Teaching improv classes and performing full-length improvised comic plays in Bethesda, Maryland since 1995

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(202) 258-6888

Since 1996,
• Improvising hundreds of full-length comic plays
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• Teaching hundreds of improv classes, combining rigor and fun

Mon - Fri, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM | Sat, 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM

A Wide Range of Improv Workshops

Stretch your improv muscles with Precipice! Whether you've never performed improv or you're a seasoned veteran, we have improv workshops that are sure to help you grow.

Half-Price Sample Improv Classes

Improv Roller Coster Ride

At Precipice, we are proud to offer half-price sample improv classes on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814. Imagination Stage is in downtown Bethesda, several blocks from the Bethesda metro and half a block from free garage parking.

You will participate in simple (but fun!) theater games and exercises that stimulate your imagination and exercise your creativity in a supportive atmosphere. What's more, you can simply observe or actually participate. But space is limited, so you must reserve a place.

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Improv-For-Everyone Workshop

For those who have never done improv, this class is for you. Open to everyone (regardless of experience), this class is designed to gently and playfully bring out your creativity in a completely supportive environment. Students take this workshop to:

  • Have Fun in a Playful Atmosphere
  • Get in Touch with the Artist Within
  • Learn Communication/Presentation Skills Useful in Work Situations
  • Experience Personal Growth
  • Develop Acting Skills

Classes are taught every week, all year, on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. at Imagination Stage in downtown Bethesda (4908 Auburn Ave. Bethesda MD 20814). Students can start whenever they like. The class is designed so that new students can understand and master everything that occurs in their first class. And in subsequent weeks new students will build upon the skills learned in previous weeks and attain a fluency unimaginable after a single class. The cost is $240 for eight classes, which can be taken whenever the student wishes. An eight-class bundle can be purchased at:

Eight Class Bundle

Those who wish to attend a single class to check it out with no commitment can purchase a half-price, single-class ticket at:

Single Class Ticket

Reserve a place via our contact form.

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Improv Couple


"Class was a great release. I think my inner comic genius started to eek out! Overall it was a blast!" — Lauren K.

"In the past six months in Gary’s class, I have portrayed a father, son, grandson, husband, and lover, a massage therapy student, a burglar and a deli worker. I’ve been in a submarine, on the moon, in a cemetery, at the beach, at a campsite, on a fishing pier, at a wedding, in the aforementioned jail, at a fortune teller, at an island resort, at a bowling alley and at the prom. This is just a tiny sample of characters and settings that one can expect to experience in Gary’s class.

I so look forward to every class. They are, of course, fun; but, they are also challenging, thought-provoking, insightful, sometimes frustrating, but always entertaining. The camaraderie is incredible. The support from my classmates makes it possible for me to take risks and succeed (more often as time goes on) or look like an idiot (more often than I’d like, but I’m getting used to it). Gary’s approach to improv is what makes this possible. His encouragement and mantra (anyone can improvise) and his coaching are so supportive, providing an atmosphere conducive to learning how to improvise a play and, as Gary says, to “make great art.”

Does it work? Absolutely. In the short time I’ve been in Gary’s class, I’ve noticed that the quality of our work has dramatically improved. It’s not easy. There’s much more to trying to improvise an entire play than one might think. The feeling of accomplishment experienced after a particularly satisfying class is well worth the time and effort." — Mark Bleich.



Day and time: Sundays 4-7 pm
Dates and Qualifications: The class is taught every Sunday, all year. Students can start whenever they like. The class is open to experienced improvisers only. If you have any questions about your qualifications, please leave a query on our Contact page.

Location: The Del Ray Studio at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Avenue Bethesda, MD 20814
Cost: $400 for 8 three hour classes

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In this master class we will explore answers to the questions: "What entertains and moves an audience?" And "What will the audience find satisfying at every moment in a scene and play?"

In answering these questions, we will develop reliable techniques for

  • starting scenes regardless of the format that is used,
  • maintaining audience interest in a scene after conveying the exposition,
  • finding an ending to scenes that is not predictable but seemingly inevitable, and
  • stringing scenes together to create a satisfying larger structure for virtually any improv format.

In addition, the teacher, Gary Jacobs, artistic director of Precipice Improv Theater, will work individually with participants to identify the one point of focus for each improviser that will make the greatest positive difference in their work. And actors who work together will have the opportunity to work with Gary on specific areas of interest to their troupe.

Enrollment is strictly limited. So sign up early. The workshop is taught by Gary Jacobs, producer of the Bethesda Improv and Comedy Festival, and artistic director of Precipice Improv Theater and the Center for Narrative Improvisation since 1995.

Improv Group Photo

Two Women Smiling

Singing Lady

Pinky Promise

About the teacher

Gary's work focuses on improvising great scenes and plays that harness the wild energy of anything-goes, short-form improv in the service of a dramatically and comedically satisfying story. His theater company, Precipice Improv Theatre, improvises one-hour comedic plays with the depth, power, and emotional payoffs of a good play but with the comic energy and imagination of good short-form improv.

Gary was trained locally in the 1980s by actors from Arena Stage and Sylvia Toone, who started S.T.A.R., the first commercial improvisation troupe in the DC area, with whom Gary acted and eventually directed. He continued his improv training with actors from Toronto Theatersports and apprenticed for a decade with Second City director and teacher Michael Gellman, coiner of the term “long-form improv." Since then he founded several local improv troupes and taught improv locally through Precipice Improv Theater.

