Emma Allen reports from deep inside improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade. (SLNewYorker) The UCB improv empire takes in millions a year. "Pyramid-scheme theories have been floated: if U.C.B. is charging so much for classes, does not compensate performers, and makes them pay for practice space and coaches, where's all the money going?"
Muslim-owned comedy venue offers "Trump Special," gives free attendance to Muslim-Americans. Mo S. Fathelbab is a Muslim-American and owner of The Experiment Comedy Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He’s offering a ‘Trump Special’ - anyone who can prove that they are Muslim by facing Mecca and reciting ‘The Fatiha’ gets free admission.
Bernie Sanders (comedian James Adomian) joins Dr. Ben Carson (Jerry Minor), Lincoln Chafee (Seth Morris, previously), Hillary Clinton (Heather Campbell), and others for Decision Election 2016 All-Star Clusterfuck, a bi-partisan debate, live at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. [SLYT, NSFW]
On September 1st, Paul F. Tompkins officially checks in to the Superego Clinic For Analytical Pscience™ for the long-awaited fourth season of the group's comedy/improv podcast. Can't wait? There's good news! Throughout the month of August, Superego will be posting new unreleased material to hold you over, starting with part one of a new Behind The Bonus episode, featuring previously unreleased material ($1.99 download). There will also be new animated Superego Supershorts posted to their You Tube channel, and more. The Superego facebook page is also a flurry of activity, and you can even get a personalized post card. [more inside]
After two long years, season three of Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule returns to Adult Swim with a look at Planes. A spin-off of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, it stars John C. Reilly as Dr. Steve Brule. Every week, Dr. Steve Brule "checks stuff out" like Relationships ("If your body's lonely it's gonna get sick, probably!"), Food ("Try going a day without it. You'll miss it, Charlie!"), Space ("One small mankind, I'm gonna leap the hell out of this rocket!"), and Animals ("Just turn around and look, you dingus. Your best friends are animal.") All 13 episodes and two special presentations are available online. [more inside]
Superego (previously) and The Thrilling Adventure Hour present A War of Two Worlds, a multi-part, crossover, podcast event spectacular. Written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and improvised by Superego, The WorkJuicePlayers, and special guests. Written and improvised? Yes! [NSFW] [more inside]
The Dead Authors Podcast: Legendary time-traveling writer H.G. Wells (Paul F. Tompkins) welcomes literary giants to The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles for a lively discussion in front of a live audience. Unscripted, barely researched, all fun! [more inside]
Set List is a live show where "the world’s top comedians get a never-before seen “set list” of bizarre, outrageous, and ridiculous topics as the audience follows along on the screen behind the performer." Edited highlights of this combination of improv and stand-up have just started to be posted on the Nerdist's Youtube channel. Including sets by: [more inside]
On this date in 1963, the most influential comedy theater to ever emerge out of the Bay Area - The Committee - opened its doors at 622 Broadway in North Beach. Thus began a full decade of widespread cultural influence, with multiple studio albums, appearances on The Tonight Show and The Dick Cavett Show, and a feature film. The Committee's provocative and confrontational style, influenced equally by Chicago's Second City and the radical politics of the era, set the stage for much of the comedy to follow. The Groundlings was a direct descendents (Gary Austin came from Committee workshops) and the improv structure known as Harold, basic arithmetic in the halls of IO and the Upright Citizens Brigage, was birthed at The Committee under the direction of Del Close. To celebrate this anniversary, I'd like to present a recently unearthed recording of their Satirathon from 1968, from the archives of the late Peter Bergman. Featuring, among others, Garry Goodrow, Carl Gottlieb, and Chris "The Egg" Ross, an improv genius who succumbed to an overdose, in 1970, at the age of 25.
Last week a debate erupted in the US comedy community between stand-up comedians (like Kurt Metzger and Mike Lawrence) and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater about the fact that at none of their three theaters pay any of their performers (including UCBEast in New York, which often has Saturday Night Stand-up shows). Other comics such as Chris Gethard eloquently came to their defense. This week two of the founders Matt Besser and Matt Walsh released an episode of Besser's pocast Improv for Humans that goes into details about the club's philosophy, including why they have never taken any money from founding and running the theater. [more inside]
For Vanity Fair's Comedy issue, the groundbreaking improvisational comedy duo of Mike Nichols and Elaine May sit down (but don't quite sit still) for their first joint interview in decades.
"There are plenty of reasons to recover from addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma....But comedians are perverse people who often don't care about any of those things. So maybe this will convince them, and maybe this will convince me: get better — so you can get funny." In a frank, personal, and revealing article, essayist Jaime Lutz interviews comedians Marc Maron, Eddie Pepitone, Paul Gilmartin, and Anthony Atamanuik about the uneasy relationship between mental illness and comedy.
Years after its final broadcast, the award-winning, pond-hopping, cult comedy hit Whose Line is it Anyway? is returning to television! Sort of! Tonight in just a few minutes, Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza (promo, sample segment) makes its debut on GSN, reuniting Carey with popular "Whosers" Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, Wayne Brady, and many more. Though the show will air every weekday, you don't have to wait around for new episodes to get your improv fix -- in spite of the lack of DVD box sets, there's a veritable treasure trove of past content available free from multiple online sources, including the complete run of the American Whose Line on both YouTube and fansite WatchWLIIA along with every episode of the original UK run from Channel4's official YouTube channel and their streaming video site 4oD. Too much content? Look inside for selections of the show's most hilarious moments as sampled from the show's burgeoning TVTropes entry. See also: Fan guide - American episode guide (UK version) - List of game types [more inside]
The Second City, the world's premier theater of comedy and school of improvisation, is celebrating its 50th birthday. The school has had many notable alumni: Some early Second City performances by Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, some reminiscences by Tina Fey, Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie, and Fred Willard. [more inside]
"I am a master impressionest and I will not dignify that with a response..." Continuing in the vein of posting links to UCB Performers videos. YouTube War is produced and stars Chris Gethard along with Zach Woods. Also created a whole bunch of other shorts, "The Worlds Most Akward Boy": Rides an Elevator, Goes to the Deli, Enjoys a Hot Tub, and many more.
The Night Andy Kaufman Sabotaged After Michael Richards flipped out at the Laugh Factory, some speculated that Kramer had an "Andy Kaufman moment" gone horribly wrong, but did you know that Richards was once a target of Kaufman's humor himself? On February 20, 1981, Andy Kaufman hosted ABC's late night comedy show, Fridays , but refused to stay on script during the live Broadcast. After deliberately blowing lines in several sketches, Kaufman instigated a fight during one sketch, by pouring water on Fridays cast member, Michael Richards. The next year, ratings for Fridays were so low that they asked Kaufman to host a second time to boost ratings. (More inside.)
Making any jokes or statements during the screening process may be grounds for both criminal and civil penalties.
Look up more - Improv Everywhere has been mentioned before but this latest mission is the largest yet. After reading about it here, I wonder how many people signed up for the NYC list? Were there any other MeFites there? I was window 39...
The Improv Page, not to be confused with The New Improv Page. You may also find important improv comedy information at The Improv Encyclopedia, The Learn Improv Page, Chicago's Improv Resource Center or perhaps even The Spolin Center. There is much more happening in the world of improv comedy than the increasingly unsatisfying Whose Line is it Anyway?