Matt Besser comes to Philly

07/13/2010

Comedian MATT BESSER is best known as one of the UCB4 (along with Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh) – stars of the Comedy Central sketch show Upright Citizens Brigade and founders of the famed NYC comedy theater of the same name.

Next weekend, this “wickedly funny man” (The Onion’s A.V. Club) will be bringing his show Woo Pig Sooie to Connie’s Ric Rac, courtesy of the PHILLY IMPROV THEATER.

Raised by a Jewish father and Presbyterian mother, the self-proclaimed Athiest grew up in Arkansas (thus the titular allusion to the Razorbacks Hog Call) surrounded by extremes of religion. In his show, Besser puts religion squarely in his sights, observing the ways in which church and state intersect in comically disturbing ways throughout America. Charleston City Paper describes the show as a “hilarious and somewhat stream-of-conscioiusness combination of sharp social criticism disguised as religion jokes, stand-up, and storytelling.”

Complete with head-to-toe U of A garb , the comedian brings his one-man comedic rant to Philadelphia for one night only on July 23rd.

The next day, he will also be teaching a pair of workshops at the Adrienne… so for a benjamin, you can brush up with Besser yourself.

Advanced tickets and workshop information can be via PHIT’s website.

MATT BESSER – WOO PIG SOOIE
PHIT @ CONNIE’S RIC RAC | 1132 S NINTH ST
FRIDAY, JULY 23RD @ 8PM
$20-$25 | BYOB


Matt Holmes top ten picks for DCM

07/01/2010

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):

Improvised Shakespeare
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.

Mother
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).

Big Bat
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.

onesixtyone
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.

Omelet
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.

Derrick Comedy
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.


Audition advice from Improvoker

03/27/2009

It’s time again for Harold Team auditions at UCBT-NY, and Ben Whitehouse at Improvoker offers up some advice to the comedic hopefuls. Included are a few tips that are usable not just for jumping through the flaming hoops of their selective process, but any time :

“One of my favorite teachers Christina Gausas always says “An improviser shows their personal style by ‘anding’.” This is extremely true for auditions situations. remember how you “and” is your signature. Only you “and” the way you do, because let’s face it “Yessing” is just agreeing with your partner’s “and.” Be sure to give really jusicy “ands.”


Eight Year Wait Is Over

09/19/2007

As of yesterday, you can finally get the (way beyond anticipated) second season of the Upright Citizens Brigade on DVD. The two-disc set features tons of commentary and all ten episodes that originally aired on Comedy Central in the summer of ’99:

Sports (featuring Master Dialectitian, one of my favorites sketches of all time)
Bomb Squad
Mogomra vs. the Fart Monster
Real World
Face Therapy
Infested with Friars
Spaghetti Jesus
Big City
Hurricane
Supercool

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