Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

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Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre or UCB Theatre is an improvisational theatre and associated UCB Training Center with locations in Chelsea, New York, and Hollywood, California. The theater was founded by Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, a group of comedians who perform as the Upright Citizens Brigade. The troupe had a show on Comedy Central from 1998 to 2000 and were originally trained by Del Close at Chicago's ImprovOlympic.

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Training Center teaches longform improv, sketch writing, 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. Teams are composed of people who have completed training at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Training Center, and either auditioned or were asked to be performers.


Solo Arts
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 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 schedule included Harold Night on Thursdays and ASSSSCAT twice on Sundays. Over the years the schedule gradually increased to shows every night of the week. The low-priced shows, classes, and appearances by celebrities and comedy personalities helped to make the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre an attraction. While other dedicated comedy theaters like Chicago City Limits and Gotham City Improv decreased their shows or lost their spaces due to low attendance and dwindling profits, UCB grew and flourished. The original theatre was closed on November 18, 2002 after a building inspector ordered the theater to be shutdown 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. On April 1, 2003, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre opened its second official, current space - 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." The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre features a variety of comedy-related acts, including one-person shows, stand up, and sketch comedy acts, but the theater is best known for its long-form improv shows. Teams that performed the classic Harold improv format, like Mother Mother (Improv), Respecto Montalban, and The Swarm, developed their own forms and helped the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre become the place for great, cutting-edge, comedy. The longest running improv show at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, ASSSSCAT, has featured famous comedians, such as Janeane Garofalo, David Cross, Will Ferrell, Alec Baldwin, Jack Black, Mike Myers, Conan O'Brien, Robin Williams and Tina Fey as participants.

Related theaters
In October 2002, Armando Diaz (Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Artistic Director), Ali Farahnakian (founding former member of The Upright Citizens Brigade and Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre teacher), and Brian Desmet (Upright Citizens Brigade business manager) announced that they were opening an improv/comedy theater which would come to be known as The Peoples Improv Theater on West 29th Street. Two years later Armando Diaz would open a new theatre of his own, The Magnet Theater.

Los Angeles
The Los Angeles division of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre was opened on July 2, 2005 at 5919 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. Popular shows include Asssscat, Facebook (formerly Myspace), Not Too Shabby, Sketch Cram, The Midnight Show , and Jeff Garlin's Combo Platter. 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. Created by BJ Porter and Scott Aukerman, Comedy Death Ray regularly features comics such as Patton Oswalt, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Silverman, and Nick Kroll.

The Del Close Marathon
Del Close was the driving force behind improvisational comedy in Chicago for over 30 years and a strong influence on Upright Citizens Brigade. After Del's passing in 1999, the UCB started the Del Close Marathon to celebrate their mentor and keep alive his name and teachings for future generations. The Del Close Marathon celebrated its 10th anniversary August 8-10, 2008 with over 150 shows running nonstop from August 8 at 7pm until Sunday August 10 at 10pm. The Del Close Marathon is known worldwide, and has brought performers from around the nation to the theater, increasing its visibility and influence.

Announced at Del Close Marathon 12 in 2010, founding UCB members Matt Walsh Matt Besser & Ian Roberts announced that a new theater known as UCB EAST or " The Beast" would open in 2011. The 99 seat theater is to be located between 1st avenue and 3rd street and will be more focused on stand up than improv comedy.

Harold Teams
Harold Teams are improvisational house teams at the UCB Theatre, made up of graduates from the UCB Training Center, who perform the longform " The Harold" at the theatre on a regular basis. The Harold consists of an opening, scenes and group games with the additions of 'walk-ons' and 'tag outs' that run approximately 30 minutes in length. Harold teams have served as a breeding ground for many performers who found further success within and beyond the improv community. Many of these performers have also gone on to work as instructors at the training center. Note that several of the teams listed below, particularly the more well-established longer-running ones, may employ a variation of the Harold or another form altogether.

Current Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre NYC house teams
Based on the schedule:

Current Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre LA house teams
Based on the schedule:

Maude Teams
Maude Teams are sketch teams of the UCB's top writers and performers. Each month, Maude teams write and perform an entirely new sketch show performed by the UCB's tops performers. New York Maude Teams are Gorilla Gorilla, Gramps, High Treason, Slow Burn, Stone Cold Fox, and Thunder Gulch. Past New York Maude Teams include 27 Kidneys, mixtape '98, and The Skuntz. Los Angeles Maude teams are Hot Mess, Up! Up! Up!, Nice Kitchen, Extreme Tambourine, Kirkland's Signature, The Space Program.

Notable performers

New York (current)
Based partially on the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre web site:

Los Angeles (current)
Based partially on the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre web site:

Other notable alumni and guest performers
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  • H. Jon Benjamin, ( Dr. Katz , Home Movies , Archer , Bob's Burgers , Freak Show , Important Things with Demetri Martin )
  • Andy Blitz ( Late Night with Conan O'Brien , Human Giant , Important Things with Demetri Martin )
  • Hannibal Buress ( Louie , writer on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock )
  • Wyatt Cenac ( The Daily Show )
  • Mo Collins ( MADtv , Arrested Development , Parks and Recreation )
  • Rob Corddry ( The Daily Show , Childrens Hospital , Hot Tub Time Machine )
  • Eliza Coupe ( Happy Endings , Scrubs)
  • David Cross ( Mr. Show , Arrested Development , Freak Show , The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret )
  • Jimmy Dore ( Premium Blend , Comedy Central Presents , Comedy and Everything Else podcast)
  • Kevin Dorff ( Delocated , Late Night with Conan O'Brien , The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien )
  • Rachel Dratch ( Saturday Night Live , 30 Rock , Spring Breakdown )
  • Abby Elliott ( Saturday Night Live , No Strings Attached )
  • Mary Elizabeth Ellis ( It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia , Perfect Couples )
  • Will Ferrell ( Saturday Night Live , Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy , Step Brothers , The Other Guys )
  • Tina Fey ( 30 Rock , Saturday Night Live , Date Night , Mean Girls , Baby Mama )
  • Mac Funchess ( Brainfreeze )
  • Zach Galifianakis ( The Hangover , Dog Bites Man , Comedians of Comedy , Bored to Death )
  • Ben Garant ( The State , Reno 911! , screenwriter of Night at the Museum )
  • Janeane Garofalo ( 24 , The Larry Sanders Show , Wet Hot American Summer )
  • Jeff Garlin ( Curb Your Enthusiasm )
  • Jon Glaser ( Delocated , Late Night with Conan O'Brien , Freak Show , Human Giant )
  • Ira Glass ( This American Life)
  • Todd Glass ( Last Comic Standing , Louie , Comedy Central Presents , Comedy and Everything Else podcast)
  • Donald Glover ( Community , Mystery Team , writer on 30 Rock )
  • Bill Hader ( Saturday Night Live , Superbad , Hot Rod , Adventureland )
  • Gibby Haynes ( The Butthole Surfers )
  • John Hodgman ( The Daily Show , Bored to Death , author of The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require )
  • Ellie Kemper ( The Office , Bridesmaids , Late Night with Conan O'Brien )
  • Keegan-Michael Key ( MADtv , Reno 911! , Gary Unmarried )
  • Andy Kindler ( Last Comic Standing , Everybody Loves Raymond , Home Movies , Bob's Burgers )
  • David Koechner ( Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy , Saturday Night Live , The Office , The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show )
  • Laura Krafft (writer on The Colbert Report )
  • Nick Kroll ( The League , The Life & Times of Tim , Childrens Hospital , Cavemen , Best Week Ever )
  • Thomas Lennon ( The State , Reno 911! , Funny or Die Presents , screenwriter of Night at the Museum )
  • Samm Levine ( Freaks and Geeks , Inglourious Basterds )
  • Riki Lindhome ( The Last House on the Left , Garfunkel and Oates)
  • John Lutz ( 30 Rock , Mystery Team , writer on Saturday Night Live )
  • Marc Maron ( Comedy Central Presents , Late Night with Conan O'Brien , WTF with Marc Maron podcast)
  • Demetri Martin ( Important Things with Demetri Martin , Taking Woodstock , Late Night with Conan O'Brien )
  • Jack McBrayer ( 30 Rock , Late Night with Conan O'Brien )
  • Kevin McDonald ( Kids in the Hall , Invader Zim )
  • Adam McKay (former head writer on Saturday Night Live , director of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy & Step Brothers )
  • Tim Meadows ( Saturday Night Live , Mean Girls , Glory Daze )
  • Seth Meyers (current cast member and head writer on Saturday Night Live )
  • Kate Micucci ( Scrubs , When in Rome , Garfunkel and Oates)
  • T. J. Miller ( Carpoolers , Cloverfield , Extract )
  • Andy Milonakis ( The Andy Milonakis Show , Jimmy Kimmel Live! , Waiting... )
  • Jerry Minor ( Saturday Night Live , Mr. Show , Lucky Louie , Delocated , Crossballs , Carpoolers )
  • Morgan Murphy (writer on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live! )
  • John Mulaney ( Comedy Central Presents , Best Week Ever , writer on Saturday Night Live )
  • Kumail Nanjiani ( Michael and Michael Have Issues , Comedy Central )
  • Olde English, sketch comedy group.
  • John Oliver ( The Daily Show , Community )
  • Artemis Pebdani ( It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia )
  • Nasim Pedrad ( Saturday Night Live , ER )
  • Jordan Peele ( MADtv , Chocolate News , Childrens Hospital )
  • Aubrey Plaza ( Parks and Recreation , Funny People , Mystery Team , Scott Pilgrim vs. the World )
  • Brian Posehn ( The Sarah Silverman Program , Just Shoot Me! , Mr. Show , Comedians of Comedy )
  • Mary Lynn Rajskub ( 24 , Mr. Show , The Larry Sanders Show )
  • Andy Richter ( Late Night with Conan O'Brien , The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien , Conan , Andy Richter Controls the Universe )
  • Sarah Saltzberg ( The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee )
  • Sarah Silverman ( The Sarah Silverman Program , Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic )
  • Brendon Small ( Home Movies , Metalocalypse )
  • Brian Stack ( Late Night with Conan O'Brien , The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien , Conan , Freak Show )
  • Jason Sudeikis ( Saturday Night Live , Hall Pass , Going the Distance , The Cleveland Show )
  • Chris Tallman ( Crossballs , Reno 911! ,