The 2017 Miami Improv Festival features workshops from improv and sketch comedy's leading instructors.

Workshop Information

WORKSHOPS ARE ON SALE NOW AND ARE SELLING OUT FAST!  Tickets for workshops currently are $100, and will go up to $110 on Saturday, December 31, and will go up again to $120 on Monday, January 9. Workshops frequently sell out, get yours now before they are gone!

Tickets to workshops can be purchased online, or at the box office the week of MIF 2017. To purchase tickets online click [BUY TICKETS] next to the workshop you wish to take. For more information on workshops and instructor bios scroll down.


Friday, January 13, 2017

10:00 am

Advanced Musical Improv
Instructor: Stacey Smith
Musical Director: Mike Descoteaux

$110.00  [BUY TICKETS]

Advanced Musical Improv is a workshop for students already familiar with the basics of Musical Improv, and are looking to expand their toolbox - or just polish the skills they already have. This workshop focuses on heightening song genres, movement, and finding the perfect lyrics through emotion and strong character!


1:30 pm

The Improvised Musical
Instructor: Stacey Smith
Musical Director: Mike Descoteaux

$110.00   [BUY TICKETS]

Learn the tools that are needed to improvise the perfect musical! Focusing on opening numbers, solo songs, love duets, revolution numbers and tips/tricks for strong narrative - you will create your own showstopping long-form musical!


Be Here Now: Joy and Presence in Scenework
Instructors: Tara DeFrancisco and Rance Rizzutto

$110.00  [BUY TICKETS]

Presence is the name of the game. Come do two person scenework, actively listen, find the fun. It’s all right there in front of you. Part bohemian methodology, part hardcore scenework, this workshop is both invigorating and full of straight talk.


Saturday, January 14, 2017


10:00 am

Instructor: Susan Messing


The only way to heighten funny is to be funnier. Good luck with that. Our audience and our scene partners are interested in our specificity, not our dick jokes. Get some specifics in your character, so you don't stand there as yourself and argue until we're all bored to tears. Lots of deliciousness to pull out the comedy instead of hoping you'll be funny and then wanting to kill yourself. Your work will become more effortless, whether in long or short form.


ImprovBoston - Allform: Beyond Structure
Instructor: Mike Descoteaux

$110.00   [BUY TICKETS]

Explore ImprovBoston's signature AllForm approach to improvisation. Follow the Fun to discover how every moment, beat, line and movement in a show can be deconstructed, leading you to the next scene. Find form where there was no form. We'll explore the tools that enable performers to create a unique improvised running order with every show. In this "everything is on the table" style, Harold beats, shortform lay-ons, narrative edits, game moves, audience interaction, heightened physicality, genre play, callbacks and pretty much everything else you can imagine, converge to answer 3 fundamental questions: 1) What does the show want? 2) What's come before? 3) What's fun? Join us and discover the exhilaration of laying down tracks in front of a moving train.

1:30 pm

6 Ways to Create Sustainable Characters
Instructor: Rachael Mason

$110.00   [BUY TICKETS]

Be people who live in worlds you won't want to leave. This workshop offers succinct and varied ways to create memorable and rich characters.


What's Wrong with Me?
Instructor: Joe Bill


In this diagnostic workshop we will do lots and lots of Improv Scenes and I will provide individual feedback to help the participants become aware of the constructive and destructive habits that I see in each of them, where their character and scene work is concerned. We'll focus on the behaviors and psychology of scenes that are going for laughs and scenes that aspire to be more grounded and follow emotional truth. The aim will be to equip everyone with at least 1 or 2 things that they can take out of the workshop and apply in the immediate future so that both YOU and your scene partners find you to be a more skilled and fun improviser to play with in improv scenes. 


Sunday, January 15, 2017


10:00 am

ImprovBoston - Reinventing ShortForm
Instructor: Mike Descoteaux

$110.00   [BUY TICKETS]

Every decent improviser knows shortform, right? Not so fast. If you think shortform is easy, hack, or gimmicky, you're not doing it right. Discover the art of shortform with Mike Descoteaux, the director of ImprovBoston's National Touring Company. Learn how to connect with an audience, attack the stage, and find the game within the game. Geek out on structures, comedic angles and ever-elusive hosting techniques. Gain valuable scenic, collaborative, character, audience interaction and fast-play skills that you can apply to most any other style of improv. One thing's for sure: after this workshop, you will never look at shortform the same way.


Defiant Thomas Brothers - Sketch Process
Instructor: Seth Thomas

$110.00   [BUY TICKETS]

Every sketch group has its own approach and style, but there are creative bumps that can either hinder or speed up artistic growth. In this workshop the Defiant Thomas Brothers tell you how they did what they did and how they do what they do. Their creative process involves constant evaluation and adjustment in addition to exposure to different disciplines. From a macro to a micro perspective, DTB will share the valuable lessons that they’ve learned. And they’re still learning. Always learning.

