Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on West 26th Street in Manhattan.

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre or UCB Theatre is an improvisational theatre and associated UCB Training Center[1] with locations in Chelsea, New York, the East Village, 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.[2] 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.[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. 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.[3][4][5]


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[6] 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.[citation needed]

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.[7]

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".[8][9]

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.[citation needed] 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,[10] 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.[11][12] Two years later Armando Diaz would open a new theatre of his own, The Magnet Theater.[13]

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles division of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre was opened on July 2, 2005 at 5919 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood.[citation needed] 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.[14] Created by BJ Porter and Scott Aukerman, Comedy Death Ray regularly features comics such as Patton Oswalt, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Silverman, and Nick Kroll.[14]

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.[15]

UCB East

Founding UCB members Matt Walsh Matt Besser & Ian Roberts announced at Del Close Marathon 12 in 2010 that a new theater known as UCB East (nickname "UCBeast") would open in 2011. The 120 seat theater is located on Avenue A and 3rd street and will have more stand-up and storytelling shows than the main 26th street theatre, though still has some improv comedy too. UCB East opened for business on September 6th, 2011.

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.[16] 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:[17]

  • Airwolf
  • American Cousin
  • Dance Break
  • Death By Roo Roo
  • Diamond Lion
  • The Law Firm
  • Grandma's Ashes
  • Mr. Crime
  • The Curfew (Formerly Reuben Williams )
  • Sandino
  • Standard Oil
  • The Stepfathers
  • Very Good Kiss

Current Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre LA house teams

Based on the schedule:[18]

  • Arts & Athletics
  • Bangarang!
  • Convoy
  • Death by Roo Roo
  • Diamond Lion
  • John Velvet
  • Kid Grift
  • Last Day of School
  • Scandal!
  • Sentimental Lady
  • Soundtrack
  • Shitty Jobs
  • The Great War
  • The Smokes
  • Winslow

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. New York Maude Teams are Arbuckle, Dweeb, Fambly, Gramp's, Neighbor Boy, Onassis, Stone Cold Fox, and Thunder Gulch. [19] Past New York Maude Teams include 27 Kidneys, mixtape '98, Gorilla Gorilla, High Treason, Slow Burn, and The Skuntz. Los Angeles Maude teams are Hot Mess, Up! Up! Up!, Goodman, Bonafide, Oh, Brother!, The Get Go.[20]

Notable performers

New York (current)

Based partially on the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre web site:[21]

Los Angeles (current)

Based partially on the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre web site:[22]

Other notable alumni and guest performers


  1. ^ a b http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/classes/
  2. ^ a b c d e McKinley, Jesse (2003-01-27). "Masters of Improv Are Stumped". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A07E5D91539F934A15752C0A9659C8B63&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  3. ^ http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/features/3044/
  4. ^ http://www.jesterjournal.com/IntMantzoukas.htm
  5. ^ http://www.clubplanet.com/Venues/133647/New-York/Upright-Citizens-Brigade-Theatre
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ 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. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A07E5D91539F934A15752C0A9659C8B63. 
  8. ^ http://www.improvresourcecenter.com/mb/showthread.php?t=12091
  9. ^ http://www.improvresourcecenter.com/mb/showthread.php?t=34286&highlight=chill+out+room
  10. ^ http://www.improvresourcecenter.com/mb/showthread.php?t=8514
  11. ^ http://www.benkharakh.com/ali_farahnakian
  12. ^ http://2log.biz/?tag=improv+geekery
  13. ^ http://magnettheater.com/press.html
  14. ^ a b http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/745
  15. ^ http://delclosemarathon.com/dcm8/index.php?option=home
  16. ^ http://greenlightwiki.com/improv/
  17. ^ "New York Schedule". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/schedule/. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  18. ^ "Los Angeles Schedule". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/schedule/. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  19. ^ http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1425
  20. ^ http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1684
  21. ^ "New York: Performers". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/performers/. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  22. ^ "Los Angeles: Performers". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/performers/. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  23. ^ "New York: Shows: Soundtracks Live!". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/475. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  24. ^ "New York: Shows: Todd Barry: Icky". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/4. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  25. ^ "Los Angeles: Shows: Mo VS. Mo". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1037. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  26. ^ "Los Angeles: Shows: Naked Babies". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/733. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  27. ^ Brown, Janelle (2006-07-17). "Eliza Coupe". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117946850.html?categoryid=2242&cs=1. 
  28. ^ "New York: Shows: Dratch & Fey". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/28. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  29. ^ "Los Angeles: Shows: The Zach Galifianakis Surprise". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1325. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  30. ^ "Los Angeles: Shows: Jeff Garlin's Combo Platter". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1214. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  31. ^ "Videos: ASSSSCAT: Gibby Haynes #1". UCBcomedy.com. http://www.ucbcomedy.com/videos/play/3104. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  32. ^ "New York: Shows: Andy Kindler: One Hold Barred". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1672. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  33. ^ "Los Angeles: Shows: ET: The Extra-Terrestrial". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1601. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  34. ^ "New York: Shows: Naked Babies / Scheer & McBrayer". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/773. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  35. ^ "Los Angeles: Shows: Hammy and the Kids". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1343. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  36. ^ "New York: Shows: Andy Milonakis Is Not Funny: The Musical!". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/396. 
  37. ^ "Los Angeles: Shows: Patton, Doug and Brian's Movie Nerd Out". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1323. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  38. ^ "Videos: Worst Laid Plans: Trailer". UCBcomedy.com. http://www.ucbcomedy.com/videos/play/1018. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  39. ^ "Los Angeles: Shows: Scottastrophy". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1381. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  40. ^ "Los Angeles: Shows: Tim and Eric's Guide To...". Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/1217. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 

External links

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

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