Gotham City Improv

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Gotham City Improv is a New York improv theater and training center that teaches and performs short form improv and sketch writing. It still produces long form improv shows and current students may be included in them at the director's discretion, but long form improv is no longer a focus. Independent long form groups are still welcome to rent space to perform shows.


Gotham City Improv was founded as a New York affiliate of the Los Angeles Improv troupe The Groundlings by Groundlings instructor Hilaury Stern and several Groundlings writers and performers. The troupe was known as Groundlings East. In 1988 Groundlings East became independent and renamed itself Gotham City Improv.


Gotham City Improv's Improv curriculum consists of four levels.

  • Level one is an introduction to the principles of improv and an instruction in short form improv. The level one class show consists of a series of short form games hosted by the instructor.
  • Level two builds on the lessons learned in level one with a focus on building characters. advanced short form. The level two class show consists of a series of advanced short form games hosted by the instructor.
  • Level three is a combination of improvisation and instant writing exercises. Each class includes advanced improv games along with timed writing exercises based around a variety of themes. After the students receive a theme (example: your favorite high school teacher) they get 10 minutes to write and then immediately perform the monologue without using their notes. The class ends with a performance of everyone’s best material.
  • Level four is about putting up a sketch show at the end of 10 weeks. Emphasis is placed on ensemble playing. Scenes are connected and built upon as part of a longer improvised format that paints a larger picture. Classmates work together using the building blocks of dynamic scenes and great characters to pull cohesive, fully improvised shows out of thin air. The final class will be a performance hosted by the students

Musical Improv classes are offered dependent on Instructor availability.

All students get individual feedback sessions with their instructor a week after the class show where the instructor constructively assesses the strengths and weaknesses of their students. Graduation to the next level of instruction is at the discretion of the instructor in order that Gotham City Improv can best serve the student and the other students in the class. Most students are eligible for one of the ensemble teams upon completing level four.

The Gotham City Improv main company also teaches customized team building and skill building programs for corporations across the country.


  • Founder - Hilaury Stern
  • Board of Directors
    • Wayne Fisk, Chairman
    • Scott Fenwick
    • Mark Rickard
    • Hilaury Stern
  • Marc Adam Smith, Executive and Artistic Director
  • Hilaury Stern, Director of Corporate Entertainment


Featured Shows

Off the Top of Our Heads

A short form improv troupe.

  • Director: Marc Adam Smith
  • Cast:
    • Alex Decaneas
    • Curt Dixon
    • Rachel McFarland
    • Jamie Maloney

Plus featured graduates of the Gotham City Improv training program.

Air Gotham

A long form show where all of the action takes place on an airplane on a one hour flight.

  • Director: Arnold Rodriguez
  • Cast:
    • Rotating cast of 10 picked from a pool of Gotham City Improv students and graduates.

Mind Fields

A writing showcase. Works tend to be five to ten minutes long and may either be fictional or biographical. Only one reader per piece is allowed but the writer may choose an actor to read the work.

  • Director: Arnold Rodriguez

Contact Info

  • Address: 48 West 21st Street, (between 5th and 6th Avenues) 8th Floor, New York, New York 10010
  • Box Office: (212) 367-8222
  • Email:
  • Website: