UK Improv Classes
Organic Chicago Style Improv Classes
Like most schools of Chicago Style Impov, we teach and believe in finding and playing “the game” (or engine) of the scene. However, we do not believe that you must only play the game. At Monkey Toast, we firmly believe that all you need to start a great scene is have a first move (an opening line that defines one of who, what or where). Then your scene partner will “yes, and” your move and we will organically build a scene together. We offer professionally run improv classes, suitable for everyone.
How Did It Start?
In 2010, Second City Mainstage and I.O. West alumnus, David Shore relocated to London. David was an instructor at The Second City Training Centre (Toronto), and The Bad Dog Theatre (Toronto), and has over sixteen years of teaching experience. A thirteen-time Canadian Comedy Award nominee and two-time winner, David produced and hosted Monkey Toast: The Improvised Talk Show (7 year run) and The Panel Show, and is the creator and original director of The Bad Dog Theatre’s Harold Night.
Artistic Director, David Shore’s teaching and performing style was heavily influenced by a three-day improv workshop he attended with Second City alumnus and Oscar winning actor, Alan Arkin. Arkin’s approach simplified David’s game and completely shifted his approach to performing and teaching improv.
Here’s what former students have to say about David:
“Quite possibly the best improv eye in Toronto.” – Rob Baker, alumnus, The Second City Mainstage.
“I can’t recommend David Shore’s improv course enough and continue to do just that. David is committed to and passionate about making you a better improviser. I love MCing with a passion, and felt I’d come on leaps and bounds while doing David’s course. Such is his ability to draw out that something extra you possibly thought/hoped/prayed was in there somewhere. I’ve even ended up working on projects with people I met on the course, so even when it’s over it’s never really over.” – James Gill, MC, Always Be Comedy, London.
“David is a great instructor. He doesn’t sugarcoat his notes and his clear set of goals plus his experience in improvisation will definitely help you grow. Studying with David will make you a better improviser.”– Adam Cawley, alumnus, The Second City Mainstage.
“David is a relaxed yet instructional teacher, and creates a very safe space in his workshops so that you are encouraged to push yourself while learning. His notes are very helpful, he is especially talented at spotting what is holding one back (confidence in decisions/character/space work) and forcing you to confront those areas which you find hardest. This means that students might occasionally find classes difficult, but all will finish each level an improved improviser. Plus it’s loads of fun.” – Sara Pascoe, comedian/actress, Live at the Apollo, 2012, Campus, Stand Up for the Week.
“I’ve studied with lots of teachers but David was the best. If I am up on stage and having fun and not worrying on the sidelines it is because of him.” – Stefanie Drummond, Improviser, The Bad Dog Theatre.
“Every student of improv needs a class with David Shore. Not only is he knowledgeable and insightful, but he’s honest and will get to the heart of your improv issues without pulling any punches. I am a better improviser because of his classes.” – Jan Caruana, 2009 & 2013 Canadian Comedy Award winner for Best Female Improviser, and alumnus, The Second City Mainstage.
In order to keep up with the demand for the classes, David has hired Monkey Toast Players’ Paul Foxcroft, Briony Redman, Susan Harrison, and Charlotte Gittins to teach the lower level classes.
Paul Foxcroft has been performing & teaching professionally in the UK, Canada & Europe for seven years. During that time, he has survived a number of 50-hour improvised marathons, in Canada – with show creators Die-Nasty – and in the UK. He was co-founder of the award winning improv group, The Institute, who won the London Theatresports Cup. He is also a core cast member of Monkey Toast, and guests regularly with Grand Theft Impro. As a writer, Paul was a finalist in Montreal’s Just For Laughs International Comedy Festival scriptwriting competition in 2011. His material has been broadcast on TV & radio in Canada, and he writes & performs regularly with his own troupe, the exquisitely politely entitled Ladies and Gentlemen, who have just returned from a sell-out Edinburgh run.
Level 1 – Long-Form Improv Foundation. We will focus on “yes, and”; who, what & where; listening; status; being in the moment; how to start a scene; multiple person scenes; entering and exiting; space work; finding the game of the scene, and performing multiple person scenes. No prerequisite.
