Comedy Arts Festival Workshop Offerings

All workshops to be held at ImprovBoston (40 Prospect St, Cambridge MA 02139).

Click into event pages for instructor bios, capacities and more information.

All workshops take place on Saturday, September 9, 2017. 


Burn Your Fear with Philip Markel of Happy Karaoke Fun Time – NYC

This class aims to light your improvisation on fire. It will help remind you what you love about improv, slap you out of whatever fear is holding you back, and cut out the naysaying voices in your head that cloud your inspiration. We will look at how we sometimes censor or bail on our choices out of a need to make the “right choice” when improvising. Instead, let’s agree that there is no right or wrong choice, only a weak or strong one, and see what happens when we give ourselves the freedom to simply trust and commit to whatever comes up. We will marry a sense of playful abandonment with actionable techniques to start scenes boldly, heighten them via specific and surprising choices, and employ context (who, what, where, when, why, etc.) without getting in our heads about it. This class will move quickly, keep you on your feet, and challenge you with personal feedback. Let’s bring the whimsy to your make-em-ups!

Free Form Improvisation with Will Luera of the Florida Studio Theater – Sarasota

This workshop explores the makings of the unique style of Big Bang free-form improvisation. This mindset is built on the concept of “follow the funny” and proposes that every single moment, beat, line and movement in a show can be deconstructed and used to lead you to the next scene. During this exploration and deconstruction of content, a language and pattern are established that help define form where previously there was no form. Students will review the tools that will enable them to create a unique free-form performance every time they hit the stage. We will review the ideas of listening to what the show wants, what can be funny, fluid editing and creating an experience that is a result of the space, the cast and the audience itself.

Unique Characters & Communication with Seth Thomas of The Defiant Thomas Bros (CHI)

Viola Spolin taught “the techniques of the theater are the techniques of communicating.” In this synthesized version of his popular Second City Chicago course, Seth Thomas of The Defiant Thomas Brothers teaches useful techniques for developing unique characters. Drawing from the 24 major nonverbal communication codes displayed by every character – consciously or unconsciously, you can learn to isolate and manipulate the postures, gestures, and movement patterns to create characters ready to play.



Slow Comedy with Megan Gray of the Magnet Theater – NYC

Slow comedy doesn’t mean boring or dull. It’s the art of keeping your audience interested and engaged over a longer period of time while you and your partner discover a world unfolding around you.
This workshop isn’t a sprint, it’s a long distance run. We’ll work on listening, maintaining a single point of view and delving into the minutiae of character in two and three person scenes. Let’s ground into the scene and make each moment last.

Intro to Hip Hop Improv with North Coast (Doug Widick & Ethan Scott) – NYC

New York City’s premier hip hop improv comedy team, North Coast, is a unique collaboration of improvisational comedy, hip hop, beatboxing, and music. This musical improv workshop will get even the most beginner performers comfortable and confident with freestyle rapping and will teach you how to really drill into the deal of your scene and its’ characters. Learn how to set yourself up, find your flow, and weave your rapped verses in and out of your improv scene-work.


Improv Comedy Performance for Women with SAK Comedy Theater (Amanda Wirtz and Emily Fontano) – Orlando

“I’m not pretty enough.” “I’m not funny enough.” “I’m not good enough!” You. Are. Enough. Over this 2 hour all female intensive, instructors Amanda Wirtz and Emily Fontano create an environment where all students can feel safe, supported, inspired and “good enough” for any stage. Through exercises, games and heart to heart conversations the two will work together to help shake stereotypical expectations and encourage players to highlight the attributes that make them uniquely themselves. Join these ladies for a self-discovery trip to the heart of your fears and shut off that inner voice in your head for good!

The Power of a Silent Line with Dan Seyfried of le Carpe Haute – France

“bla bla bla, bla bla bla”. That’s what a scene too often looks like. As improvisers, we often fear the silence because we think that nothing is happening anymore. That’s not true ! Many times silence is the best line we can tell ! More than 70% of the communication goes through our body and our behaviour. Isn’t it a proof that words can be useless ? Our actions, our look, our emotions, tell so much. Don’t panic, we’ll talk in this workshop ! But we’ll also learn to answer by silence. A living silence meaning much more than a verbal line…

Sketch Comedy Process with The Defiant Thomas Bros (CHI)

The Defiant Thomas Brothers get critical and creative about sketch comedy. Hear how they develop their style, navigate bumps in the road as a team, and refuse to stop learning. Seth and Paul’s specificity and candor have placed DTB in the forefront of Chicago’s comedy scene. From a macro to micro perspective, they utilize different disciplines, constant evaluation, and curiosity to laugh their way to the top. You can too. Bring your burning questions for two premiere teachers and performers in Chicago comedy.