American Comedy Institute Catalog


The American Comedy Institute One Year Program in Comedy Performing and Writing is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST). NAST has been designated by the United States Department of Education as the agency responsible for the accreditation throughout the United States of freestanding institutions and college and university programs in the performing arts.
Only approximately 162 US programs have been approved by NAST, and only after a rigorous approval process. NAST accreditation assures students that they are in a program that meets highest academic, financial and administrative standards.

The American Comedy Institute offers the only comedy program to achieve NAST accreditation.

1. Approved Catalog
2. Purpose
3. Goals & Objectives
4. Welcome
5. The One Year Program in Comedy Performing & Writing: Size and Scope
6. Curriculum
7. Industry Showcase
8. Time Requirements for the One Year Program
9. Office Location & Hours of Operation
10. Classroom Locations
11. Performance Locations
12. Enrollment Policies for the One Year Program
13. Admissions
14. Tuition
15. Financial Aid
16. Refund Policy
17. Evaluations
18. Retention Policies
19. Rules and Regulations for Conduct
20. Grievance Procedures
21. Calendar
22. Faculty
23. Administration & Staff
24. Board of Directors
25. State Authorization
1. APPROVED CATALOG back to top

The contents of this catalog have been approved by the Director and Board of Directors of American Comedy Institute. We encourage you to read this catalog to learn more about the training and performing opportunities offered by American Comedy Institute.

2. PURPOSE back to top

American Comedy Institute’s purpose is to provide an education to its students in comedy writing and performing that will enable them to pursue careers in acting, standup, improvisation, and writing.

The course offerings and performance opportunities offered by ACI are designed to further the mastery of the comedic crafts for students ranging from beginners to established professionals. ACI’s relationships with the top comedy clubs and cabarets in New York City, nationwide and around the world enable our students to perform in venues that promote the creation of quality comedy.

American Comedy Institute’s curriculum and performance opportunities provide its students with the education, experience, and exposure to pursue comedy in all of its venues.

ACI’s curriculum is constantly being reevaluated and improved by the Director, the administrative staff, the faculty, and its students. The criteria that teachers be both gifted in the classroom and working professionals helps ensure the relevancy and efficacy of the ACI education.

American Comedy Institute’s location in New York City allows our students to view some of the finest comedy in the world as part of their coursework. ACI has arrangements with top comedy clubs that permit our students to attend shows for free. Our location also contributes to the excellence of our faculty. Since New York City headquarters much of the comedy industry, it is an invaluable location for our students to begin and further the networking that leads to professional careers.

3. GOALS & OBJECTIVES back to top

a. Philosophy

ACI’s fundamental goals have been articulated by its founding director, Stephen Rosenfield:

“Our philosophy at American Comedy Institute is that the best comedy training does three things. One, it helps you find your own comic voice – what is original and different and wonderful about your sense of humor. Two, it teaches you how to communicate your unique comedy skillfully, fearlessly and entertainingly to the largest possible audience. And three, it instills love and respect for comedy and its capacity to help us survive by showing us that we can face the truth – and laugh!

It is our belief that by offering our students training, performing opportunities, and information, and by introducing their work to the entertainment industry, we are significantly enhancing their capability to pursue comedy as a career.”

b. Methodology

The courses offered by American Comedy Institute deconstruct the fundamentals of comedy performing and writing as a means of initiating students to the comedic arts and refining and furthering the work of established professionals.

ACI course offerings include: Stand Up Comedy Performing and Writing; Sketch Comedy Performing and Writing; Late-Night Talk Show Performing and Writing; Webisode Performing, Writing, and Producing; Sitcom Writing; Acting for the Stage; On-Camera Acting; Commercial Audition Technique; Improvisation.

As part of ACI’s coursework, students perform standup comedy, sketch comedy, improvisation, monologues, and scene nights on stages throughout New York City. These performances in front of live audiences are fundamental to the process of finding your own original comic voice and developing consistently funny material.
c. Instruction

The output of professional comedians, actors, and writers that have come from ACI is ongoing testimony to the effectiveness of its instruction. Master teachers who are also working professionals utilize instruction that is a fusion of classical comedy training with the innovative teaching techniques created by ACI’s Director and its core and guest faculty.

All of our courses unfold based on a curriculum that is created by the faculty and the Director.

Courses are added based on significant new developments within the comedy and entertainment industry.
Courses are refined and improved based on systematic input from our student population.
Courses are designed to accommodate the individual learning curve of each individual student.
It is ACI policy that mentoring of our students is ongoing and continues on beyond students’ enrollment.
d. Research

A pedagogical tenant of American Comedy Institute is that knowledge of the accomplishments of the great comedians and comedy writers of the past, as well as those who are currently in the forefront, is an essential component in the education of the entire ACI community, including faculty, students, and staff.