Level 2 – The Scene. This class will concentrate on scene work. We’ll work on four techniques for getting out of your head, delve deeper into finding the game of the scene, and explore letting the scene happen. As well, we’re work on tag-outs, editing, being an object, character work, monologues, and serving the scene. Prerequisite: Level 1, or by audition.
Level 3 – The Harold. The Harold is the starting point for all Chicago Style Long-Form structures. At Monkey Toast, we teach an advanced form of the Harold. While the basic structure is the same, we believe the form we teach could cut up to a year in a student’s development. This is the Harold that experienced players naturally perform. There will be a class show at the end of this course. Prerequisite: Level 2.
Level 4 – Advanced Long-Form. We also spend time working on character and thinking in “improv logic”. We’ll also spend additional time on The Harold and move on to other Long-Form structures such as The Armando, and The Slacker. There will be a class show at the end of this course. Prerequisite: Level 3.
Level 5 – Master Class with David Shore. In this class students will perform the different Long-Form structures that were learned in the previous levels and will receive detailed notes from David. We will also focus on improving any weaknesses or holes in students’ individual game. Students will also perform Two-Prov and learn some new exercises to help them grow as improvisers. Prerequisite: Level 4.
Character Comedy Class. The character comedy class will look at various techniques to create and develop characters, with a focus on physicality, voice and observation. This course is for those of you who would like to sharpen your characterisation within Improv scenes and also for those of you who are interested in developing and performing your own character comedy. Prerequisite: Previous improv training.
Sketch Writing Class. Surreal sketches, naturalistic sketches, observational sketches, character sketches, satirical sketches: We’ll talk about them all. And we’ll write them. Lots of them. Let’s try and identify some of the ingredients that that give the germ of an idea the best chance to grow into a magnificently plumed parrot. Let’s give ourselves the best chance of writing the sketches that could save the planet. Bring a pen. Prerequisite: None.
One-Day Character Intensive for Improvisers. A fun, energetic workshop looking at Character in Improv. The intensive will be a chance to explore different routes in to portraying characters, focusing on physicality, voice and observation, among other things. Get used to playing characters far away from yourself in improv scenes and have fun getting out of your comfort zone in a playful environment. Prerequisite: Previous improv training.
Classic Improv Games Course. This class is designed for people who have trained in long-form but want to develop their skillset to include short-form improv games. The class will feature a number of classic short-form games and the techniques that underpin them, including but not limited to; Freeze Tag, One Voice, Pillars, Actor’s Nightmare, Half-life, Standing Sitting Lying, Word-At-A-Time and many, many more. The course will cover audience participation and making strong, supportive choices in scenes and games. Prerequisite: Level 2 or with permission from the instructor.
Additional Course Info:
We run both 8 week (once a week) courses and 4-day intensives. The weekly classes are held on weeknight evenings or Saturday and Sunday afternoons and are 3 hours in length (for 8 weeks). The intensive classes run from 10am-5pm with an hour lunch break for four straight days. Each course contains 24 hours of instruction and costs £200.
Spotlight members receive a 10% discount on the Level 1 course. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your Spotlight View Pin and we’ll email you the discount code.
We will be running 4-day Level 1 and 2 Intensive classes in September. Dates tba.
Our next round of 8 week classes will start the first week of October. There will be classes in Levels 1 through 5 offered. The complete schedule will be completed in late August.
If you’d like more information or would like to get on one of our class waiting lists, please email us at email@example.com.
For registration info about Level 2, please first read info about the Level 2 class audition below.
Monkey Toast reserves the right to change instructors when necessary. Students will be notified as soon as possible if their instructor has been changed.
Booking: Level 1 classes may be booked by clicking on the above links for other classes, please email David at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please email us if you have any questions.
Free Placement Audition:
If you have a lot of improv experience and would like to audition to go straight into Level 2, please email us to arrange a free placement audition.
General Info Regarding Class Payment
For new students, the course fee must be paid in full before class begins. If the payment is not made in a timely manner, your spot in the class may be offered to another person on the waiting list. Tuition is non-refundable and non-transferable. However, if you drop out of the class before it starts and if we are able to fill your spot, you will receive a full refund (minus an admin fee). If we can fill the spot before the second class, you will receive a prorated refund (minus an admin fee). If your spot cannot be filled before the second class or if you drop out after the second class occurs, we will be unable to refund your tuition.
