Philadelphia Improv Festival tickets and workshops on sale


Tickets and workshops have gone on sale for the 6th annual PHILADELPHIA IMPROV FESTIVAL, kicking off the first week of COMEDY MONTH. This year, the festival will operate on two stages… the Mainstage and bulk of the shows will take place at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom St. Friday will also include a set of special shows taking place at the Philadelphia Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square.

More info on tickets and workshops are below…


Tickets are available in a variety of options to suit your needs. You can purchase a ticket for a single block of shows ($10), as well as passes for a whole night ($25), for the run of PHIF ($60), or even for all of Comedy Month ($100)! Tickets are available at:

Performers get access to all Mainstage shows for free, on a standby basis. For any performers wanting to guarantee seating for any particular show, PHIF is offering block tickets at a 50% discount (discount is not valid for passes).

PHIF also has two sets of shows at the Ethical Society on Friday 11/5… First up, Lekker from Baltimore opens for iO West’s EXTRA-STRENGTH. Then later, comedy duo Dangerous Fools, featuring Philadelphia’s Mary Carpenter and LA’s Thomas Fowler open for the festival’s main act… David Razowsky & Joe Bill. These two old friends and comedy veterans join up for the first time ever on a festival stage! Tickets for these shows are also $10 (passes are not valid – a separate ticket is required), and performers can use their 50% discount for these shows as well.

Also, on Tuesday – Thursday, PHIF is extending the price of a single block ticket to include the whole night. So you can come out and enjoy lots of great comedy for one low price!



Workshops are now available for registration at:

This year PHIF is offering eight different workshops from some of the best instructors in the country, including a longer Master Class co-taught by David Razowsky & Joe Bill.

PHIF is also offering a free workshop seminar about getting media attention, hosted by PHIF & NCCAF publicist Carrie Gorn. She’ll have tons of valuable information and there will be a Q&A to help you get the most out of your press efforts. There’s no registration for the seminar… just show up. But keep in mind to arrive early, as space may be limited.


Your Power Improv Toolkit

w/ Joe Bill
Friday 11/5 2pm – 5pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers

It’s Funny Because It’s True
w/ Mary Carpenter & Thomas Fowler
Friday 11/5 2pm – 5pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers


Falling In Love On Stage
w/ Will Luera
Saturday 11/6 10am – 1pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers

Getting Media Attention Without Committing Murder

w/ Carrie Gorn – PHIF, PCC & NCCAF Publicist
Saturday 11/6 10am – 1pm
A Special Free Workshop Seminar

w/ David Razowsky
Saturday 11/6 2pm – 5pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers

w/ Jen Caldwell
Saturday 11/6 2pm – 5pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers


Playing Around – A Master Class
w/ David Razowsky & Joe Bill
Sunday 11/7 10:30am – 2:30pm
$45 Performers / $65 Non-Performers

How To Have Fun & Play Pretend Without Wanting To Shoot Yourself In the Face
w/ Matt Holmes
Sunday 11/7 3pm – 6pm
$35 Performers / $50 Non-Performers

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.

Workshop: Get Real with Matt Holmes


Philly Improv Theater has tapped local improv phenom Matt Holmes to teach his workshop, Get Real, on Saturday, March 28th. According to Holmes:

“Get serious about comedy and find meaningful, honest, amazing moments in improv, without limiting yourself to gags and gimmicks. Give your improv more impact by adding emotion, subtext, and importance to the hilarity.”

If you aren’t familiar with Holmes, then you are already missing out on some of the best comedy in the city. He’s a third of powerhouse trio Rare Bird Show, a Troika grand champion and a resident instructor for PHIT. I personally took this workshop a couple years ago and had such a great time that I’ll be taking it again.


GET REAL with Matt Holmes
Philly Improv Theater
Saturday, March 28th, 3-6pm
$35 if you register by 3/21

[Related: Five Questions with Matt Holmes]

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

But What About The Ty In Tybrus?


Sure we got Jon Gabrus’ take on Philly, but what about Justin Tyler? Oh, we’ve got that too:

By my count this is your sixth run of shows in Philly. What’s your favorite thing about the city?

