Upright Citizens Brigade

This article is about the comedy troupe. For the school and theaters the members of the troupe founded, see Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

The Upright Citizens Brigade is an improvisational and sketch comedy group that emerged from Chicago's ImprovOlympic in 1990.[1] The original incarnation of the group consisted of Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh, Adam McKay, Rick Roman, Horatio Sanz and Drew Franklin, whose picture is the UCB logo. Other early members included Neil Flynn, Armando Diaz, Ali Farahnakian and Rich Fulcher.

In 2013, Besser, Roberts and Walsh wrote The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual.[2]


The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on West 26th Street in Manhattan.

The Upright Citizens Brigade began performing improv and sketch comedy at Kill the Poet in Chicago. Their first show was called Virtual Reality. The group followed with shows entitled UCBTV, Conference on the Future of Happiness, Thunderball, Bucket of Truth, Big Dirty Hands, The Real Real World, and Punch Your Friend in the Face.

In 1993, the Upright Citizens Brigade (Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Adam McKay, Rick Roman, and Horatio Sanz) were regular guests on stage at the New Variety produced and hosted by Richard O'Donnell at the Chicago Improv comedy club, 504 N. Wells.[3]

In 1996, the Upright Citizens Brigade relocated to New York and began performing shows and offering improv training at Solo Arts Group. These shows and classes were so popular that the UCB were able to open their own theater, The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, at 161 W. 22nd Street in Chelsea on February 4, 1999, in a former nude dance club.[4] On April 1, 2003, they moved to a new space at 307 W. 26th Street. In July 2005, the UCB opened at the Tamarind Theatre in Los Angeles at 5919 Franklin Avenue (between Tamarind & North Bronson Avenue). UCB also operates a second theater and bar space in the East Village, UCB East, which runs smaller-scale shows for $10 or less.[5] The Upright Citizens Brigade have also been a featured performance in the Comedy Tent at the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, for the past three years.

Screen ventures

The original group, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, and Amy Poehler have also had two TV shows - Upright Citizens Brigade and The UCB Show, and their show ASSSSCAT has been televised twice. In addition to this they had a TV movie called Escape From It's a Wonderful Life and appeared weekly on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in the 90s.

In the way of film, in 2002 they created and starred in the film Martin & Orloff, and made another movie in 2007 titled Wild Girls Gone. Neither film was particularly successful or well received, and the group has overall avoided the media.

There is also an ongoing web series titled UCB Comedy Originals, created in 2008, which occasionally shows sketches.

In 2016, Universal Cable Productions announced signing Upright Citizens Brigade to a first-look production deal.[6]

In 2016, the independent film Don't Think Twice was released; written and directed by Mike Birbiglia who regularly hosts a show called "Mike Birbiglia’s Dream" at UCB.[7]

See also


  1. Raftery, Brian (September 25, 2011). "And... Scene.". New York. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  2. Zinoman, Jason (February 20, 2014). "Get the Laughs, but Follow the Rules". The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  3. Spitznagel, Eric (October 11, 1993). "The New Variety Just Might Make Comedy Dangerous Again". The Third Word.
  4. "Upright Citizens Brigade Theater". Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  5. https://east.ucbtheatre.com
  6. Holloway, Daniel. "Upright Citizens Brigade Signs Deal With Universal Cable Productions". Variety.com. Variety. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  7. https://chelsea.ucbtheatre.com/show/3583

Further reading

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