Sketch & Improv Classes at Drafthouse Comedy in DC

Sketch & Improv Comedy have been the cornerstone for comedy creativity for many years, including Late Night talk shows, SNL, Monty Python, MadTV, and more. Join us for our Sketch Writing course with veteran Stephen Hale and Improv performance with Topher Bellavia. Students will get stage time to perform in front of a live audience at Drafthouse Comedy in DC and/or the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse. Additionally, willing students can form in house troops and perform along national headliners as they continue to develop their skills. Time to get your creative comic juices flowing.

Sketch Comedy LEVEL 1 - Sketch Writing with 1 Performance


This course in an introduction to sketch comedy, writing short comedic scenes, rehearsing and working towards building a show that the students will perform in.  Each week students will explore different sketch formats and be asked, each week, to bring in a new sketch based on a specific format.


The goal of Drafthouse Comedy Level 1 Sketch Writing is to push students to not be afraid to fail in their writing, make big choices and take risks. Finding your own voice through the guidance and support of your teacher is what we strive to have you achieve.


The course will run for 8 total weeks.  5 weeks of writing, discussing and collaborating on new material.  2  weeks of rehearsing and exploring chosen sketches for the show and the final show, which will be held on the last day (8th week) of class.  


No prior sketch writing experience is necessary - the only requirement for this class is a desire to write, perform and learn.  Students should be prepared to work outside of class, writing new sketches, for the first 5 weeks of class.


Class Size: Max of 10 Students.

For more information please contact Stephen Hale:


Next Class - Class Size: Max of 10 Students. Tuesday 700pm - 9:30pm:
October 24th, November 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, December 5th, 12th, 19th



Sketch Comedy LEVEL 2 - Sketch Writing with 2 Performances


Prerequisite - Completion of Level 1 Sketch Writing within previous year.


This course is geared towards writing for and putting up shows with a shorter deadline.  Assignments will be given out weekly but the assignments given will allow students to really explore their own voice and find their own writing style. Each class students will critique, collaborate and give ideas on how to improve scenes with guidance from their teacher.  


Over the course of 8 weeks students will put up 2 separate shows.  2 weeks of writing, 1 week of rehearsal and 1 week for the show.  The students will then repeat the process of 2 weeks of writing, 1 week of rehearsal and 1 week for the show.


Drafthouse Comedy wants students to find their own voice, take risks and make big choices in writing and a faster timeline forces students to not overthink their writing.


The goal, after completing LEVEL 2, is that students will discuss forming their own sketch comedy groups and possibly getting a time slot at the DC Drafthouse Theater.

Next Class: TBA

For more information please contact Stephen Hale:

Improv Comedy LEVEL 1 - Improv for Beginners

Improv students will laugh, meet friends and learn skills in a creative atmosphere. Instructor Topher Bellavia invites you to start playing again in the Level 1 Beginning Improv class.


Starting with a foundation of positivity, listening, and agreement we will learn to play characters and do basic scenework.  People make simple mistakes and feel the need to say, “I’m sorry.”  Here, everything is made up so there are no mistakes. There are no “sorries” in improv.  We'll help you find your own unique voice and sense of humor.


This course will run for 8 weeks, including a student showcase.


No experience is required.

For more information, contact:


Improv Comedy LEVEL 2 - Improv Characters

“How you do what you do is who you are.” We will discover the way characters feel, move and speak to deftly create more thrilling and compelling improv scenes. Being concerned about creating witty dialogue or hilarious pratfalls blocks us from the important task of understanding the dynamic between scene partners.

You will learn to understand more clearly people's motivations and to portray those qualities onstage.

This course will run for 8 weeks, including a student showcase.

Permission of instructor is required.

Class Size: Max of 12 people

Next Class: TBA

For more information, contact:

Drafthouse Comedy Improv LEVEL 3 - Individual Feedback

Everyone has their own challenges. We’ll discover and help you to overcome your personal improv issues and habits. You’ll get unique, instant and direct feedback to help you learn the specific skills you need to work on. The fun is that each time you’re given a new challenge, you’ll feel yourself rising to the task more quickly and easily than before and experience. You’ll feel yourself growing in the moment.

The goal, after completing LEVEL 3, is that students will discuss forming their own improv troupes.

This course will run for 8 weeks including a student showcase.

Permission of instructor is required.

Class Size: 12 people

For more information, contact:



Stephen Hale lived, learned and worked in Los Angeles for 15 years before following his much smarter, Dr. Wife to DC.  Stephen trained and performed with the Groundlings, UCB and iOWest, while learning from and performing with some amazing writers and improvisers.  Stephen's sketch comedy group "The Midnight Show" has performed at the UCB theater in LA every month for the last 8 years, traveled the country performing with Drew Carrey, played festivals and sold a show to TBS (which never got made!)


Stephen co-wrote and starred in the Sundance Feature Film "One Too Many Mornings" and acted on several TV Shows while also contributing his writing to others.


He's excited to teach, perform and work with others in DC and turn Drafthouse Theaters into a Sketch Comedy Home for all DMV Comedians.

For more information please contact Stephen Hale:

Topher Bellavia was an actor who couldn’t remember two lines of dialogue in a row, thus thrusting him into the world of improv for the last 25 years.

In 2000, he co-founded Washington Improv Theater Training Program where he taught thousands of improvisers at every level and coached more than 100 ensembles.

He has won WIT’s FIST competition three times and has worked in 42 different improv formats. He currently performs in Topher & Dave, Werewolf,  Dr. Fantastic, The Haddington Club, The Bad Dudes Club and regularly performs in Chinese Menu.

Former students of Topher’s appeared on TBS’s Ground Floor and Fox’s Mulaney and write for NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Topher has produced, written and performed in eight improvised short films with WITfilms, including the 48 Hour Film Project National HD Challenge winner Multiverse.





We ask that all students be able to attend all eight scheduled classes and, if you cannot, recommend you wait until a course you can fully commit to is available.


We understand that emergencies happen so absences are allowed, but we do not allow more than two absences over the course of one eight week session.  If you miss more than two classes then you will be removed from the class and asked to repeat it.




A full refund will be given if you notify us seven days before your class starts.


If you ask for a refund within seven days of the class starting a $75 cancellation fee will be applied.