Improvisation Course Catalog, by Matt Payton

Intro to Improvisation – Mondays 7:00

In this class you will work on overcoming your disdain for improv comedy brought on by years of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and a detrimental trip to ComedySportz in your teen years. It won’t be fully successful, but Monday nights are a television black hole, so what the hell? Expect to be overwhelmed at how many people in your class sound like they have a much more fulfilling job and/or life than you.

Prerequisites: Ability to be civil when you’re in a scene with “that guy” whose friends told him to take this class and who will be gone after the second week.

Intermediate Improvisation – Tuesdays 7:00

Discover the joys of being a teenager all over again when two people in your class hold sexual congress with one another. Your post-class trips to the local watering hole will soon resemble late night strategy meetings in a war room. Every detail of this event will be pored over with more interrogation than Abu Ghraib. The pictures will be just as horrifying and, oddly enough, wreak as much havoc in the Middle East.

Prerequisites: Must be able to comprehend how people can drink like Hunter S. Thompson six hours before having to be at work.


Upper Level Improvisation – Wednesdays 7:00

At this point in the program, you will be issued the standard improviser’s uniform. Males will dress in a flannel shirt (must have been worn a minimum of four times since last wash), jeans (must be dark and thin enough that there’s no way you would have owned them in 2006, but not so thin that people will make hipster jokes about you, which they will anyway), fashionable yet comfortable sneakers (having laces is acceptable, if a bit bourgeois) and facial hair of some kind (be sure that whatever look it is you’re going for with this that “unkempt” is the overall theme). Nine out of 10 females will wear those big, long poofy shirts that could almost be maternity wear but have been fashionable for a while now so you can get away with it, along with pants and shoes of some kind. The tenth female will don an outfit one would wear on a date or a happy hour at a museum, which will be analyzed more than the aforementioned war room.

Prerequisites: A hoodie.


Advanced Improvisation – Thursdays 7:00

Learn how to communicate like an improviser by utilizing a vital tool: the class e-mail list. You will perfect the art of responding to a sincere question with a reference either to something you did in class that only you remember, or Seinfeld. Plans to begin an independent team will be made, but will ignore the fact that it’s one of 232,841 teams just within a mile radius and instead treat it as if it’s the second coming of Monty Python. The details will be hammered out at parties you’ll attend with your teammates when you’re not doing excruciatingly desperate bits with one another that will alienate everyone in attendance with a modicum self-respect.

Prerequisites: In the many hours spent with classmates, the cumulative time spent discussing non-improv related topics must not exceed four minutes.


Bachelor of Improvisation – Fridays 7:00

Begin to incorporate other art forms into your performance through the magic of pop culture references. With some practice you will soon reflect on what was somewhat relevant when you were a pre-teen, such as a popular sitcom that has become antiquated and silly in retrospect, regurgitate it on stage with a hint of condescension, and make hilarity ensue. This course will also fulfill your history requirement, as your study will reveal that the best version of everything was produced during the decade that you entered puberty.

Prerequisites: Must have no interest in any movie made before you were born with the exception of The Wizard of Oz and a single Hitchcock or Kubrick film.

Masters of Improvisation – Saturdays 7:00

This level will provide you a mentor in your improv teacher. He or she will provide insight into your unique sensibility so you can learn how to improvise exactly like them. A failure to do so might cause a chain reaction of thought to begin by wondering what kind of ego requires such upkeep, which will lead to realizing the bubble gum money your instructor makes which will lead to wondering where all the money goes that is paid into the establishment whose walls haven’t seen a fresh coat of paint since Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech.

Prerequisites: Gargantuan student loans that will taunt you in the moments right after signing up for yet another class.


Doctorate of Improvisation – Sundays 7:00

The program will culminate with a performance in front a live crowd of other improvisers waiting to go on after you. Treat the performance with as much reverence and self-importance as possible. Your peers will appreciate it if you act as if Lorne Michaels himself will be in the audience with a notepad. Also, spend a lot of time and mental energy on your team name, as it will be remembered for up to eight seconds. Try not to think beyond the end of this class, as you will more than likely be working in the entertainment industry shortly afterward. Try to remember all the people that helped you along the way and not remember all the time spent conspiring against them.

Prerequisites: A preference for the taste of carrots, particularly ones that are dangling.


Matt Payton only answers sincere questions with Seinfeld references when he’s not chasing carrots at iO and Second City in Chicago. He has a podcast about late night talk show-style jokes called Slights of the Roundtable and occasionally writes silly things on the internet.

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