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Second City Chicago

Week-Long Immersions

Immersions 2014

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Are you looking to visit Chicago to fully experience the vitality of its sketch and improv community? Are you a local who wants to spend some time exploring writing and improvisation? Our immersion programs attract students from all over the country and abroad. Come learn new skills, meet new friends, and take advantage of Chicago’s rich comedy scene.

Four levels of Improvisation and Writing classes are offered. Complete all four levels, or just visit for a week or two. In the summer months, the Training Center offers a variety of Specialty Immersions for advanced students. Immersion classes are Monday through Friday each week, and Improv/Writing Level 1 tuition includes a ticket to a resident Second City show. Our Summer Immersions coincide with the youth and teen Summer Camps—ideal for parents and kids who want to take class at the same time.

Improv and Comedy Writing classes will be held in morning or afternoon sessions. Specialty Immersions are either half-day or all-day classes.

Morning sessions: Monday-Friday, 10am - 1pm
Afternoon sessions:
Monday - Friday, 2pm - 5pm

1 Week Tuition
Improvisation, $285
Comedy Writing, $285
Improv & Comedy Writing Combo, $525
2 Week Tuition
Improvisation, $525
Comedy Writing, $525
Improv & Comedy Writing Combo, $1000
3 Week Tuition
Improvisation, $810
Comedy Writing, $810
Improv & Comedy Writing Combo, $1500
4 Week Tuition
Improvisation, $1000
Comedy Writing, $1000
Improv & Comedy Writing Combo, $1900



Session 1: June 2-6 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 2: June 9-13 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 3: June 16-20 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 4: June 23-27 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 5: July 7-11 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 6: July 14-18 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 7: July 21-25 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 8: July 28-August 1 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 9: August 4-8 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 10: August 11-15 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 11: August 18-22 CHECK AVAILABILITY
Session 12: August 25-29 CHECK AVAILABILITY

Registration for all Immersion sessions ends at noon Central time on the Friday before the session begins.

SCHOLARSHIPS Scholarships are available for Summer Immersion sessions. The deadline for 2014 applications was April 1. Applicants will be notified of scholarship decisions by May 19.

HAVE QUESTIONS? See our Immersions FAQ page. Still have questions? Contact Julia DiFerdinando at

WHERE TO STAY IN CHICAGO? The Second City Training Center does not provide housing for Immersion students. Students are responsible for arranging their own accommodations. See our "Where to Stay" list for recommended hotels, hostels, and dormitories in the Chicago area, some with special rates for Second City students!


Prerequisites: Open to all students. Improv 1 Immersion must be completed before taking Improv 2 Immersion, etc.

    Improvisation 1: Fundamentals—A detailed look at the principles and processes of improvisation for both beginning and experienced performers. Students will study the fundamentals of the improvised scene including character, environment, and ensemble work. Available in every Session except summer Session 8.

    Improvisation 2: Scene Work and Introduction to Long Form—An expansion of the fundamentals that focuses on scenic improvisation for students who have completed Improvisation Immersion 1.

    Improvisation 3: Character—Following up on Improvisation Immersion 2, this course focuses on character and emotion to help inspire your scene work. The class helps the actor look within him/herself to find more powerful choices.

    Improvisation 4: Advanced Scene Work—Draw upon the outside world to inspire your scenework. Dig into the environment and focus on looking to your scene partner to help advance your scene work as well as you as a performer.


Prerequisites: Open to all students. Writing 1 Immersion must be completed before taking Writing 2 Immersion, etc.

    Writing 1: Fundamentals & Components of Sketch Comedy—An introduction to sketch comedy techniques including characterization, comic premise and story structure. Available in every Session except summer Session 8.

    Writing 2: Working with Premises for Sketch Comedy—A further exploration of using comic premises to develop original sketch comedy for students who have completed Writing Immersion 1.

    Writing 3: Elements of a Comedy Revue—Expand your comedy writer's toolkit. From full-cast scenes to monologues, discover the types of sketches that round-out a Second City revue.

    Writing 4: Advanced Topics in Sketch—Refine your comic voice and strengthen your skill in revision while learning premises that break the rules - clothesline scenes, songs and more.

