Matt Besser comes to Philly


Comedian MATT BESSER is best known as one of the UCB4 (along with Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh) – stars of the Comedy Central sketch show Upright Citizens Brigade and founders of the famed NYC comedy theater of the same name.

Next weekend, this “wickedly funny man” (The Onion’s A.V. Club) will be bringing his show Woo Pig Sooie to Connie’s Ric Rac, courtesy of the PHILLY IMPROV THEATER.

Raised by a Jewish father and Presbyterian mother, the self-proclaimed Athiest grew up in Arkansas (thus the titular allusion to the Razorbacks Hog Call) surrounded by extremes of religion. In his show, Besser puts religion squarely in his sights, observing the ways in which church and state intersect in comically disturbing ways throughout America. Charleston City Paper describes the show as a “hilarious and somewhat stream-of-conscioiusness combination of sharp social criticism disguised as religion jokes, stand-up, and storytelling.”

Complete with head-to-toe U of A garb , the comedian brings his one-man comedic rant to Philadelphia for one night only on July 23rd.

The next day, he will also be teaching a pair of workshops at the Adrienne… so for a benjamin, you can brush up with Besser yourself.

Advanced tickets and workshop information can be via PHIT’s website.

$20-$25 | BYOB

Armando Diaz featured instructor for CSz World Championship


In just over two weeks, twenty ComedySportz teams from around the globe will descend upon Philadelphia for the 2010 COMEDYSPORTZ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. Philadelphia is a city built on firsts… It seems fitting that in the inaugural year of Philly hosting the Championship, they’re busting out with another big first – the first time renowned instructor ARMANDO DIAZ will teach here.

Regarded as one of the best improv teachers in the country (very few people have both long-running shows and formats named after them), Armando will bring two workshops to Philly on Saturday, July 17th:


Great improv comedy is usually inspired by powerful ideas. When players find exciting concepts and truths to explore their scene work has higher stakes and is a lot more fun to watch. But where do we get these ideas? How do we use them? In this workshop we will learn to bring strong truths to our scenes. And we will learn to identify and explore the deeper concepts in the work which will always lead to funnier scenes.

Saturday July 17th, 10AM – 1PM
Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel – 1800 Market St.


Beyond mastering the fundamentals of improv, sometimes your skills need a kick in the pants. In this workshop you will get some personal feedback on what you need to work on to make you a better improviser as well as getting a good work out.

Saturday July 17th, 2PM – 5PM
Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel – 1800 Market St.

If you’re at all unfamiliar with his laundry list of credits and achievements, you can find about a bit more about Armando Diaz here.

ACT FAST: Second City Master Workshop


The SECOND CITY cast of CITY OF NUTTERLY LOVE will be teaching a master improv workshop tonight from 7-9PM at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. The class is geared for students that already have some improv experience under their belt. Instructors include EDGAR BLACKMON, RACHEL MILLER & KATIE RICH.

The class is $39, but if you mention and reserve your slot by 3PM today, you’ll pay just $25. Email Janette Amadio of PTC to RSVP.



EDGAR BLACKMON (Ensemble) is thrilled to be performing with The Second City. After graduating from The Second City Conservatory, he went on to work with The Second City’s Outreach and Diversity Program, starring and writing in four revues, including Six Degrees of Reparations and How The Kanye West Was Won. As a member of the two man comedy team,The Mad Highentists, he performed in All The Way Live and On Your Side in The Second City’s Skybox Theater and at Sketchfest in Chicago.He couldn’t do this without the support of his family, and for that he says thanks.

RACHEL MILLER (Ensemble) is delighted to be spending some quality time in Philadelphia. She is currently an understudy to The Second City national touring companies and the Mainstage Theatre in Chicago. She has also performed with The Second City throughout Mexico, New England and The Caribbean via Norwegian Cruise Lines. She spent 5-1/2 years in Amsterdam with sketch/improv theatre Boom Chicago, sings with guitar/vocal improv duet Vlad & Rachel, and recently created The Podcast at the Annoyance Theatre. Previous Chicago improv includes The Pat Shay Dancers, Kiki Greenwell and Baby Wants Candy. She has performed at comedy festivals in Edinburgh, Singapore, Berlin and Chicago and freestyle-rapped at U2’s European “Vertigo” Tour Party. She hearts this cast, her family and Mr. Hicks.

KATIE RICH (Ensemble) is very lucky to be a part of this stellar cast. A Chicago native, Katie earned a B.S. (yup) from Northwestern University before getting the opportunity to tour all over the world with The Second City. She also performs at the iO Chicago with Carl and the Passions, the Frank Hayes 4,The Deltones Improvised Musical and Women Aren’t Funny. You can see her in those ubiquitous Sonic Drive-in commercials, in Martin Short’s “Let Freedom Hum,” and in the movie The Ice Harvest. Katie is proud to be an instructor for both the iO and The Second City. She’d be nowhere without her friends and worse than nowhere without her family to whom she owes everything. Katie spends a lot of time figuring out what to do now that her dream has come true.

Do This Now: PHIT hosts Keith Johnstone master class


The Philly Improv Theater has done it again… THEY LOVE YOU SO MUCH that they’ve arranged for Keith Johnstone, one of the great improv luminaries, to return to PHIT this June to teach his three-day master class.



Johnstone is a pioneer in the art of improv, having authored such widely respected books as Impro and Impro for Storytellers, is the creator of TheatreSports and is generally regarded as one of the most sought after improv instructors in the world.

