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Relapse University Helps You Up the Funny

Do people who aren't your mother tell you how funny you are? Were you the class clown in school? Maybe you weren't, but you totally wanted to be. Whether you want to hone the chops that you already have or discover the chops that you never knew about, Relapse University can expand your funniness in no time. 

Relapse Comedy Theater houses a number of Atlanta's hottest improv troupes and comedians and provides a nurturing, eclectic environment for the up and comers.

"Relapse isn't like most other Improv theatres or Comedy clubs in Atlanta," says Sarah Simmons Turner, Dean of Relapse University, "Each group [at Relapse] owns their name and control over their artistic direction. This has empowered the groups at Relapse... all in different ways."

Relapse also distinguishes itself through their unmatchable opportunities for students to test their skills in front of a live audience. In fact, Creative Loafing recently praised the theater as the best place for newbies to "cut their teeth."

"I believe that many students don't know what their capable of until they step on stage," says Turner. "You succeed and sometimes fail in front of a live audience, (but) you figure-out what works." 

Each class at Relapse, no matter what level, ends with a graduation show where students perform for a live audience. Relapse offers additional opportunities to perform in Richard Kicker's, a weekly improv jam session, or Down the Ramp Open Mic, where newbies can take a shot at stand-up comedy. Students with a competitive streak can play with Black Box Productions's Iron Improviser on some Saturday nights. These opportunities are matched only by Relapse's dedication to making sure their students have plenty of opportunities to learn and get involved.

"I think it's important to integrate [performances with classes] this early and as often as possible. [It makes] our students the most successful they can be," says Turner. 

Beginners can start with a variety of intro level classes and experienced performers can take a number of master classes to exercise their skills. In January, Relapse will once again be offering "Purposeful Characters and Solid Storytelling," taught by Shannon Jenkins, which focuses on creating characters that propel compelling story.

Jenkins trained with numerous theaters, including Dad's Garage Theater Company and Relapse's former in-house troupe, JaCKPie. He is now a seasoned improviser, having performed with both of the aforementioned theaters as well as The Basement Theater and ACT3 Playhouse. Jenkins fell into teaching when one of his former instructors asked him to cover a class for her. He has been teaching off and on since then.

"I really love seeing people grow as improvisers," says Jenkins, "and to be a part of that is truly an honor."

Ambitious students can even take classes in stand-up comedy or on-camera technique. Relapse certainly gives off a "the more, the merrier" kind of feeling -- an approach they take seriously when deciding what kind of classes they should offer.

"We have made Relapse University the one-stop-shop for Artists," says Turner, "and we'll continue to diversify even more."

:: Jas Sams is a HelloAtlanta.com featured blogger. For more from her, visit her blog Atlanta Relapse University comedy theater improv stand-up comedian nightlife classes training performing arts stage students audience

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