UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE with Matt Besser, Chad Carter, Andy Daly, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh
Main Stage @ Park West, 322 W. Armitage
Saturday, April 28
Tickets: $25, at the Park West box office; Ticketmaster: 312-902-1500; and on-line at www.ticketmaster.com (enter "Chicago Improv Festival")
18+ and older only.
Upright Citizens Brigade: Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Amy Poehler
This is the first time in 6 years that all four legendary UCB team-mates will perform together on a CIF stage. 10 years ago UCB was CIF's first headlining act. In 2002, UCB were the first winners of CIF's annual "Ensemble of the Year" award. CIF is proud to welcome UCB back to the festival. Performing with Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh are MADtv alumni Andrew Daly and long-time Upright Citizens Brigade Theater member Chad Carter.
Michael McCarthy, head writer and commentator from Q-101's The Morning Fix will be UCB's guest monologist.
Upright Citizens Brigade:
Upright Citizens Brigade is an improvisational comedy and sketch comedy group that emerged from Chicago's ImprovOlympic in 1990. The most famous incarnation consists of Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh. The original incarnation of the group consisted of Besser, Ali Farahnakian, Drew Franklin, Adam McKay, Roberts, Rick Roman, and Horatio Sanz. Other early members included Neil Flynn, Armando Diaz, and Rich Fulcher.
Comedy Central's Matt Besser
The Upright Citizens Brigade began performing improv and sketch comedy at Kill the Poet in Chicago. Their first show was called Virtual Reality. The group followed with shows entitled UCBTV, Conference on the Future of Happiness, Thunderball, Bucket of Truth, Big Dirty Hands, The Real Real World, and Punch Your Friend in the Face.
MADtv alum Andrew Daly
In 1997, the Upright Citizens Brigade relocated to New York and began performing shows and offering improv training at Solo Arts Group. These shows and classes were so popular that the UCB were able to open their own theater, The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, at 161 W. 22nd Street in Chelsea on February 4, 1999, in a former nude dance club. On April 1, 2003, they moved to a new space at 307 W. 26th Street. In July of 2005, the UCB opened a theater in Los Angeles at 5919 Franklin Ave (between Tamarind & North Bronson Ave). The Upright Citizens Brigade have also been a featured performance Upright Citizens Brigade in the Comedy Tent at the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN for the past three years.
SNL's Amy Poehler
The group had a TV series dedicated to their sketch comedy on Comedy Central that aired for three seasons from 1998 to 2000. Each season contained 10 episodes, which included sketches inspired by their live shows and new material. What made the series stand out as a sketch show was that every episode had a central theme, the strands of which would all be tied together in some way by the end. The progression of each episode essentially followed the format of the improv format known as the Harold, which was invented by Del Close, improv teacher and mentor to the UCB (who also contributed the voiceover in the show's opening title sequence). Additionally, episodes in each season would make reference to a fictitious element within the show's world and would culminate in a season finale that would focus exclusively on this element. The show also stayed away from overused staples of sketch shows by rarely doing pop culture parodies or celebrity impersonations (with the exception of several impressions of historical figures such as Albert Einstein, Harry Truman, and Jesus in Episode 108).
Anchorman's Ian Roberts
The four main actors never appeared as themselves. They each took various roles throughout the sketches, which were linked by segments featuring Adair (Besser), Colby (Poehler), Antoine (Roberts), and Trotter (Walsh), the Upright Citizens Brigade. The overall plot of the show was that these four were The Upright Citizens Brigade, an underground organization "with no government ties and unlimited resources" dedicated to creating and monitoring chaos from their secure underground base. The sketches depict chaotic or bizarre events in the world, events which are often directly engineered by the UCB. In the Season 2 finale, the FBI invaded the UCB lair as part of a raid to find a Supercool smuggling ring. Because of this, in the third and final season, the UCB had set up operation in a bakery delivery truck. The characters themselves also had less of a presence in the episodes, mostly only being shown quickly between scenes.
Comedy Central's Matt Walsh
Another defining feature of the show was a series of real-world pranks, which tied in with the show's theme. Usually run at the end of each episode, these hidden-camera pranks featured the cast (as either the central UCB characters or other characters from that day's episode) interacting with real strangers. These segments featured such concepts as attempts by UCB cast to buy the fictitious drug "supercool" from real drug dealers in shady dance clubs, a UCB mother trying to convince a real store clerk to let her put up flyers advertising "baby fights," and the UCB at a sidewalk stand attempting to sell "poo-sticks" (sticks with dog feces on one end) as defensive weapons to passersby.
UCB's players have since moved on to other projects while still performing in various combinations at their weekly improvised show, ASSSCAT, which can be seen once on Saturday and Sunday nights in Los Angeles, and twice on Sunday nights in New York. In Los Angeles, the Sunday night show is free, as is the second show in New York. One of the show's running jokes involves a cast members explaining that "it's free to get in, but you have to pay to leave." A version of the show's Bucket of Truth is passed around and donations are taken. Both Poehler and Sanz went on to perform on Saturday Night Live. Comedy Central released a DVD containing the episodes of the first season in 2003. In the fall of 2005, Bravo showed a one-hour special of ASSSCAT Improv with guest stars like Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, and Andy Richter.
Upright Citizens Brigade on Comedy Central
The show's motto was "Don't think". The show opened with this narration, voiced by improv legend and UCB guru Del Close: "From the dawn of civilization, they have existed in order to undermine it. Our only enemy is the status quo. Our only friend is chaos. They have no government ties and unlimited resources. If something goes wrong, we are the cause. Every corner of the earth is under their surveillance. If you do it, we see it. Always. We believe the powerful should be made less powerful. We have heard the voice of society, begging us to destabilize it. Antoine. Colby. Trotter. Adair. We are the Upright Citizens Brigade."