Viewing and analysis of former and current grandmasters of comedy is a component of the coursework at ACI.

ACI has made arrangements with comedy clubs so that its students may attend shows for free or at a significantly reduced rate.
Instruction in the writing courses includes study of both scripts and videos created by renowned comedy writers.
When appropriate, required reading is part of the curriculum.
Students are assigned to view exemplary sketch comedy and standup on YouTube and other Internet sources.
Students are encouraged to utilize resources available at The Paley Center for Media and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
e. Curriculum Performances & Productions

There is an element of objectivity in evaluating the effectiveness of a performance that is unique to comedy. Audiences laugh or they don’t laugh. When they laugh, the laughs are big, medium, or small. This provides creators of comedy the opportunity to refine and edit their work in response to audience reactions. To take full advantage of this, public performances are an integral part of ACI’s course offerings. ACI provides these performance opportunities on an ongoing basis in comedy clubs, theatres, and cabarets throughout New York City to both our current students and alumni. Performing in these first-class venues provides our students with an opportunity that is extremely hard to come by for new comic talent.

All standup writing and performing classes involve performances at Gotham Comedy Club and the Broadway Comedy Club, two of NYC’s finest standup venues.

The Sketch Comedy course and Improvisation course include performances at the renowned Peoples Improv Theater (the PIT).
Acting classes include monologue and scene nights performed at various cabarets and theatres throughout NYC.
The Late-Night Talk Show Performing and Writing class culminates in the production of a Late Night Talk Show recorded in front of a live audience.
The Webisode Performing, Writing, & Producing class involves the production and posting of student-produced webisodes.
f. Industry Exposure

ACI has earned a worldwide reputation as a center for learning to perform and write comedy. ACI utilizes its reputation to gain industry exposure to the work of our current students and alumni.

Since ACI faculty are required to be working professionals, our students gain industry exposure the moment they walk into one of our classrooms.

Guest speakers who are on the forefront of the comedy and entertainment industries regularly meet with ACI students and have the opportunity to see their work.
The One Year Program industry showcase at Gotham Comedy Club is viewed by casting directors from CBS, ABC, NBC, MTV, Paramount, WB, and Nickelodeon, along with leading agents, managers, and bookers.
Because working professionals are part of the student population and alumni of ACI, professional opportunities arise for our students from other students and alumni.
When ACI students achieve a consistent professional level of work, the Director arranges for these students to be auditioned at comedy clubs in NYC and throughout North America.
g. Community

Since its founding in 1989, ACI has provided a community for both aspiring comedians and comedy writers as well as established professionals. Such a community in the world of comedy, where often performers and writers are on their own, is hard to come by. Providing this community is viewed by ACI as one of its essential functions.

ACI students are encouraged to produce their own shows and use ACI-trained students as their performers. Such shows are being performed in NYC and throughout the entire Tri-state area. The faculty and staff provide these student producers with the expertise and industry contacts necessary to produce a quality show.

ACI’s coursework and performances involve the collaboration of its students, faculty and staff.
In addition to performances that are tied into course curricula, ACI produces ongoing comedy shows that are open to all its students and alumni. Often alumni who are professionals appear in these shows using the shows as opportunities to work on new material. These shows provide an ongoing ACI community experience for our students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Students, faculty and staff are offered free admission to all ACI performances and productions. This provides another opportunity for ACI’s community to be together.
ACI’s social network presence functions to reach out to lovers of comedy and aspiring and established comedy practitioners. ACI is committed to expanding its virtual community throughout the world.
4. WELCOME back to top

All people who love comedy and want to learn more about how to create it; all people who want to make creating comedy their avocation; all people who wish to make comedy their profession; and all professionals who wish to elevate their craft, welcome to the American Comedy Institute.

SCOPE back to top

American Comedy Institute’s One Year Program in Comedy Performing & Writing was established in 2000. The One Year Program is designed to capitalize on comedy’s unique position within the entertainment industry. People skilled in comedy typically breach the traditional walls that separate entertainment professions. Standups write movies, plays, television series, and best-selling books. Writers become television talk show hosts and movie and television stars. The optimum goal of a professional in comedy is to become the hyphenated comedian-writer-actor-producer. The scope of the One Year Program is designed to enable students to achieve this goal. The One Year Program in Comedy Performing and Writing is for people who know they want careers in comedy. Each year the program accepts eighteen (18) to twenty-two (22) students.

6. CURRICULUM back to top

ACI prepares students for working professionally by immersing each student in multiple performance and writing units. The goal is to turn out the hyphenated actor-comedian-writer-producer. To this end, each student is required to complete each of the following courses.


