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Improv Comedy

Live. Laugh. Laugh more.

So, what exactly is improv?

Improvisational comedy, or improv, is a collaborative art form where a group of performers create art spontaneously for a live audience – so there’s no script! All you need is an open mind and heart and the ability to be a team player. That’s it!

Youth Improv Classes

Empire Arts Collective is no longer providing youth improv programming, but if you are interested in improv and comedy opportunities for teens, check out Windhaus Improv, a Sacramento-based improv company created by our co-founder, Jessilee Windhaus.

Meet Our Program Director Jessilee Windhaus

Jessilee Windhaus is a Sacramento local and a firm believer in the power of applied improvisation. With a background in both short form and long form comedy, she is a 20-year improv veteran who has trained with Upright Citizen’s Brigade and The Groundlings and performed in cities all across the country.

With more than a decade of teaching experience, Jessilee holds a BA in Theatre and Dance from Sacramento State University. She is the Co-Founder of Empire Arts Collective and the Founder of That Plus Chips live sketch and improv comedy ensemble.

Jessilee Windhaus


Co-founder, Improv Program Director, Board Member, Interim Treasurer

She has toured with the world-renowned Missoula Children’s Theatre and was a mainstage performer at Sacramento Comedy Spot and ComedySportz Sacramento where she served as the Director of the High School League program.

Other comedy credits include Sutter Street Theatre, Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre, Dangerous Men/Dangerous Women, The Dinner Detective, CSU Sacramento, and Bike City Theatre Company where she served as the Director of Sketch.

What People Are Saying

During EACs Intermediate Improv class I learned several useful techniques to unlock the hidden potential in scenes and characters.

Teo Morgan Intermediate Improv Student

Jessilee is an excellent instructor who has mastered the ability to both encourage and positively correct students in this crazy art of improv. Nearly all of the participants were completely new to improv and obviously did not know the 'rules.' Although there were many flubs, not once did we feel discouraged or chided; only encouraged in a supportive structure.

All Levels Improv Student

Jessilee is amazing; the perfect mix of fun, focused and professional! It's a big challenge with amazing rewards!

All Levels Improv Student

The class was great and lots of fun. I became less fearful of improv and plan to continue learning.

Basic Improv Student

I took the Empire Arts Collective Improv All Levels class while taking a short break from theater and can highly recommend this class for anyone. The class is taught superbly by Jessilee Windhaus, an experienced improvisor with a lot of experience teaching improv classes. [...] This was well worth the time invested and the cost of tuition.

All Levels Improv Student

I had a wonderful time and really enjoyed everyone. The experience was one I won't forget. Thanks Empire arts for helping me learn and grow.

Basic Improv Student

Fabulous and knowledgeable instructor!

All Levels Improv Student

Improv FAQs

A: Actually, no! Improv comedy involves teamwork and many people working together to create spontaneous art live onstage. Standup comedy is rehearsed and pre-written and performed by only one person.

A: Think of improv like a sport: you never know what’s going to happen on game day, but if you practice skills and train with your team, you’ll reinforce good skills that will train you for success.

A: Yes! Whose Line Is It Anyway? is what we call short-form improv! We can teach you all about that during our classes.

A: Our basic class uses short form to teach the basics of all improv formats. Future classes will focus more on each specific form.

Photos by Joan Cusick

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