Welcome to the latest incarnation of the oldest repository of improvisational comedy structures on the internet. Learn improv began as a humble collection of static pages on the Hamilton Wentworth Freenet in 1994. As of this update www.learnimprov.com is able to serve up pages dynamically from a database and allow users from all over the world participate with either comments or contributions. This simple site is devoted to learning improvisational comedy. One cannot learn improvisational comedy from a web page, however the list of improv structures included here will definitely help. Hundreds of improv groups link to the site, but mostly in regards to their training, and not in regards to performing. Hence Learn Improv. Enjoy.
About the author
Everything described here has been used extensively in workshops that I have taught over the last 21 years. I did my improv boot camp at the Vancouver Theatresports League when it was located at the Back Alley Theatre downtown. My stage chops were had in a theatrical bloodbath also known as The Rookie League. The Rookie League consisted of weekly shows with hair turning notes of death. It was actually damn fun to be surrounded by people that loved their art so much. Work took me to Ontario, and I was still keen on improvising. After destroying a group in Hamilton with “hair turning notes of death” I decided to temper my teaching style. I developed most of what you see here in Kitchener Ontario with a lovely group of social improvisers known as Theatre on the Edge. They are one of the longest running improv shows in Canada. To this day, even after surviving my tenure as educational director, TOTE has a regular Thursday night show. Next I built a theatre designed purely for improvisational comedy. This was The Staircase. The Staircase theatre was purposefully built small (67 seats) with the audience elevated above the players. Other than that it was a black box. During this period I taught hundreds of workshops, and produced hundreds of shows. Eventually I found myself running a cafe, an arts center, and a convention center, and not doing as much improv as I liked. My accepting style of teaching became a management nightmare for staff and improvisers alike. After 8 years of 100 hour weeks our family closed The Staircase. Learnimprov.com is what I have learned about improv over the last 15 years, and I have learned a crap load.
Normally one would list a whole bunch of famous people that they did workshops with in some effort to prove that what they know is better than everyone else. I will let the web page speak for itself. Although I could put together a very impressive list of famous people that I have trained with <grin>. I am going to leave my thank yous to the following not-so-famous improv teachers. These are the damn good improvisers that led workshops where I learned to improvise, these were the instructors that hammered home the following: improv is about being spontaneous, improv is about having fun, and you are completely responsible for entertaining the audience. These teachers had a way of filling your head with the mechanics of improv: David C. Jones, Ellie Harvie, Dean Haglund, Pearce Visser and Lyle Moon. There were many other fantastic teachers at VTSL however I still hear the voices of these teachers in my head. Okay so I hear voices, doesn’t everybody?
I would also like to thank the hundreds and hundreds of improvisers that have been forced into workshops led by me. The generous, and occasionally pointed, feedback that I have received over the years has been invaluable in building this web site.
Jamie MacLeod, my mad genius brother, created this web page from scratch. He has a knack for math and computers. Besides computers he has sold more than 100000 copies of his book. I know a bit of php and his code is easy to read and hack. He has put together something I have fantasized about (okay so I fantasize about the web pages, doesn’t everybody?) a dynamic page for learnimprov.com since I first started dabbling with php. I don’t know if Jamie is for hire. If you are looking for someone who codes and sees the big picture at the same time send me an email.