This course is comprised of lectures, students presenting their material and receiving feedback from their instructors, writers’ room, performances, and private writing sessions with the instructor. Students learn the art and crafts of standup comedy performing and writing. The course begins with a lecture by the instructor on the following:

The goals of the course

The forms of standup comedy
The process of creating standup comedy material
The process of creating a comic persona
The fundamental techniques of performing standup comedy
Following this lecture, students begin the process of creating material and performing it in class. Initially they receive feedback on both their writing and performing only from the instructor. As the course progresses, the instructor communicates to the students an aesthetic grid that is used to evaluate standup comedy performing, writing, and clarity of persona. This aesthetic is taught during the initial class meetings. Following the performance of the class’s first standup show, which occurs seven weeks into the course, students under the guidance of the instructor begin to provide their fellow students with feedback. From this point forward, student feedback is a part of each class. This procedure accomplishes several important pedagogical goals.

It embeds a vital aesthetic into students that will enable them in a healthy and objective fashion to evaluate their own work and the work of other comedians.

It will enable each student to draw on the reservoir of the entire class, students and teachers, for insight into improving and expanding their work.
Students are provided with a listing of performance opportunities and are encouraged to perform as much as possible and attend each other’s performances.
All class shows are recorded, and classes following performances are devoted to in-depth analysis of each student’s performance.
Several times during the course the instructor organizes the class into a writers’ room modeled on late night talk show writers’ rooms. In these writers’ room classes, each student has everyone in class available to work on his or her set. The pedagogical goals of the writers’ room are as follows:

To provide students with both the instruction and the experience that will enable them to write standup comedy material in a voice other than their own.

To strengthen the writing of each individual student’s act.

To provide students with another opportunity to employ the course’s aesthetic grid.
Prior to each class performance, students meet individually with the instructor to work on tightening, clarifying, and punching up their material.

Students are encouraged to use New York’s comedy clubs to perform as often as possible. In addition, there are regularly scheduled standup performances for the One Year students at Gotham Comedy Club and the Broadway Comedy Club.

Class meets for a total of 90 hours over 27 weeks .


This course begins with a lecture from the instructor that identifies the essential components present in every successful sketch. The instructor utilizes videos of outstanding sketch comedy groups and SNL scripts to illustrate these components. The lecture describes the basic writing structures that are the foundation of comedy sketches. The instructor goes over a list of the salient subjects and styles of sketch comedy writing. At the conclusion of this class, students are given an assignment to write a specific kind of sketch, i.e. commercial parody, movie parody, first date sketch.

Throughout the course, students are assigned to write sketches that embody all of the major structures, forms, and subjects of sketch comedy. They write individually as well as in teams.

Subsequent classes are conducted like the writers’ room of a television sketch comedy show, with the instructor functioning as head writer and show runner, and the students functioning as writers and performers. Students learn how to pitch ideas, how to render those ideas into first drafts, and how to rewrite sketches based on direction from the instructor. Students’ sketches are given a table read by their fellow students. They receive feedback from their fellow students and final direction from the instructor on what rewriting is required. This process continues until an instructor feels a script is ready to go into rehearsal.

There are two live sketch comedy shows produced during the program. These shows are recorded and there are post-production notes from the instructor.

Class meets for a total of 70 hours over 27 weeks.


This course builds on the concepts covered in the Sketch Comedy Performing & Writing course. Added to those concepts are these new elements:

Developing a premise that can be the basis of a large number of episodes.

Developing compelling core characters who will appear recurrently throughout episodes.
The third new element involves the fact that webisodes are not performed live onstage but are viewed as video on computer screens. This necessitates learning how to tell a story via a camera. Fundamental techniques of cinematography, editing, and acting to the camera are covered in this section. Student written, acted, and produced webisodes are posted on the Internet.
Class meets for a total of 22 hours over the course of 11 weeks.


Students learn to conceive, write, perform, and produce a late night comedy talk show. In the first class, the instructors deconstruct the late night talk show into its component writing parts:


The desk piece
The desk sketch
The remote
Interaction with the audience
The instructor utilizes videos of current late night talk shows to illustrate each of these components. The class is then divided into writing teams for each of these components.

The course is modeled to simulate the late night talk show writers’ room. A host is selected and the instructors function as show runners. The writers pitch their ideas to the room. The accepted ideas are refined and executed. This course culminates into the production of an episode that is taped in front of a live audience. After the performance, the instructors review the video with the students and give them their notes and feedback.

The course meets for a total of 12 hours over the course of 4 weeks.


