Public Workshops Curriculum

What exactly do we cover in these classes, anyway?

Intro to Comedy Writing

No prior improv or sketch comedy experience required!

Our Sketch Comedy Writing curriculum launched in late 2016, and is intended to give anyone the tools and theory to start writing sketch comedy for the stage and screen in the tradition pioneered by respected American comedy schools like The Second City and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

The class includes a description of The Improv Conspiracy Theatre's approach to sketch comedy, which has some parallels to our improv program, except written and refined instead of made up on the spot. (Haven't done any improv with us yet? Don't worry, this class is for you!)

Each week students will watch and analyse sketch comedy videos as a group, do table reads of student-written sketches, and discuss possible ways to improve them via rewrites in a collaborative writers' room environment. Each week will feature a different homework assignment (e.g. topical current events sketches, character-based sketches, genre parody sketches, etc.) and a discussion of best practices to ensure that everyone is well-equipped to tackle the assignment.

Students who do their homework each week will leave the course with at least six original sketches, at various levels of polish depending on how much effort they elect to spend doing the recommended rewrites.

As this is a pure writing class, there is no end-of-term performance associated with this workshop.

Producing a Sketch Show

Let's get those sketches up on stage! In this class you'll work with your fellow students, the instructor and a director to create a completely original sketch comedy show at the Improv Conspiracy Theatre. 

The class will work as a team, pitching and brainstorming together in class and doing group writing assignments outside of class. The collective will come up with heaps of great content that couldn't have been created by any inpidual on their own.

Note: it's our hope that every student will get at least one sketch they've contributed to writing into the final show. However, this comes down to the quality and quantity of your work submitted throughout the term. The director may also pull actors from the wider Improv Conspiracy community.


Writer's Room

Building upon the core concepts outlined in Intro To Sketch Writing, Writer’s Room introduces students to large cast & solo sketch formats with a sharper focus on rewriting and technical refinement. Over eight weeks students will work in a highly collaborative environment punching up other’s ideas, developing their specific comedic point of view and sharpening their work into lean comedic pieces. 

Each student will be required to put up a piece of their work as part of one of TIC’s sketch shows - performed by either themselves or by casting actors.

Comedy Writing Info Session (Optional Trial Session)

Are you interested in sketch comedy writing but aren't sure how to get started, or what's involved? Join us for a free info session online. In this optional session designed to highlight some of the most important elements of our sketch writing program,  you'll meet one of our sketch writing instructors or head of the sketch program who will outline what is involved in the course and answer any questions you might have!

We'll watch some famous filmed sketches and break them down using the analytical techniques and terminology used by professional comedians. Next, we'll introduce you to a few brainstorming tools designed to generate comedic ideas on demand, without needing to wait for that perfect premise to come to you in your dreams. After a basic in-class writing exercise, you'll walk away from the session equipped with some basic tools and beginners understanding to get you started with comedy writing that should set you up for our paid courses should you wish to participate in those. 

This is purely an info session and q&a. There's absolutely no obligation to continue on to a paid class, but trust us, you'll probably want to!

Spaces are limited, so book now!

Once registered, registrants will receive a Zoom Link prior to the session. 

Please let us know ASAP if you won't be able to attend. Registrants who don't show up will forfeit their ability to participate in future free sessions. Limit one free sketch trial per person.

Performance 101: The Harold – Scene Work

Congratulations, your stand alone scenes are refined! Now it's time to learn how to connect scenes meaningfully in the Harold, the standard improv format of the Improv Conspiracy.

You'll learn how to perform and draw information from openings, which are the tools that allow us to expand a single suggestion into 30 minutes of material.

Once we have first beats down, we'll work on ways to bring themes, games and characters back in our second and third beats.

We'll briefly touch on group games, and get you ready to perform your first Harold in front of an audience!

Advanced Play Electives

From time to time we hope to offer elective courses focusing on special skills or improv formats.  These will be announced as they come available, and may have prerequisites.

Sips and Scenes

In just under a year, Sips and Scenes has become an Improv Conspiracy institution!

Come down to the TIC Annex most Fridays to meet new community members, enjoy BYO drinks (alcoholic or otherwise – no pressure) and be led through some scenework exercises by one of our senior instructors – often Broni, our Education Director.

Starter Drop-Ins

Starter Drop-Ins are 3-hour drop-in sessions that are appropriate for all members of our community – from the first week of Level 1 onward

Hobby Drop-Ins

Hobby Drop-Ins are 3-hour drop-in sessions that are appropriate for community members who have previously attempted Improv Starter 301: The Game of the Scene

Advanced Drop-Ins

Advanced Drop-Ins are 3-hour drop-in sessions that are appropriate for community members who have previously passed Improv Performance 201: The Harold – Group Work

Performance 201: The Harold – Group Work

Congratulations, you've done a few Harolds in Performance 101 focussing on the beats! Up until now you've relied on prescriptive group work to bolster your long form. Now it's time to learn how to organically create show openings and group games/scenes with clear patterns and rules to meaningfully contribute to the Harold.

You'll learn how to communicate and collaborate to create thematically rich openings, and find fun patterns and games as a whole team in your group games

In this level you'll still be performing full Harolds, so you'll keep up plenty of scene work reps as you go. 


A Free Taste (Optional Trial Session)

Improv is for everyone, not just established actors and comedians. To prove it, we're offering you a fun intro session for FREE!

