Chicago Intensives FAQs

What is an Intensive?
Intensive classes are 5-day or 3-day courses in improvisation, comedy writing, and/or other specialty areas at The Second City Training Center. In the summer and at select times during the year, students can choose to take a course for one week or stay for up to four weeks and complete Levels 1-4 of Improv and/or Writing. We also offer Specialty Intensive classes—some are for students with particular interests in mind (such as Writing for Late Night TV & Talk Shows, Voiceover, Storytelling, or Stand-Up) and others (such as Long Form Improv) are for students who have finished our core intensive program or have equivalent experience.

What’s the difference between a 5-Day and 3-Day Intensive?
Here’s the scoop:

  • 3-Day Intensives are offered throughout the year, roughly once a month. These typically target multiple levels (they are appropriate for beginners but can attract a mixed bag of experience levels) and are often taken as standalone classes. However, our All-Improv and All-Writing 3-Day Intensives match the curriculum of our Level 1 5-Day Intensives, and students who take those 3-Day Intensives can start at Level 2 of the 5-Day Intensives if they wish.
    • Please note: the 3-Day Improv + Writing Intensive is a standalone class. Because it offers limited hours of both improv AND writing, it does not qualify students for higher level intensives unless they have additional experience…but it does offer a really great introduction to the Second City method and is a great way to get your feet wet.
  • 5-Day Intensives (formerly known as “Immersions”) are offered in the summer and select other times during the year. We offer four levels of the 5-day Improv and Writing Intensives in the summer with the option to start higher in the program for students with requisite previous experience. If you’re looking for a longer, multi-level experience, summer 5-day Intensives are often your best bet. Our core 5-day Intensives offer the same number of hours of instruction as our 3-day Intensives, just in a different format to suit different student schedules, travel plans, etc.

Do I have to take both the Improv and Writing classes?
Nope! Students are able to make their own schedule. Students can take a half-day of whichever class they’d prefer or a full day of both Improv and Writing. We recommend taking both to get the full Second City experience, but you can also mix and match with these intensives and specialty intensives, take a break and come back later to take what you haven’t done yet, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Can I stay for more than one week?
Of course. Many of our students take a full month of Improv/Writing, or four weeks of one or the other, or a couple weeks of both—whatever your schedule allows. We also have students who take core intensives and then stick around for an additional week or two to take Specialty classes. If it’s more convenient for you, you can also progress through certain levels at different points during the summer.

What’s the difference between an Intensive and a regular 8-week class?
The majority of classes offered at the Chicago Training Center are 8-week courses. Students meet once per week for three hours over eight weeks. For students who live out of town or don’t have eight weeks to commit to a class, an intensive is a great option! The courses are fast-paced, hands-on overviews of our improvisation and sketch comedy writing classes. A typical intensive class is 15 total hours of instruction, while a regular 8-week class is 24 total hours. Our Long Form Intensives are the exception; since they are full-day classes, they actually offer more instruction (30 hours) than an 8-week class. The teaching/learning style is different with intensives as well. Because you move so quickly, you pick up concepts in a different way. You get to dive into the material, and form bonds with your classmates very quickly. It’s lots of fun!

Who takes the Intensive classes?
Everybody! Seriously…everybody. Our Intensive students are incredibly diverse in background: college students, business executives, teachers/professors, parents, construction workers, professional actors, lawyers, dancers, folks who want to try out the Chicago comedy scene…the list goes on and on. We have students from all over the world take these classes as well as locals, and we love that! Many Intensive students are dedicated to a career in performance, comedy, or writing, and many of them are professionals.

How do I register?
You can register online or call the Training Center at (312) 664-3959 to register. If you do want to take multiple levels, we can set your profile to allow you to sign up for all of them. You can either give us a call or contact us at intensives@secondcity.com to set that up.

How much do Intensives cost?
A standard 3-day or 5-day Intensive costs $299. Some of our Specialty Intensives meet for longer hours and are priced accordingly, but many are the same length/price as our core Intensives.

I don’t know if I can afford this class. Do you have scholarships or payment plans?
We have both! If you want to take a class but need to break up your payments to make it easier on your wallet, that’s no problem—we offer automated plans that allows you to pay half up front and half later or pay over the course of several weeks. If you are interested in scholarship opportunities, we do offer a limited number of full and partial scholarships each year funded by The Second City Foundation. Scholarship information can be found on our website. Please note that Intensive scholarships are extremely competitive and may not be applicable to some Specialty Intensives. If you’re interested in applying for a scholarship, the deadline for Summer 2018 is April 1.

I don’t have any experience. Can I still take this class?
Of course. Level 1 Intensive courses do not have any prerequisites and some of the Specialty Intensives are also open to all students. Folks with any and all experience/training levels are more than welcome to enroll.

I’m totally not funny. This class isn’t for me, right?
Wrong! In improvisation and sketch writing, the funny comes from realistic human reactions and situations. Our instruction focuses not on the “funny” but on the skills and fundamentals you need to be a solid improviser and sketch writer. Once those skills are in place, the funny will happen on its own.

