Us: The Cast of Empire Comedy

Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis started improvising over 20 years ago with The Hermit Colony in Bakersfield, California, and founded his own improv company, Empire Improv, in 2007. Michael trained with ComedySportz for several years before moving on to iO West where he studied and performed for five years. He taught his first improv class in 1996 for ComedySportz Bakersfield. Since then Michael has created three the three level curriculum for Empire Improv, along with several workshops he teaches at other improv theaters: Leap First, Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body, Improvising Shakespeare, and Group Mind. In addition to teaching for Empire Improv he has taught workshops for The LA Improv Festival, The California Improv Festival, University of Nevada Reno, Blacktop Comedy, Made Up Theatre, Reno Improv, and Truckee Meadows Community College.


As a performer he has performed with Empire Improv’s Hostel Greetings, Police Cops!, and Bow Tie Kitty. He has improvised Shakespeare style with the Backstreet Bards, The Spontaneous Shakespeare Company, and continues to perform with Made Up Shakespeare. An alum of iO West, he performed with both The Award Winning Documentary and The Improvised Documentary helping to develop the improvised documentary as a performance form. He has been on iO West Harold teams, cage match teams, and performed at Magnet Theater: New York, PIT: New York, The Comedy Spot: Sacramento, Reno Improv, Blacktop Comedy: Rocklin, and Made Up Theater: Fremont. He continues to perform in the successful duo show Party of Two with improvisers from all over.

Comments by Michael's past students.

"I wouldn't be doing half of what I am today if Michael hadn't suggested that I might like improv.  Working with him and taking his advice about where to study and what to read, I started to get a feeling for just how deep the waters get--how much is down there, and how much has yet to be found."  Alex Marino co-founder of Magnet Improv Theater, New York


“Michael has a keen ability to perceive obstacles that prevent a student's progress and to develop solutions which empower the student to overcome those obstacles.” – Blaine Swen founder/director Improvised Shakespeare Co. Chicago, Illinois


"Michael is an amazing teacher and really knows his 'stuff'. Even after doing improv theatre for years, a few classes with him made me realize I still had a lot to learn." - Kim Canfield Major League Improv  


"Training with Michael has made me into a much more confident and competent improviser, writer, and person. Whether it be performing on stage, giving a speech at a wedding, communicating in the workplace, or creating a piece of fiction , I will return to the lessons I've learned from Michael Lewis for the rest of my life." - Tim Dufrisne Empire Comedy alumni and Magnet Theater New performer.


"Michael understands what it takes to create great improvised scenes and shows, and is able to convey this to his students.  He is the best improv teacher I have had outside of Chicago." - Ben Craig Empire Comedy alumni and founder of Reno Improv.




Hostel Greetings

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Police Cops

Police Cops is an improvised cop drama.

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Party of Two

Michael Lewis and a special guest improvisor perform a two person improv show.

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