Diversity Program


Philly Improv Theater (PHIT Comedy) seeks to create an environment which is supportive and welcoming to all people and reflects the experiences of the greater community in which we live. In order to achieve this goal we are working to increase representation of persons of color, women, persons 40 years of age or older, members of the LGBTQ community, differently-abled persons, and active duty U.S. military service members and U.S. military veterans in our audiences, in our classrooms, and on our stages. This page serves to provide information to any interested persons in how we are currently going about reaching our diversity goals.

We know that improving diversity is an ongoing process – the work is never finished. During the course of any given year we may make changes large and small to our diversity program in an attempt to make sure we are doing everything we can to make PHIT a more welcoming place for audiences, students, and performers of all backgrounds. So we can track our progress and better understand where we are succeeding and where we are failing, PHIT is collecting data at various times and places throughout the year – asking members of our community to self-identify (always with the option not to participate) as part of one or more of our diversity groups.

As Diversity Coordinator, my job is to be both a facilitator and advocate for the many diverse groups in the PHIT community. If you have questions or concerns, ideas for how to make the diversity program better, or just want to say “Hello”, please, do not hesitate to contact me.

David Donnella
Diversity Coordinator



Currently PHIT is engaged in the following initiatives as part of our Diversity Program:


Diversity Scholarships

PHIT recognizes that the cost of our classes can pose a barrier to entry for members of our identified diversity groups. In an effort to overcome this barrier, PHIT will award a total of 35 scholarships (14 awarded to students starting our 101 classes, and 21 awarded to students continuing in 201+ classes) to study at our Training Center in each of our five class sessions throughout the year. A total of 10 scholarships will also be awarded in each of our PHIT Kids & Teens sessions. Finally, PHIT will make a limited number of travel scholarships available for those persons selected to receive class scholarships who face financial hardship commuting to our training center. The total budgeted for PHIT’s Diversity Scholarship program in 2017 is $52,526.

In order to be considered for an initial scholarship, potential recipients must complete an application – either via an online form; or by printing, completing, and mailing a paper application to the theater’s offices. Applications must be received electronically or via mail by a specific date announced each session to receive consideration for a scholarship in the next session.

Scholarship applications are reviewed by a small committee made up of PHIT staff and representatives from all the current groups selected for inclusion in our diversity program. Once notified, recipients reply to their acceptance and indicate which introductory class (101) they would like to be enrolled in. Limited travel scholarships are also available on a no questions asked, first-come basis for students who inform the Diversity Coordinator that they face financial difficulty traveling to and from the location of their class that would prevent them from participating.

At the end of their introductory class, all students who took a 101 class as part of the scholarship program are eligible to continue taking classes at PHIT for free in one of two ways:

  1. They may re-apply for a Diversity Scholarship, in which case they are considered for one of 21 continuation scholarships awarded for study in 201 or higher classes. Continuation Scholarships are awarded based on merit as indicated by students’ instructors reports of their performance in a 101 class. Continuation Scholarships are not guaranteed.
  2. They may apply to and be selected to serve in PHIT’s Volunteer Program. Volunteers help at the theater one evening per week for 12 weeks either selling tickets, ushering, or assisting backstage and at the end of their commitment receive credit to take a class at the theater for free. Volunteer positions are not guaranteed.

The current groups included in our diversity programs are as follows:

  • Persons of color
  • Women
  • Persons 40 years of age or older
  • Members of the LGBTQ community
  • Differently-abled persons
  • Active duty U.S. military service members and U.S. military veterans

Applications  for scholarships to study during Session 5 in 2017 (October 2017 – December 2017) are now open. The application will remain open until October 1st, 2017. In order to be considered you must either submit an  electronic application  or download, print and mail a paper application to PHIT’s office. Scholarships will be awarded no later than October 7, 2017.



Diversity Nights/Diversity Jams

Our Diversity Nights and Diversity Jams are an opportunity for members of our diverse groups to get on stage and perform some improv! Everyone is welcome to attend.

Diversity Jams are hosted by PHIT Company Members who identify with one of the groups currently included in our diversity program and offer the opportunity for all members of the comedy community to get onstage and do scenes.

Diversity Nights are longer affairs – an entire evening of performances featuring acts that prominently display diverse performers from the larger comedy community and end with a Diversity Jam.

PHIT’s first Diversity Night (and first Diversity Jam!) took place on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. The dates for our upcoming Diversity Nights/Diversity Jams will be announced shortly.

Upcoming Diversity Nights:
Diversity Nights are currently being revamped by members of the community. In the meantime, we encourage anyone to attend our weekly Sunday Improv Jam at 8:30 p.m.. Persons of color are also welcome to attend the POC Improv Jam at the end of each performance of American Express’ “Family Business” show (check our shows calendar for exact dates).

Past Diversity Nights:
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Wednesday, March 30th, 2016
Thursday, April 29th, 2016
Saturday, July 2, 2016
Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Diversity Practice Groups

Our monthly diversity practice groups are open to any member of our diversity groups who has taken a class at PHIT. These practice groups are geared for performers of all levels and offer an opportunity to engage in additional practice of the comedy skills taught in our training center classes in the company of fellow members of the groups currently included in our diversity program.

Upcoming Diversity Practice Group Dates & Times:
Saturday, October 7th, 2017, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in Rehearsal Room A (Sketch)
Saturday, November 11th, 2017, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Mainstage (Improv)

Past Diversity Practice Group Dates & Times:
Thursday, November 19th, 2015, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (Improv Practice Group)
Saturday, December 5th, 2015, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Improv Practice Group)
Sunday, February 21st, 2016, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Improv Practice Group)
Saturday, April 23rd, 2016, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Improv Practice Group)Sunday, September 10, 2017, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Mainstage (Impov)


Diversity Meet-ups

Come hang out in PHIT’s offices with members of our community in an informal meeting session where anything is on the table. Talk shop, ask questions, voice concerns, recruit for projects, whatever you want! Open to everyone and we’ll provide the coffee and doughnuts.

Upcoming Diversity Meet-up Dates & Times:
Saturday, September 16, 2017, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. in Rehearsal Room A

Saturday, October 21, 2017, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Mainstage
Saturday, November 18, 2017, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Second Stage

Past Diversity Meet-up Dates & Times:
Sunday, November 8th, 2015 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 19th, 2015 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 10th, 2016, 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 12th, 2017, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 9th, 2017, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 4th, 2017, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


PHIT Diversity Program & Pals Facebook Group

A group for folks that want to stay on top of the goings-on of the PHIT Diversity Program. Members are free to converse, plug shows, pitch projects, etc..

PHIT Diversity Program & Pals