Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS BUFFALO IMPROV HOUSE?

Buffalo Improv House is the premiere improv, sketch, and alternative comedy company in Western New York. We do corporate trainings, we teach world-class improv and sketch comedy classes, and we have shows and events happening every week!

Huge news: we recently signed the lease on a space that will be our home base comedy theater and training center! This space will be the home of improv, sketch and alternative comedy in Buffalo, and will allow us to better serve our growing community of comedy fans, enthusiasts, and performers. We've already soft opened, and anticipate a grand opening sometime late Summer / early Fall 2024.

Our goal is to be a cornerstone of the improv comedy scene here in Buffalo by offering world-class improv instruction, by producing high quality improv shows, and by being a pipeline connecting Buffalo with the international improv comedy scene.

Our teachers and performers have extensive professional experience in Western New York, internationally, and at places in New York City and Toronto such as the Magnet Theater, the Second City, and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre!

We are still at the early stages of being an improv comedy organization, and are looking forward to seeing what this grows into.

WHAT IS “LONG FORM” IMPROV?

There’s more than one general approach to improv comedy. Maybe you’ve seen Whose Line Is It Anyway or ComedySportz? That style of improv is usually called “Short Form” improv. In “Short Form” improv, performances are based around a series of theater games, acting challenges, and short scenes, each one inspired by new suggestions from the audience.

In “Long Form” improv, things are more open-ended, often with a single inspiration driving a number of scenes or even an entire show. Long Form improv can look a lot of different ways, and things are held together by a common set of techniques and practices that every performer learns.

Our classes primarily focus on skills for long-form improv, but we believe strongly that our approach to teaching will benefit anyone looking to perform improv. Even if your interest is in Short Form improv, learning to sustain and heighten funny, full-length improv comedy scenes without relying on the built-in structure of theater games will make you a stronger improviser overall.

To be clear: We don’t think that these two approaches need to be at odds with one another or anything like that. There are often performers who have success in both long- and short form improv, and there are shows that operate as a hybrid of these two approaches. Both approaches to improv can be really fun.

ARE YOUR SHOWS ALL AGES?

Unless otherwise indicated, our shows are intended for an adult audience and may include adult themes. Let's be real -- they almost definitely will include adult themes. We recommend parental discretion for any guests under the age of 17.

A show rated all ages is specifically intended to be appropriate for kids and teens! You'll see that rating on the website and in our marketing and social media. Otherwise, you can assume a show is intended for an adult audience.

WHEN ARE YOUR NEXT CLASSES?

We have classes registering now!

If our current offerings are not convenient for you, be sure to check back! We offer classes on a rolling basis and usually announce about 4 weeks ahead of time. Our mailing list and social media are the best ways to stay informed!

WHICH CLASS SHOULD I START WITH?

The Level One class is the introductory class, and is the class most people should probably start with.

If you’ve taken long form improv classes from a place that teaches it similarly to the way that we teach it (there are a lot of places around the world that would qualify) or if you’ve performed long form improv regularly at some point during the past four years, it would probably be okay for you to skip our Level One class if that's what you want. However, our Level One class is well-paced and full of great information and activities, and is designed to be worthwhile even for folks with extensive experience. In Level One we cover Yes/And, building strong relationships and grounded scenes, creating characters and committing to them, initiating from a suggestion and an opening, basic scene mechanics, and editing.

If you’d like to chat about whether it might be ok for you to jump right to an upper-level class, send us an email at email@buffaloimprovhouse.house

I COMPLETED A LEVEL 2 OR HIGHER CLASS ELSEWHERE. CAN I TAKE THE NEXT HIGHER LEVEL WITH YOU?

Probably not. Improv comedy "levels" are not consistent from theater to theater and company to company. Our classes are specifically intended to train people to do our style of improv comedy in a step-by-step manner, and we do not know of any companies locally who teach things the way we do. Because of this, our Level Two class is the highest one that we generally allow folks to start with, even if they have improv experience or took a level higher than "two" somewhere else. Our classes are not aligned with any other company's classes, and our approach may be very different than the class you took!

We hope this does not disuade you from registering! If you want to be involved with what we do, taking a class is a great way to get up to speed in our style of improv. Our classes are specifically designed to be worthwhile and fun even for folks with experience, and beginning at Level 2 we tailor the feedback to each individual student.

CAN MY KID TAKE YOUR CLASS?

