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Episode UCB1 — BONUS EPISODE – Ask the UCB? – The UCB Philosophy

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#1 Earwolf Admin


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Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:24 PM

Matt Besser is joined by another member of the UCB 4, Ian Roberts for the first ever Ask the UCB! They discuss how and why they started the UCB theatre in New York, the UCB philosophy, and the economics of the theatre.

#2 Cabbagehead

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:46 PM

Very interesting/informative listen.

#3 Memphish_Boognish

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 10:04 PM

This is awesome, I hope this continues and we get Walsh and Amy on this as well

#4 Jake Fogelnest

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:08 AM

I owe everything to the Upright Citizens Brigade.

#5 Not Erik

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 09:47 AM

If you're not generating significant net revenue and you're putting everything into reinvestment, you could try appling for non-profit status. Then, when performers complain about not being paid, you can tell them to write their shows off as tax-deductible donations.

#6 jw_seattle


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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:33 AM

Hey guys,
I really, really enjoyed the show. As a wannabe performer who never took the chance, I find it fascinating to hear about the inner workings and history of great comedy.
Plus, I always knew the the UCB organization was not about money, but this episode drove home how much sweat and stomach lining you guys put into making a great place to grow and showcase comedy. I really appreciate all that you've done to become the impossible: an institution that doesn't suck. Thanks guys.

#7 justinmh05

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:42 AM

Matt mentioned in the episode that he'd like to hear a performer's view on the UCB not paying. I think that'd make a great follow-up podcast.

This one was fascinating!

#8 Caroline Anderson

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:10 AM

View PostJake Fogelnest, on 30 January 2013 - 01:08 AM, said:

I owe everything to the Upright Citizens Brigade.

I do too, and I don't have all that much (other than a hobby that makes me sublimely happy, a job that brings me tears or joy, and a network of friends who I love more than anything else).

#9 AndyKneis

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:22 AM

This episode was amazing, and I think it was the perfect rebuttal to anyone who has gripes with the UCB model.

I can't really speak on it too much given I've only recently taken a couple classes in LA and only seen a handful of shows, but I really believe the idea that the way the UCB theaters are run not only gives performers a chance to experiment and find their voice, but it also fosters a friendlier and more fun environment. The UCB is such a huge breath of fresh air in that it lacks a lot of the competitiveness and the desperation that so many other comedy places seem to have. I think that friendliness and openness translates so much to the stage, especially in improv performances. And it's what makes anyone that spends enough time at the UCB so damn funny: they are taught in a place that values cooperation and collaboration in every single thing it does.

So anyway, please excuse this long post. Great job Matt, Ian, and everyone else that helped make the theater what it is today, your conviction to making great comedy is really inspiring.

#10 Matt Besser

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:25 AM

Early on we considered being an official non profit but even though our school is a separate business, we do use the theater for Harold nights and grad shows. Although that is only a small part of what is on the stage, it is still tied to our school. Therefore being a legal non profit is too complicated. It also might mean that we can actively find gigs for our actors like we do.

#11 Jacob C

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:31 PM

I feel like I discovered improv through I4H, so hearing a podcast like this where the inner workings and history of one of the most important names in improv are discussed was incredibly eye-opening.

Fogelnest says here he owes everything to UCB. While I certainly couldn't say I owe everything to improv4humans, I owe a lot to it. Last year was one of the hardest years of my life, but having this show to look forward to every week made everything a little bit easier. It's not a stretch to say that this show has pulled me through some really tough times. And it's also opened my eyes to this whole comedy world I never even knew existed (I live in Ohio...comedy shows of any kind are kind of rare here).

So basically, thanks, Matt. And keep these Ask the USB bonus eps coming!

#12 Kickpuncher

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 04:23 PM

I don't have anything particularly interesting or constructive to add other than to pile on and say that this was really fascinating.

#13 killian_martin


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Posted 30 January 2013 - 08:29 PM

This episode did a good job of telling us the challenges that faced the theater (and group) early on and at the moment. Believe me, these are the details and conversations I love to listen to, especially when its a conversation between creative minds I admire.

While I found most of this episode's content informative, I think it would be great to hear more about the moments and experiences the group had as individuals that led them all to enter into improv, to meet each other, to form their group, and to decide to take their improv characters into the real world. In the past, interviews with the early members (aside from the Adam McKay episode of WTF) have disappointed me because I have yet to hear what a lot of listeners might be waiting for--the moments when the UCB founders knew that improv would be their creative outlet of choice above all others.

#14 Wendall Kendall


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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:49 PM

Great podcast. I think that I4H is the perfect venue in podcastland for us to become more connected to UCB and its inner workings.

Some questions I have as a listener, maybe helpful for a future episode:

1. Del Close. Who is this dude? What's his background? What's his deal? Tell us some stories!

2. Talk shop with some folks that are known from improv/sketch but outside the UCB world. The state, Michael McKean/Eugene Levy + co, Whose line.. You guys are all intelligent + self-aware enough to prevent this from veering into 'it might get loud' territory.

3. What K_M asked.

#15 Ben K

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 12:02 AM

This was so fascinating. I'd love to hear many, many more of these.

#16 Giac


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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:19 AM

This episode was great, I loved hearing all the behind-the-scenes stuff about the UCBs philosophy. Plus, Ian Roberts getting legitimately angry during a fictional conversation with that anonymous stand-up was hilarious! Can't wait to hear the next one..

#17 Gym Sockerman

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:44 AM

This episode just made me love the UCB more than I already did. Awesome philosophy breeds awesome performers.

#18 Shakesbeard

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:39 AM

I didn't find the discussion about money as "tacky" in the slightest, but quite fascinating. I've always been interested in how things work "behind the scenes" and could listen to you guys talk about it for hours on end. I was very surprised how quick that borderline hour-long discussion was up, because I was so immersed. I also have a bizarre fascination with funny people NOT "sticking to the funny" and talking about real shit that is important to them. Thank you for letting us get a glimpse behind the curtain, and I shall be looking forward to the next "Ask the UCB"

#19 Colin Fraser

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:53 PM

That podcast flew by. I'd also like to reiterate the question of either putting on an improv figure from outside the UCB, or just to discuss the relationship between the different camps/groups.

I was in the SoCal area over the Christmas break and I was able to talk a few friends into driving to the UCB theatre, and it was such a great experience. I'm tempted to find a co-op job in the area just so I can spend a summer going to UCB shows all of the time.

#20 onReload

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:40 PM

I just started getting into the UCB. I'm in Improv 101 in NYC, and our graduation show is coming up - I'm really nervous, but it's always empowering to think of all the people that came through the UCB, and to know that the theaters' objective is to foster new talent. I'll probably switch over to writing/sketch, as I think that suits me a bit more, but after listening to/watching/respecting so many improv-vets, I just had to try it.

Mr. jw_seattle (and anyone else this applies to), I doubt it's ever too late to take a class. As someone who deals with bad anxiety every day, I can assure you the school's teaching style make it as easy as possible.

Great listen!