1:30 pm

The Long and The Short of Longform Improvisation
Instructor: Joe Bill

$110.00   [BUY TICKETS]

In Long Form Improvisation people can have a blast exploring and deconstructing and idea, using characters, scenes and games to play...BUT, just because you're having fun doesn't mean you're doing good Long Form. I will give you reps in approaches to Longform, in both established formats and organically discovered form as it unfolds, that will highlight a few crucial elements that are usually present in all awesome Long Form shows. We'll explore the ideas of Group Mind, being Ruthlessly Playful and Playfully Ruthless, Emotional and Strategic Listening and Investing in Emotional, Physical and Verbal Dynamics from the start in order to plant the seeds that give the group inspiration to play their asses off and understand the show that is being created, as you create it. We must do the show that is here, not the show that we want to be here.  

Defiant Thomas Brothers - POV w/o LTF
Instructor: Paul Thomas

$110.00   [BUY TICKETS]

Focus on writing scenes that present your point of view without losing the funny. Often a well-intentioned satirical scene falls flat because it’s preachy or predictable, or both. Worse yet, it’s a wanna-be-edgy scene, which turns out to be offensive (to comedians). Through analysis of examples from television, stage, and personal experience, get down to getting what you want to get out of a scene without being comedically clumsy.


Instructor Bios


Susan Messing

Susan Messing, a NJ native and graduate of Northwestern University’s Theatre School, has been an improviser and comedian for thirty years.  She is an alumna of the iO Theatre, Second City’s Mainstage, and a founding member of Chicago’s infamous Annoyance Theatre.  Susan created and teaches her curriculum at iO Chicago, iO West in Hollywood,  The Annoyance Theatre, The Second City, and around the country. Susan is an adjunct instructor for DePaul University and teaches for The School at Steppenwolf, and The University of Chicago.  Her standup act with her puppet, Jolly, was featured at the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend and NBC’s Late Fridays, and her most impressive bit movie role was as a bad stripper in a halo brace in Let’s Go to Prison! You can see her play every Tuesday night at the iO in Molly, every Thursday night in her critically acclaimed show, Messing with a Friend, now in its 10th year at The Annoyance Theatre.

“Improviser of the Year” – Chicago Improv Festival 
“Best Improviser” – Chicago Reader
“Funniest Woman in Chicago” – Chicago Magazine


Joe-Bill-WebJoe Bill

Joe Bill is widely regarded as one of the best teachers of Scenic and Comedic Improvisation in America today.  He currently teaches, performs and is the Senior Facilitator & Designer of Corporate Training at iO Chicago. He is also on the faculty at The Second City Training Center where he teaches intensives in Duo Improvisation and Improvisation for Actors. He is one of the founding members of Annoyance Theater Chicago where, for 12 years, he performed in and/or directed more than 60 different shows. Joe first learned Improvisation and in 1977 studied and worked with Del Close from 1985 through the mid 90’s.

Joe tours internationally with innovative Long Form shows including SCRAM! with Jill Bernard (Huge Improv Theater – Mpls.) and the NY Times acclaimed BASSPROV with Mark Sutton (Annoyance Theater/The Second City).

Joe headlines with Chicago Improv Goddess Susan Messing in Messing With a Friend, with Lee White (CRUMBS – Winnipeg/Berlin) in their show PARADIGM, with International Improv Legend Patti Stiles (AD - Impro Melbourne) and their show Our Play, with Georgie Caldwell (The P.I.T. NYC/iO Chicago) in the (Sutton-Hallal) show In Every Life and with David Razowsky (Host A.D.D. Comedy Podcast) in Razowsky & Bill.

Joe performs in The Del Tones, The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience and Musical Armando at iO Chicago. He has played as a guest in The Scene and Chica GO-GO at The PIT in NYC, with Let’s Have A Ball and ASSSSCAT 3000 at UCB Theater in NYC & L.A and with Kornfeld & Andrews at Magnet Theater in NYC.

He has performed, directed, taught and served as an Artistic Adviser for a number of Improvisation/Comedy Theaters & Festivals all over North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa and at every major Improv Festival in The United States.



Rachael Mason

Rachael Mason began her career in improvisation at Skidmore College, home of the National College Comedy Festival, with the Ad-Liberal Artists. After graduating with a degree in English Literature, concentrating on Shakespearean Studies, she moved to Chicago to study improv comedy with Del Close. She is now the head of Advanced Improvisation for The Second City where she created the Scenic Improv and Dramatic Improv programs as well as The History of Satire Series for The Second City Training Center.  She has performed musical improv with Baby Wants Candy at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, directed and performed at The Annoyance, played with The Hot Karl at ComedySportz, and had almost every job at iO (where she was Training Center Director for 8 years), done The Spoletto Festival with The Second City National Touring Company and is currently in the cast of The Second City Improv All-Stars at The Up Comedy Club.



