What's Coming Up?

Click the link below each adult course listing for a description and teacher bio(s). Looking for Youth Classes? Go here.


Meet Ho'onani. Improv with CSz has made an impact on her life.

Need help choosing a path?

  • Anyone looking for a first-time improv class (or first class in a long time) should take CSz 101.

  • Anyone looking for public-speaking or improv skills to use offstage should take CSz 101.

  • Taken several classes elsewhere? Consider CSz 201, 301, 302 or 303. Call us for advice. 503.236.8888 x4.

  • Interested in Long Form? Look for CSz 302 & other 300 / 400 level Classes.

  • Interested in improv music performance? Take CSz 304, 404 & 504.

  • Interested in working on your craft? Look for classes at the 300, 400 & 500 levels.

  • Interested in becoming a ComedySportz Professional? Follow the CSz 101, 201, 301, 401 & 501 path.

    • Players with experience elsewhere may join us beyond 101. Call for details. 503.236.8888 x4

CSz 101 - The Foundation

“Great adult improv classes offered here. Not only a great time, but the skills transfer very well to work and life. These classes provide a safe environment to learn new tools for listening, creative problem solving, team work, and public speaking and performance. And did I mention it is just a freaking great time? Place adults can go to laugh and feel free and like a kid again.” - Krista A

Mondays, beginning January 6, 2020.
Thursdays, beginning January 9, 2020.

CSz 101 improv classes start three times a year. These classes are the gateway for adults to all things ComedySportz®. The classes begin in January and you can reserve your place now

We've been called one of the top eight comedy schools from around the nation by Paste Magazine. And we're dedicated to making you feel welcome. 

You will have an amazing time:

  • Learn improv the CSz Way - in a concise and organized sequence.

  • Gain incredible insight into what's funny and why

  • Experience the power of letting good things happen

  • Improve your public speaking skills

  • Improve your auditioning skills

  • Equip yourself with new tools for all arts: Speed, Narrative, Movement, Character-building, Conflict, Status and Fun. The improv tools we teach will give you a strong foundation for almost any style of improv.

  • Learn how ComedySportz and other improv styles work

  • Classes are how we find new CSz talent (Does getting paid to play sound interesting? Our pro players get paid.)

  • Meet interesting people, network and make new friends.

  • Have an unbelievable amount of fun

  • Here are two blog pieces from recent CSz 101 students, on the unexpected effects of taking this class:

Experience is not necessary (although certainly welcome); our classes feature a level and nurturing playing field. CSz is dedicated to equity and inclusion. All ages (18 and over), abilities, identities, beliefs and backgrounds are welcomed, celebrated and valued.

Our lead teacher - Patrick Short - brings over 34 years of improv teaching experience to the class and the January sets of classes will be his 104th and 105th CSz 101 sequences. Patrick does a terrific job of leading new and experienced adult students to great discoveries, as well as melding folks from different backgrounds into a united group - and CSz never forgets the fun of improv.

Mondays, January 6 - February 18
Thursdays, January 9 - February 21
7:30-9:30pm; 7 weeks.

Where: CSz Portland, 1963 NW Kearney St.
How Much: Cost is $195 for the 7-week, two-hours per week series and includes a Discount Code for free admissions to ComedySportz shows  during the run of the class. You’ll also get a code for a permanent discount on ticket prices to ComedySportz.

To register, call us now at 503.236.8888, e-mail us, or register on-line.

CSz 201 - the Next Adventure!

101 gives you the basic tools and theory; in 201, we take those tools and put them to use in lots of scene work. 201 is a six-week class devoted to the who, what and where of improvisation, and we'll work on scene starts, positivity, getting to the point, heightening and finding the game within scenes. 201 is focused on building scene skills for all types of improvisational performance.

Led by CSz GM Patrick Short, this class will also feature co-teachers each week from our CSz Pro Team. Each teacher is selected for their area of expertise.

Prerequisite: CSz 101 or equivalent class at another theatre; contact us if you have questions. 

201 will be offered 3 times each year, immediately following the run of a 101 class.

When:  Six Mondays, beginning October 28; 7:30-9:30pm (WAIT LIST)
or Six Thursdays (OPEN), beginning November 7; 7:30-9:30pm (no class on Thanksgiving, Nov 28)
Where: CSz Portland, 1963 NW Kearney St
How much: $195, including codes for show discounts.

To register, call us now at 503.236.8888, e-mail us, or register on-line.


CSz 301

ComedySportz® Games and Format

group 301.jpg

After learning the tools, and building the skills, it's time to learn ComedySportz®! In this fast-paced 8 week class, you'll learn at least 20 of our games and the format that turns them into the show that's played to millions around the US & Europe since 1984. The same folks who've performed this format over 4,900 times will be guiding  you. The Week 8 Class on February 26 is a public show for friends and family, featuring a Pro Referee and Announcer, where we will make you look like a rock star!

Prerequisite: CSz 201 or substantial improv experience at another theatre; contact us if you have questions. Contact Patrick at 503.236.8888 x4 to discuss.

Begins January 7, 2020 and runs through February 26. To register, call us now at 503.236.8888, e-mail us, or register on-line.


CSz 302 & 402 - with Starr Ahrens

302 Long Form Basics


From ensemble dynamics to the patterns and themes of Harold, this 6-week course will tackle the nuts and bolts of long form improvisation. How can we sustain and build comedy with less suggestions and more time? Why is it important to focus on ensemble? What is the structure of a harold? How can I have fun doing long form? These questions and more will be explored in this course. This course will culminate into a final performance. Students must have a solid foundation in basic improv knowledge.

402 Long Form (Intermediate)

This 6-week course is for improvisers with some long form experience or graduates of 302. It will focus on getting a more solid grounding in pacing and editing, along with following relationships as the main engine for finding comedy in a long form. We will be moving beyond the Harold to other formats like La Ronde and Monologic. Coaching will focus on getting beyond the checklist approach of playing by ‘Long Form rules’ towards a more intuitive organic approach.

Starr Ahrens

Starr has been performing long form improv alongside short form improv for the better part of 2 decades. While living in LA she studied and performed with Second City, iOWest, and UCB. More recently she's been returning to improv roots by studying Viola Spolin. She has performed in festivals and with random celebrities on stages all over the US. Since coming to Portland she has been consistently teaching and coaching long and short form groups and skills. She can be seen regularly at CSz, Kickstand, The Brody and Curious Comedy Theaters.

Prerequisite: CSz 201 or two levels of improv experience at another theatre; contact us if you have questions. Contact Patrick at 503.236.8888 x4 to discuss.

302 TBA Fall 2019

402: returns in 2020

To register, call us now at 503.236.8888, e-mail us, or register on-line.

CSz 303 Short Form for Long Form Players


Learn the ins and outs of game-based improv from the folks who've been getting paid to play for years, with a syllabus developed by Starr Ahrens and Craig McCarty. Craig leads you to discoveries in what's happening now, strong scene starts, heightening and playing within game structures. Take your long form scene skills and heighten them with the focus, energy and quick decision-making that are the hallmarks of the CSz style. 

Craig McCarty began his improv journey in 1999 performing with CSz Portland, he has had the great privilege of performing teaching and coaching ever since. He has trained at IO Chicago and the Annoyance Theater, CSz Chicago, and Kickstand Comedy. Over the years, his artistic perspective has been informed and influenced by Larry Arrick, Mick Napier, Susan Messing, Joe Bill, Rebecca Sohn, Bill Arnett, and many others.

Craig has performed with IO Chicago, Playground Theater Chicago, Curious Comedy Portland, CSz Portland, CSz Chicago and CSz Eugene. His notable Portland ensembles include Skin and Bones with Tony Marcellino, Moist Splendor with Betse Green, Peachy Chicken, Advanced Minions and Mazes and Kickstand’s CVLT.

Improvisation and its applied skills have become a way of life for Craig. He’s passionate about the skills, art and presentation of it all. He gets as much out of teaching a class as he gets out of having a fantastic show, he’s continually amazed and humbled by the medium, and is excited to continue to contribute to building the future of Improv in Portland.

TBA 2020

There will be a performance - time to be determined - at the end of the class run.

To register, call us now at 503.236.8888, e-mail us, or register on-line.


