The Del Close Marathon is fast approaching (July 30th – August 1st) and we asked MATT HOLMES to share his top picks to help you sort through the madness of show listings.
It’s time once again for the annual Del Close Marathon in New York City. This is a humongous improv festival that runs non-stop for three days on four stages; it’s like the Woodstock of improv. More than 150 shows from all over the country will converge to take the stage.
This is the 12th year that the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre has organized and hosted this tribute to long-form improv guru Del Close, who trained just about everyone you think is funny. A $25 wristband will get you into any show (after probably waiting in line for a while, so get there early), except for some big-name special ones that cost $12 each.
More information is available at www.delclosemarathon.com.
Here’s my TOP 10 for this year’s Marathon (in no particular order):
Sat 7:15 pm at UCB Theatre (with wristband) OR Fri 7:00 pm at FIT Kate Murphy Amphitheater ($12 separate ticket)
I actually haven’t seen this yet, but it’s gotten reviews beyond rave. I know that several of the performers in the cast are extremely hilarious and talented. It’s definitely got to be worth catching, even if you’re not a Bard-lover.
Baby Wants Candy
Sun 6:00 pm at UCB Theatre (with wristband) OR Fri 8:30 pm at FIT Kate Murphy Amphitheater ($12 separate ticket)
Whether or not you’re a fan of musical comedy, you’ll like this show. It’s big, it’s brassy, it’s improvised. The cast is TBA, but some of the funniest people in improv have been in it.
Fri 9:30 pm at UCB Theatre
Mother was the UCB Theatre’s biggest act for years, Cagematch winners and holders of the primetime Saturday slot. They reunite here to perform their signature formats, the Sleepover and the Soundtrack (which uses your iPod as the suggestion).
Sat 1:00 am at Hudson Guild Theatre
Take a slew of brilliant, hilarious people. Put them all on stage. Turn out the lights. Watch …no, Listen as improv happens. Close your eyes for this audio-only show.
Wicked Fuckin’ Queeyah & other middle-of-the-night shows at UCB
Sat 2:30 am – 6 am at UCB Theatre
Wicked Fuckin’ Queeyah is some big-name New York improvisers pretending to be a working-class Boston improv group, complete with the accent and tons of Red Sox gear. This is meta, fourth-wall-breaking, tongue-in-cheek, Boratesque improv. Warning: you might get beer on you.
If you thought Wicked Fuckin’ Queeyah was weird, come back even later (or earlier) in the morning for more 15-minute experimental shows. These include improv done by all impressions of Bono or Jay Leno or Michael McDonald, a live improv anime show, some kind of underground crunk clown improv, and UCBW (where the improvisers are pro wrestler characters). The Saturday-into-Sunday middle-of-the-night shows include an all-Ray-Romano show, a restaurant scene with a billion waiters, a tea party improv show, and Strip-prov (you laugh, they take off an article of clothing).
What happens when improvisers do improv for improvisers? This stuff. It’s worth catching at least once in your life.
Match Game ’76
Sun 2:00 am at UCB Theatre
This show is pure insanity. If you’re not familiar with the old game show, Match Game, watch a clip on youtube. It’s a show where a ton of drunk 70s celebrities write pun punchlines with contestants. Imagine 40 or so improvisers Halloweened-out as 70s celeb charicatures trying to play a game show but ususally just devolving into chaos. If you like drag shows or that video of the blueberry-stomping reporter choking, you’ll like this show.
In the past, Jack McBrayer (30Rock’s Kenneth the page) was consistently the put-upon contestant.
Sat 11:00 pm at UCB Theatre
onesixtyone are some hilarious improvisers. They’re the people who started what has become WIT (the Washington Improv Theater) in DC. They are a sure bet for some good, smart, funny improv that you and your friends will be referencing to each other for the ride home, if not for months after.
Sun 1:00 pm at UCB Theatre
Imagine you’re eating in a Denny’s and two old ladies at the next table are having the most interesting conversation ever. That’s this show. It’s calm, quiet, patient, and hilarious.
Sat 8:30 pm at FIT Kate Murphy Amphitheater ($12 separate ticket)
Derrick does sketch comedy and just did a movie (www.derrickcomedy.com), but seeing them do improv is a whole other ballgame. Dominic Dierkes, DC Pierson, and Donald Glover (NBC’s Community) are UCB Theatre improvisers that can’t be described without using the word “expertise.”
Upright Citizens Brigade
Sat 6:00 pm at UCB Theatre
This is the UCB4. Maybe you watched their Comedy Central sketch show or their ASSSSCAT special on Bravo; maybe you know that Amy Poehler is one of them (she probably won’t be there) or that the one guy is Sparky Polastri from Bring It On; maybe you know that the theatre is theirs and that they trained all the other funny people performing during this festival.
These guys are improv masters; they know what they’re doing, and this is them having fun and making stuff up. It’ll probably lean more towards talking to the audience and kind of bullshitting about whatever comes to my mind (as opposed to actually doing theatrical improvised scenes and characters), but it’s definitely worth catching this show.
Matt Holmes is a co-founder of Rare Bird Show and performs a full improv comedy set with a complete stranger from the audience as part of his project, m@&. He has also been involved with many other improv projects, including teaching workshops at improv festivals, improvising an all-audio improv show in the dark called “The Bat”, coaching improv groups, teaching with the Philly Improv Theater, and performing an mp3-infused improv project that was crowned grand champion of season 2 of Troika.
You can see Matt perform at the Del Close Marathon with Rare Bird Show Friday, July 30th, 10PM at Hudson Guild.