The Upright Citizens Brigade, in its element | Bleader

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Upright Citizens Brigade, in its element

Posted By on 04.01.14 at 08:33 AM

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Upright Citizens Brigades Asssscat
  • Courtesy Chicago Improv Festival
  • Upright Citizens Brigade's Asssscat
Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh have written the book on improv. Well, they've written a book, anyway. The three comics (and Amy Poehler) started the Upright Citizens Brigade as an improv team at iO Chicago in the 90s, eventually opening theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Most recently, the trio released The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual, outlining their long-form improv techniques. And they'll be putting those techniques into practice with a pair of events that cap off the Chicago Improv Festival.

Besser, Roberts, and Walsh will be joined by UCB performer Betsy Sodaro for a live taping of Besser's weekly podcast, Improv4humans, in which improvisers turn to Twitter, YouTube, and recent news articles for inspiration, resulting in funny scenes often surrounded by deeply personal stories and sharp analysis of current events. Typically recorded in a studio with only the improvisers and an engineer present, this performance will only be helped by the live audience's energy.

On the festival's final night the group (Sodaro still included) will be joined by longtime UCB standbys Horatio Sanz and Tim Meadows for the group's signature improv show, Asssscat. Each performance starts off with a guest monologuist—in this case, musician and producer Steve Albini—who uses a suggestion from the audience as inspiration for a personal story. The improvisors then take that story and run with it.

Improv is all about anticipating the next move, and given the experience and history of this group, each member should be able to anticipate the others' next ten. The inevitable result: an expertly crafted night of improv filled with witty callbacks and inspired characters.

Improv4humans, Sat 4/5, 8:30 PM, Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252, chicagoimprovfestival.org, $25.

Asssscat, Sun 4/6, 7 PM (sold out), Up Comedy Club, 230 W. North, 312-662-4562, chicagoimprovfestival.org, $40-$50.

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