2016 Workshops and Comedy Master Classes

NCCAF "Saturday Workshop Package" classes will run on Saturday, Feb. 6 and Saturday Feb. 13 and details (exact workshop locations, start times, instructors, etc.) will be sent to those festival students by Monday, Feb. 1.

Please Note: Festival participants who elected to register for the Saturday Workshop Package do receive a discount on almost all Master Class Workshops. However, refunds are not given if you elect to register for a Master Class scheduled during your package workshops. 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.


"Improv to Sketch" Intensive with Kevin McDonald

$300 Limited to 18 students

Kevin McDonald of "The Kids in the Hall" offers a two-day, 12-hour intensive workshop to improve your acting and comedic writing skills.

In a group of 18 of your fellow actors/ improvisers/ comedians, you will learn how to write comedy through improvised scenework, where improv serves as the writing tool. By the end of the workshop, you will be able to write sketches through the use of improv.

The workshop will warm-up with improv games to help sharpen storytelling skills and evolve until students are doing their own improvised scenes in small groups. You will then take these improvised scenes, working with the ideas and developing full comedy sketches. Kevin will move from group to group, helping and guiding with the "writing" of each scene. Each group will then have the opportunity to present their sketch in the workshop. After getting notes, revising and presenting the scenes again, the workshop will end with each group actually finalizing their scenes. The students will perform their now fully written sketches one last time during a showcase hosted by Kevin McDonald.


Writing, Production & Improvisation with Ali Farahnakian

$65-$85 Limited to 16 students

Ali Reza Farahnakian (SAG, AEA, WGA, AFTRA) studied extensively with Charna Halpern and Del Close in the 1990s at ImprovOlympic (IO).

Ali was also a founding member of the UCB with whom he helped to create the critically acclaimed show Virtual Reality. At The Second City in Chicago he was part of the Jeff-nominated show The Revelation Will Not Be Televised (dir. Jeff Richmond) for which he also received a Jeff nomination for Best Actor in a Revue. His one-man show Word of Mouth was an official selection to the US Comedy Arts Festival 2001 in Aspen. He was a writer on Saturday Night Live during its 25th anniversary season and received a Writers Guild Award nomination.

Writing for SNL: This workshop will focus on a commercial parody (which you should bring to the class) and a two-person character sketch. As one of the only former SNL writers teaching in the country, Ali will give you a clear, concise point of view of someone who has been in the belly of the beast. You should leave this workshop with the sketch packet & packet submission process demystified. (Ali has taught this class to more than 700 people.)

Improv Diagnostic: This workshop will examine the scene work and long form skills of each student. Ali will talk about his IMPROV YOUR LIFE curriculum, integrating all of the tools and techniques of improvisation to help students develop themselves into empowered comedians.


Holding On To Your Character with Dave Buckman

$65 Limited to 18 students

Dave Buckman served as Artistic Director of Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, where he was fortunate to work with and direct some of the funniest people working in television and web-based sketch comedy today.

Dave culminated his run in Europe directing "Boom Chicago: RockStars" the second stage-swap with The Second City's Main Stage in its 50 year history, After Europe, Dave worked as a director and teacher at The Second City in Chicago. He is a producer for The Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival and now co-owner of The ColdTowne Theater.

Learn how taking care of yourself can not only free you up to play but can be the best thing you do for your scene partner. Until you determine a character, the audience will forgive you for any "experimenting" you do; but once you establish that character, it's your responsibility to stay true to it in the context of the scene. Is it difficult to get started in character in a scene? Do you wish you had some ideas on how to stay in a character once you find them? This class will explore many different ways to approach character with a focus on becoming more aware of your choices. Find characters at the beginnings of scenes as well as ways of holding on to them throughout a scene.


Get Out of Your Head with Michael Jastroch

$65 Limited to 18 students

Michael Jastroch is one of the founders of ColdTowne Theater and has won several awards for his comedy including "Best Comedy Group" in the Austin Chronicle Reader's poll and the B. Iden Payne award for "Outstanding Improv Ensemble."

Are you sitting on the sidelines, stressing about your next move? Are you trapped in your head, judging choices? Do your improv scenes ever feel like work? Are you worried about the big picture when you should be playing? We all experience "being in our heads" in some form or another. But don't worry! We can train our brains and bodies to live the moment on stage! This workshop will center on physical, mental and emotional exercises that will make you more active, present and playful in your scenes.


Freestyle Rap + Beatboxing + Improv = Minds BLOWN!

$65 Limited to 18 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!


Organic Improvisation with Rick Andrews

$65 Limited to 18 students

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

Rick has taught workshops at improv festivals across the country, including the Boston Comedy Arts Festival, Baltimore Improv Festival, Black Box Atlanta, New South Comedy Festival and NC Comedy Arts Festival.

In this workshop, we'll explore alternative editing techniques that allow us to create a fully living breathing organic improv piece. We'll use many edits that allow us to leap right from one scene to the next, get us out of our head, and give us permission to follow the fun and silliness of each moment.