The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre is one of a few raw and unpretentious places where you can see stellar improv comedy on the cheap. By raw I mean you might be sitting on an old theater seat propped up by a milk crate and fastened together by Duck Tape, but for $5 or $10 you can see some big names in comedy and leave with a semi-permanent smile plastered on your face. The Friday and Saturday night shows have set casts with budding actors, but the real gem is the Sunday night ASSSSCAT 3000 show, which doesn’t announce performers beforehand, but usually delivers some big comedy names. In the past I have seen cast members from SNL, 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Rec, etc. featuring names like Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Scott Adist, Jack McBrayer, Bobby Moynihan and the list goes on but would probably just make you cry from jealousy.
Last Sunday I bought tickets for my Kansas City buddy that was visiting and we secured first row seats for the 7:30 ASSSSCAT show. (Note: The 7:30 show costs $10 and the 9:30 p.m. show is free, but requires waiting in line for 3+ hours.) To our delight a skinny Horatio Sanz and Chris Gethard came out to warm up the audience before introducing a cast peppered with SNL and 30 Rock actors. The real surprise came when Jason Sudeikis was introduced as the night’s monologist—the monologist is the actor that takes a suggestion from the audience (example: castles) and then tells a story that incorporates that word or theme. The rest of the actors then build sketches based on the story and something hilarious typically unfolds and I find myself hitting the person next to me in fits of hysteria (why I resort to hitting during comedy might be a point of concern…).
Anyway, Sudeikis came out of the blocks wearing amazing Kelley green Nike Dunks and telling stories of growing up in Overland Park, KS, less than 10 minutes away from me and my buddy. I had to check at one point to make sure he wasn’t somehow gazing into my soul and extracting memories from my own childhood. He quickly informed the audience that Kansas offers more than farmland and perhaps has nicer suburbs than New Jersey (gasp!). He commented on the greatness of the Kansas Jayhawks 1997-1998 Men’s Basketball team (I will forever love Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Billy Thomas, Ryan Robertson and Eric Chenowith). It turns out that Sudeikis also spent his summers at Worlds of Fun, riding the Timber Wolf (as he says, “the longest wooden roller coaster in who the fuck cares?!”) and escaping the Kansas heat in the Stacks of Wax indoor cheesy theater to watch some 60’s show reenactments. He too spent his summers at the Lake of the Ozarks and knows that everyone really just calls it “The Lake” and the “of the Ozarks” is implied.
Granted, not every show will be a comedic montage of your childhood, but most people who I have taken to UCB for the first time agree that it reveals the quintessential, underground (literally) NYC comedy experience. For $10 or under, it’s guaranteed to be a hell of a start to any night.