Published on August 13th, 2009 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Del Close Marathon Countdown: Matt Walsh

Throughout the week leading up to the 11th annual Del Close Marathon in New York, improv folks from all perspectives enlighten us with their expectations for this weekend’s 3-day improv extravaganza.

Today: Hey cool, it’s Matt Walsh, member of the Upright Citizens Brigade (and therefore co-founder of the UCB Theatre and of the Del Close Marathon), and all-around hero to a generation of young improvisors!

Dels likeness presides over Walsh (middle) and his UCB mates during last years Press Conference.  Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Del's likeness presides over Walsh (middle) and his UCB mates during last year's Press Conference. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Does the popularity of Marathon make it more exciting now, or do you miss the past years? What do you consider the heyday of DCM?

The heyday of the DCM is now, I think it’s amazing that so many people care about improv. The more people at the DCM the better. The only thing I miss about the beginning years is that when it was small everyone got a free porterhouse steak and a one on one life coaching session with Amy Poehler.

What’s changed the most about Marathon since the beginning, aside from the attendance numbers?

I think the variety and the quality of shows has gotten better. Also, more babies are being born at the marathon every year. Last year three boys named Del were birthed in the audience.

What’s the most wonderful thing and the most horrifying thing you’ve ever witnessed during DCM?

Match Game, Drunken Sonic Assault, and Robot TV never fail to disappoint with lots of chaos. Also last year Paul Simon came down and did a two person show with Mayor Bloomberg, it was a little wordy but still so special.

There seems to be a very intense dedication to Marathon. Even guys who’ve gone off to success in LA come back New York for it. Aside from the free beer backstage, what makes Marathon so significant to people?

I think the camaraderie between performers is pretty strong. Lots of people come back to see their old friends. Also the freedom for the shows to go anywhere, the more bizarre or outrageous the better. There are no headliners, no ego trips (except Matt Besser needing his own weed trailer) everyone is there to do the work.

Any hints as to what you and Ian will be cooking on Sunday afternoon?

There’s a rumor that their might be a dish called bacon surprise(bacon wrapped in bacon covered in bacon) or maybe some stuffed french toast. Owen Burke and I usually figure it out the night before. We also like to do dishes with liquor in them so maybe some bourbon bread pudding.

Bonus question, because I want to be the first to ask: Where’s Amy?

There is a live satellite feed hooked up to Amy’s trailer on set in LA, she watches the shows live and if something doesn’t please her she has a button that can kill the stage lights immediately and then that group is asked to leave. She also sends one of the homeless men she owns to give the first suggestion to inspire the whole weekend. Last year the man said “Help me I’m a prisoner”.

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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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