CSz 304 / 404 / 504 - Improv Music

Musical Improv Basics

This four-week course explores how you'll boost your improv skills to create memorable songs - right in the moment. We'll overcome fears and learn tools to help you make what appears to be extremely difficult and astounding almost effortless. Confidence, structure, chorusing, rhyme, duets and common styles will be covered. What you'll learn can be used in any improv style, and can boost your songwriting skills as well.

Patrick Short (304, 404 & 504), our co-owner and GM, has been making music since 1967, and teaching improv since 1984. He's a very experienced improv accompanist with lots of experience helping people overcome improv fears. Stage musical experience includes music direction for scripted musicals, including performances at the Kennedy Center, as well as Screaming Mee-Mees, who appeared at the Chicago Improv Festival, in New Orleans and Seattle. He has 5 albums to his credit this century, including Front Left Corner of Heaven and Bold and writes all the music for Thinking People's Theatre shows.

Maybe we will use ukeleles and maybe we won't.

Maybe we will use ukeleles and maybe we won't.

CSz 304 will lead to CSz 404 - Intermediate/Advanced Musical Improv with Patrick Short & Betse Green.

This class is also suitable for accompanists. You'll learn a ton about how Patrick approaches making people look and sound good.

When: Begins November 14 - four Thursdays from 7:30-9:30pm (no class on Thanksgiving)
Where: CSz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney St.
Cost: $160, including a CSz Loyal Fan Code for show discounts.

Prerequisites: Two levels of improv training at CSz or equivalent at another Portland-based theatre. Call us if your training was elsewhere. 

To register, call us now at 503.236.8888, e-mail us, or register on-line.

CSz 404 Intermediate Musical Improv

Teachers will be Betse Green and Patrick Short (see bio under CSz 304.).

Betse Green (404 and 504) has 17+ years of improv experience across the U.S. and Canada. Betse has taught and performed with CSz Portland, Portland's Brody and Curious Comedy Theaters, and has also made her way around to festivals including Chicago Improv Festival, The IFCincy, SFIT and many more. She is a sought-after teacher at the ComedySportz World Championship every year.

This class is for people already at an intermediate improv and musical improv experience level. 

Week 1 - Delivery - Stage presence
Week 2 - Singing with Heart - How you do what you do informs who you are
Week 3 - Character Archetypes - The Hero's Journey
Week 4 - Choreography and format (creating a format for a show) 
Week 5 - Putting it all together - Review work on skills people need to work on.

We will perform as the opener for a CSz After Hours show in March as an option for this class.

When: Begins January TBA (5 class meetings)
Where: CSz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney St.
Cost: $160. Limited to 12 people.

Prerequisites: Completion of CSz 304 Music Improv, or you have already completed beginning musical improv classes elsewhere. Call Patrick at 503.236.8888 x4 or email patrick (at) portlandcomedy.com

Register HERE!

CSz 504 Music Improv Performance

Led by Patrick Short (see bio under CSz 304.) for the August session.

This is a subscription-model class for people at an intermediate to advanced musical improv experience level.

Offered 1-2 times per year, this class will run for 4 consecutive weeks each time, leading to a performance at CSz After Hours (and maybe beyond). You can take all of the classes, or just "subscribe" to months where it's convenient for your schedule.

Prerequisites: Completion of CSz 404 Music Improv, or substantial music experience elsewhere. Call Patrick at 503.236.8888 x4 or email patrick (at) portlandcomedy.com to chat about whether this is a fit for you.

Next offerings:

When: Begins February (4 class meetings)
Where: CSz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney St.
Cost: $95. Limited to 12 people.

Register HERE!

CSz 315 Mime & Movement for Improvisers

Learn the basics of silent communication by exploring spatial & body awareness, object & space permanence, emotion and gesture while moving from one illusion to another.  We will work on crisp, clear, mimed intentions. We’ll explore the four basic elements of “dance”:  the body using spaceforce, and time.  Creative movement sessions will explore all the possibilities inherent in combinations of these elements.  And for even more fun, we’ll look at dance styles, and choreography on the spot. Get ready to move with poise!  (No prior dance or mime skills needed. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.  You will be moving a lot, but certainly within your comfort zone.)

Mary Pat McCoy finds Movement in every improv scene

Mary Pat McCoy finds Movement in every improv scene

Mary Pat McCoy majored in dance theatre at San Jose State University (with a stint in NYC), and performed with Mobius Stageworks, a dance-theatre company. While spending years running a family entertainment business, she worked with Young Audiences as an Artist in Residence teaching creative dance, clowning, juggling, and improv in Portland-based schools. She joined CSz Portland in 2003, and has since performed improv with ComedySportz, Concerto for Piano & MimeThe Screaming Mee-Mee’sNote Takers, and Been There. She has a real knack for teaching dance & movement to non-dancers. 

When: Begins TBD - postponed until 2020.
Where: CSz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney St.
Cost: $180. Limited to 12 people.

Register HERE!

CSz 323 & 333 Skills with David Koff

David Koff has been acting and improvising professionally for 27 years. A member of SAG/AFTRA, he's appeared on the TV shows “The West Wing", "The John Larroquette Show", and "Sesame Street". After studying improvisation at The Groundlings in Los Angeles for two years, David trained for a decade with Groundlings alum Stan Wells at his "Empty Stage Theatre”. He followed that with two years in the improv master class of Bill Steinkellner, the executive producer of “Cheers” and “Just Shoot Me”. In Portland, David continues to teach improv as a lifeskill to children at St. Andrews Nativity School. He’s also performed in the main ensembles and taught improv at Curious Comedy, The Brody Theatre, and now, at his own studio in SW Portland. He continues to serve as Artistic Director of the Fake Radio Troupe and is pleased to join the amazing team at CSz here in Stumptown!

Incorporating Core Stage/Theater Skills into Improv: This series of classes will focus on bringing the tools taught in traditional theater studies to the improv stage. Learning and using theater skills are necessary for creating professional-looking improvised scenes and characters. Classes will focus on these key areas of interest: entrances/exits, use of silence, offstage characters, creating a stage picture, learning about body posture and how to "cheat".


When: Thursdays, beginning September 26 (four weeks, 7:30-9:30pm)
Where: CSz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney St.
Cost: $140. Limited to 12 people.

Register HERE!

Group Scene Mastery: This series of classes will focus on learning how to participate in and then thrive in large group scenes. Many improvisers fear larger group scenes because of the confusion that can arise due to our ego and issues around control. Classes in this series will focus on the key areas of group dynamic fundamentals: patience & timing, space & mime work, identifying main vs. support players, and learning how to identify the core story.

When: TBA
Where: CSz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney St.
Cost: $140. Limited to 12 people.

Register HERE!

CSz 401 - ComedySportz Rec League

For people who have completed our 101, 201 and 301 classes (or those who have taken our 303 class).

  • Ongoing Wednesday Night Classes from 7:00pm - 9:00pm

  • Build improv skills and learn our games in a supportive and fun atmosphere

  • Performance opportunities in our Rec League matches several Sundays per month at 6:00 p.m.

  • Just $10 per class on a drop-in basis

  • CSz 101/201/301 or 303 graduates only

Some folks are in Rec League Class because they want to join our team; some because it's a fun time with a great community.

Need more info?  Email Brooke Chamberlain at brooke (at) cszportland.com

CSz 445 Genrefication with Doug Dean

Explore the use of genre in improvised storytelling. We will start with identifying and working the skills required to do quality genre-specific scene-work, and then move onto how to create entire shows in a single genre. The scene-work will include the types of scenes found in short-form as well as long-form performances.

From there, we will work on specific genres, such as sci-fi, western and horror; and by using them as templates, work on the analytical skills needed to break down a genre into its tropes. In our class discussion and analysis, we will endeavor to go beyond surface treatments of genre and delve into more sophisticated issues in storytelling within a given aesthetic.


Doug Dean has been studying and performing improv in Portland since 2005. He has been a cast member at the Brody Theater, Curious Comedy and for the past 8 years at the Funhouse Lounge - where he has helped devise and perform in genre-driven long-form shows including Murder Mystery Machine (Scooby Doo meets Friday the 13th) to Deadwood (with puppets!). He has also performed in scripted parodies such Point Break Live!, John Carpenter's The Thing and Sweep The Leg! (The Karate Kid Musical) He is excited to share his experience in genre and parody with the improv community.

