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About Finest City Improv

We entertain, inspire, and bring joy to people with our talent and passion for improv and its transforming effects.

Our Core Values

Cultivate fun, happiness, and a little weirdness in everything and everyone.

Improv has made us happier people.  We have chosen to spend our lives living, breathing, and sharing improv with others because it is how we stay funny, happy, and delightfully out of the normal comfort zones. Every audience member, student, client, and team member will be delightfully surprised by the degree to which we to help them discover more joy in their lives with what we do. 

Ensemble first.

The only star in an improv is the ensemble itself.  We embrace everyone on our team and in our community with a spirit of generosity and respect.  Our collective impact is greatest when we rely on, help, and challenge each other to be our best.  We take a collective bow as a team and accept the applause with pride. We are the most inclusionary, fun, and supportive home to improvisers in San Diego.

Creative Risk-Taking

We believe that improv, like other art forms, should be a safe space to make others uncomfortable by taking intellectual, artistic, and personal risks. As highly creative people that push at the boundaries of what is currently “acceptable” we are always at risk for being misunderstood. Therefore, we also believe in first assuming good intentions when misunderstandings happen or offenses are taken and engaging in direct face to face healthy debate on the merits of these actions.

Standards of Conduct

Civility

By their very nature, improv theater and comedy are artistic pursuits in which the boundaries of what is deemed socially “appropriate” and/or politically correct are often blurred and subject to interpretation. Words and/or conduct that offend one person may have no effect on another.

Finest City Improv does not endeavor to shield community members from ideas and/or behavior that they may find unwelcome, disagreeable or even offensive; indeed, the free exchange of ideas between community members and their instructor(s) – even those that some may find objectionable – is vital to the creative process underlying great improv theater. As such, community members should approach their class work, rehearsals, and shows with an open mind, and take into the account the diversity of viewpoints, beliefs and backgrounds that make the programs at FCI such a rich experience. By the same token, community members should exercise good judgment when participating in activities, demonstrate respect for all individuals, and avoid engaging in conduct that rises to the level of harassment or abuse, such as targeted attacks directed at a particular individual.

As a general rule, FCI will not intervene to enforce social standards of civility. If, however, you feel that certain conduct – whether by an instructor, student, or fellow community member – has overstepped the bounds of what is acceptable even in an improv theater/comedy setting, you may decline to participate and report the behavior. FCI will investigate the matter and address the issue, as needed.

There will be no retaliation against any community member who in good faith raises a concern, reports an incident and/or participates in an investigation under this policy. Any student who believes that he or she has been retaliated against in any manner should report it immediately.

Anti­-Harassment Policy

Harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, is strictly prohibited. FCI will not tolerate harassment by anyone, including instructors, staff, students, visitors, vendors, contractors and third parties.

Harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct, whether verbal, physical or visual, that is so severe or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with an individual’s participation in FCI programs, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. Examples of prohibited harassment include, but are not limited to epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes directed at an individual based on his or her personal characteristics, which do not serve any learning ­related function and/or fall outside the bounds of what is acceptable in the classroom, as set forth in FCI’s Civility policy.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in particular is strictly prohibited. Sexual harassment encompasses a range of conduct from sexual assault (which is also a criminal act) to conduct such as unwanted touching or persistent unwelcome comments, sexual advances, propositions and/or requests for sexual favors, depending on the specific circumstances and context in which the conduct occurs. For example, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or sexually ­directed remarks or behavior constitute sexual harassment when (i) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, explicitly, or implicitly, a basis for an academic decision or professional advancement, or a term or condition of either; or (ii) such conduct is directed against an individual despite its rejection.

On the other hand, sexual innuendo or suggestive comments, gestures or jokes made in the course of a class exercise, rehearsal, or performance may not be considered impermissible sexual harassment, if they serve an educational and/or artistic purpose.

Please note that due to the unique nature of the improv theater/comedy setting, a person’s subjective belief that behavior is offensive, intimidating or hostile does not necessarily render that behavior harassment under this policy. Rather, the behavior must be objectively unreasonable in light of the surrounding circumstances and context. Such expression will not constitute impermissible harassment unless (in addition to satisfying the above definitions) it is targeted at a specific person or persons, is abusive and/or serves no educational or artistic purpose.

