ASSSSCAT, at Irving Plaza

Sometimes you really should see the Upright Citizens Brigade in the UCB Theatre. Particularly if you’re talking about ASSSSCAT, the improv show that features UCB founders Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh and all-star guests. This past Sunday night, the show moved to Irving Plaza’s Fillmore to close out the New York Comedy Festival. Twas quite crowded.

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The cast did invite a couple of short ladies up front to get a better view, while the rest standing-room-only crowd could get a different look via a few flat-screen TVs along the back and side of the room. Oh, and yes, it was that dark, too, and the cast spent several minutes trying to overcome that while having fun jumping in and out of dark "dead zones" onstage. "Could we get a little more light, because we are not a rock band," Poehler said. As they do, they asked audience members to contribute stories which could serve as launching points for a series of improvised scenes. After a half-hour or so of lackluster stories and scenes, they took a half-hour intermission. Worked well for liquor sales, worked even better on the UCB improvisers, who came back for a second half of inspired hilarity. It helped to start with a story of a kid who lost her prosthetic leg and ski off a chair-lift. A series of scenes jumping from hacky sack to Horatio Sanz as a unicyclist at a wedding to a battle between a hippie and a hipster worked especially well. And, as with most improv, some of the funniest moments come when one actor twists the idea of another actor’s premise. Case in point: Matt Besser opened one scene by hopping around the stage as if he were a rabbit, but Matt Walsh opened the scene by a callback greeting, "Hey, Pogo Pete!" Laughter ensued. You had to be there. Early enough to grab a good viewing spot, that is.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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