Stacey Smith

Stacey is a loud Long Islander who can be seen performing regularly at CSz, at iO with The Musical Armando and The Deltones, in various projects with The Second City (most recently Life Hacks, The Really Awesome Improv Show and #DateMe in the UP Comedy Club) or with her various independent teams (Stacked, Brouhahaha and Smith&I) around town and/or at festivals. She is an instructor in the A-E Program, Youth&Teen Program and The Wellness Program at The Second City and recently created her own program called S.H.E (Sisterhood. Humor. Empowerment) for female identifying students ages 8-18. In addition, she also teaches and iO and The Playground Theater and recently got hired as Head of the Training Center at CSz Theater Chicago. She is also the Creator/Executive Producer of the Chicago Musical Improv Festival. Recently, Stacey performed two contracts for The Second City aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.



Mike Descoteaux

Mike Descoteaux is the Artistic Director of ImprovBoston. Mike served as head and creator of the Music Program at The Second City Training Center and music director of the Second City Etc stage in Chicago. He built and ran the Music Director Training Program for Second City, recruiting and training MDs for world-wide Second City productions. Named one of the top young songwriters in the country by the Johnny Mercer/AMTP association, he has had the privilege of working with Tony Award-winning artists such as Jason Robert Brown, William Finn, Mark Hollmann and James LaPine. His work has been seen on NBC, A&E, WGN and stages across the country. He has “composed” and “conducted” over 1,000 completely improvised musicals with Baby Wants Candy, Musical! the musical, I Eat Pandas, BLANK! The Musical Off-Broadway and many others. In addition to teaching at institutions like the Second City, ImprovBoston, Northwestern University, and Columbia College, Mike has lead workshops in music direction around the world. He recently founded and currently runs ImprovBoston’s music director training program.



Tara DeFrancisco

Tara DeFrancisco is a headlining performer at iO Chicago (on the Deltones, Chaos Theory, Armando, defrancisCo), ComedySportz (Mainstage), and a three year vet of the Second City Touring Company. She’s taught for those theatres and independently, both at home and internationally. Media-wise, you might see her in a Las Vegas commercial campaign, on Delusions of Grandeur (ABC Family/Blip TV), soon in the new feature film The Life & Death of an Unhappily Married Man (2015), or in several projects filmed for the satirical newspaper, The Onion.

She is also the founder and president of The Improv Retreat(, the acclaimed and beloved summer camp for adult improvisers in the midwest. In March of 2015, weekly residency of Here (a two person longform improvised musical, performed with Rance Rizzutto) is scheduled for Thursdays at iO around their worldwide tour dates. Tara has won numerous awards, including Top Performer in Chicago from New City, Funniest Person in Chicago by the Free Press, Top 25 Of Comedy in the US by Curve Magazine, as well as Chicago Tribune Show of the Season for the long running renegade feat, defrancisCo.



Rance Rizzutto

Hi, I’m Rance Rizzutto. I started doing improv with ComedySportz in Portland as well as joining Portland’s longest running sketch comedy troupe, The Third Floor. I performed with both until making the decision to head to Chicago!

Since moving to Chicago in 2003 I have performed with ComedySportz, Chicago, DSI (The Beatbox), Silent Treatment (award winning two-person silent improv), seven8nine, and various other improv teams and venues.

Second City also hired me to perform improv and sketch with their theatrical division aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). I’ve performed sketch and improv all over the seas. Caribbean, Mediterranean, Atlantic Ocean, and in late 2009, the Pacific Ocean…Hawaii. All in all, I’ve spent 17 months traveling and performing aboard cruise ships. That’s a LOT of buffet food.

Traveling with Second City also made possible one of my favorite improv opportunities: sitting in with the Istanbul, Turkey improv group Istanbulimpro and singing about swearing with cultural awareness (SFW).

After years of performing, I started teaching as well. I currently teach for iO, and have taught for ComedySportz and Second City in the past. People come from all over the world to study improvisation in Chicago, and I’ve been thrilled to help people grow.

Best yet, in 2014 iO sent Tara and I to Europe to teach their 3-day intensives. In that time we also got to perform Here in Estonia, Germany, Copenhagen, and Latvia.

Currently, I can be seen at iO Chicago performing with The Deltones and Chaos Theory on Saturday nights, and of course Here with Tara DeFrancisco.



Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas is a writer-director-performer and one half of the award-winning comedy duo the Defiant Thomas Brothers. As a solo artist he has performed at San Francisco Sketchfest, the New York Sketch Comedy Festival, SketchfestNYC, Just For Laughs Chicago, the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, and the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. His short films and music videos have screened at comedy festivals such as the Just For Laughs Montreal, the L.A. Comedy Short Film Festival, and the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, and his web series Ped Crossing, based off of one of his characters, was featured by the Onion’s AV Club.



Seth Thomas

Seth Thomas is comedic actor/rapper/writer/teacher who hails from Oakland, California. Seth is a graduate of the theater program at Clark Atlanta University as well as the conservatory, The Second City Training Center – Chicago. Seth currently performs with his comedy duo The Defiant Thomas Brothers – winners of the Best Sketch Award at the 2005 HBO Comedy Fest. Seth is also a faculty member at The Second City Training Center, Chicago where he teaches Technique For Unique Characters; Rap 101: Writing and Reciting Rhymes and Conservatory.