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Posts tagged as Del Close

Adam McKay on What He Learned from Working with Improv Guru Del Close

Will Ferrell doesn’t mince words when describing Adam McKay, his longtime friend and comedy collaborator. “He’s kind of a dangerous individual,” Ferrell says. “He’s extremely funny; there’s no doubt about it. But he’s dangerous. I wouldn’t stay in a room with him, one on one, for any longer than I had to. There’s a criminal tendency there. We have a great working relationship because I don’t ask him much about his past. He just frightens me.” Ferrell is joking, obviously. But there was a time, years before McKay found Hollywood success directing and co-writing films such as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) and The Other Guys (2010), [...]

UCB Announces Ridiculously Good Del Close Marathon Line-Up, Again

UCB has announced the schedule for its annual Del Close Marathon and as always, it seems too good to be true. The 56-hour long-form improv marathon has grown even from last year's insanity, featuring 420 shows on seven stages across New York City. There's an extra international quality to this year's festival, with teams from Mexico, UK, Portugal and Finland appearing. (Though there's also a team claiming to be from Caprica, so who the hell knows.) The highlights are spread across the stages, from the return of last year's amazing Mantzoukas and Morris at the main Chelsea theater, to several hours of Matt Besser's improv4humans at its [...]

Improv's Babel: Defining the Game of the Scene

Interviews by Matt Visconage.

Improv was doomed with a semantics crisis from the start.

When long-form improvisation began to flourish as its own art form under comedy guru Del Close in Chicago in the 1980s, “improv” referred to The Improv, a popular chain of stand-up comedy clubs in dozens of cities around the country. The Palm Beach Improv, for example.

When I used to intern at an improv theater in Hollywood, it wasn’t uncommon to find a couple who wandered in from the street, expecting to see a guy with a microphone, telling jokes. Television shows like Whose Line Is It, Anyway? helped audiences distinguish improv from stand-up, [...]

Bill Murray Discusses Del Close; Is The Best

Bill Murray has always kept the media and Hollywood at a distance. Besides, regularly losing roles because he doesn’t return phone calls, he also isn't the most talkative interview. In the recent Esquire, writer Scott Raab found a trick to get him to talk: ask him about Del Close. Murray studied with Del back in Chicago and the man obviously had a huge impact on him. Murray explained:

He was incredibly gracious to your talent and always tried to further it. He got people to perform beyond their expectations. He really believed that anyone could do it if they were present and showed respect. There was a whole [...]

One Hour of Poehler & Lynch and One Tragically Unreleased Movie Trailer

An hour of Amy Poehler and Jane Lynch chatting would be worth it no matter what they're talking about, but if they're talking about Amy's early days at Second City and ImprovOlympic, whether Del Close was a misogynist or just a misanthrope, and the decisions to turn down sitcom money to stay with the rest of the UCB, then you have already clicked the link and I am just talking to no one. La la la la there isn't anyone reading this because everyone is over in another tab watching that amazing interview.

Note: the video above is the trailer for Spring Breakdown, the unreleased movie [...]

Fun Thing to Buy of the Day: Del Close's 'How to Speak Hip'

What better way to honor improv guru Del Close than with a post about a spoken word record he released in 1959? With an entire three-day marathon of improv, you say? Maybe. But sadly, the Del Close Marathon only comes once a year. Until DCM16, pick up a copy of How to Speak Hip, a hilarious satire of language-learning manuals. Del plays the teacher, instructing the listener on the language and lifestyle of the ellusive "hipster" that was such a popular subculture at the time. With John Brent playing the hipster, Del walks the listener through basic vocabulary and follows Brent through a typical beatnik day. Not only is [...]

There Are Two Dueling Del Close Biopics in Development

There's been a lot of hubbub in the press lately about two competing Steve Jobs biopics, but now, The Chicago Tribune reports that there are two dueling movies based on the life of Del Close, the father of modern improvisational comedy. Close, amongst other things, trained dozens of well-known comedians like Bill Murray, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Amy Poehler at Chicago's Second City and ImprovOlympic theaters from the early '70s up until his death in 1999. Here's the info on the two similar movies, one called Guru from the Second City camp and another called Del from the ImprovOlympic camp:

Guru - Produced by Second [...]