When: Begins Monday, September 23 (6 class meetings) 7:00-9:00pm
Where: CSz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney St.
Cost: $210. Limited to 12 people.

Register HERE!

CSz 501 - ComedySportz Minor League

Next Class Begins October 29.

For people who have completed our 101, 201 and 301 classes (or those who have taken our 303 class).

The ComedySportz Minor League is a six-week course with coaching, notes and feedback on performance and public shows to hone your skills.

The Rec League is a community and on-going. The Minor League will be offered 3-4 times a year for those players who want to get to the next level. The class may be taken multiple times and there will be a focus different skills in some of them.

Minor League is directed by Brooke Chamberlain, with assistance from Andrew Berkowitz, Patrick Short and others.

Prerequisite: CSz 301 (some Rec League experience is helpful but not required). For those outside of CSz, at least 3 levels of training at a known improv school should suit you well. If in doubt, take 301 first, or call us. We’re nice. We’ll help you to the level that will serve you best.

Register here.


CSz 405 / 425 / 435 Johnstone-based Character

Theresa Robbins Dudeck

CSz 405 Status
CSz 425 Character
CSz 435 Mask

CSz 425 Character

“The basic components of the characters we will play are somewhere within ourselves” – Uta Hagen, celebrated acting teacher

Character work is essentially a process of moving beyond our socially constructed self in order to unleash the characters, the “other selves,” that already dwell inside of us. In this course, we will playfully discover, investigate and develop our other selves through external vocal/physical adjustments, attitudes, emotions, and other means. We will apply the character-building techniques of Johnstone, Spolin, Napier, Michael Chekhov, and others to generate humorous, heightened but authentic characters that may fall outside of our habitual physical and vocal type. This course will give improvisers tools to capably create bold characters spontaneously and also provide a space to flesh out favorite characters that emerge for solo, sketched, and/or improvisational performances.

CSz 435 IMPRO Character & Mask Workshop

A Mask is a device for driving the personality out of the body and allowing a spirit to take possession of it” – Keith Johnstone

This quote is Johnstone’s poetic way of saying a Mask is a tool for getting out of the way of the socially-constructed self in order to unleash the instinctive, creative self. Character work, according to Johnstone, operates in much the same way. In order to build and eventually become a character, an actor must explore his/her “other selves” during the rehearsal process. Moreover, beyond the theatre, those who have knowledge of and access to their “other selves” are often better equipped to step into “roles” that challenge and push them beyond what is comfortable in everyday life. In this IMPRO Character and Mask Workshop, we will playfully investigate the characters that live inside us through a series of character-building exercises and techniques. Then, through application of Johnstone’s beginning Mask techniques with a dynamic collection of half-Masks, we will encourage our most primitive personalities to come out and play!

Theresa Robbins Dudeck, Ph.D., has taught improvisation and applied improvisation all over the world in both academic and professional settings. She is considered one of the foremost teachers of Keith Johnstone’s Impro System. She is also Johnstone's Literary Executor and Co-founder of the Global Improvisation Initiative (GII). Theresa is the author of the critically acclaimed Keith Johnstone: A Critical Biography (Bloomsbury 2013) and co-editor of Applied Improvisation: Leading, Collaborating, and Creating Beyond the Theatre (Methuen Drama 2018), which has been ranked #1 on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases in Business Entrepreneurship” several times since its April release. For more info on Theresa’s work, please visit: https://www.theimprofessor.com/

Prerequisites: Completion of at least 3 levels of improv training at any theatre, school or training program. Call Patrick at 503.236.8888 x4 or email patrick (at) portlandcomedy.com to chat about whether these classes are a fit for you.

CSz 425 Character

When: 2020 TBA
Where: CSz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney St.
Cost: $180. Limited to 14 people.

Register HERE!

CSz 405 Status - later in 2020
CSz 435 Mask - later in 2020

Parking: use the lot one building to the east of us, next to Guild Mortgage (formerly Oregon Jewish Museum). Don't leave stuff in your car. If you are arriving way early and going off to dinner, please let us know. Or put a whapner on your dash.

Payment: we take checks, credit cards and cash on the first day of the class.