Since longform improvisation was created by Del Close in the 1980s, there hasn't been a book on the art form as thorough as the Upright Citizen Brigade Theatre's new improv textbook. Co-written by UCB co-founders Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh (Amy Poehler receives a "Special Thanks" credit), The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manualis a new definitive tome on the subject that was released earlier this summer.
I recently had the chance to talk to Matt Besser and Matt Walsh about how the book came together, their improv pet peeves, their favorite performers, and the future of UCB.
"Would it be so hard for people not to be assholes?" – Selina Meyer
Veep reminds me a lot of The Larry Sanders Show, and I'm sure I'm not alone in drawing such a parallel: both are enjoyable, really funny comedies that happen to consist of unilateralists that are absolutely awful to one another. Garry Shandling — Larry Sanders himself — said years later that everybody watching had gotten it all wrong, that the men and women that worked for the talk show within the show truly loved one another, and their way of communicating those feelings happened to be by way of appearing self-centered, duplicitous, and/or exchanging creative R-rated [...]
The Paley Center for Media, which has locations in both New York and LA, dedicates itself to the preservation of television and radio history. Inside their vast archives of more than 120,000 television shows, commercials, and radio programs, there are thousands of important and funny programs waiting to be rediscovered by comedy nerds like you and me. Each week, this column will highlight a new gem waiting for you at the Paley Library to quietly laugh at. (Seriously, it’s a library, so keep it down.)
The Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater has been talked about quite a bit this month, with escalating Facebook messages, responses from people working in every [...]
Brizzity Wiz schooled the nation on the history of the "comedy drug pushers" known as the UCB on Rock Center this week. Matt Walsh and Amy Poehler take us from their early days on the streets of Chicago and New York to their Comedy Central show and the opening of their own theater. It's a beautiful story, full of tragic challenges, like the time Matt Walsh turned down the chance to be the next James Bond. But it's also full of joyful humor, like the idea that anyone would offer Matt Walsh the chance to be the next James Bond.
To honor the UCB's 15 years in NYC and the opening of UCBeast, New York Mag checked in with about 50 alumni of the many-headed comedy hydra, who discuss everything from the troupe's guerilla improv days in Chicago (Horatio Sanz: "My idea was, 'How awesome would it be to be arrested in front of this audience, and have them thinking, Did they plan this? How did they get that cop car? What’s going on?'”) to the process of bringing long-form to NYC (Rob Corddry: "In 90 minutes, they changed how I felt and thought about comedy. It was punk rock — super dirty and loose.") Says Amy Poehler, [...]
On "It's That Episode" Craig Rowin (UCB Theatre) invites guests over to watch any episode of any TV show they want. They discuss the episode and other crap.
Matt Walsh (Veep, Upright Citizens Brigade) joins Craig to discuss some of TV's most (and least) notable clips. Matt discusses the Upright Citizens Brigade pranking The Today Show, the rehearsal process behind Veep, and, of course, the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.
Matt Walsh is one of the stars of HBO's Veep, which was just renewed for a third season, but he's no stranger to critically-acclaimed comedy after spending over two decades in the industry. Since rising up through the Chicago comedy scene in the early '90s and founding the UCB Theatre with Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, and Ian Roberts, Walsh has amassed a ton of credits in well-regarded comedies like The Daily Show, Conan, the UCB's own Comedy Central series, and cult hits like Dog Bites Man and Jon Benjamin Has a Van. Veep, from UK comedy demigod Armando Iannucci, is currently in the midst of its second season, airing [...]
- Josh Gad will play an anti-social engineer named Headphones (yes, Headphones), in the middle-aged internship comedy, The Internship, which co-stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
- Nelson Franklin, whose played a tall nerd in a bunch of stuff, most prominently Fox's failed Traffic Lights, is going to play Cece's new boyfriend on The New Girl who is partially deaf but entirely a tall nerd. Anna Maria Horsford, who "famously" played the security guard on The Wayans Brothers, is also joining The New Girl as Winston's tough mom.
- Matt Walsh is going to play a tornado chaser in Steve Quale's still untitled tornado chasing film.
Next Tuesday sees the DVD release of High Road, a new improvised comedy written and directed by Matt Walsh. High Road's castis filled to the brim with comedy heavyweights, including Rob Riggle, Joe Lo Truglio, Lizzy Caplan, Abby Elliott, Zach Woods, and James Pumphrey, with the likes of Ed Helms, Horatio Sanz, Andrew Daly, Curtis Gwinn, and Rich Fulcher making appearances, as well. If a Guinness Worlds Record official had only made it to the set, Matt Walshwould easily have a "Most Funny People in One Movie" plaque on his wall for High Road right now.
I recently sat down with the cast and crew of the movie [...]
The long-awaited UCB improv manual has arrived! At Friday's opening press conference for the 15th Del Close Marathon, a mysterious box joined the UCB 4 on stage and quickly upstaged its famous co-stars; each time Ian Roberts held it above his head, chants of "Box! Box! Box!" filled the small basement theater. When someone finally asked the now-annual question about the progress of the group's book, the box (which had been joined by three brother boxes) was ripped open to triumphantly reveal The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual.
Written by Matt Besser, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, the book was years in the making due to the busy [...]
Veep Season 1 is out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week! The Armando Iannucci-created Julia Louis-Dreyfuss-starring show is incredible, with some of the smartest and funniest dialogue on television. Matt Walsh and Tony Hale round out a talented cast of comedians and actors playing the oft-harried workers assisting the Vice President of the United States. The show returns to HBO next Monday, so that gives you a small amount of time to catch up very quickly, but also season one is just eight half-hour episodes so that's not too hard at all. Plus they're really good!
Last night, Matt Walsh was on Conan to talk about Veep, which was fun and fine but then he dropped the red, white, and blue-striped bomb that he annually goes to Harlem Globetrotters' training camp to teach them improv and dunking (OK, not dunking). This does explain why each quarter at a Globetrotters game starts with a monologue.
Here's the latest trailer for Matt Walsh's improvised UCB movieHigh Road, featuring Ed Helms, Rob Riggle, Horatio Sanz, Kyle Gass, Abby Elliott, Lizzy Caplan and Zach Woods. It looks quite a bit more put-together this time around, with a plot and everything:
Glenn “Fitz” Fitzgerald (James F. Pumphrey) is a young man whose loyalties are split among his band, his girlfriend Monica (Abby Elliott) and selling weed. After his band breaks up, Fitz finds himself dealing pot out of his garage and bonding with 16-year-old neighborhood kid Jimmy (Dylan O’Brien). As his former band mates (Zach Woods, Matt L. Jones, Lizzy Caplan) begin finding success and [...]
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