Johnstone has been visiting PHIT since 2006 as part of only a few rare US appearances. Drawing students from all over the country, the class is already filling up… so you need to get on this. Yesterday.

$450 is a paltry price to spend six hours a day, for three consecutive days with this man… and payment plans are indeed available.

10AM – 4PM | $450

Asaf Ronen descends on Philly


Improvisers are in for a treat as Asaf Ronen will be hitting Philly a couple times over the next few weeks on an east coast teaching tour. Currently based out of Austin, Asaf is a favorite guest instructor at national festivals (including two back-to-back years at PHIF), is the author of Directing Improv and half of the improv-clowning duo, IMP.


  • Asaf was in town this past weekend teaching his acclaimed Physical Improv workshop for PHIT students.
  • On Friday, Jan 30th, the N Crowd will scale back their weekly set to make room for Asaf as he and students from last week’s class take to the stage to the likely amazement, delight and fancy of onlookers who have yet to be determined (tickets here).
  • Finally on Sunday, Feb 1, PHIT brings Asaf back to teach Getting Yourself Out of Your Own Way.

The N Crowd w/ guests Asaf Ronen & Friends
Friday, Jan. 30 @ 8PM
The Actors Center, 257 N Third St

PHIT Workshop: Getting Yourself Out of Your Own Way
Sunday, Feb. 1 @ 3PM | $50
Phila Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Sq

PHIF4 Workshops!!


Workshop registration is now open for the 4th Annual Philadelphia Improv Festival.

All workshops will be held at the Plays & Players Theater, 1714 Delancey St. The cost is $50 and they will be 3 hours in length.

If you are a PHIF4 performer, you will receive an email pointing you to a page where you can register at a 30% discount. You can also emailfor the link.

Friday, Nov. 14th

Starting Out Strong
Instructor: Bill Binder
Friday, 11/14 @ 10AM

The beginnings of shows should be more than a chance to create chaos or fulfill some requirement of your format. Those beginning minutes of a show are a chance to check in with your ensemble, to find and agree on the focus and direction of your show, and hopefully, to invite the audience to come on the journey with you rather than confusing them. This workshop uses techniques to unify and strengthen your ensemble’s openings.

Deal With It
Instructor: Mark Grenier
Friday, 11/14 @ 2PM

As improvisers, we often expect others to play by certain rules and we get frustrated when teammates don’t meet our expectations. Sometimes we need a reminder that the improviser’s job is to accept – to accept everything and to embrace every contribution as a gift. Your ability to “yes and” is truly tested when encountering the unusual, the unexpected, and the undesired. Well, in this workshop you’ll be confronted with the things you may despise – questions, denials, curve balls, poor listening, bad object work, selfish partners, and complete stupidity – and you’ll learn ways to not just accept it but to make magic out of it. Stop wishing for the ideal partner and deal with it!

Breaking Out the Scene
Instructor: Asaf Ronen
Friday, 11/14 @ 2PM

Learn how to go beyond the linear storytelling of improvisation by incorporating editing and presentation techniques appropriated from independent films like Amelié, The Royal Tenenbaums and Reservoir Dogs. Techniques will be shown on developing a group’s awareness to all the possibilities that are available to a group at any given moment in an improv scene including ways to build mood, theme and character.

Saturday, Nov. 15th

Instructor: Rene Duquesnoy
Saturday, 11/15 @ 10AM

Learn how to rap for an improv show. Rene Duquesnoy, creator of the hiphop improv show The Beatbox, will teach freestyling techniques, short-form rap games (like Rap Line, Beastie Rap, and Audience & Hammer Time) and different effects used in The Beatbox. Learn how to enhance a scene by adding quick hiphop tricks. This class will help longform and shortform improvisers alike.

Advanced Dialogue Techniques
Instructor: Kevin Patrick Robbins
Saturday, 11/15 @ 10AM and/or 2PM

Learn to economize your dialogue and strip out unnecessary exposition, explanations and justifications. A variety of dialogue techniques will be explored that will improve your scene work, lead to more relationship-driven scenes, and some that just make your scenes cooler.

You can choose to take this at either time slot individually or combine them for a six hour dialogue intensive.

Improv Diagnostics

Instructor: Asaf Ronen
Saturday, 11/15 @ 2PM

No lesson plans. Instead, the focus is on pinpointing the individual students’ tendencies. Find out what your strengths are and where you could explore further. Working in a non-stop series of short, quick scenes, you will learn what your patterns are and how to break them through personalized challenges. Maximized stage time guaranteed. Great for beginners who want to develop new skills and for professionals who want to keep fresh.

PHIF is also offering a Special Student Pass for $50 that gets you full access to all shows and a 30% discount on workshops. Signup before 10/20 and you’ll also get a free PHIF4 tshirt!

Questions can be directed to

Do Your Edits Need A Little Work?


Are you getting a little weary of the sweep edits? Well, then put down your broom and pick up a whole new back of tricks with the latest workshop from PHIT, Beyond The Sweep. Taught by NYC improviser Peter MCNerney (of Ha! Rollers and Project Improviser acclaim) the workshop looks to go deeper and explore Fade In/Outs, Split Scenes, Swinging/ Revolving Doors, Slides/Journey Scenes, Tag Out Runs, Transformations and more.

Date/Time: Saturday, 2/9/08, 3-6pm
Register now