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Episode UCB3 — Bonus: Ask The UCB 3


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#1 July Diaz

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 09:49 PM

Matt Besser answers some of your questions in another edition of Ask the UCB! Matt elaborates on his comparison of independent improv shows to stand-up open mics, talks about how the UCB Comedy Improv Manual is helpful in writing comedy, shares what he really thinks about “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” discusses an improv school that brags about not focusing on the “rules of improvisation,” and gives a couple of book recommendations. You can now get the UCB Comedy Improv Manual at http://ucbstore.com/...visation-manual, Matt Besser’s new comedy album at mattbesser.com, and Dragoon’s new album at dragoongalaxy.bandcamp.com!

#2 Hot - Slunch

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 05:05 AM

Thanks for clarifying that comment about open mics and independent improv shows.

Oh, and I'm definitely buying the Improv Manual. That should tide me over until I can actually attend classes at a UCB.

#3 RobotsPajamas

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 05:39 AM

I could listen to Matt talk about whatever all day.
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#4 reggaechristmas

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 06:20 AM

Edit: Not gonna say what the podcast is Matt was a guest on, but man it's so obvious and he's so correct.

#5 simpgeek

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 06:45 AM

View Postreggaechristmas, on 24 September 2013 - 06:20 AM, said:

Edit: Not gonna say what the podcast is Matt was a guest on, but man it's so obvious and he's so correct.


I don't think it's obvious because you seem to think it's Pete Holmes, whereas I'm convinced he's referring to Jay Mohr on CBB. What podcast was Matt on with Pete recently?

#6 reggaechristmas

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 07:10 AM

I am a terrible iTunes detective. I think you're probably right.

#7 onReload

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 08:20 AM

I really respect Besser for speaking honestly about short form. No bullshit diplomacy, just his gut feelings.

#8 Bruce Reid Robinson II

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 08:59 AM

Matt I fucking love your book recommendations.

I'm also super pumped you gave Isbell a shout out. I'm from north alabama and have been lucky enough to catch a few drive by/isbell solo shows over the past 10 years. If you are into that stuff, I would like to recommend to you Lee Baines III and the glory fires. Also The Dexateens.

Looking forward to episode 100!!! Congrats Matt, long live long-form.

#9 Jackson1326657838

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:14 AM

I'm curious as to how Matt Besser thinks Adam Carolla would do on I4H. Given his comments about short form versus long form, the way he approaches improv, and his perspective on being selfish versus working with the group; I suspect he might not want him on the show. I think though that the perception about Carolla would be that he would be selfish in an improv situation, but in listening to his podcast, I think he is very giving and would make for a good guest. Carolla trained with The Groundlings as did Steve Agee, who has been on the show. I imagine there have been other Groundlings people too. Besser mentioned certain schools he likes and dislikes, but I don't know if The Groundlings came up. Thoughts?

#10 justinmh05

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:32 AM

I don't think Steve Agee has been on i4h - but he might make a great guest! I'm not a Carolla fan at all so I wouldn't personally want him on an i4h episode, but I do concede that it might make for an interesting episode.

#11 pfchangs

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:34 AM

Now I want to go back and listen to the Mohr-Besser CBB again

#12 Jackson1326657838

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:37 AM

View Postjustinmh05, on 24 September 2013 - 09:32 AM, said:

I don't think Steve Agee has been on i4h - but he might make a great guest! I'm not a Carolla fan at all so I wouldn't personally want him on an i4h episode, but I do concede that it might make for an interesting episode.


You know what you're right. Sorry, I mistook the episode of CBB with Besser and Agee for an I4H.

#13 justinmh05

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:48 AM

View PostJackson1326657838, on 24 September 2013 - 09:37 AM, said:


You know what you're right. Sorry, I mistook the episode of CBB with Besser and Agee for an I4H.


No worries - I do the same thing all the time.

#14 justinmh05

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:50 AM

View Postpfchangs, on 24 September 2013 - 09:34 AM, said:

Now I want to go back and listen to the Mohr-Besser CBB again


It came off to me that Mohr was trying to go more over the top than the "character guest". Like once Matt got going, Jay seemed like he decided that he wanted to be a wacky character too.

#15 limb

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 10:09 AM

I think UCB will do just fine despite the marketing angle of that new independent improv workshop. There are a lot of people who don't get on Harold teams or who decide to socialize in other improv communities and these smaller workshops give them further opportunities to keep doing what they love. Also it would be hard to start a new school or workshop that used the exact syllabus as UCB or other established theaters. If someone was that into the philosophy of a specific theatre they would likely stay at that theatre and not open a new school.

#16 Kristopher Mills

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 10:35 AM

I thought the Mohr CBB was great but you could tell he isn't as comfortable doing an improv scene.

#17 Jackson1326657838

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:11 AM

I thought Mohr was great, but I understand the complaints. He seems to enjoy being the center of attention a little too much. But that was CBB, not I4H. If Besser was upset because Scott's show wasn't exactly the same format as his show, that's just not fair. I could sense Matt's frustration over Jay not following his lead more, but I think for a CBB episode, Mohr did pretty much exactly what most guests do.

It was fun, funny, and memorable. What more can you ask from CBB?

#18 Michael Stanford

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:39 PM

View PostJackson1326657838, on 24 September 2013 - 11:11 AM, said:

If Besser was upset because Scott's show wasn't exactly the same format as his show, that's just not fair.


Yeah, discourtesy is a part of the CBB format.
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#19 Joe Lerini

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:49 PM

View PostJackson1326657838, on 24 September 2013 - 11:11 AM, said:

I could sense Matt's frustration over Jay not following his lead more, but I think for a CBB episode, Mohr did pretty much exactly what most guests do.


There was also Mohr repeatedly referring to Besser's character as "Single Dad" while Besser kept saying, like, "I'm not single, I have a wife. I'm just New Dad" and Mohr just going on with calling him "Single Dad". I could see that being kind of irritating, though I personally enjoyed that CBB episode. *shrug*

#20 Pir

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 05:25 PM

View Postlimb, on 24 September 2013 - 10:09 AM, said:

I think UCB will do just fine despite the marketing angle of that new independent improv workshop. There are a lot of people who don't get on Harold teams or who decide to socialize in other improv communities and these smaller workshops give them further opportunities to keep doing what they love. Also it would be hard to start a new school or workshop that used the exact syllabus as UCB or other established theaters. If someone was that into the philosophy of a specific theatre they would likely stay at that theatre and not open a new school.



The workshop Matt is referring to is actually the Annoyance theater, normally stationed in Chicago. Here's a link to what he's talking about exactly. http://www.annoyance...ctions.com/nyc/

Also I laughed a little at Matt getting angry about the semantics of their class ad (I can't think of a better thing to call it?).

On no one teaching "rules of improvisation" however is sadly incorrect however. If you live someplace that isn't New York, LA, or Chicago, most "teachers" are just going to spout off the bullet points at the end of each chapter of Truth In Comedy at you for guidance. I've never taken a professional improv class at any of the big theatres, so I can't say anything about them.

Annoyance has said they don't teach "the rules" for a long time, I don't think it was a dig at UCB, it's just how they've always positioned themselves.

However, "Annoyance Style" as Mick Napier describes in his own book does actually advocate taking care of yourself and defining your character first, and then worrying about the scene at large. Which is the kind of selfish play Matt talked about disliking earlier.