Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

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The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (shorter UCB Theatre) is an American improvisational theatre and training center,[1] founded by the Upright Citizens Brigade troupe members, including Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh.[2] It has locations in Chelsea, New York, the East Village, New York and Hollywood, California.

One of the locations of The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, on West 26th Street in Manhattan.

The troupe was originally trained by Del Close at Chicago's ImprovOlympic, invented ASSSSCAT show the success of which led to the troupe getting their own sketch show on Comedy Central from 1998 to 2000 and eventually founding their own theatre. In 2013, they co-authored a manual The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual.[3][4]

Philosophy[edit]

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Training Center teaches longform improv, sketch writing, and various other comedy skills.[1] The training center's philosophy of improv is based largely on the teachings of Del Close, with a strong emphasis on the "game" of the scene.[5] The primary improvisational form is "The Harold", and the theater in all its incarnations has had a group of "Harold Teams", house teams that perform regularly.[6]

History[edit]

Solo Arts[edit]

Prior to opening their own theatre, the Upright Citizens Brigade performed their signature improv show, ASSSSCAT, first at KGB Bar, and then later at Solo Arts. Solo Arts was the first semi-permanent home to the Upright Citizens Brigade's Harold Teams and is considered by some to be the group's first theatre.[7][8][9]

161[edit]

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre's first permanent space was at 161 West 22nd Street, a 75-seat auditorium that used to be the Harmony Burlesque Theater, an all-nude lap-dancing club—essentially a storefront.

The original theatre was closed on November 18, 2002 after a building inspector ordered the theater to be shut down due to fire code violations, specifically because of an inadequate rear exit. In the months that followed, the theater found a temporary home at the Access Theater on lower Broadway, then moved to the Chelsea Playhouse for a short time before finding a permanent space.[10]

UCBT NY[edit]

On April 1, 2003, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre opened its second official, current space in Chelsea - a 150-seat theater at 307 West 26th Street in NYC in the former Maverick Theater. This new space had several advantages over its previous theater at 161, such as double capacity, a more professional tech booth, larger green room with a greater separation from the stage area, two dressing rooms, storage rooms, twice the number of bathrooms, and a "chill out room".[11][12]

UCB LA[edit]

In 2005, the Los Angeles branch of the theater opened at 5919 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood, offering up improv, sketch and stand-up comedy shows nightly. Soon after, Comedy Bang Bang, a Los Angeles alternative comedy show moved from its former home at the M Bar to join the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, appearing on Tuesday nights.[13]

UCBeast[edit]

In October 2011, UCB opened a second theater on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, at 153 E 3rd St. This theater features 124 seats, two lobbies, and a full bar known as the "Hot Chicks Room" in reference to an episode of the Upright Citizens Brigade TV show.[14] Often referred to as "Beast", the theater was initially opened in hopes of showcasing more stand-up comedy. However, today it primarily features improv and sketch shows.

The Del Close Marathon[edit]

Del Close worked in improvisational comedy in Chicago for over 30 years. After Del's death in 1999, the UCB started the Del Close Marathon to celebrate their mentor and keep alive his name and teachings for future generations.[15] The marathon has become a three day improv marathon, stretching over several different theaters in Manhattan, providing improv content on stage 24/7 as the marathon runs, and ultimately culminating in a special ASSSSCAT performance.

Notable performers[edit]

New York (current)[edit]

Based partially on the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre web site:[16]

Los Angeles (current)[edit]

Based partially on the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre web site:[17]

Other notable alumni and guest performers[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Classes: New York". Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d McKinley, Jesse (2003-01-27). "Masters of Improv Are Stumped". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  3. ^ Get the Laughs, but Follow the Rules, The New York Times, 20 February 2014
  4. ^ "And....Scene". New York Magazine. September 25, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2012. 
  5. ^ Voss, Eric. "Improv's Babel: Defining the Game of the Scene". Splitsider. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "New York: Shows: Harold Night". Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Levy, Ariel (August 10, 1998). "The Odd Squad". New York Magazine. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Jason Mantzoukas interview". jesterjournal.com. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Nightclub in Chelsea, NY". clubplanet.com. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  10. ^ McKinley, Jesse (2003-01-27). "Masters of Improv Are Stumped; Losing a Permanent Theater Is No Joke for a Comedy Troupe". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ "[UCBT] No more Chelsea". Improv Message Boards. March 14, 2003. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  12. ^ "We need this for the UCB chill out room". Improv Message Boards. March 9, 2005. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Comedy Bang Bang: Standup". UCB Theatre. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Comedy Troupe Delivers Its Second New York Baby". New York Times. October 30, 2011. 
  15. ^ http://www.delclosemarathon.com/
  16. ^ "New York: Performers". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  17. ^ "Los Angeles: Performers". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°44′51″N 73°59′52″W / 40.74753°N 73.99764°W / 40.74753; -73.99764