2015 Workshops and Comedy Master Classes

Saturday Workshop Package classes will run on Saturday, Feb. 7 and Saturday Feb. 14 and details will be sent to those festival students by Monday, Feb. 2.

Please Note: Festival participants who elect to register for the Saturday Workshop Package receive a discount on almost all Master Class Workshops. Refunds are not given if you elect to register for a Master Class scheduled during your package workshops, but you can contact our Education Director if you have any other questions.

Master Classes

#NCCAF offers public Master Classes that focus on advanced improv technique and diagnostics, comedy writing and acting skills.

Master Classes with Charna Halpern

$85 Limited to 18 students

Charna Halpern will be teaching two sections of a back to the basics intensive, with the philosophy that the improv basics are everything you need for beginning and advanced improvisation. Charna will also be teaching a workshop for experienced improvisers on the Cat's Cradle form (not to be confused with the incredible Carrboro music venue).

Author of Truth in Comedy and partner of the late Del Close, Charna Halpern has been teaching performers how to work together for more than 30 years. Her world-famous theaters in Chicago and Los Angeles have become the meccas of training in the art of improvisation, supplying New York and Hollywood with writers and performers for decades. The alumni whose talents she has honed include Tina Fey, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Amy Poehler, and an entire generation of North America's best and brightest comedic minds.

"In my mind, it's not necessarily the initiation. It's usually the second line that makes the scene. You can come out with anything and it's what the second person does with it that makes the scene work." — Charna Halpern

Friday workshops available to all improvisers. Saturday workshop students must have 2 years stage experience.

Storytelling and Sketch Comedy Writing with Kevin Allison

$65 Limited to 16 students

Kevin Allison has been a regular on VH1's hit series Best Week Ever and was a writing and performing member of The State, the legendary sketch comedy group best known for The State on MTV, which The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Details called the funniest sketch show on the air. Recent film and TV appearances include Reno 911!: Miami, The Ten, and HBO's Flight of the Conchords.

The Art of Storytelling: This Storytelling Intensive is a compressed version of Kevin's class in New York City. Structured for both comedy festival veterans and virgin storytellers, the workshop will be perfect for dipping your toes into storytelling waters for the first time, or a quick brush up on your skills if you're a seasoned pro. In this workshop, the class will be led through specific exercises that will help students to identify and refine a story to tell to the class. Kevin encourages a supportive and collaborative dynamic between students as they will perform stories in class and receive feedback from both instructor and each other.

Sketch Comedy Writing: Students may include experienced sketch comedians and new writers. Students will explore techniques to add dimension to the comic premise, developing beats of action, fleshing out comic characters and playing with end twists. In this workshop, Kevin encourages a supportive and collaborative dynamic between students to help make one another's material fresher and funnier, beat by beat.

Keep Calm and Carry On with Eric Hunicutt

$65 Limited to 16 students

As an actor, Eric has appeared in television, feature and short films, plays, commercials, and hundreds of improv shows, including over a decade as a member of the acclaimed improv ensemble The Reckoning.

The first moments of any scene contain a huge amount of information. Often times, we ignore what's right in front of us, kidding ourselves that the "scene" hasn't "started" yet, so we miss important clues - clues to Character, Relationship, Point of View, and Pattern / Game that already exist, sometimes even before we speak. In our rush (sometimes panic!) to establish the scene, we concentrate so hard we forget to pay attention. This workshop focuses on how we receive information, especially in the first moments of collaboration. Learn to slow down, look and listen, and trust what you discover. You'll find you don't have to work nearly as hard as you think you do.

Musical Improv with Michael Descoteaux

$65 Limited to 16 students

Mike Descoteaux is the Artistic Director of ImprovBoston. Mike has served as head and creator of the Music Program at The Second City Training Center and music director of the Second City ETC in Chicago.

Named one of the top young songwriters in the country by the Johnny Mercer/AMTP association, he has had the privilege of working with Tony Award-winning artists such as Jason Robert Brown, William Finn, Mark Hollmann and James LaPine. His work has been seen on NBC, A&E, WGN and stages across the country. He has “composed” and “conducted” over 1,000 completely improvised musicals with Baby Wants Candy, Musical! the musical, I Eat Pandas, One Night Only Off-Broadway and many others. In addition to teaching at institutions like the Second City, ImprovBoston, Northwestern University, and Columbia College, Mike has lead workshops in music improv around the world.

Freestyle Rap + Beatboxing + Improv = Minds BLOWN!

$65 Limited to 16 students

Have you always wanted to learn to freestyle rap and beatbox but always felt embarrassed to try?

Or maybe you've always wanted to learn how to beatbox? Or perhaps you have gotten pimped into rapping in an improv scene and froze? Or perhaps you have seen a North Coast show and wonder how we do what we do? No matter what your reason may be, come to these workshops and we will teach you how to spit with the best of them, beatbox like a champion, and how to weave it all together with the fun and "rules" of improv.

At a core level improv and hip-hop go hand in hand. Whether you are dropping a beat into a mic or initiating an improv scene, the same principles apply!

Playing Game and Scenework Craft with Rick Andrews

$65 Limited to 16 students

Rick Andrews is a teacher and performer at The Magnet Theater, and has been studying, performing, and teaching improvisation since 1999.

Playing Game without Thinking: Finding a game to a scene and heightening that game is one way to make a successful scene. However, pattern play can often get folks stuck in their heads. We'll spend less time thinking, "what's the game of this scene." and more time actually playing it. Focus in on the simple improv behaviors that will help us create fun patterns and rich, tight scenework.

Scenework Craft: This class will be focused on building strong, funny, patient scenes. We'll use full body listening to catch every move made and to leave no idea unfollowed or played, and we'll go at a pace that allows us to use our intelligence instead of feeling limited or lost. We'll focus on commitment to emotions, physicality, character and point of view as a way to get out of our heads. We'll run the risk of doing a "bad" scene so that we can do an excellent scene.