For many comedians and improvisers, the first time they’re exposed to performing live comedy is in college. Most colleges are home to at least a few different on-campus improv teams or sketch comedy groups. But some schools have gone above and beyond in building their own college comedy organizations. Below we’ve listed some of our favorite comedy college organizations. So if you’re looking for a laugh or to make others laugh, look no further than these folks.
1. Second City
One of the biggest names in comedy, Second City has been teaching improvisational comedy since 1959. Since its opening, Second City has been home to major comedians like Bill Murray, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and more. While not officially part of a college, Second City has partnered with Columbia College to offer a special Comedy Studies program.
This Comedy Studies program is a semester-long program where students can study at Second City in exchange for college credit. This program teaches students about the various skills needed to be a comedic performer as well as how to write comedy. This is one of the most comprehensive comedy programs available and is a great way to dive headfirst into learning about comedy.
Second City offers many other additional courses beyond their Comedy Studies program to college students so if you’re studying in Chicago but aren’t attending Columbia College you still can study at Second City.
2. ASU Comedy
For students enrolled at Arizona State University that are interested in comedy, they need to look no further than ASU Comedy. Founded in 1985, ASU Comedy had humble beginnings as a comedy show known as the Comedy Corner. Since then, ASU Comedy has grown to encompass a variety of shows and teams put on at Arizona State University.
ASU Comedy offers standup shows as well as improv and sketch shows. Farce Side Comedy Hour is the group’s longest-running show. Every Friday during the semester, Farce Side Comedy Hour puts on an entirely new hour of sketch comedy. That same night, ASU Comedy puts on their Barren Minds Improv show as well as their Standup vs The World show.
If you’re interested in seeing sketch, standup, and improv at the same show, Tempe Late Night is the show for you. Every Monday, Tempe Late Night is recorded and live-streamed to audiences so catch the show from the comfort of your dorm or live.
3. Immediate Gratification Players
When considering Harvard University’s long history of comedy, it’s hard to not think of the Immediate Gratification Players. Founded in 1986, the Immediate Gratification Players have been specializing in performing long-form improvisation for decades.
Since then, the Immediate Gratification Players have begun hosting a a yearly improv comedy festival, the LaughRiot Festival. The group brings in other improv groups from across world to Harvard University each year for a week of on-campus shows.
Alongside their regularly scheduled improv shows, the Immediate Gratification Players also put on special shows throughout the semester. Some shows to keep an eye out for are the Murder Mystery Show for Halloween, as well as the Player of the Year Show. No matter what show itis, when you see the yellow and red tie, you know you’re in for a good time.
4. 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group
Ohio State University is home to the 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group. Performing for several years, 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group is made up of students from across all different majors. If you have interest in comedy and are attending Ohio State Univeristy, 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group is an invaluable resource.
8th Floor Improv Comedy Group puts on a variety of different shows throughout the year. Peroformign at the US Bank Conference Theater in the Ohio Union, the group is known for putting on improv shows, standup shows, and sketch shows. Primarily, they are known for their long-form improvisation shows.
Yearly, 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group organizes the Bellwether Improv Festival. Formerly known as ImprovFest, Bellwether Improv Festival brings improv teams from colleges across the nation to Ohio State University for a week of performances.
Bloomers is a musical and sketch comedy troupe from University of Pennsylvania for underrepresented gender identities. Founded in 1978, Bloomers was the first women’s comedy group in the United States. The group is named after Amelia Jenks Bloomer, a renowned journalist.
Today, Bloomers offers many free sketch and improv shows for students at the University of Pennsylvania. These shows focus on showcasing underrepresented comedians in celebration of all comedic voices. Bloomers is also very active on YouTube where they post many of their shows and video sketches.
Bloomers Comedy also hosts LaughtHERfest, a yearly festival inviting underrepresented comedians to the University of Pennsylvania for a week. The festival includes panels, workshops, as well as performances throughout the evening. This festival is a great way for students and comedy fans to see comedians that may not always get the spotlight.
6. Chapel Hill Players
The Chapel Hill Players are the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s longest-running improv comedy troupe. Performing three times a semester, the Chapel Hill Players are great option for students who are interested in trying their hand at improv comedy.
At the beginning of each semester, the Chapel Hill Players offer auditions for new team members. Even if you don’t make auditions, the Chapel Hill Players hold improv jams that are open to anyone throughout the semester. The group is also very active on Facebook where they regularly post about upcoming shows and auditions.
The group is also bolstered by the nearby PIT Chapel Hill improv theater. While not officially affiliated, many members of the Chapel Hill Players have gone on to perform and take classes at the PIT Chapel Hill.
While some people are promoted with just a master’s degree and work experience, most applicants will need a doctoral degree in educational leadership. Successful candidates often have experience managing in educational settings.
7. Theatre Strike Force
Theatre Strike Force is the University of Florida’s number one improv comedy troupe. Operating for several years now, Theatre Strike Force has put on shows for students and the Gainesville Community. Students who are interested in getting involved with Theatre Strike Force are able to audition at certain points throughout the semester.
The group also does a lot for its local community by offering improv and sketch comedy courses to people outside of the University of Florida. This is a great way for students from nearby schools to get an opportunity to learn these comedy skills from Theatre Strike Force.
And if you are just interested in checking out a great improv or sketch show, Theatre Strike Force regularly puts those on at the Parkside Performance Cafe at the University of Florida. Follow the group online to find their upcoming performances.
8. Second Nature Improv
Based out of the University of Southern California, Second Nature Improv is the school’s premier improv comedy troupe. Performing since 2002, Second Nature Improv has been providing entertainment and improv training to the University of Southern California student body.
Second Nature Improv focuses on a specific form of improvisational comedy called long-form improv. What that means is that rather than a show that focuses on short independent vignettes, long-form improv shows follow one or a few longer threads throughout the entirety of the performance. Second Nature Improv puts on a variety of shows such as Your Drunken Night, The YouTube Show, the Bat, and others.
The group has also been able to get talented comedians such as Tom Lennon, Kate Flannery, and Will Sasso to be guests on their shows. Yearly, Second Nature Improv also puts on their college improv comedy festival, Fracas.
New York University’s Hammerkatz is one of the most highly-esteemed college improv troupes around. Having performed for many years, Hammerkatz has accumulated a lot of very prestigious alumni. Many Hamerkatz performers have gone on to work on shows like Saturday Night Live, Atlanta, Community, 30 Rock, and more.
Hammerkatz performs live improv shows on-campus as well as the People’s Improv Theater and with Upright Citizens Brigade. The group performs their improv and sketch shows for free on-campus. Students that want to get involved with the group can attend their annual auditions which they hold each September. Hammerkatz also releases a number of sketch comedy videos online.
Students that want to stay up-to-date with the latest Hammerkatz shows are asked to subscribe to the group on Facebook and Twitter.
10. Chocolate Cake City
Chocolate Cake City is Emerson College’s top improv and sketch comedy troupe. Established in 2002, the group has since been performing improv and sketch comedy for Emerson Students for free.
Emerson College students can attend a number of Chocolate Cake City’s shows including Speedy’s Big O, Good Friends/Great Friendships, and Leave Your Wife. Each of these shows combine improv comedy and sketch comedy in new and fresh ways to keep audiences engaged.
The group holds auditions for new team members every semester. Chocolate Cake City also hosts a number of improv jams for students outside of the team. Chocolate Cake City is a great way for Emerson College students to learn more about improv comedy.
Now these aren’t the only college comedy organizations out there. There’s hundreds if not thousands of them. So if you’re a student and aren’t able to check out any of these organizations, check the one out at your own school. I’m sure you’ll end up laughing.