Last Things First, Episode #2: The Upright Citizens Brigade

LastThingsFirst_TheComicsComic_logoWelcome to Last Things First. This is the show that asks comedians about the historic lasts and firsts in their lives as their comedy careers have blossomed — from young people with dreams to adult people living those dreams. Or still dreaming. Questions both big and small are asked and answered. It’s hopefully both amusing and illuminating. 

This is a special episode featuring The Upright Citizens Brigade, live from the 17th annual Del Close Marathon.

When Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Matt Besser and Ian Roberts (photographed above by ©Francine Daveta Photography) moved from Chicago to New York City two decades ago, the last thing they imagined was that they’d become teachers and mentors. And yet, just like their own mentor – the late, great Del Close – the UCB4 (as they’ve been called) have influenced an entire generation of comedians and funny actors who’ve either starred or written many of the sitcoms and movies you’ve loved in the 21st century.

Just take a look at this list of talent currently representing shows in the four UCB theaters, two each in New York City and Los Angeles: James Adomian, Scott Adsit, Leo Allen, Stephanie Allynne, Aziz Ansari, Anthony Atamanuik, Scott Aukerman, The Birthday Boys, Rachel Bloom, John Ross Bowie, Nicole Byer, Heather Anne Campbell, Neil Campbell, D’Arcy Carden, Ann Carr, Neil Casey, Patrick Cassels, Jessica Chaffin, Jackie Clarke, Adam Conover, Sean Conroy, Nate Corddry, Rob Corddry, Eugene Cordero, Andrew Daly, Jon Daly, Jocelyn DeBoer, Michael Delaney, Jamie Denbo, Nate Dern, Dominic Dierkes, Katie Dippold, Paul W. Downs, Rebecca Drysdale, Colton Dunn, Cameron Esposito, Alex Fernie, Jon Gabrus, Brian Gallivan, Sue Galloway, Frank Garcia-Hejl, Christina Gausas, Brett Gelman, John Gemberling, Chris Gethard, Fran Gillespie, Ilana Glazer, Donald Glover, Dan Gregor, Curtis Gwinn, Ed Helms, Dave Hill, Jeff Hiller, Will Hines, Mary Holland, Rob Huebel, Brian Huskey, Abbi Jacobson, Brandon Johnson, Dru Johnston, Luka Jones, Echo Kellum, Ellie Kemper, Anthony King, Dan Klein, Jordan Klepper, Nick Kroll, Lauren Lapkus, Catie Lazarus, Natasha Leggero, Alison Leiby, Gabe Leidman, Riki Lindhome, John Lutz, Joe Mande, Jason Mantzoukas, Tricia McAlpin, Jack McBrayer, Brian McCann, Kate McKinnon, Billy Merritt, Kate Micucci, Thomas Middleditch, John Milhiser, Emily Maya Mills, Michael Mitchell, Seth Morris, Bobby Moynihan, John Mulaney, Pam Murphy, Shannon O’Neill, Veronica Osorio, Gil Ozeri, Adam Pally, Lennon Parham, Chelsea Peretti, DC Pierson, Aubrey Plaza, Zack Poitras, James Pumphrey, Allyn Rachel, June Diane Raphael, Connor Ratliff, Rob Riggle, Natasha Rothwell, Craig Rowin, Paul Rust, Tami Sagher, Charlie Sanders, Horatio Sanz, Paul Scheer, Ben Schwartz, Livia Scott, Andy Secunda, Eliza Skinner, Jenny Slate, Sue Smith, Betsy Sodaro, Jessica St. Clair, Mike Still, Emily Tarver, Charlie Todd, Angela Trimbur, Andree Vermeulen, Kulap Vilaysack, Ari Voukydis, Madeline Walter, Noel Wells, Joe Wengert, Tracey Wigfield, Laura Willcox, Casey Wilson, Zach Woods, Charlyne Yi, and Sasheer Zamata.

And that’s not even including all of the actors who’ll become famous in the years to come, nor the many stand-up comedians who have graced the UCB’s four stages in NYC and L.A.

The UCB4 reflected on their legacy with The Comic’s Comic – and how they expanded their goals from a Chicago sketch group looking to score a TV series (successfully with Comedy Central in 1998) to leading theaters and training centers, and publishing their own instruction manual for improvised comedy. I also spoke with John Gemberling, Bobby Moynihan, Jordan Klepper, Charlie Todd, Mike Birbiglia, Jason Mantzoukas and Zach Woods about their “origin stories” with improv comedy and the UCB. You’ll hear them share stories and drop names. Hello, T.J. Miller, Nick Kroll and Aidy Bryant!

Listen to Episode #2 of Last Things First with the Upright Citizens Brigade.

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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