The Improvisation course teaches students the basics of short-form improvisation. Students learn to perform the classic short-form games. The philosophy underlying the games is that it is not necessary to act funny or say funny things in order to create improv comedy. The philosophy of the games is that through teamwork and adherence to the rules of the games spontaneous comedy can be created around audience suggestions. The course also teaches the fundamental techniques of creating a narrative on stage. This course includes winter and spring improv shows.

The course meets for a total of 69 hours over the course of 23 weeks.


Students learn the foundation techniques of acting. They learn how to create believable and exciting emotions, behaviors, and characters for the stage. Through structured exercises students learn to achieve a state of relaxation on stage. This state enables them to gain access to their own emotions. Students learn to expand the emotional range that they are capable of “calling out,” i.e. performing. This capacity to perform a range of emotions on stage becomes the foundation for acting technique. This technique is then applied to monologue and scene work. This course includes a monologue recital and a scene night. Class meets for a total of 60 hours over the course of 20 weeks.

This on-camera course teaches students to adapt what they have learned in Acting for the Stage to the spatial realities of the screen. Students learn how, as actors, to occupy a frame as opposed to occupying a stage. They learn how to adjust their physical life, movement, and the way in which they express emotions so that it reads as truthful on screen. Class meets for a total of 9 hours over the course of 3 weeks.


This on-camera course is taught by the head of the commercial department of a prominent bi-coastal talent agency. The course covers both the business and craft elements of auditioning for a commercial. The craft elements include audition technique for improvised and scripted commercials. Students are encouraged to use their sense of humor as a way of enhancing both the commercial message and their impact on screen. Specifically, students learn how to handle, taste, smell and talk about products. Students work with actual commercial scripts and premises. The business elements focus on the reality that an audition begins with the agent’s phone call or email and does not end until the commercial is finished shooting. Class meets for a total of 9 hours over the course of 3 weeks.


In this class, television Producer/Writer, Stan Zimmerman guides students through key aspects of the TV comedy business such as: general interviews, cold readings and under five guest spots. Stan offers a unique perspective since he is the only Executive Producer/Show Runner teaching this type of acting class. This course meets for a total of 4 hours.

7. INDUSTRY SHOWCASE back to top

The One Year Program culminates in an Industry Showcase at Gotham Comedy Club. Casting directors from CBS, ABC, NBC, HBO, MTV, Paramount, WB, and Nickelodeon, along with leading agents, managers, and bookers have seen the work of The One Year Program’s graduating students.


The One Year Program begins the third week of September and ends by mid to late April. There are breaks for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.

Classes for American Comedy Institute’s One Year Program meet Monday through Thursday, 6pm to 9pm. In addition to twelve hours of class time per week, students should allow 6 hours per week to complete their assignments, to rehearse and perform, and to research comedy by viewing it on television, film, the internet and live on stage. Thus, the average weekly commitment is 18 hours per week for 27 weeks.


American Comedy Institute is located 481 8th Avenue, Suite 548, New York, NY. Its Administrative Office is open from 11am to 6pm Monday through Friday. ACI’s classes meet weekday evenings between the hours of 6pm and 9pm in two locations, NOLA Studios and the ACI office.

Classes are held at ACI’s suite in the New Yorker Hotel and at Nola Rehearsal Studios.

The New Yorker Hotel
481 8th Ave.
New York, NY 10001
Built in 1929 and opening its doors on January 2nd, 1930, The New Yorker Hotel was a marvel of its day. It was the largest hotel in New York City, with 2,500 rooms, several grand ballrooms, ten private dining “salons,” and five restaurants employing 35 master cooks. With the arrival of the Big Bands, the stage was set for the “heyday” of the New Yorker Hotel. The famous bands of the day played at the New Yorker, including Benny Goodman, both of the Dorsey’s and Woody Herman. This atmosphere not only drew in business travelers and tourists, but also attracted the elite of society as well as political figures and business leaders. Joe DiMaggio lived here when the Yankees were in town.

The New Yorker Hotel was renovated in 2007 to create the beautiful modern building we see today, which maintains the charm of the 30’s.

Nola Rehearsal Studios
244 W. 54th St.
New York, NY 10019
Established in 1969, Nola Rehearsal Studios is a privately owned performance and music-recording venue located in the Theater District of Manhattan. It is clean, air conditioned, and offers different sized studios for several different purposes. Nola holds thousands of auditions, rehearsals, classes, industrials, and castings every year.


Performances are held at three premier comedy venues in New York City.

