Published on May 17th, 2009 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Saturday night's alright for improv-ing

The #1 thing I miss about New York is the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre (and its $2 PBR). It’s an incredible place, churning out mind-blowing improv on a level that makes people like me wonder why we’re even bothering taking classes because we can never be that good.

Aside from the uberpopular Sunday night Asssscat show, a few of my favourite shows happen on Saturday nights. This week I took in the always awesome Let’s Have a Ball, featuring a cast of Chicago transplants among whom I could never pick a favorite. Like any show at UCB, there’s usually at least one surprise when the cast steps onto the stage. I thought seeing Scott Adsit wearing a suit this week was going to be it, until I looked beside him and saw Ellie Kemper, who I’d amazingly never seen perform and had assumed was lost to LA forever (she plays the new receptionist on The Office).

I returned at 10:30 for Reuben Williams, which had me laughing so hard that I forgot how exhausted I was from getting up at 4am to catch my flight. This can be said for most shows at the UCB, but this is damn solid improv. While the castmembers might not be household names, be assured that you are getting the best of the best. A significant portion of the cast teaches at the UCB — and two out of my three UCB improv teachers (Porter Mason and Lennon Parham) are in Reuben Williams (the third, Bobby, was a little busy appearing in some show called Saturday Night Live, but you can catch his awesome group Stepfathers at UCB on Fridays).

Check out a few more photos of last night’s shows here:


Comedy fans residing in NY already know the greatness of the UCB, but if you’re travelling, take a break from the bus tours and Broadway and hit up the UCB. (Weekend shows always sell out, so get there early! Don’t be like the yuppie couple harassing the intern for a refund because they couldn’t find 2 seats together when they arrived 5 minutes before Reuben started.)

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About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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  • The Colbert Report A-Z

    Third Beat editor Sharilyn Johnson presents the ultimate fan guide to The Colbert Report, available from all major booksellers including amazon.com