If you are under 18 years of age, we require permission from a parent or guardian for you to take the course. Failure to do so could lead to removal from the class without a refund.
Receipts will be issued by the ticketing system at time of purchase.
All of the above terms are subject to change without notice. Monkey Toast reserves the right to accept or deny any application.
Please note that Monkey Toast reserves the right to remove any student that contravenes the safe and respectful environment that we’ve created within our improv community.
Monkey Toast Improv Class FAQs
I’ve missed your current round of classes. Will you be running more classes soon?
At present, we run four rounds of classes per year; October-December, January-March, March-May, May-July.
How do I sign up for your next round of classes?
All of our classes have waiting lists. As soon as you email us indicating that you want to take either Level 1 or 2, you will be placed on the appropriate waiting list. All spots in classes are filled either by current students moving forward in the levels or via the waiting lists.
How does the Level 1 class waiting list work?
Once the Level 1 class schedule is completed, it will be emailed to everyone on the Level 1 class waiting list. The first 12 students (per course) who respond and pay for the class in full, will get the spots. Please note that Monkey Toast is not responsible if our email goes to your spam folder or if for any reason, you never receive the Level 1 schedule email.
Once I am on the waiting list, how long will it take until I am placed in a class?
That all depends on your schedule. If your schedule fits with the class schedule you could get in next term. If your schedule doesn’t, you’ll just have to wait until the class schedule works for you.
I see that to start in Level 2 you need to audition. I’ve never taken an improv course before, but I have experience in a sketch troupe and/or I have done a lot of stand up. Can I audition for Level 2?
While your previous performance experience will benefit your improv career, the fact that you’ve never taken an improv class means that you’ll need to start in Level 1.
What does the Level 2 audition consist of?
The purpose of the Level 2 audition is to see if you can do improvised scenes and typically lasts 2 hours. You will be split into groups, given a word or a location as your suggestion and be expected to improvise an entire scene based on that single suggestion. If you’ve never done that before or are not confident you can do so, you should start in Level 1 and get a firm grounding in the foundations of Chicago Style Long-Form Improvisation.
If I feel that I had an off day at the audition, would I be allowed to audition again?
Yes, all students who do not pass the audition are given the option of re-auditioning. However, if you audition a second time, and we still feel that you should start in Level 1, then you’ll need to start in Level 1.
If I pass the audition but am unable to take the next round of classes, will I have to audition again?
No. Once you pass the audition you will be placed on the Level 2 class waiting list and we will keep you informed about future classes.
What happens if I miss a class or classes?
If there is more than one class occurring that term (i.e. two Level 1 classes) then you can attend the other class to do a makeup as long as you have permission from your instructor and it occurs in the same week (the classes will run at the same pace). If you know that you’re going to miss two classes in a row or three in total (without being able to do makeups) then it would be best for you to take the course at a time when it best fits your schedule.
If you cannot do a makeup for a class (or if there is no makeup), the instructor will recap what you missed in the previous class, however, if you miss two classes in a row, they will not be able to recap anything from the first class that you missed.
If you are taking an intensive course, you will not be able to do any makeups due to the nature of those classes. It is not advisable to miss more than a half-day of class in any intensive course.
If you miss too many classes, your instructor or the Artistic Director may remove you from the course if they feel that you will be too far behind to catch up or that you will hold the class back. There are no refunds if you are removed from the course.
How do the makeup classes work?
You will need permission from your instructor to attend a makeup class. We only allow 3 students to do a makeup in any one class (unless the class they are sitting in on is not full). If the makeup class you are attending is full, then you will get to participate in the warm-up and watch that week’s exercises (and ask questions). The instructor will do their best to have you participate in the exercises but the people who are registered in that class get priority.
If the class is not full, or someone is away, you will get to fully participate in the class. If there are two or more of you doing a makeup, and there are not enough opens spots for all of you, then the instructor will have you share the opens spots.
If there are no open spots available but your instructor says you can attend the makeup, then please do as you can learn a lot by watching the exercises.
You must do the makeup in the same week as your missed class. For example, if you’re class is on Saturday afternoons and the other class is on Tuesday nights, then you must go to the class on the Tuesday after the class you missed. However, if you are in the Tuesday night class, you’ll need to plan ahead to do a makeup, as the Saturday class would be ahead of yours.