Gotham Comedy Club
208 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
Gotham Comedy Club opened its new 10,000 square foot flagship location providing New York with live performances from today’s elite comedians, and since its inception has appealed to the city’s distinguished tastes. Located on 23rd St., in a 1929 building next door to the historic Chelsea Hotel, the new Gotham Comedy Club draws upon the charm and ambiance of the 1920s to capture the spirit of an upscale theater environment. Gotham Comedy Club is a premier comedy club in New York City. Comedians that have appeared on its stages include Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, Roseanne Barr, Larry David, Colin Quinn, Jackie Mason, Robert Klein, Dane Cook, among many others.

The Peoples Improv Theater (The PIT)
123 East 24th Street
New York, NY
The Peoples Improv Theater was established in 2002 and has established itself as a center for improv and sketch comedy in New York City. The PIT’s shows include improvisational comedy, sketch comedy, and other forms of theater, all working together to raise the craft of comedy to the level of art.

The Broadway Comedy Club
318 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
The Broadway Comedy Club in New York City is located in the heart of Times Square and around the corner from The Late Show with David Letterman. The club features standup comics from Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Jimmy Kimmel Show, NBC’s Last Comic Standing, HBO Comedy Arts Festival, Sirius Radio, BET Comic View, ICaramba! Latino Laugh Festival, The Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, Conan, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Showtime at The Apollo, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


Students are required to fulfill all of the procedures outlined in the Admissions Policy for the One Year Program in Comedy Performing & Writing. (See below).

Students must have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent.
Accepted students’ placement in the program is not secure until payment of $500 deposit towards tuition is received.
Accepted students agree that they will be held financially responsible for the full cost of tuition once the program commences.
Accepted students who decide not to do the program are entitled to a full refund of monies paid toward tuition, less the $500 deposit. Notice must be given in writing and received by ACI one week prior to the commencement of the program.
Students must be on time to class and must stay for the duration of the class. Exceptions must be approved by the instructor prior to the beginning of the class.
Students must agree to adhere to the Rules and Regulations of Conduct, which are outlined in detail in this catalog.
Students who successfully meet the enrollment policies perform in the Industry Showcase and are granted a certificate of completion.
13. ADMISSIONS back to top

Each year ACI accepts 18 to 22 students into the program.

a. How to Apply

Click here to apply to The One Year Program
A hard copy of the application can be obtained by contacting ACI’s office.

b. High School Diploma Required

A high school diploma or its recognized equivalent is required for admission into the One Year Program.

c. Audition & Interview

There will be an audition and an interview to assess whether the student has the capabilities to work professionally. The audition requires an applicant to perform approximately two minutes of original comedy material and approximately two minutes of a monologue from a play or a movie. In addition, applicants have the option to submit up to 10 pages of their comedy writing. During the interview with the Director, an applicant’s maturity and commitment to the field is evaluated and the applicant has the opportunity to explain why he or she wishes to enroll in the One Year Program. The time requirements for the admission interview and audition vary from student to student. On average, five hours of time is needed. ACI application process is on a rolling admissions policy. Once an application is complete, the applicant will be informed within three weeks of the status of their application: accepted, rejected, wait listed.

d. Statement of Purpose Essay

Applicants are required to submit a typewritten essay describing their personal objectives and aspirations for attending ACI’s One Year Program. This may include feelings about comedy, enumerating the applicant’s experience in comedy, the reasons why the applicant wishes to attend ACI’s One Year Program, and the professional aspirations the applicant wishes to pursue post-graduation. The essay should not exceed two pages in length.

e. Resume

A current resume detailing prior training and experience is requested. Applicants with no prior training and/or experience may include previous employment and/or education, regardless of field.

f. Recommendation Letters

Two letters of recommendation are required to apply. Each letter should include an appraisal of the applicant on the basis of his or her past performance in a professional and/or academic setting, perception of the applicant’s talent and experience, potential for a career in comedy, and commitment to his or her work. The letter should also describe how the applicant could benefit from the training offered at ACI.

g. International Students

American Comedy Institute is proud of its diverse student body. Students come from all over the world. On average, international students comprise 20% of the student body. American Comedy Institute takes pride in teaching students from all parts of the world.

h. Transfer of Credit Policies

ACI arranges on a case-by-case basis for its students to receive credit at universities in which they are enrolled for coursework completed at ACI. ACI does not accept credit from other institutions.

i. Application Fee

Applicants are required to pay a $65 non-refundable application fee payable by U.S. currency only. This fee may be paid by check or money order, MasterCard, Visa, Discover Card, PayPal, or in cash.

j. Reapplication Policy

Acceptance to ACI is valid only for the year that the applicant has applied for. Accepted students unable to attend the program for which they applied should immediately notify the administration office. Accepted students who wish to attend in future years must reapply and pay the non-refundable application fee. ACI does not discriminate in its admissions on the basis of national origin, ethnic background, race, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or religion.

14. TUITION back to to

Annual Tuition for the One Year Program is $8,700.