Specialty Immersions

Specialty Immersions are courses in a particular topic often with special guest instructors. The Specialty Immersions run concurrently with our regular Improv and Writing Immersions. These are available as half-day or full-day sessions depending on the course. A full schedule of Specialty Immersions is available during our Summer sessions and will be added here as they become available.

Specialty Immersions Tuition: Each course is priced individually. Check the course details for pricing. Registration for all Immersion sessions ends at noon Central time on the Friday before the session begins.

Prerequisites: Each Specialty Immersion will have its own prerequisites or acceptance can be given by permission of the program head. Previous training will be considered toward the prerequisites. Contact Immersion Coordinator Julia DiFerdinando at or call the Training Center at 312-664-3959 to obtain permission.


  • Process with Michael Gellman—Veteran director, actor, improviser and master instructor Michael Gellman leads an exploration of the acclaimed improvisation techniques he has developed and used to create long scenic pieces and one-act plays. Building on the basics, students will delve deeper into emotional honesty, maintaining a point of concentration within a scene, connecting to your partner onstage, and exploring and heightening to advance story. Tuition includes a copy of the book Process: An Improviser's Journey by Michael Gellman and Mary Scruggs. Available in Session 3 (June 16-20) and Session 10 (August 11-15) from 10am-5pm; $525. Prerequisite: Improv Immersion Level 2.
  • Long Form—Designed for students who have completed the Improv Immersions Levels 1 and 2, the Long Form Immersion delves deeper into ensemble work and creating full-length improvised performance. Students will work on advanced scenic skills, character development and relationship, editing, and how to execute and design numerous different "forms" for long-form performance. Over the course of the week, students will gain a deeper understanding of both their own improvisational style, working with an ensemble, and how to create a cohesive and entertaining long-form improv piece. Taught by Susan Messing and Rachael Mason, available in Session 7 (July 21-25) from 10am-5pm; $550. Prerequisite: Improv Immersion Level 2.
  • Solo Performance: Solo Sketch + Solo Improv—Learn Solo Improv techniques to discover your personal voice, create engaging characters, and craft solo sketches. This challenging blend of improvisation and writing exercises will prepare intermediate comedians, solo performers, writers and actors to create and perform solo material. Includes a class showcase on a Second City stage. Taught by Head of the Writing Program Andy Eninger, available in Session 10 (August 11-15) from 10am-5pm; $525. Prerequisite: Previous writing or performance experience recommended.


  • Acting/Auditioning—The focus of this class is obtaining tools from the intellectual side of the human condition and on the audition process. Each student enrolled needs to come to the first class with a memorized monologue. The parameters of the monologue will be emailed to you before beginning the course. Taught by Head of the Acting Program Michael Pieper, available in Session 1 (June 2-6) from 10am-5pm; $525. Prerequisite: Open to all students.
  • Voiceover for Improvisers—Improvisation is a skill that is actively sought after in voiceover artists and this class is about helping the student discover what they will need to get started in the world of voiceover. During this class you'll learn about mic technique, demos, the difference between narrator and character reads, rates, tips, tricks and resources for building your career in the Chicago voiceover scene. At the end of class you will receive mp3 files of your work. Taught by Deb Doetzer, available in Session 4 (June 23-27) from 2-5pm; $285. Prerequisite: Improv Immersion Level 2.
  • Physical Theatre Styles—This Immersion provides experience in a variety of movement with different instructors each day. 
    • DAY 1: Physical Improvisation with Brian Shaw—The body doesn't lie, though it can definitely invent. In this workshop, you will use your body—and your body in relationship to other bodies—to learn structures and strategies you can use to discover and develop character, place, relationship and situation. You will walk out of this session with a new set of tools for your life as an improviser.
    • DAY 2: Clowning with Anthony Courser—During the morning, students will learn elements of physical comedy and slapstick, simple mime technique, character movement, and an introduction to clowning. In the afternoon, students will participate in intensive movement and character-based improvisation exercises aimed toward the development of a deeper connection to the actor's body.
    • DAY 3: Physical Characters & Scenes with Micah Philbrook—This segment continues the development of clowning and gives students practical experience in how to apply physical comedy skills to their sketch and improv work. Emphasizing forms, structures, and performance, this class will explore physical skills in scenes, sketches and improvisation.
    • DAY 4: Stage Combat with Greg Poljacik—A working knowledge of stage combat is essential to any performer's training and this class will give you those fundamental skills.
    • DAY 5: Broadway Dance with Ed Garza (morning)—Designed for improvisers, this class will provide students the exposure to various Broadway dance styles, the opportunity to develop a dance lexicon, explore various uses of movement in sketch (i.e., choreography mindful of the ensemble’s abilities and character exploration) and conclude with students creating a small group routine.
      Improvised Dance with Carisa Barreca (afternoon)
    Available in Session 3 (June 16-20) from 10am-5pm; $550. Prerequisite: Open to all students.


