Learn improv with a ‘legendary’ NYC comedy club

It’s common knowledge that New York City is known for its rich history of theater and performances. For years, the city has had a strong theater community and it doesn’t look like things will be changing anytime soon.

Though one local business seems like it has nothing to do with The Big Apple’s performance community by the looks of its moniker, it has been a legend in that community for decades. Chicago City Limits (don’t let the name confuse you, they were founded in Chicago, but relocated to New York in 1979) has been teaching and hosting improv in New York City for more than 30 years. While they’re New York-based, they also have a critically acclaimed national touring company.

They have been recognized by a number of top publications and also been named “Best Comedy Group” by The Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs.

If you’re interested in learning about what it takes to do improv, or looking to boost your presentation and communication skills, their wide-range of programs can benefit you.

“Everyone is creative, but many people are afraid of it,” said Chicago City Limits Producer Linda Gelman. “We’ve learned to be careful of what we say, to edit ourselves, to hide our light under a bushel.”

Gelman and a staff of almost 20 trained performers, producers, directors and managers ensure you get a top-notch experience.

She believes improv gives people the ability to be more creative, gives them a sense of confidence and allows you to connect with one another more easily. And for many, it can be fun and exciting. Fast Company believes improv can significantly improve your career by forcing you to collaborate, teaching you to let go of judgement, and becoming a better listener. Career or not, those are skills we probably all have room to work on.

Chicago City limits offers a variety of programs to corporate clients, including team building, private coaching for presentations, memorable business meetings, and of course, entertainment.

Improv can also be used and taught in corporate settings (Photo: Chicago City Limits)

If you are looking to begin your career in improv comedy, or you just want to fine-tune your skills, they offer courses for beginner, intermediate, and advanced comedians. Their course demographics include kids, adults, and everyone in between. Participants of the courses will get a step-by-step guide of the improv basics, and the higher the level of class, the more you’ll be able to build on that foundation. Gelman said the company always strives to offer classes that provide a safe and supportive environment for participants and students.

Most of the comedy club’s courses will cost you around $295. Core Elective courses like Improv and Music Improv Level III typically cost $195.

If you plan ahead, a discount of $25 is given to any student who registers for a course more than four weeks in advance. Spread the word and get someone else on board, and you will score yourself a discount of $50 on your own class purchase.

“There is no atmosphere of competition, and the only reward for having a good class is a student’s sense of satisfaction,” she said. “Classes are kept small (15 max) so that each student gets enough attention.”

Because CCL is recognized as one of the best in their field, in the city, you’ll learn from experts who have years of experience.

“Our teachers are the best, most experienced improvisors and teachers of improv in the city, challenging and helping students to become more confident, taking risks, opening themselves up to their own abilities,” Gelman said.

Like the adult classes, their kids and teen classes will follow the same structure, just focusing and adapting on younger minds. For those that really take to improv and want to continue learning, Chicago City Limits offers summer intensive programs. Similar to its influences in a corporate setting, improv can be beneficial for young minds, expanding a variety of skills. According to KQED News, there are so many benefits to improv, it is being incorporated in school programs all across the country.

Kids can also take part in improv classes and camps (Photo: Chicago City Limits)

CCL’s weeklong summer improv class is for teens ages 12-17. The program runs from late July to early August, so there is still time to sign up.

Learning aside, Chicago City Limits also provides top notch entertainment if you’re not in the mood for learning. Whether you’re hosting a large conference or a party in your home, CCL can come out and provide the entertainment for your guests. They’ll travel anywhere you need, to entertain you and your guests with their highly-praised shows. In their more than 30 years in business they’ve hosted more than 10,000 performances and performed in every state in the country.

If you’re willing to step outside the box (and your comfort zone) try out one of Chicago City Limits’ many courses and you might find yourself developing new habits and very useful skills.