Bill Murray Tried to Make an Improvised Movie in 1984

Will Harris over at The A.V. Club has a great interview with actress Jami Gertz today. Gertz was one of the stars of Anne Beatts's short-lived, much-loved sitcom Square Pegs, which Beatts's SNL buddy Bill Murray guested on once. In the interview, Gertz reveals that Murray was trying to put together an improvised movie circa 1983/1984 and had recruited her to be part of the cast:

"I did some improv with [Bill Murray] back in Chicago, with Del Close. He really introduced me into the improv world and what improv is all about. In fact, there was a small time there where we were… well, he was trying to get a movie [...]

Talking to Charna Halpern About Working with Del Close to Create Longform Improv

On paper, Charna Halpern is intimidating. Really intimidating. Through her partnership with Del Close, she co-founded ImprovOlympic, developed The Harold and helped launch the careers of everyone from Chris Farley to Matt Besser to Rachel Dratch. Oh, and she introduced Amy Poehler to Tina Fey.

In person, Halpern is a warm, Midwestern, cool aunt type. She drives a convertible, brings her dogs everywhere, and never hesitates to say exactly what's on her mind. Her no-nonsense demeanor may make you forget she's a kingmaker and a legend until she offhandedly mentions getting high with Del Close. Someone give this woman a reality show.

The Lost Projects of Harold Ramis

While Harold Ramis isn’t quite a household name, he absolutely should be. As a writer/director, the man shaped the big screen personas of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Candy, and Rodney Dangerfield, amongst others, defined the comedic tastes of a generation, and had more of an effect on American film humor than just about anybody in the past few decades. Before conquering Hollywood, Ramis performed at Second City Chicago, on The National Lampoon Radio Hour, and on SCTV (where he also served as head writer). Ramis then went on to write, direct, and/or star in a string of hit comedies that includes Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon's Vacation, [...]

This Week in Comedy: UCB's Del Close Marathon, Talking to Amy Schumer, and Maria Bamford's New Web Series

-We talked to Fred Armisen about leaving SNL and diving back into Portlandia.

-We talked to Amy Schumer about her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer.

-We made a guide to this weekend's Del Close Marathon at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in NYC.

-We interviewed Maria Bamford on her new web series, Ask My Mom!, the guys behind comedy podcast Superego on their new country-rock album, and The Heat [...]

Neil Flynn Talks Del Close

Neil Flynn, star of sitcoms Scrubs and The Middle, sat down with The AV Club for an interview today, in which he talked about his early days as an improviser at the ImprovOlympic theater. At iO, he studied under improv guru Del Close and performed alongside Ian Roberts, Matt Besser, and Adam McKay in the legendary group The Family. Here's Flynn reminiscing about his Chicago days:

"Del and I were both in a production of Hamlet in the mid-’80s with Chicago native Aidan Quinn starring as Hamlet. Del was Polonius, and that was pretty much his crowning glory, although he still had more than a decade left to live. In [...]

Meeting the Guru of Longform Improv in 'The Delmonic Interviews'

It’s no secret that sometimes comedy is taken a bit too seriously. Comedy obsessives love not just the jokes, but the mechanics and emotions of the comedy world. There are a raft of comedy documentaries exploring comedy and comedians, but do they really have anything significant to add to the discussion? This series looks at comedy documentaries and whether they’re interesting, insightful, and possibly even…funny?

Near the beginning of The Delmonic Interviews, improv legend Del Close is described as “the most famous person in comedy that nobody knows.” Having just spent the best part of my weekend at a 56-hour improv marathon dedicated to him, that description doesn’t [...]

Talking Del Close and the Early Days of Chicago Improv with SNL's Alex Baze

This is the first in a series of columns and interviews in which I'll examine improv comedy and how it affects the comedy scene in general. I’m saying “comedy scene” because even I don’t even know what I mean yet.

One thing I'm going to do is talk to comedians working for high profile shows/movies and seeing how improv affected their careers. This interview is with Alex Baze, the producer of Weekend Update for Saturday Night Live. In the early 1990s Baze was on the improv team The Victim’s Family at the ImprovOlympic in Chicago (today known as iO) along with Rachel Dratch, Adam McKay, and Miles Stroth.

Although [...]