  • Music Improv Half-Day Immersion—Explore the fundamentals of improvised song. Using vocal exercises, rhyming, character-based scenework, and short-form musical games, participants will learn to ground their improvised songs and scenes in character and emotion. Take advantage of the style and theatricality of musical theater to strengthen your existing improv skills and learn to approach the improvised song with confidence. Available in Session 5 (July 7-11) from 2-5pm and Session 7 (July 21-25) from 10am-1pm; $260. Prerequisite: Improv Immersion Level 1.
  • Comedic Songwriting Half-Day Immersion—Learn the fundamentals of comedic songwriting. Immerse yourself in song structure, rhyming, and music, and discover how to locate and heighten your character point of view to comedic effect. Develop your ear for musical style, and learn how to write lyrics that are both funny and inherently musical. Designed for musicians and nonmusicians alike, students will leave with a working knowledge of the mechanics of songwriting, and how to apply that to musical sketch comedy. Taught by Head of the Music Program Jeffrey Bouthiette, available in Session 7 (July 21-25) from 2-5pm; $260. Prerequisite: Open to all students.
  • Musical Direction for Improv and Sketch Comedy—The musical director is an essential part of the work done at the Second City. In this Immersion, explore all the facets of being a Second City musical director, including underscoring improvisational scenes, improvising songs, collaborating with improvisers to create original musical songs and sketches, sound design and technology, and vocal coaching. Learn about the business and the different opportunities available for a music director in the improv comedy world. Taught by Head of the Music Program Jeffrey Bouthiette, available in Session 6 (July 14-18) from 2-5pm; $260. Prerequisite: Intermediate piano skill required.


  • Intro to Writing for TV & Film—A beginner's version of our Advanced TV & Film course! Writers will learn the improvisational brainstorming skills utilized in any writer's room. Explore visual writing, story structure and character in preparation for creating work for TV and Film. Discuss existing scripts, generate plot points, and create engaging comedic characters to populate and inspire your longer script. Available from 10am-5pm each day, taught by Terrance Brown in Session 2 (June 9-13), taught by Caitlin Kunkel in Session 7 (July 21-25), and taught by Terrance Brown in Session 11 (August 18-22); $600. Prerequisite: Open to all students.
  • Writing Strong Women—Create memorable female characters who DRIVE the scene. Writers (women AND men) will create sketches, monologues and character pieces through writing exercises, improvisation and a variety of writing assignments. Taught by Anne-Marie Saviano, available in Session 7 (July 21-25) from 2-5pm; $260. Prerequisite: Previous writing experience recommended.
  • Stand-up—Develop yourself as a solo comedic performer by writing and workshopping your own material. By understanding how earlier stand-up comics evolved, students experiment outside their comfort zone and experiment until discovering their own unique style. Students will perform in a class showcase on a Second City stage on the final day. Taught by Ever Mainard, available in Session 9 (August 4-8) from 10am-5pm; $550. Prerequisite: Improv or Writing Immersion Level 2.
  • Week-long Update: A News Parody Immersion—Simulate the work involved on a weekly topical TV show like SNL. Participants will both write and perform the works created during the workshop. Writers will pitch and create sketches, actors will be learning scenes quickly, and the week will culminate with a performance at one of the Training Center spaces. The emphasis is placed on short scenes based on current events, though two-line jokes are needed for news anchor-style segments. Taught by Ron West, available in Session 11 (August 18-22) from 10am-5pm; $650. Prerequisite: Improv or Writing Immersion Level 2.