Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
|Location||New York, United States|
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (shorter UCB Theatre) is an American improvisational theatre and training center, founded by the Upright Citizens Brigade troupe members, including Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh. It had locations in the New York City neighborhoods of Hell's Kitchen and the East Village and currently operates theaters in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. UCB was located in Chelsea West 26th St location from April 2003 until November 2017. After which the theatre moved to Hell's Kitchen, 555 West 42nd St in December 2017. The second theatre located in the East Village opened in 2011 and the Los Angeles expansion started in 2014.
The troupe was originally trained by Del Close at Chicago's ImprovOlympic, invented the ASSSSCAT show the success of which led to the troupe getting their own sketch show on Comedy Central from 1998 to 2000, and eventually founded their own theatre. In 2013, they co-authored a manual The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual. Several comedians who trained at UCB eventually were chosen to perform on Saturday Night Live.
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Training Center teaches longform improv, sketch, writing, parts of directing and various other comedy skills. 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. 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.
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. The troupe'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. 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.
On April 1, 2003, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre moved to its second official space in Chelsea - a 150-seat theater at 307 West 26th Street in NYC in the former Maverick Theater. The new venue had several advantages over the previous theater on West 22nd, 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".
In September 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. Often referred to as "Beast", the theater was initially opened in hopes of showcasing more stand-up comedy. However, it primarily featured improv and sketch shows. In January 2019 it was announced that UCB East would close in February 2019, following financial issues.
At the start of 2017, ticket prices increased (the first in ten years). In October 2017, it was announced that the UCB Chelsea location would close. The last show in Chelsea was Wednesday, November 28, 2017. The next UCB space was at 555 42nd St in Hell's Kitchen, the former home to the Pearl Theatre Company. This location and the New York training center were closed on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, leaving no current NYC locations of UCB, with no confirmed plans for revival.
On November 30, 2020, former UCBNY artistic director Michael Hartney and several other former UCB employees announced the launch of a new venture, The Squirrel Comedy Theatre. Initially operating only on the internet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group stated, "Our goal is to fundraise enough to open a physical space when we return to some sort of normalcy but for the time being, we exist solely online."
In 2005, with Daisy Rosario as general manager, the Los Angeles branch of the theater opened at 5919 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood, offering up improv, sketch and stand-up comedy shows nightly with a 120-seat capacity. Soon after, Comedy Bang! Bang! (formerly Comedy Death-Ray), 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.
In 2014, UCB announced the opening of UCB Theatre Sunset located at 5419 Sunset Boulevard for November 1. The new venue plays home to Upright Citizens Brigade's training center, an 85-seat theatre, cafe/performance space called Inner Sanctum, video production offices, and even retail stores on street level.
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- "Classes: New York". Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
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- Get the Laughs, but Follow the Rules, The New York Times, 20 February 2014
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- "We need this for the UCB chill out room". Improv Message Boards. March 9, 2005. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
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- McGlynn, Katla. "Comic Chaos Reigns at the U.C.B. Chelsea's Final Night". HWD. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
- "UCB Is Moving from Chelsea to Hell's Kitchen Next Month". Oct 16, 2017.
- Pearis, Bill (November 30, 2020). "Former UCB employees launch The Squirrel Comedy Theatre in NYC". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- "Comedy Bang Bang: Standup". UCB Theatre. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- "Upright Citizens Brigade Announces the Grand Opening of UCB Theatre Sunset - Splitsider". Splitsider.