Payment Policies

A $100 non refundable registration fee is due after acceptance into the One Year Program.

The balance of tuition is due September 1st.

Students may opt for a payment plan. The cost of the plan is $150.00 in addition to the tuition.

Arrangements for a payment plan are made through ACI’s administrative office. American Comedy Institute accepts Visa and MasterCard, checks, money orders, and cash.

15. FINANCIAL AID back to top

American Comedy Institute offers partial scholarships to students who demonstrate financial need. In order to determine eligibility, scholarship applicants are required to submit the previous year’s tax return of whomever is paying their tuition.

16. REFUND POLICY back to top

A full refund of tuition, less the $500 deposit fee is made when a student withdraws from the program before the first class. This request must be put in writing. Once the program begins, tuition is non-refundable.

17. EVALUATIONS back to top

Students are evaluated by each of their instructors twice during the program. The first evaluation takes place at the end of the first half of the program, and the second evaluation takes place at the end of the second half of the program. Evaluations indicate areas in which the student has demonstrated capability and areas where more work is required to achieve capability. Students go over their evaluations with the Director of ACI and receive printed copies of their evaluations.

18. RETENTION POLICIES back to top

a. Attendance

Retention policy requires that students attend all classes. If a student is sick or has some other reason that they need to either be absent from class or leave class early or come late, they are required to email the staff prior to the class and receive permission to do so. If a student is ill, or has another pressing reason to be absent, he or she must notify his or her teacher at the earliest opportunity. In the event that a faculty member feels a student’s absences are undermining the faculty member’s ability to impart the coursework to the student, the faculty member notifies the student and the Director. The Director will call the student in for a meeting. At this meeting the student is put on notice that they are required to attend classes in order to graduate from the program, appear in the industry showcase, and receive their certificate of completion. If the student does not comply, they do not perform or graduate.

b. Behavior

Students are required to comport themselves in a professional manner which accords respect to their instructors and peers. This is good practice for the world of comedy, a world where collaborative work is one of the keys to success. Please see Rules and Regulations for Conduct. In the case of infractions of the Rules and Regulations for Conduct, students will initially receive a verbal warning from faculty or staff. A second incident will result in a meeting with faculty and the Director to discuss the issue. At this point the student will be put on written notice that their behavior is disruptive and unacceptable. The student will be given a chance to modify their behavior. A third incident will result in the student being expelled from the program. There will be no refund of tuition in cases of expulsion.


a. Academic Conduct

Students are required to conduct themselves in a way that furthers the goals of the curriculum of the One Year Program.

Such conduct includes but is not limited to:

Whole-hearted and good-natured participation in all classroom activities.

Respectful critique of peers’ work. Students shall refrain from using humor as a weapon against their peers or instructors, or from using degrading, belittling or hurtful comments while speaking to or about students and faculty
Class assignments must be turned in on the due date.
Students’ writing must be original. Students shall not attempt to claim credit for the work of others.
Common sense, respect and courtesy must be extended to ACI’s instructors, student body, and staff.
b. Prohibited Conduct

Instances of prohibited conduct may result in verbal or written warnings, suspension, and, in extreme cases, expulsion.
Prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to:
Physical abuse: Any attempt to cause injury or inflict pain; or causing injury or inflicting pain. Also causing physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative. It is not a defense that the person (or group) against whom the physical abuse was directed consented to, or acquiesced to, the physical abuse.
Harassment: Conduct (physical, verbal, graphic, written, or electronic) that is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent so as to threaten an individual or limit the ability of an individual to work, study or participate in the activities of the program.
Illegal drugs and controlled substances: Manufacturing, possessing, having under control, selling, transmitting, using or being party thereto any dangerous drug, controlled substance or drug paraphernalia on ACI premises or at ACI-sponsored activities.
Alcohol: Drinking or having in possession any alcoholic beverage in public areas of ACI premises not approved for such activity.
Theft: Unauthorized removal or stealing of property on ACI premises or at ACI-sponsored activities. This includes knowingly possessing such stolen property.
Destroying, damaging or littering of any property: Behavior that destroys, damages, or litters any property of ACI, or of another person, on ACI premises or at ACI sponsored activities.
Disorderly conduct: Conduct that is disorderly, lewd, indecent or a breach of peace on ACI premises or at ACI sponsored activities.
Disruptive activity: Participation in disruptive activity that interferes with teaching, administration, performances, disciplinary proceedings, or other ACI activities.


