‘Study Hall Comedy Inspired by Lectures’ takes learning, laughter, and improv online

2 minute read
Get your laugh on with 'Study Hall,' now in session online. (Photo by Sam Abrams.)
Get your laugh on with 'Study Hall,' now in session online. (Photo by Sam Abrams.)

Need a laugh? Got coronabrain? How about apocalypse overwhelm? Study Hall Comedy Inspired by Lectures is here to help, offering the best medicine—laughter—in a new online format. Study Hall is comedy inspired by lectures and real stories from science, theater, and beyond. One of Philadelphia's longest-running improv comedy shows, it combines lectures and laughs in a single unusual, hilarious hour.

Laughing to learn

Before the pandemic, Study Hall was an ongoing show at Philly Improv Theater (PHIT), where it had run since 2014. Each live show featured lectures from Study Hall host Michael Yudell, a professor of history and public health at Drexel University, plus two guest lecturers. Then, the cast improvised comedy scenes “from what they just learned (or didn’t),” says director Michael Marbach. The audience came along for the ride, learning something new and then laughing about it.

Until live performances can resume, Study Hall has adapted by moving to Zoom, offering more shows, and mixing up its format, which “now is kind of a hybrid of our stage show and our earlier online performances,” Marbach says, with improv and current events as well as lecture and discussion. He believes this could be the future of Study Hall’s live show. Marbach added, “We were already looking to expand the show this year, and the online world provided a nice opportunity.”

The Zoom show has the added bonus of incorporating participants from outside Philadelphia, and upcoming guests include Tara Kaushal from Harvard Medical School, Jaqueline Antonovich from Muhlenberg College, and Adam Rothman from Georgetown. Marbach points out that Study Hall has not “earned an international credit just yet, mostly due to time zone differences,” but international scholars have shown interest.

Those who want to laugh at improv, that particularly delicious flavor of comedy associated with live performance, should report to Study Hall on Wednesdays.

What, When, Where:

Study Hall is live every Wednesday at 8pm, with special events throughout July. Visit online for info and for tickets.

Folks who would like to lecture can contact Study Hall here.

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