Philly Improv Theater

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Philly Improv Theater, or PHIT (pronounced "fit"), is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania comedy theater which produces and presents shows on second stage at The Adrienne Theatre in Center City Philadelphia. The theater also operates a training center with programs in improv comedy, sketch comedy and stand-up comedy. PHIT's most notable alumnus is stand-up comedian Kent Haines, who was the 2008 winner of the Philly's Phunniest contest at Helium Comedy Club and has appeared on public radio show The Sound of Young America and Season 4 of Comedy Central's program Live at Gotham. In addition to Haines, other comedians from Philadelphia who appeared on stage at PHIT have gone on to perform at major comedy venues in cities like New York and Los Angeles, founded their own theatre companies,[1] and appeared in touring productions for The Second City.


PHIT was founded as a nonprofit in October 2005 by Greg Maughan,[2] with assistance from local improvisers Bobbi Block, Matt Holmes and Alexis Simpson. The original purpose of the theater was to offer improv comedy instruction for beginning to advanced students. Over time PHIT expanded its mission to include sketch comedy instruction, and became an important presenter and producer for all varieties of alternative comedy shows.[3] Viewers of Philadelphia's local FOX affiliate, WTXF-TV, voted PHIT as the city's Best Comedy Club in their 2009 Hot List competition.[4]


PHIT hosts a variety of comedy shows every week Wednesday through Sunday: improv, sketch, stand-up, and variety comedy shows, as well as occasional movie screenings. The theater produces weekly performances by seven improv comedy house teams (The Future., Big Baby, Outside Voices, Sabotage, Trash Island, Hoffman, 1816, Masher and Fjord), as well as independent improv and sketch groups. Also on PHIT's regular schedule are several variety comedy shows (House of Black, DTF, People of Interest, Atomic Cinema Vault, The Sideshow, Two Late with Rob and Joe, and Story UP! After Dark), a Panel Comedy show (A Few Answers Short), a "found comedy" night (TV Party and Guilty Pleasures), a sketch open mic called Sketch Up or Shut Up, and an open improv jam. PHIT also hosts Dynamite Series covering a wide variety of comedic disciplines (Dirty Laundry, Study Hall). PHIT has also presented shows by performing groups from New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, Magnet Theater, and The Peoples Improv Theater; and individuals including Kevin Allison of MTV's The State, Susan Messing of Chicago's Annoyance Theater, Kevin McDonald of The Kids in the Hall, and Dave Hill. Every first Sunday of the month PHIT hosts an improvised show Story UP! for kids ages 5 and up.

From March 2006 until January 2008, PHIT produced a monthly improv comedy show at Fergie's Pub in Philadelphia's Center City. From January 2007 until December 2013, the theater has hosted regular performances at The Shubin Theatre, in addition to producing additional shows at others venues. In 2009, the theater produced a weekend of shows collectively titled "Philly Invades NYC" at Under Saint Marks' in New York City.[5]

In January 2014 PHIT found its permanent home on second stage at the Adrienne Theater in Center City Philadelphia at 2030 Sansom St.

Philly Fringe Festival[edit]

PHIT has participated in the Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe Festival every year since 2006. In 2008, the theater programed performances by improv and sketch comedy groups on all 16 days of the festival, anchoring these shows around an original improv-to-script musical comedy titled "The Hoppers Hit the Road". The production garnered considerable attention and positive reviews in mainstream local media, including a review by The Philadelphia Inquirer.[6] During the 2009 festival, the theater presented an ambitious schedule of performances - this time in the Fringe Festival's newly created Improv/Comedy category.[7]

Training program[edit]

Since its inception, the theater has offered a core curriculum of classes teaching basic to advanced improvising techniques. PHIT's curriculum is based heavily on similar programs at Chicago's Second City Training Center and iO (formerly ImprovOlympic), and New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. In February 2009, PHIT introduced a similar core curriculum in sketch comedy writing. PHIT uses local performers as instructors for its improv core curriculum, and a mix of local and nationally recognized teachers (including Kevin Allison of MTV's The State and former Saturday Night Live writer Ali Farahnakian)[8] for its sketch comedy program.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A New Non-profit for Comedy: The Philadelphia Joke Initiative". 09-01-2009. Retrieved 2010-02-15.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Robb, J. Cooper (09-03-2008). "Improv walks a tight rope". The Philadelphia Weekly. Retrieved 2008-11-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Rosenfield, Wendy (2008-11-13). "No Script, no problem". The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia). Retrieved 2008-11-16. [dead link]
  4. ^ "2009 Best Comedy Club - Philly hot list". 2009-09-21. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  5. ^ "PHIT and C vs. A Invade New York City this week". 2009-05-26. Retrieved 01-04-2010.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. ^ Shapiro, Howard (09-01-2008). "Even wordy script can't keep 2 singing brothers down". The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia). Retrieved 09-03-2008.  Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  7. ^ "Philly Improv Theater Set For 16 Days of Performances During 2009 Philly Fringe, 9/3-19". 2009-09-19. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  8. ^ "Philly Improv Theater Continues With New Shows and New Clases Throughout October". 09-11-2009. Retrieved 2010-02-15.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]