JG: You guys keep inviting us back, and that is more than enough. We love the city, it is a 20 dollar Chinatown bus ride away and always a good time. (Greg) Maughan puts us up and puts up with us, and being able to do that is enough to make that guy a saint in the Tybrus bible.

JT: Our favorite thing about Philly? Besides official Tybrus mascot Brandon Libby? That’s tough. Something about Philly brings out the best in Tybrus, maybe it’s the crowd, maybe it’s how accommodating you guys are to us, or maybe it’s the whiskey that keeps sliding into our hands down here.

You’ve done a lot of different divergent comedy with Tybrus – in addition to your sketch show, You’re Out Too Far, we’ve seen everything from monoscenes to complete freeform improv. What can audiences expect on this run?

JG: Great question, and probably something we can’t answer just yet. We will definitely be doing improv, as to exactly what form we do… That is a decision to be made on stage. We like to just go up there and see where that particular set takes us. Sometimes it is just a matter of ‘wanna do a monoscene tonight?’ ‘Yeah.’

JT: I completely agree. Most sets we just make a decision right before we go onstage, whether it be monoscene or some other specific form. Then we do our Panda Warm-up and then we’re on.

You both have other popular projects you work on – Pig Brooch, Fwand, Sidecar, UCBW, writing and acting… what is it about Tybrus that brings you back?

JG: Justin is my writing partner/neighbor/one of my best friends (and I just say ‘one of’ in case he doesn’t call me his best friend I don’t want to make things awkward). We are always hanging out together, he lives a block away in Brooklyn, and we are constantly working on writing projects together, and a plethora of drinking projects. We have all these other projects going on but they are side projects. We know where our bread is buttered.

JT: Michael Delaney of Stepfathers here in New York once referred to Billy Merritt as his ‘improv wife’, and that is the best way to describe the relationship Gabrus and I have. Which one of us is the wife is a matter for public debate. Gabrus is my best friend (Things are not awkward), we truly do live about a block from each other and see each other on an almost daily basis. The first improv scene Gabrus and I ever did together was a race between Superman and The Flash. That’s a cosmic alliance if I’ve ever heard one.

We see a lot of pretty crazy characters come out on stage. But when watching it’s clear there’s a level of personal investment – you own those characters as a piece of yourselves. Do you see a lot of your character work being autobiographical?

JG: It is safe to say that both of us are pretty crazy people on a very basic level. So all we have to do on stage is let our mask of sanity slip a little bit in a certain direction, and you have a fucking nutso character that is grounded in reality. Justin is a really talented actor and makes it look great/easy up there. But there is definitely a lot of ourselves or each other in our character work.

JT: To make a character real there has to be at least a little piece of them inside of you, even the ones that wear other people’s skin on their faces. Gabrus is two kinds of machines, optimized for your benefit: an idea machine and a commitment machine. Our characters can get crazy because of the unique and grounded environments that they live in.

We’ve also seen a lot of crazy coming out off stage. How much of what you do on stage carries with you when you leave?

JT: It all comes off with you and Gabrus and I have made it our personal quest to live out every improvised moment we create on stage. Especially our characters drink a lot and then take off their clothes.

JG: To be 100 percent honest this question can pretty much answer every other question. Why do Justin and I work together because we both are fucking nuts. It is so rare that you bump into someone in life whose sense of humor lines up almost totally with yours, and then also their outlook on life, and how they act in public is very similar.

JT: We’ve both performed with a lot of different people but we always come back home. Someday we’ll both live in a tiny bungalow in Key West, watching re-runs of Dawson’s Creek all day, writing a joint memoir that involves jail time. And our wives will be there too.

JG: We were meant to perform together or at least fight each other in a bar.

JT: We may be doing both this weekend.

Come witness the love yourself… tonight @ 10pm & tomorrow @ 8pm.  

Justin Tyler is a writer and actor in New York City, and a member of the late UCB Harold team Havana Clambake. He is a founding member of sketch/improv groups Cubicle and Sidecar, which perform regularly all over New York. Justin is a monthly contributor to Jest Magazine and the artistic director of Pig Brooch Inc., a New York based theatre company, which produced his play, Happy Mundanes, in the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival.