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The iO Training Center

Considered to be the Mecca of improvisation, the iO Theater boasts a full training center based on the teachings of our co-founder and improv guru, Del Close, and his partner and iO owner, Charna Halpern, that has helped train and develop the talents of an entire generation of America’s best and brightest comedic entertainers for over 35 years.

Our improv curriculum teaches you our unique approach to Improvisation, the art of “long-form” improvisation, and the essential skills to perform iO’s world-famous signature form, “The Harold”.

Why take an improv class?
Improv classes can be used to improve personal skills like team-work & collaboration, listening, reacting and adapting in real time, leadership, public speaking, being in the moment, supporting the ideas of others without judgement, and much more.
Improv training is not just to find a way to behave on stage, it also helps with improving how we behave in life.

What is “long-form improvisation”?
Long-form improvisation is a unique art form that stresses agreement, honesty, intelligence, and support.

Armed with this training and their own imagination, a group of improvisers can take a single audience suggestion and begin to work as a group using a “group mind” to weave thoughts and themes inspired by the suggestion to help them create a world filled with wonderful characters and story lines that are built by the support and celebration of each others ideas.

The result is sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant, but always wonderful.

Make iO apart of your professional journey, and leverage your honed skills in pursuit of your career goals. Here are some alumni of the iO Training Center!

Types of Classes at iO

IMPROV

Considered to be the Mecca of improvisation, the iO Theater (formerly known as The ImprovOlympic) boasts a full training center based on the teachings of our co-founder and improv guru, Del Close, and his partner and iO owner, Charna Halpern, that has helped train and develop the talents of an entire generation of America’s best and brightest comedic entertainers.

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INTENSIVES

Don’t have time to go through our entire curriculum or live out of town? The iO Theater offers shorter “intensive” versions of our Improv Program throughout the year!

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ELECTIVES & WORKSHOPS

The iO Theater offers a variety of unique workshops throughout the year that focus on improv, acting, writing, and more!

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WRITING

The Comedy Lab is a TV comedy writing program, created by TV comedy writers, with far reaching practical applications for every student! It consists of four eight-week classes, the end result of which is either a TALK SHOW PORTFOLIO, an SNL SKETCH PACKET, a SITCOM SPEC SCRIPT, or a TV PILOT PRESENTATION, which the student can put to immediate use to further his or her career!

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MUSICAL IMPROV PROGRAM

Beginning with the basics of singing out and following the music, the program moves quickly into applying the tenets of long form improv made famous by iO to the performance of musical improv.

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VIDEO PRODUCTION

The iO Theater offers Video Production classes that focus on different areas of film production. (The classes and subject focus often vary per term.)

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Become Part of the Family

Since 1981, under the direction of Charna Halpern and the late Del Close, the iO Theater has introduced thousands of people to the thrilling and exhilarating art of long-form improvisation. While many of our alums have gone on to find success in the entertainment industry as actors, writers, directors, and producers. many of our alums have also used their training at iO to help find success in writing, law, social work, business careers, and more.

The education you receive with the iO Theater can change your life. Become part of the family and register for a class today!

BEING A STUDENT AT iO

Free shows, discounted admissions, local business discounts, all you need is your iO Training center iD! We want you to have a great time at iO, and free shows are a great way to learn through observation and active listening.

You are joining a community of passionate artists and many students pursuing comedy related careers, along with people looking to enrich their professional and personal lives. Surround yourself with people just like you, creative, passionate, and driven.

If you’d like attract iO students with discounts or special offers at your business, please contact smalow@ioimprov.com

  • Free Tickets

    Attend shows that are not sold out for free, and learn from current performers and instructors on stage. Take a look at what’s playing tonight
  • Menu Discounts

    In addition to our nightly specials, enjoy the student rates on a few select items at the Bar & Kitchen
  • Opportunities To Perform

    Our schedule offers opportunities for you to jump right in, and participate in open shows for students! Check out our schedule
  • Centrally Located

    Near the red line, across from Whole Foods and a variety of other venues conveniently located.Take a look at the map
  • Create Lifelong Friendships

    Surround yourself with others that have the same drive and passion as you. Join a group, found a team, and create art with amazing people. See our gallery
  • Learn From Professionals

    Our instructors are dedicated to providing you the tools and techniques that enable their students to find their artistic voices. See our instructors
  • CLASSES FAQS

    We also offer a full Writing program, Musical improv classes, Film production classes, and battery of electives to help you develop whatever comedy skills you need!

