Hi, Sean from ComedySportz here! I’m the person who responds to most of the emails that come to us regarding workshops with ComedySportz and I wanted to share the answers to some frequently asked questions about taking a comedy course with us.
If you’re thinking about taking an improv comedy course or workshops in stand-up comedy I hope these answers will give you the confidence you need to book a space today – but please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like more information!
What courses do you run?
We currently run two regular 8 week courses; Foundation in Improv and Beginning Stand-Up Comedy. These courses run Saturdays for 8 weeks plus a showcase/jam for workshoppers. We also run shorter courses (including Longform Improv, Musical Improv, Presentation Skills and Sketch Writing) and regular advanced Improv Drop-Ins.
Who are you guys?
We’ve been entertaining audiences across the UK, USA and Europe since 2001 and host Manchester’s longest running improv comedy courses. Our facilitators are all professional comedians and improvisers and are fully accredited by CSzWorldwide, one of the world’s largest comedy schools. Our workshops have appeared in The Stage, Cosmo UK and The Guardian Online. As well as their own wealth of personal experience many of our workshop facilitators have also trained with the likes of iO, Second City and Keith Johnstone.
Oh, so you know your stuff then?
Yep. And we’re really nice too.
What happens on the Foundation in Improv course?
Over the 8 weeks we will cover the core skills of an improviser. Starting with “Yes, And” we explore listening and focus, creating characters, storytelling and object work. Each session builds on the last to create a tool belt of useful skills. Exercises have a big focus on group work and play. As the weeks progress we introduce you to scene work and improv games. You will receive active feedback and coaching that is constructive and encouraging. Above all, you’ll have a lot of fun and laughter.
What happens on the Beginning Stand-Up comedy course?
Over the 8 weeks, participants look at different aspects of stand-up performance. We take a look at the use of persona, point of view, attitude, performance techniques, and a multitude of different writing exercises. You will receive regular, constructive feedback on your material and delivery. We also make time to talk shop about how the industry works and how to continue either as a hobbyist or as someone who wishes to pursue comedy more professionally. The workshops finish with a showcase where all the participants are asked to present a 5-7 minute set.
I’m not very funny or imaginative, is that going to be a problem?
This is the most frequently asked question we receive and the answer might surprise you. We can’t teach you to be funny …because you already are!
The first thing to know is that you’re not alone – everyone is going to feel self-conscious on the first day of a comedy course. No one is expecting you to be super confident and capable on the first day of the course – that’s why we’re here!
For those taking Stand-Up we will share a number of writing exercises to help you craft material and shape your jokes. Workshops are a safe and supportive environment to try new things and explore different perspectives. Let us guide you to find the confidence of voice and character to share your comedic skill.
Meanwhile, the best improvisers aren’t worrying about being the most imaginative or the funniest, they’re simply giving 100% commitment and focus to the moment and then reacting accordingly. If you’re trying to be funny this often means you’re in your head and not just enjoying and reacting honestly to the scene.
So, take the pressure off yourself and you’ll be surprised by how naturally funny and imaginative you can be!
Okay, that’s good to know. So which comedy course is right for me?
Unfortunately we can’t answer this one for you but hopefully we can help you make the decision that is right for you. It depends on what you want out of the course and chances are your gut is already pulling you in the right direction.
It’s important to remember that not everyone that takes a course wants to be a performer. For some classes are an opportunity to play and meet new people or to build confidence in a specific area (public speaking, networking, communication). We are always happy to discuss how skills can be applied to life both on- and off-stage.
The ability to adapt and improvise to situations is increasingly useful in both the performing and business worlds. Workshops can help build the resilience to face difficult situations with an open and enthusiastic mindset.
Although both Improv and Stand-Up courses run at the same time, we run the courses several times a year so you can always take one now and the other later! Some people take the Improv course to build confidence and then take the Stand-Up course because they now feel ready to get up in front of people. Others might take the Stand-Up course first and then take improv to make them feel more confident ad-libbing or going “off script”.
I’m going to miss a week of the course, is that a problem?
We’ll always work hard to catch you up if you miss a week – just let us know if you’re unable to attend. If you end up missing a large chunk of the course due to unforeseen circumstances we are often able to transfer you to the next course if we feel this will give you a better experience. We do have a cut-off point for joining a course (no later than the second week) as you will have missed core groundwork and group bonding.
Can I go straight to the Advanced Improv Drop-In?
Our drop-ins are designed for people who have done some improv training before, whether an 8 week or intensive course with us or elsewhere. If you’ve not done any Improv for a while you might want to consider taking our Foundation Course to ease back into it.
We always suggest you be honest with yourself as to where you feel you are on your improv journey. This is as much for your benefit as it is for others in the session.
Is the workshop space wheelchair accessible?
Our workshop spaces are fully wheelchair accessible. Feel free to drop us an email if there is anything you think we need to know to best assist you before a course starts.
I’m not sure I want to commit to an 8 week comedy course. Can I just take the first class and go from there?
As spaces on workshops are limited we ask people to commit to the full length of the course. You could be taking a space from someone who really wanted to do it! We are always happy to discuss any anxieties you might have about the course and work hard to make classes fun, friendly and supportive.
We do understand however that 8 weeks can be a big commitment so run shorter 2-Day comedy courses during the summer. These short courses cover the core skills in a much more condensed space of time. We update our workshops pages regularly with new dates. You can also sign up to our mailing list to receive monthly news about upcoming classes.
Money is a little tight at the moment, do I have to pay all at once?
You can secure a space on a comedy course by paying a non-refundable £30 deposit. The remainder is due on the first day of the course. However, we do understand that circumstances can change so can make arrangements to pay in instalments if necessary.
Can I book a course as a gift?
Absolutely! There is no better gift than laughter with friends and loved ones. Just let us know when making the booking that this is for someone else. Please include the recipient’s name and contact details so we can contact them with information about the course. Let us know if you need us to contact them after a specific date so we don’t spoil the surprise. We can also email you a gift certificate and info sheet to present on the day.
You must make payments for gifts at the full price of the course. If the recipient is not able to attend the course dates they can be transferred onto the next course.
Book a course for a friend or loved one, huh? Can I book a comedy course for someone I hate?
Sure, but they’ll have a great time so we’re not sure what you’re hoping to achieve.
I mean, you would say that. What do other people who have taken courses think?
Here is just a sample of the feedback we’ve received on our courses. You can find more on our workshops page.
“Signing up to do the Improv course, then actually turning up and completing it was a challenge for me as it was definitely something out of my comfort zone. I hugely enjoyed it and that was partly because of the great group of fellow Improvers, but also the great tutors. [They] were very good at giving feedback in a positive way and pushing us to improve without ever making us feel rubbish, whatever our skill level!” Marie Rolli (Doctor)
“I can’t recommend ComedySportz Manchester enough. I’ve just done an 8 week standup course with them and it was fun, inspirational, challenging and very very worthwhile. I can’t wait to do the improv and further comedy writing courses with them.” Vicky Green
“Improv is genuinely the MOST fun you can have on a Saturday afternoon….. learning the basics of impro at a relaxed pace, with fun teachers. It’s a treat… games, scenes, stories, characters, and lots and lots of laughing…it’s the antidote to a boring/routine life. Get out of the house and into the class!” Claire Westood (Wellness and Coach Trainer)
I hope this has given you a little confidence to book a comedy course with ComedySportz. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have over email. Alternatively, you can speak to us in person after one of our shows – we’re always happy to help!