We plan on launching our Teen and Kids program in the near future. We're busy with our venue build-out right now, but once things are set there, we'll be putting together kids and teen classes. Let us know if you're interested -- solid community interest will make this more of a priority!

In terms of our other classes: Our official policy is that our core classes are for ages 18+. We want to make sure we are providing a space for everyone to explore ideas without self-censorship, which could happen (even unconsciously) with a younger person in class. We also want to make sure that everyone in our classes is at an age where everyone involved thinks it is appropriate for them to be around adult topics, and we want to make sure that everyone in class can interact with one another on the same level.

This being said, we could be open to exceptions on a case-by-case basis. This has not happened yet so we don't have a procedure in place. Feel free to reach out to us.

HOW CAN I PERFORM ON YOUR STAGE?

There are a few paths to performing on our stage.

The most direct path is by taking a class! Each Buffalo Improv House class gets its own showcase, so taking a Buffalo Improv House class will guarantee a performing opportunity on our stage. Taking a class also puts you on our radar and also gives you experience and training in our specific approach to improv, so it's the recomended path for folks who are looking to get involved with what we do.

If you are a local improv group, duo, act, etc., you can also submit to be featured on our community nights! These community nights are new, and they will be shaped by the types of submissions we get. So, right now is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of that side of what we do! Click Here for that form.

We will soon have auditions, as well. These auditions will be for specific shows with specific casting needs. They'll be open to anyone, not just our students, but if there's ever a "tie" in terms of who might be best for a spot on a cast, priority will be given to our students. We're not there yet, but it's coming soon. The best way to know about auditions is to be on our mailing list and follow us on social media!

I PERFORMED IMPROV IN ANOTHER CITY. CAN I JOIN YOU GUYS?

If you’re new to Buffalo (or just moved back home,) and are looking to meet people who do improv or get involved with the improv scene, your best bet is to show up to an event. Our Thursday Night Improv Mixers at Amy’s Place are a great choice for that! The community is growing and the vibes are fun. Feel free to shoot us a message to let us know you’re coming. We love meeting new people!

If you have extensive improv performing and teaching experience and would like to apply to join our teaching staff or to join one of our groups, please send us message at email@buffaloimprovhouse.com! Or, come to a show and introduce yourself! Again, let us know you're coming!

DO YOU HAVE ANY DISCOUNTS OR WORK-STUDY OPPORTUNITIES?

We do have limited capacity for barter arrangements that essentially act as work-study opportunities. This is something that we are open to when we need an extra hand or two, and priority is given to current students who are continuing their studies. Feel free to inquire about this possibility, and apologies in advance if we are at our capacity for this type of thing when you inquire.

If you are a high school or college student, we’d be happy to extend a discount. If you are not a student and want to take a class but don’t think you could pay the full rate at the time of registration, we are happy to extend need-based discounts, and have done different types of payment plans in the past. We want you to take our class, so feel free to email us at email@buffaloimprovhouse.com

We also are proud to have recently launched our diversity scholarship program. For more information on that and to apply, follow this link.

DOES TAKING A CLASS GUARANTEE A PERFORMING OPPORTUNITY?

Yes, our classes are performance-focused and almost every multi-week class includes a Student Showcase. These showcases are always fun and usually sell out, but participating in a showcase is ultimately optional for each student. These showcase performances usually take place on our stage, and are generally scheduled within one week of the final class session. The showcase date for each class will be listed on the website!

If you’ve performed improv in other cities, you might be interested in House Teams or other types of regular performance opportunities. We are not there yet, but it is on the horizon. In the meantime, check out one of our events!

WHAT IS YOUR COVID SAFETY POLICY?

To start: We take COVID seriously and our policies reflect federal, state and local laws and guidance, as well as best practices that are evolving among similar performing arts organizations. Any policy we have in place may change as CDC, State and local regulations and guidance changes, or if community feedback makes it clear that the majority of our community would like to have a specific policy in place. We ask that you do not take our classes if you are unwilling to follow COVID safety measures if the COVID situation returns us to a place where face coverings or proof of vaccination become required or recommended again.

We love vaccines (and you should, too) and we acknowledge that a good N95-style respirator or KF94 face mask is the best method to prevent against COVID transmission in an any indoor event but we are not requiring either at this time. If Erie County drifts back to a “high” level of community transmission, we will revise this policy in accordance to official recommendations and industry best practices. We ask that anyone registering for our classes affirm that they will abide by any change to our COVID safety policy if a change becomes necessary, and that you will not make a big deal out of it.