Complaint Procedure

Any community member who experiences or witnesses harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, whether from a fellow student or a faculty member, should feel free report the behavior or discuss the problem with Amy Lisewski and/or Kathleen Brown (Artistic Directors) and, if desired, request that she speak informally to the person complained about. No one at FCI – whether a faculty member or a student – may reprimand, retaliate or discriminate against an individual for raising a concern, making a complaint and/or participating in an investigation under this policy. Any individual who believes that he or she has been retaliated against in any manner should report the matter.

All concerns and complaints will be treated with confidentiality to the extent practicable without compromising the investigation and/or resolution of the matter, and will be investigated thoroughly and promptly. Where possible, FCI will attempt to resolve the issue informally (for example, by speaking to the alleged harasser and/or counseling the parties). However, this does not preclude more formal corrective or disciplinary action.

Consensual Relationships Between Faculty and Students

It is against Training Center policy for students and instructors to enter and/or engage in romantic and/or sexual relationships with one another while the instructor is teaching the student in a class and/or supervising the student’s work at FCI. Consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships between instructors and Training Center students not enrolled in a class the instructor is teaching, while not forbidden, generally are considered unwise and inappropriate. Please note that even where both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic and/or sexual involvement, such consent does not preclude a subsequent charge of sexual harassment against the instructor.

Sexual Assault Policy

Sexual assault is a criminal act that violates the standards of our community and is unacceptable at FCI. FCI’s sexual assault policy applies to students, instructors, staff, and visitors, as well as vendors, contractors and third parties.

Sexual assault is defined as:

  • Any intentional or knowing touching or fondling by an individual, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitals, breasts, thighs, or buttocks of the victim without the consent of the victim;
  • Touching or fondling of an individual by the victim when the victim is forced to do so against his or her will; or
  • Any nonconsensual acts involving sexual penetration of the sex organs, anus, or mouth.
  • Use of alcohol or drugs may impair an individual’s capacity to consent freely and may render an individual incapable of giving consent.

Reporting Procedure

Any student who believes he or she has been sexually assaulted, whether by a fellow student, ensemble member, faculty member or visitor, should report the incident to the police and seek medical care as soon as possible. You are also encourage to report the incident to FCI.  No one at FCI – whether a faculty member or a student – may reprimand, retaliate or discriminate against an individual for raising a concern, making a complaint and/or participating in an investigation under this policy. 

All concerns and complaints will be treated with confidentiality to the extent practicable without compromising the investigation and/or resolution of the matter, and will be investigated thoroughly and promptly. Depending on the severity of the incident and the individuals involved, FCI may pursue the matter through internal disciplinary procedures without the cooperation of the victim. Under such circumstances, FCI will inform the victim of its decision to proceed in this manner.

Violence

FCI maintains a zero tolerance policy for violence. Acts or threats of physical violence which involve or affect faculty, performers, students or staff or which occur on FCI property, will not be tolerated. Examples of prohibited threats or acts of violence include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Hitting or shoving an individual
    • Physically injuring another individual
    • Threatening an individual or his/her family, friends, or property with harm, or otherwise engaging in behavior that creates a reasonable fear of injury in another person
    • Intentional destruction or threatening to destruct FCI property
    • Making/sending harassing or threatening phone calls, text messages, and emails
    • Harassing surveillance or stalking
    • Unauthorized possession or use of firearms or weapons

Every student is encouraged to report incidents of threats or acts of physical violence of which he/she is aware.  Please note that this policy does not apply to fictitious “threats” or simulated “acts” of violence made in the course of your improv.

Weapons

FCI prohibits all persons who enter Training Center /Finest property from carrying a handgun, firearm, knife, explosive, or other prohibited weapon of any kind regardless of whether the person is licensed to carry the weapon or not.

The only exception to this policy will be police officers, security guards or other persons who have been given written consent by the FCI and/or are permitted by law to carry a weapon on the property.

Violation of this policy is grounds for discipline, including immediate dismissal.

Drug and Alcohol Policy

The use, sale, manufacture, cultivation, distribution, dispensation, possession of illegal drugs or other unauthorized or controlled substances while on FCI property, or while otherwise engaged in FCI activities, is strictly prohibited. The term “controlled substances” is defined as any substances that are illegal or controlled by federal and/or state law, including lawful substances (such as prescription drugs) which have been improperly obtained and/or used in violation of their lawful prescription.