a. Informal Resolution

Prior to invoking the procedures described below, the student is strongly encouraged, but is not required, to discuss his or her grievance with the person alleged to have caused the grievance. The discussion should be held as soon as the student first becomes aware of the act or condition that is the basis of the grievance. Additionally or in the alternative, the student may wish to present his or her grievance in writing to the person alleged to have caused the grievance. In either case, the person alleged to have caused the grievance must respond to the student promptly, either orally or in writing.
b. Initial Review

If a student decides not to present his or her grievance to the person alleged to have caused the grievance or if the student is not satisfied with the response, he or she may present the grievance in writing to the Director. Any such written grievance must be received by the Director not later than thirty calendar days after the student first became aware of the facts that gave rise to the grievance. (If the grievance is against the Director, the student should address his or her grievance to the Board of Directors.) The Director should conduct an informal investigation as warranted to resolve any factual disputes. Upon the student’s request, the Director shall appoint an impartial fact-finding panel of no more than three persons to conduct an investigation. The Director must state the terms and conditions of the investigation in a memorandum appointing the fact-finding panel. A fact-finding panel appointed hereunder shall have no authority to make recommendations or impose final action. The panel’s conclusions shall be limited to determining and presenting facts to the Director in a written report. Based upon the report of the fact-finding panel if any, the Director shall make a determination and submit his decision in writing to the student and to the person alleged to have caused the grievance within ten calendar days of receipt of the panel’s report. The written determination shall include the reasons for the decision, shall indicate the remedial action to be taken if any, and shall inform the student of the right to seek review by the Board of Directors.

c. Appeal Procedures

Within ten calendar days of receipt of the Director’s decision, a student who is not satisfied with the response of the Director after the initial review may seek further review by submitting the written grievance, together with the Director’s written decision, to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors’ actions will be limited to a review of the basis for the Director’s decision and need not involve a de novo factual investigation. The Board of Directors may, but are not required to, direct that further facts be gathered or that additional remedial action be taken. Within 15 calendar days of receipt of the request for review, the Board of Director’s shall submit their decision in writing to the student and to the person alleged to have caused the grievance. The written disposition shall include the reasons for the decision, and it shall direct a remedy for the aggrieved student if any.

21. CALENDAR back to top

Click here to view the ACI calendar denoting monthly class schedules and performance events as well as observed holidays and breaks.

22. FACULTY back to top

Click here to view the current faculty at ACI.


Stephen Rosenfield,
Stephen Rosenfield is the Director of American Comedy Institute. He coaches and directs performers ranging from beginners to Emmy and Tony Award-winning and Oscar-nominated star talent. The accomplishments of Stephen Rosenfield’s students include starring roles in movies, network and premium cable television series, commercials, Broadway and off-Broadway productions, and hosting their own radio programs. His students have made development deals with CBS, ABC, Fox, HBO, Paramount, the Henson Co. and Tribune Entertainment. They have made appearances on Letterman, Leno, Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show, SNL, Last Comic Standing, and Comedy Central Shows including Comedy Central Presents, one hour specials, and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. They have appeared in the Montreal, Aspen, and Las Vegas Comedy Festivals. They have appeared in both the Edinburgh and New York International Fringe Festivals, and in every comedy club in N.Y. and L.A., and in clubs throughout the U.S. and around the world. They have written for Saturday Night Live, the Late Show with David Letterman, The Chris Rock Show and Chappelle’s Show and have written and starred in their own one-person shows off-Broadway, and at Caroline’s on Broadway, the Gotham Comedy Club and the New York International Fringe Festival. Stephen Rosenfield has produced, written and directed comedy shows at Caroline’s on Broadway, PSNBC, Standup New York, The Comic Strip, Gotham, Don’t Tell Mama and The Improv. For three years he produced, directed and wrote for Rubber Feet, the sketch comedy group that appeared regularly at The Comic Strip. He directed and co-authored the Obie Award-winning musical comedy review, The Present Tense. He has directed at the Roundabout Theater, The Ensemble Studio Theater, The Actor’s Studio, Manhattan Class Company and the Intiman Theatre. He received the Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award and a Robby nomination for his direction of the musical, Charlie and Algernon.

