UCB, or Upright Citizens Brigade, is on the tongues of everyone in Hollywood. From Judd Apatow-directed films, to Saturday Night Live, UCB is the "place to go," when it comes to the funniest of funny. But when and where did this improv and sketch comedy powerhouse come from?
Starting in the early 1990's, UCB came out of a group of friends wanting to perform improv and sketch comedy together. The core group of individuals were Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh. Originally starting at the Improv Olympic, and birthed from the teachings of improv guru Del Close, the Upright Citizens Brigade, or UCB, did various long form improv and sketch comedy all across Chicago.
Eventually, in 1996, UCB moved to New York and began performing at the Solo Arts Group. In addition to performing, they also started teaching workshops on improv and sketch comedy, taking everything they had learned at Improv Olympic and introducing it to a new group of students in New York. In 1999, UCB took over a strip club (what venue would you expect them to take over?), and opened their very own theatre, the UCB Theatre at 161 W. 22nd Street in Chelsea New York.
Then, in 2003 they moved the improv and sketch comedy theatre to a new space at 307 W. 26th Street. And finally business became so good it could not be contained on just one coast, so in July of 2005, the UCB expanded their improv and sketch comedy stylings to the West Coast, when they opened a brand new theatre in Hollywood at 5919 Franklin Ave. (why mention all these addresses? So you can go study there, duh!).
Part of what has driven various people to UCB, and what has garnered the theatre so much recognition, is the fact that UCB also had a TV series on Comedy Central airing from 1998 to 2000 and featuring the improv and sketch comedy stylings of the core cast. Each episode of the show (10 each season), reached back to the foundation of improv and sketch comedy that Improv Olympic had provided, referencing the Harold, a signature form of long form improv that was taught there, and would eventually (and currently) be taught at UCB.
Since the UCB improv and sketch comedy theatre has opened, it has been a breeding ground for the hottest of hot comedic actors in Hollywood today. Among those include, but are not limited to: Aziz Ansari, Scott Adsit, Kay Cannon, Dave Hill, Horatio Sanz, Jenny Slate, Ben Schwartz, Tami Sagher, Scott Aukerman, Maria Bamford, Doug Benson, Andrew Daly, Jon Daly, Jen Kirkman, Jimmy Pardo, Patton Oswalt, Rob Riggle, Paul F. Thompkins, Paul Scheer, and many, manyothers.
Today, you can go visit either of the coasts theaters and see the next hot young performer. In addition, UCB has mentioned plans to open an additional theatre in New York, as well as possibly theaters in Austin or Portland. All information can be obtained at www.ucbtheatre.com