Students are prohibited from having any such illegal or unauthorized controlled substances in their systems while attending class or participating in shows. Outside alcohol consumption or illegal drug activity that impacts a student’s class work or participation in FCI activities and/or threatens the reputation of Finest City Improv will not be tolerated.

The only exception to this policy applies with respect to alcoholic beverages served and consumed at FCI­ sponsored or approved social or business ­related functions or meetings, provided that the participant consumes alcohol responsibly and in moderation and does not become intoxicated or otherwise impaired. Alcohol consumption by FCI employees, volunteers, students or guests who are under the age of 21 is strictly prohibited.

Community members who violate Finest City Improv’s Drug and Alcohol policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including permanent expulsion from Finest City Improv and/or referral for prosecution of criminal violations.

Whistleblower Policy

Community members must immediately report any activity or conduct that they suspect is:

    • Illegal, or a violation of any state or federal law and/or regulation; or
    • A serious violation of FCI policy and/or procedure, including the above ­stated policies regarding violence, use of drugs and/or alcohol and  weapons; or
    • Otherwise inappropriate and/or unethical.

Finest City Improv will not retaliate against any community member as a result of his or her report of inappropriate conduct under this policy, or because he or she has refused to follow an illegal, inappropriate and/or unethical request.

Confidentiality

Reports of inappropriate conduct under the policy may be submitted on a confidential basis by the student directly or may be submitted anonymously. Finest City Improv will endeavor to investigate the reported conduct as discreetly as possible under the applicable circumstances. Reports of violations or suspected violations will be kept confidential to the extent possible, consistent with the need to conduct an appropriate investigation.

Handling of Reported Violations

Upon receipt of a report of inappropriate conduct under this policy, Finest City Improv, led by Amy Lisewski and Kathleen Brown, shall conduct a prompt and thorough investigation and appropriate corrective action will be taken, if/as warranted.

Open Door Policy

Finest City Improv is committed to providing a safe, productive and fun educational and artistic environment for all community members. Part of this commitment is encouraging an open and frank atmosphere in which any problem, concern or question can be addressed and discussed.

Community members who have a question, problem, suggestion and/or complaint should feel free to discuss the issue with Kat Brown or Amy Lisewski. There will be no retaliation for raising a concern under this policy. Any issues raised or discussions held pursuant to Finest City Improv’s Open Door Policy will be treated with confidentiality unless the community member agrees to include others in the discussion or an investigation into the matter is warranted, in which case, confidentiality will be maintained to the extent practicable without compromising the investigation.

Please note that Finest City Improv’s Whistleblower and Open Door policies do not apply to complaints of harassment or sexual assault. Community members who wish to report an incident of harassment or sexual assault must follow the complaint procedures set forth in Finest City Improv’s Anti-­Harassment and Sexual Assault policies.

Discipline Policy

Immediate Dismissal or Expulsion

If at any point during a class, rehearsal, or show, an instructor, coach, or staff member feels that a participant is engaging in behavior which is threatening, dangerous and/or highly disruptive, they may require that the participant leave the facility for the remainder of that day. Participants dismissed in this manner may not return until they have spoken with Kathleen Brown or Amy Lisewski.

Behavior which would result in immediate dismissal includes, but is not limited to threats or acts of violence, inebriation and/or severe impairment due to use of drugs and/or other controlled substances, violation of the Anti­Harassment and/or Civility policies or other actions which are disruptive to the work of the class, show, or rehearsal, in the discretion of Finest City Improv. If behavior is deemed excessively disruptive or dangerous to Finest City Improv environment, Finest City Improv reserves the right to permanently expel a community member from Finest City Improv as well as the extended Finest City Improv property.

Warnings

Community members who display behavior which FCI deems to be detrimental to FCI’s core values and standards of conduct may be issued a warning. FCI gives the warning verbally in private with the offending party. If a community member receives more than one warning for similar issues, appropriate action will be taken. Depending on the circumstances, community members may be required to take a leave of absence from Finest City Improv or to leave Finest City Improv permanently. 

To report an incident please submit this confidential form.

Additional Resources

National Sexual Assault Hotline

Center For Community Solutions (San Diego organization) –

  • CCS operates the only Rape Crisis Center in the city of San Diego.
  • CCS operates the 24-hour bilingual crisis hotline 1-888-385-4657

National Conflict Resolution Center (San Diego)