24. BOARD OF DIRECTORS back to top

Rick Dorfman
Rick began his career in comedy management with Barry Katz Management helping develop the talent of future stars such as Dave Chapelle, Jeff Ross, Dane Cook, Wanda Sykes , Jay Mohr and Darrell Hammond. In 1998 he founded his own company, Rick Dorfman Entertainment. He discovered and developed some of the best young comedians in the city including Greg Giraldo, Ed Helms, Demetri Martin, Amy Schumer and John Mullaney. He’s developed and created TV deals for a multitude of comedy stars such as Mike Birbiglia, Richard Jeni and Mario Cantone. He has served as an Executive Producer for a number of network sitcoms and cable television shows including the ABC show Common Law, with longtime client Greg Giraldo, Sidney Percy with client JB Smoove and Life with David J with client DJ Nash who is now a celebrated Hollywood television writer. After 8 years of running his own company, Rick joined forces with Jonathan Baruch to form Rain Management Group, a bicoastal management and production company. He continues to find and develop comedic talent with the support of a New York and Los Angeles office. Rick is an adjunct Professor at Drexel University where he teaches his new approach to management.
Ben Rosenfield
Ben Rosenfield is an actor. He plays Willie Thompson in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. He recently costarred with Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway in the film Song One. He costarred with Carrie Mulligan in the Atlantic Theater production of Through a Glass Darkly directed by David Leveaux. He played Tim Buckley in the motion picture Greetings From Tim Buckley which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Ben’s other films include Jamesy Boy with James Woods and Affluenza directed by Kevin Asch.
Nelson Braff
Nelson Braff, Esq., co-founder and President of Perrin, Holden & Davenport Capital Corp. (“PHD Capital”) is an attorney with an extensive background in the world of finance. After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1980 with a B.A. in Economics, he entered Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia, where he earned his J.D. in 1982. Nelson practiced law for the next 15 years at several firms, including Certilman, Balin, Adler & Hyman; Jacobs, Zinns, Schneyer, & Braff, PC, and Braff & Michael, PC. His areas of expertise encompass real estate, entertainment and corporate law. A consummate public speaker, Nelson’s hobby for years was standup comedy, and he performed at such high profile comedy clubs as Don’t Tell Mama, The Improv and Caroline’s. He and his longtime friend Jody Eisenman formed PHD Capital, a Wall Street brokerage and investment-banking firm, in 1995. Active in numerous philanthropies, Mr. Braff co-founded the nonprofit “American Friends of Gifted Young Musicians,” to help nurture the musical gifts of talented but financially needy children internationally. Several of these youngsters are now on their way to becoming renowned musicians. He serves as board member of Surprise Lake Summer Camp (where he was once a camper), and was recently honored by Chai Lifeline/Camp Simcha, an organization which serves and supports extremely sick children and their families. Nelson is also active in the Jaffa Institute, the Boy Scouts of America, and was a volunteer Assistant Fencing Coach at the Millennium High School in Manhattan.
John O’Boyle
John O’Boyle is a Broadway producer. His productions include: Simon Bent’s Elling at the Barrymore, November 2010; Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein’s La Cage Aux Folles (winner of three Tony’s including Best Musical Revival) at the Longacre, April 2010; Nick Blaemire and James Gardiner’s musical, Glory Days at Circle in the Square, May 2008; Harvey Fierstein and John Bucchino’s musical, A Catered Affair (three Tony nominations) at the Walter Kerr, April 2008; Mark Twain’s play, Is He Dead? (one Tony nomination) at the Lyceum, November 2007; and August Wilson’s final play, Radio Golf (four Tony nominations) at the Cort in May, 2007. In London he produced Legrand, Schonberg, Boublil, and Kretzmer’s musical Marguerite at the Haymarket in May, 2008. Also he associate produced My Name Is Rachel Corrie off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane in October, 2006. A graduate of the 14-week CTI Producing Seminars, John has a BA in Theater Arts from Lawrence University and an MFA in directing from Catholic University. He worked at Arena Stage as a House Manager from 1976 to 1980. He has written three musicals, the last, Playing God, had a reading at Roundhouse Theatre. He is a member of Dramatist Guild and ASCAP. In his non-theater career he was President of InterCare, Inc., a developer/operator of nursing homes, assisted living, and medical office facilities for 25 years.
John Morrison
John Morrison has thirty years experience as a creative director in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago with such advertising agencies as BBDO, Della Femina, McNamee WCRS, J. Walter Thompson, Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi. The clients he has worked with include Anderson Consulting, Apple, AT&T, Bank of America and British Airways. As a stand up, John has served as host/producer in clubs including the Broadway Comedy Club, the Greenwich Village Comedy Club, Comix and the Cornelia Street Café. John was a New York City finalist for the US Comedy Arts Festival at Aspen.
Beth Farber
Beth Farber is an attorney who has dedicated her career to the rights of the criminally accused. She has represented clients in hundreds of federal trial court cases and in scores of cases before the federal courts of appeal, including the Supreme Court. Prior to opening her own practice in her native New York, Ms. Farber was an attorney with the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland. Beth taught appellate litigation at the Columbus School of Law of the Catholic University of America in Washington DC for four years and has been on the faculty of numerous professional seminars in appellate litigation and has lectured on a variety of topics in federal criminal law. She is a member of the New York Council of Defense Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

American Comedy Institute is incorporated under the New York State Education Law.