He has also taught improvisational theater at ImprovBoston, and was invited to teach improv for the actors at Bay Area Theatersports (BATS) in San Francisco, the Chaos Theater in Phoenix, Unscrewed Theater in Tuscon, the Ventura Improv Company in Ventura, the Improv Bandits in Auckland, New Zealand, and the Court Theater in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is writing a book entitled Principles of Improvising Plays and Scripts for Stage and Screen.

Gary Jacobs

Principles of Improvising Great Scenes and Plays

(Including Sophisticated Scene Work, Character Work, and Narrative Techniques)

Two Fun Guys on Stage

For those with improv experience, this class gives you the chance to work at more challenging levels of creativity by improvising 20- to 60-minute plays. This workshop--designed from 20 years of research and using the same methods that trained the Precipice performing company--uses exercises that are both fun and rigorous, stretching your creative muscles in an exciting and supportive environment. You will learn principles for creating compelling and believable characters, riveting scenes, and exciting plays that are as good as the best-scripted work being written today.

The class meets every week during the year at the FAES Social and Academic Center (9101 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD 20814). You can start at any time, and we charge $240 for 8 weeks. Use our contact page or call us today to learn more or make reservations.


"We were blown away by what was accomplished in just a few hours! Gary's direction was incredibly helpful; he was able to immediately pinpoint our troupe's struggles and steer us in an emotionally honest direction. We can't wait to have him back. "— Leeann Dearing, Founding Member of Chaos Comedy in Phoenix, AZ

Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Starting Scenes, Maintaining Excitement, and Saving Scenes in Trouble

The hardest and most exciting part of any scene or piece is the opening. Because at the start, the improviser confronts a dizzying array of possibilities. Creating something from nothing (even with an audience suggestion) is hard. The workshop will teach you three sure-fire ways to start scenes, guaranteed to both generate chemistry with your scene partners and grab the audience’s attention. The teacher will also work with each participant to identify their unique ways of starting scenes, evaluate their effectiveness, and invite them to explore other options and possibilities.

Two Funny Women on Stage

After a scene has started, what then? How do you keep it going? One of the dirty little secrets of improv is that most scenes will stall eventually, even if you follow all the rules of good scene structure. That is why improvisers have created so many ways for transitioning to other scenes, and so many formats for keeping the scenes short. But this creative effort is expended out of necessity, not out of choice. What if you were confident that your two-person scenes would maintain their initial excitement until you decide on an artistically satisfying ending? This workshop will teach you three simple principles that allow you to reliably produce the thrill always present in great improv. And if the scene does stall, you will know what to do because the workshop will show you four techniques for addressing this issue.

This class is offered intermittently throughout the year at a time convenient to the participants. To put your name of a waiting list for the next class, please use our contact form to let us know your interest.

Student Review:

"I've studied improv with other teachers, and while it was always loads of fun, Gary's class brings us to a completely different creative level." -- Penina Maya, improviser

On-Stage Improv Chemistry, The Unsung Skill: How to Get It and Keep It

There’s a lot to learn to do good improv. You have to develop acting, playwriting, and directing skills, and to do them spontaneously with others. Broken down into their component parts, there are probably twenty to thirty separate skills you need to know and practice when on stage. What is often overlooked is the notion of onstage chemistry. “Chemistry" is not only what we find in a romantic comedy. Real chemistry must happen between any two actors on stage for the audience to believe their interaction. Without chemistry, the audience cannot suspend their disbelief enough to love the show.

This workshop will show you, step-by-step, how to develop chemistry with your scene partners, both in two-person and multiple-person scenes. You will increase your sensitivity to whether chemistry is present between you and your scene partners and learn how to help your fellow players ignite that chemistry when you notice it missing in a scene.

This class is offered intermittently throughout the year at a time convenient to the participants. To put your name of a waiting list for the next class, please use our contact form to let us know your interest.

Student Review:

"Gary's classes still blow my mind after 3 years. Sheer genius.
-- Tim Ward, President, Asia Africa Operations at Intermedia Communications Training and author of What Buddha Never Taught, and Zombies on Kilimanjaro

Play-Improvising and Performance Workshop

Two Improv Entertainers

Students who complete the Improv-For-Everyone and Principles Workshops are eligible to apply for enrollment in Precipice's Play-Improvising and Performance Workshop. This workshop meets once a week at mutually-agreed upon days and times, and it provides students with the opportunity to participate in 8-12 performances a year in a 150-seat theater. Students receive intensive and personalized improvisation training that encompasses playwriting, directing, character work, and advanced scene work.

The course takes place at the FAES Social and Academic Center (9101 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD 20814). For further info, and to obtain an interview to determine class eligibility, contact us today.

Improv and the Writer Workshop

James Joyce said that writing is "the most ingenious torture ever devised." But, what if it doesn't have to be? Some writers report that when writing, they enter another world, where words and ideas flow easily, and writing problems evaporate. This course reproduces that experience using improv exercises to teach you to engage your material on an emotional level fully while bypassing the roadblocks of your internal critic and accessing your wellspring of creativity.

Improv Frustration

Designed for both writers and actors, this workshop helps you gain greater access to your imagination. While writers find it helpful in stimulating their creative impulses, you needn't be a writer to benefit from the expansion in your creativity. Offered once a year at The Writer's Center (4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20814), the course costs $200. Contact us today to find out when this workshop is being offered. Or, call (301) 654-8664 to put your name on a list to be notified of the next class.

Creating spontaneous fits of laughter in our classes and shows in suburban Maryland, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia since 1995