In the world of NYC Comedy, everyone knows of the The Upright Citizens Brigade. It’s where many of comedy’s biggest stars got their start, and specializes in improvisation classes and performances. The Del Close Marathon is the Brigade’s annual nonstop 72-hour comedy festival, and here we bring you the recap of the event in case you missed it.
The Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) began as a sketch and improvisational comedy team in Chicago that later relocated to NYC to perform and offer training. The classes became so popular that UCB was able to use the funds to open its own theater. Established in 1996 by comedy role models Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Ian Robets, Matt Besser, and others, UCB has helped raise some of the most prominent names in comedy such as Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, The Mindy Project’s Adam Pally, Parks and Recreation’s Aziz Ansari and Aubrey Plaza, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Ellie Kemper, The Office’s Ed Helms and many more.
Every year, UCB holds a weekend-long, non-stop, 72-hour improvised comedy festival called the Del Close Marathon, named after the famous comedy coach and improvisation expert. With seven venues and nine stages, this past weekend was the largest DCM yet.
Similar to a music festival, marathon-goers were able to purchase a $35 wristband for the entire weekend, with the exception of a few shows: an amazing deal. However, with the affordable cost of the marathon comes the long lines and possibility of not getting a spot at the show you would give anything to see. Luckily, DCM and UCB opened a special Twitter account that updated followers on line lengths to maximize chances of getting into the hottest theaters. In addition, there was a DCM app that provided a full comedy schedule, allowing comedy fans to plan ahead and strategize. Yet waiting in line here is far from terrible, especially with the tons of potential friends surrounding, sharing food, stories, and game plans.
Along with an improv institution comes its star-studded appearances. Some of the most popular acts to catch at DCM were the ones that featured celebrities reuniting with their old teams. Adam Pally performed with his team, 1985, from almost 10 years ago, for a hilarious and wild 30-minute set full of impromptu chair-throwing and shenanigans. Ellie Kemper also met up with her old team for a few sets. Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher did a set together where Sagher accidentally showed up late to her time slot. Proving real show-biz professionalism and abiding to the motto “the show must go on,” Gethard took a suggestion from the audience and began the set on his own, until Sagher arrived about five minutes later, jumping straight into the scene. Unbelievable!
On top of professional improvisers and comedians teaming up from all over the country, there was a show from the writers of The Daily Show, a set from the writers of Key and Peel, and a performance called Gravid Water that teams up improvisers with actors. The actors learn a scene, memorize lines to perform, and may not stray from the script while the improviser they are paired with has no idea what is coming or what the scene is about. The intelligence and quickness is beyond impressive and they still manage to make everything funny.
However, no matter what or who popped up during the festival, the holy grail of DCM performances was that of ASSSSCAT: the main show with the UCB4 (Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, and Matt Besser). This was the one show that was completely sold out way in advance with hundreds of people in line hours before start time because who wouldn’t want to see these guys on one stage together?
This year’s 17th Annual Del Close Marathon was undeniably the most successful yet. With a party space reserved exclusively for performers and all-night improv sessions featuring even wilder unpredictability and chaos as a result of sleep deprivation and other factors… DCM was and will continue to be just about the funniest weekend of the year.
Interested in taking improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center? Click here and sign up today!
By Janna Berenson