Each session will be hosted by one or two of our most enthusiastic teachers and performance ensemble members. You'll be guided through a few of the most exciting and inspiring activities and exercises from our Level 1 curriculum.

Expect heaps of fun in a low-pressure environment, with lots of like-minded people. There's absolutely no obligation to continue on to a paid class, but trust us, you'll probably want to!

Spaces are limited, so book now!

Once registered, please let us know ASAP if you won't be able to attend. Registrants who don't show up will forfeit their ability to participate in future free sessions. Limit one free improv trial per person.

The Improv Playground

The Improv Playground is all about community and play.

A rotating selection of talented instructors will lead you for a month of exploration, fun and learning – without the demands of pass/repeat evaluations and performance outcomes.

This is the perfect class for mid-level improv students who aren't involved in our Performance Track, as well as Performance Track and Advanced Play students looking for an engaging short course that suits their schedule.

Starter 101: Introduction to Long Form Improv

This level is designed to introduce you to The Improv Conspiracy's approach to long form improvised comedy. No prior acting or improv experience is required.

Each class session starts with some fun warm-up exercises designed to help you to get a bit silly and to bond with your classmates.

After the warm-up you'll move onto some enjoyable exercises designed to help you learn some of the basic skills we use when doing improvised scenes on stage.

After the exercises there will be time for you to perform open-ended scenes. This is where the real magic happens! You'll be asked to call on that day's lesson, plus anything you've worked on during the prior weeks.

By the end of the 8 weeks you'll be capable of creating and sustaining interesting and entertaining 3-minute scenes that are completely improvised. Your class will then put on a 30-minute long improvised show for your friends and family, featuring a blend of truthful storytelling and improv scenes inspired by the stories!

Specific Skills and Topics Covered:

- An introduction to the core tenets of improvisation: agreement, listening, commitment & support

- Truth in comedy: how to use truthful storytelling as a way to generate interesting ideas for comedic scenes

- You are enough: the power of playing characters similar to yourself in a comedic scene. What would you say in real life? It's probably the right thing to say here!

- How to create and play an intelligent character with a stong point of view (POV)

- How to flesh out your characters with rich history and philosophy

And more!

Starter 201: Character & Relationship

Now that you've been introduced to improv and have actually performed in front of a live audience, it's time for a new challenge!

Our Starter 201 course focuses on two very important aspects of long form improvisation: character relationship

Character is all about what we can bring to the scene. The most interesting characters might have an affected voice, physicalities, turns of phrase, points of view, emotions, etc. We aim to play deep, rich characters within our scene work. 

Relationship is all about how your character gets on with that of your scene partner. What's the shared history between these two people? Their empathetic connection? The subtext that lies just beneath the surface of the words which are being said?

In addition to the titular focus of the level are the following:

Playing Truthful: Even when we are playing characters that are not ourselves, we need to commit to the truth of that character and the relationship they are in. This requires a willingness to be vulnerable and respond honestly and truthfully through character and relationship filters.

Status: Different relationships have inherent statuses built in. This level explores what that means for how we play. 

Base Reality: Establishing a clear base reality at the beginning of each scene, is an essential foundation to build our comedy on top of. A good base reality requires patience and the ability to hold back on oddities and ‘unusual’ things until a firm platform has been co-discovered with your scene partner via ‘yes, and…’

Starter 301: The Game of the Scene

You're bold enough to step out on stage, and capable of playing some wonderful characters. Fantastic! Now let's talk about what goes into making our scenes comedic in nature.

Our Starter 301 course features a slightly more advanced look at the core building block of long form improvisation: the scene.

You'll get a chance to do a few scenes each week, while experimenting with some of the most influential theories of improv scenework being taught today: the game of the scene as defined by the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and Position Play as defined by Miles Stroth.

Learning about the game of the scene will help you recognise and play with the comedic engines at work in your improvised scenes and scripted sketches.

Position Play stresses the importance of listening to your scene partner in order to discover which of the four basic scene types (Realistic, Straight/Absurd, Alternate Reality & Character) we're most likely inside of. Once you know what scene type you're in, the hard work is done: you can often simply "play your position" and have an entertaining experience!

Advanced Harold Performance

You've performed your first Harolds in front of an audience. It was quite fun and the audience enjoyed it... so what's next? PRACTICE!

In this level you'll learn heaps more about our favourite format, do additional bonding with your team of classmates, and get the experience and confidence necessary to put on polished Harold performances. 

In addition to running numerous "normal" Harolds, in the second half of the course we'll apply various constraints to the format to show you how small tweaks can have huge effects on the finished product. You might encounter location-constraint Harolds, thematic Harolds, the Bat (Harold in the Dark), silent Harolds, gibberish Harolds, or any other sort of Harold that your instructor is enthusiastic about that day!

Plus this level comes with 2 student shows in front of an audience so you really get the 'team' treatment and your instructor can address your teams specific needs.

Zach Zucker 2023 Electives

ZACH ZUCKER is an award-winning performer and producer who's been touring the international comedy circuit for the past decade. He is the creator of Stamptown, the alter-ego of New York’s greatest comedian Jack Tucker, and one half of Norwegian-American clown duo, Zach & Viggo.

Late this November, he's back in Melbourne for a limited run of workshops at The Improv Conspiracy Theatre. In late 2019, his workshops all sold out and received rave reviews from participants both inside and out of our community.

There are no prerequisites to take these workshops, but they'll put your performance skills to the test.

If the primary 5-day intensive course sells out, we'll try our best to add some single-session electives on the weekend.