Our Story


If you want to geek out on our philosophy of improvisation, please read on. Improvisation is fun and we strive to make it approachable and fun for everyone, with the goal of meeting students where they are and endeavoring to help each student improve with each class. Empire Improv's teaching centers on noticing how you feel, noticing how your partner feels, and improvising from that point of view. We strive to keep improvisation simple, use what is already happening the moment you walk on stage and play that because what happened is exactly what was meant to happen. Foundations 2 takes the same idea that noticing and responding is all you need to do in a two-person scene and applies it to editing, adding to scenes, and creating beats. Foundations 3 expands on the listening and noticing and applies them to the whole show, what is happening in the show, and discovering that each scene is a response to the whole being created.











Empire Improv was founded by Michael Lewis in Reno Nevada in the Spring of 2007. After two free workshops that summer, some of those folks from the workshops trained to be our first performance team, Hostile Greetings. Our first show was in January of 2008. The three performers who established Empire Improv in the first four years, are Ben Craig, current owner/director of Reno Improv, Tim Dufrisne, now at Magnet Theater New York, and Michael Lewis. Together they performed as Hostel Greetings, doing Slackers, Harolds, and Armandos, and Police Cops! who performed an improvised cop show. Empire Improv continued to teach classes creating what became our three level Foundations classes that we still teach.  Several teams have performed with Empire Improv: Have Fine, The George, Collection, Like a Banshee, Outsourced, Real Life, This is Jazz, Bow Tie Kitty, Buck Dalesby, Party of Two, Fe Spartacus, Cosmopolitan Juggernaut, and Mediocre Tongue Work. Empire's performers have performed at The California Improv Festival, Made Up Theater, The Comedy Spot Sacramento, and Blacktop Comedy. In November of 2016 Empire Improv moved to Oakland California. After a brief time in Oakland California Empire Improv moves "home" (where Michael Lewis started improvising) to Bakersfield, CA. We offer our three level Foundations classes three times a year.