I have tons of experience. Will this class be too basic for me?
Many students who take the Intensive classes come to us with a good deal of previous experience in improv, acting, and writing. We recognize that you invest your time, money, and energy into these classes and want you to have the best experience possible. The truth is that “the best experience” is different for everyone. Some of our most experienced students still choose to start at the beginning and fully inform themselves about the Second City philosophy and approach. Others want the experience of taking a full month (or more) of classes, while others choose to start at the beginning if they have experience in either improv or writing but not the other. For those students who have less time to spend with us or want to dive in at a higher level, we’ve got options! You can reach out to intensives@secondcity.com with your resume and/or a brief description of your training or relevant experience to request placement. Our program heads are experts at figuring out the right starting point for students of all levels.

What is a Specialty Intensive?
We offer 5-Day classes that fall outside the core Improv and Writing Intensive schedule. These classes are popular with returning students or those who have specific interests outside improv and writing. For Summer 2018, we be offered the following Specialty Intensives:

Voiceover
Storytelling
Writing for Late Night TV & Talk Shows
Long Form Improv*
Improv Architecture: Advanced Long Form*

*If you have previous experience and would like to take one of the Long Form Intensives (we recommend starting with original Long Form Intensive), you can contact intensives@secondcity.com to request placement. The rest of the Specialty Intensives are open to all students!

Who teaches the Intensive classes?
The best of the best! Intensive classes are taught by the Training Center’s core and senior faculty members, as well as members of our resident and touring companies, and guest instructors who are experts in their fields.

How big are the classes?
It varies based on the class and the week, but we tend to keep these classes smaller since students are absorbing the material so quickly, often over the course of fewer hours than a typical class. Our Writing classes also tend to be smaller to allow time for hearing student work, getting feedback, etc.

If I take an Intensive and then want to take a regular 8-week class, can I skip levels?
It depends on what intensive classes you have taken. Since Intensives are short-term classes (and fewer instruction hours than a regular 8-week course), they don’t correspond directly to the correlating 8-week program. The Writing Intensives also move more quickly than the Improv Intensives, so it varies from program to program. Generally speaking, if a student has completed all four levels of Improv, they can begin in our Improv A-E program at Level C. If they have completed all four levels of our Writing Intensives, they can begin the Writing Program at Writing 4. If you’ve taken a few weeks of intensives and/or have outside experience and are wondering where you should start in our regular classes, your best bet is to contact intensives@secondcity.com so we can assess your specific situation.

I’m coming in from out of town. Do you offer housing or guidance on where to stay?
The Second City does not provide housing or formally recommend specific accommodations, but we are lucky to have plenty of options (including some who give our students a good deal!) in the surrounding area. You can check out some of those options here.

For your reference, our Training Center is located in the Old Town neighborhood, adjacent to Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast and not far from downtown/the Loop. We are accessible via several modes of public transit: the 72 North Avenue bus stops right outside our building, and the 22 Clark and 36 Broadway buses and the Sedgwick station on the Brown Line are a short walk away. A couple of Red Line train stations are within 15 minutes’ walking distance or so. We are connected to a parking garage and you are welcome to park there, but please note that it is owned by the building management company and is somewhat expensive. It can be a good option if you’re running late, have mobility issues, or during inclement weather, but it does add up! Some students park in the surrounding neighborhood—it’s kind of a luck-of-the-draw situation. If you need help figuring out if a hostel or Airbnb is in a convenient location or the best way to get here, don’t hesitate to ask.

I’m applying for funding from my country or another funding source, and/or I’m a student who can get credit from my institution for these classes. Can you help me get the documentation I need to prove I’m taking classes with you?
Yes! A few things to keep in mind: we are not a university or accredited school, so we unfortunately can’t help with visas or necessarily count as a college course. That said, many of our intensive students are able to get funding from their home countries/schools or other organizations to take classes here. While we can’t assist you in setting that up, we are happy to provide letters of completion, verification that you’re eligible for our classes, etc. Just ask and we can probably help you out!

Why should I take an Intensive at The Second City?
We’ll let our Intensive students answer that themselves!

“This was my first real improv class, and it far surpassed my expectations…. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to do this. It has truly rekindled my love for improv.”

“It definitely went above and beyond my expectations! I have had so much fun this weekend and made some great friends in the process. I had so much fun and can’t wait to come back for more!”

“Blew away my expectations. I was taught more in a week than I’ve learned in grad school.”

“I was planning on moving to Chicago to take classes here, and now I know this what I want to do as a career.”

“I got so much more out of my experience in this intensive than I could have ever imagined.”

You didn’t answer my question. Can I speak to someone directly?
Yes! For Intensive questions, your best bet is to contact us at intensives@secondcity.com. You can also call the Training Center at (312) 664-3959. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have—we are happy to help.