    While no one is guaranteed a performance opportunity at iO, most of our students find more and better performance opportunities at iO than at any other acting school. Following the completion of their last level at iO (Performance Level), those students go on to perform in a 7-week show run for a real audience in which they perform the long-form piece they themselves have created!

    After that show run, students have the chance to continue performing at iO as part of an iO ensemble that performs iO’s world-famous signature piece, ‘The Harold’, or by submitting an original improvised show or sketch idea.

    If you’d like to sign up for classes or find out more information about our school, please call the iO Training Center in Chicago at (312) 929-2401 (or if in Los Angeles, at (323) 962-7560)

    For specific class policies and registration FAQs, they’re located here

    Is There an Age Limit?

    18 and older. However, we do offer custom tailored workshops for youth groups. Please contact the Training Center at 312 929-2401 for more information.

    What should I bring to class?

    Energy and a willingness to allow yourself to have fun and test your social instincts. Although it is not a requirement, students are free to bring notebooks for taking notes if they’d like.

    Do I have to audition to take classes?

    Nope! Simply register for a class and you’re in!

    If I need to take a break for a term, can I return later?

    Yes. You can take a break and resume your next class level upon return.

    Will I be placed on a team after I graduate from the Training Center?

    While no one is guaranteed a performance opportunity at iO, most of our students find more and better performance opportunities at iO than at any other acting school. Following the completion of their last level at iO (Performance Level), those students go on to perform in a 7-week show run for a real audience in which they perform the long-form piece they themselves have created!

    After that show run, students have the chance to continue performing at iO as part of an iO ensemble that performs iO’s world-famous signature piece, ‘The Harold’, or by submitting an original improvised show or sketch idea.

    How long do the classes last?

    Our classes run in eight-week sessions. Classes meet once a week for 3 hours. (Session length might be modified depending on Holidays)

    If I have prior improv experience, can I skip levels?

    If you are a graduate of the iO Training Center in Chicago or Los Angeles, you are allowed to re-take the curriculum starting at any level you want, except the Performance level.

    If you are a graduate of the UCB Training Center, you are allowed to start our curriculum at Level 2.

    Other than those two exceptions, every new student to iO starts at Level 1 regardless of experience.

    I already know I will be missing two classes, should I still register for that class?

    NO. If you already know you will be missing two classes of the class you want to take (which is the maximum number of classes you can miss), things are still bound to come up that might cause you to miss a third class, which will then prevent you from moving on to the next level.

    Where do I start?

    You can register for classes online or over the phone by calling the iO Training Center at 312 929-2401 (or if in Los Angeles, at (323) 962-7560).

    Additional Info

  • Current & Upcoming Schedule

    Take a look at what classes are being offered right now, and in the near future. Upcoming Schedule
  • Internship and Work Study

    The iO Theater offers an internship program that allows students to work at the theater in exchange for improv classes. Internship Application
  • News & Newsletter

    Get discounts, and promotional offers in addition to the latest happenings at iO. Our newsletter and news articles provide you with in-depth information on the world of improv and comedy. iO News Newsletter signup
  • Class Graduation Shows

    Students perform at the end of their training program. Check out when your next performance is, or when to see your friend! Current Class Schedule
  • Harold Commission Info

    Want to perform at iO on a Harold team? Here’s the information you’ll need to prepare for auditioning. Harold Team Commission
  • Policies and Registration FAQs

    We want everyone to be safe and thrive at iO. Here’s where you can find our documentation on Code of Conduct, Policies, and more technical registration FAQs information Policies and Registration FAQs