Five years and counting: The Upright Citizens Brigade holds down its Hollywood fortress of funny

The Upright Citizens Brigade recently celebrated its fifth anniversary of going Hollywood with a big night of comedy at its Los Angeles theater in September.

Three of the UCB founders have moved from NYC to LA, and over the years, many popular Harold and Maude players and groups have followed suit. LA Weekly caught up with Messrs. Besser, Roberts and Walsh for an interview, and here's how they explained their motives upon making the big move West:

Matt Besser: The Tamarind Theatre here on Franklin happen to open up and it was during the same time that many of the performers from UCB New York were moving out here, so it was good timing that way. We started with more of a focus on improv in New York. In L.A. there was already improv, so we wanted it to start off with more of a balance between sketch and stand-up for the L.A. branch. That's one of the main differences between the two theaters. Immediately, we had Comedy Death Ray, which in my opinion, is the best stand-up show in town. We also have many shows that combine performers whether it be a game show or a story-type of show. That was always the aim of this theater.

Ian Roberts: Another goal is to have a place that we wish existed when we first started. A place that is friendly to performers and doesn't charge people to do their shows.

Matt Walsh: Even Luna in New York was a great comedy show but it was only on Monday nights, so if you went there on Wednesdays there would be a jam band playing. This is a theater that's known for doing one thing, which is good comedy.

While I was in Los Angeles last month, I caught up with the UCB Theatre's L.A. artistic director, Neil Campbell — whom you can also see onstage in groups doing sketch in A Kiss From Daddy and improv with Last Day of School. Here's what Campbell had to tell me when we sat down in his office before a full night of shows in the theatre:


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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