Overview: Union Comedy School

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Hello! Here's an overview of the Union Comedy School to help you understand our educational goals and identify where you might fit in as a student.



The Core (Levels 1-4)

Union Comedy is primarily a longform improv theater and our Core curriculum mirrors this focus. It consists of four 8-week classes, with Levels 1 and 2 including one live performance, and Levels 3 and 4 including two live performances.


Designed with a scene-first mindset, the Core curriculum starts with simple 2-person scenes and then progressively increases in complexity until it culminates with the classic longform structure The Harold. We’ve chosen The Harold as our introductory structure because its built-in balance of 2-person and group scenes, 3 scene and beat rhythm, and show recall requirements make it a solid foundation for more complex longform structures.


Level 1 assumes students have no prior performance experience, but operates from the standpoint that people can sustain fun and funny improvised scenes almost immediately if provided with the proper framework. To that end, Week 1 ends with semi-prescribed scenes and then these frameworks are gradually removed over the course of 8 weeks as students are introduced to the concepts and skills that allow them to be more self-reliant.


Despite its initially introductory nature, we believe our Core classes would be valuable for any performer looking to improve their longform scenework, particularly their 2-person scenes, since our curriculum’s narrow focus allows us to explore scenes in considerable depth.


Here’s a brief overview of each level:


Level 1: Foundation of the Scene

2-person scenes and the basic performance skills and concepts that make them successful, mainly listening, establishing base reality, discovery, justification, specificity, emotional commitment, and point-of-view driven behavior.


Level 2: Scene Development

A more focused look at 2-person scenes with an emphasis on character. Making instinctive choices, unpacking all information from moves, defining and applying worldviews. Exploring and expanding comedic ideas and scenarios through patterns and tags.


Level 3: Elements of Longform

Introduction of collective responsibility for the scene through support moves and group scenes. Creating more complex patterns through game. Introduction to the basic show structure The Harold.


Level 4: The Harold

Dissect each component of The Harold - opening, beat pulls, group games - the goals and approaches that make them most effective. Introduction to show management tools like advanced edits, finesse support moves, and time awareness.



Advanced Courses

Beyond our Core curriculum, we will be offering additional 8-week courses primarily focused on introducing and honing various longform show structures such as Spokane, Monoscene, and Armando. Due to the necessity of live performance as part of the learning process, each Advanced Course includes two class shows.


Advanced Courses are intended for those who have completed our Core curriculum, or those who have at least two years of longform experience (or both!)



Workshops

Recognizing that 8 weeks is often a larger commitment than many people are interested in, we plan on hosting a rolling variety of single day workshops for students of all types.


Beginner Workshops

Beginner Workshops introduce students to the basics of improv scenes and are an easy way for people with zero experience to dip their toe into improv and see if they might want to take a full course.


Advanced Workshops

These instructor-specific workshops are intended to provide an opportunity for students with some experience to work on certain skills and techniques that will make them more rounded performers. This includes anything from creating unique characters on the fly, to performing more physically, to simply shaking off the rust after not performing for a while. We also offer small performance-oriented workshops called Crash Courses which introduce a certain type of show and include a live performance of that show either on the same day or within the same week.



We're hoping that no matter what your level of experience and interest in improv is, we'll have some sort of course offering that is fun, beneficial, and worthwhile for you. Contact us at info@unioncomedy.com with any questions or comments.