Published on August 11th, 2011 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Del Close Consierge: forming your Marathon gameplan

From the foreign, to the familiar, to the just plain f’in awesome – you want to see it all (or just feel like you did) at this weekend’s Del Close Marathon in New York City.

It can be done. If I were there for the festival’s 13th edition, and not writing this while laying in a hammock in the wilderness of Manitoba (the actual wilderness, not the band), here’s what I’d do — aka Third Beat’s official recommended schedule for the discerning audience member.


That’s right, DCM doesn’t technically start until Friday. But have you seen the UCBT schedule for Thursday night? Hmm? Have you? The party starts early. Go, watch, and enjoy the air conditioning before it inevitably breaks midway through the weekend.

Ian Roberts and Matt Besser at the 2008 DCM Press Conference. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson


Line up early in the afternoon. Earlier than you think. Wristbands never “sell out”, but you’ll want to get inside quickly for the 4:30 p.m. Press Conference. It isn’t always packed to the rafters, but it might be – and hearing Ian and Matt x2 reminisce about Del is the best way to get the weekend started.

After the Press Conference, head over to Urban Stages to see UCB Harold Team Dance Break kick that venue off at 6:45 p.m. Stick around to see Toronto powerhouseStandards & Practices do their set at 7:45 p.m.

Just around the corner is the Kate Murphy, where you can still purchase individual tickets in advance for both John & Scott (that’d be Lutz and Adsit, respectively) and Colbert Writers: Seize the Mustard. Both will be killer shows, and you’ll thank me later for those cushy seats.

Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn (l), Barry Julien (r), and Rob Dubbin (background) improvise at the 2008 Del Close Marathon, with the help of John Oliver. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Now here’s where strategy comes into play. Get out of there, grab yourself some take-out real fast, and get ready for a long wait outside UCBT. The line to get in will stretch down to 9th Ave., but never fear: with the midnight theatre cleaning happens, about 250 of you will find yourselves inside just in time for the Doug Loves Movies podcast.

After that, it’s an awesome late-night lineup at UCBT as always. But if you’re feeling groggy? At least stay until Wicked Fuckin’ Queeyah at 2:30 a.m., and then hit the sack for the night.


Start your Saturday at the UCBT by showing up nice and early for the 3:30 p.m. performance of That Day in Finland. It’s a Finnish improv group. Do you need any other selling point to be intrigued by this?

The afternoon winds down with Bruckheimer (Paul Scheer fans, take note) and Adsit & You, featuring Scott Adsit playing with audience members.

You’ll be kicked out for the theatre cleaning at 6:45 p.m., at which point, you can weigh your options. Either a) head over to the Hudson Guild for WDWMKR (one of two great all-girl groups from Toronto) and Bassprov. Or b) immediately jump straight back into that beast of a lineup for the Saturday night late shows at the UCBT.

Either way, you’re aiming for re-entry to UCBT after the midnight cleaning. It may sound tedious, 3-hour waits weren’t unheard of a few years ago, and Marathon isn’t known for getting less popular.

The Benson Interruption at 12:30 a.m. will feature a standup star or two. Then the cavalcade of 15-minute clusterfucks begins. Director’s Commentary (Matt Walsh!), Noises On (Joe Wengert!), The Straight Men (Porter Mason!), Improv Cult (Matt Besser!), are all high-concept pieces of insanity that will keep you awake no matter how many cheap PBRs you’ve had.

Match Game ’76 is traditionally considered THE show of DCM. If you’ve seen it, you know why. If you haven’t, you can’t even begin to imagine. The stage will be packed with guest stars, and your mind will be blown.

Still have energy after 2:45 a.m.? The 3:30 a.m. NY Mets Monoscene is a sure thing (the “cast” isn’t listed, but I think Chris Gethard’s presence is inevitable), and the 3:45 a.m. Ira Glass Prov should please the NPR nerds among you.

If you can make it all the way to the 5:30 a.m. theatre cleaning, you should win a prize.


Wake up. It’s going to be difficult, but you can do it.

Start the day off in the comfort of the Hudson Guild, and be sure to catch the 1:00 p.m. performance by Toronto’s Bea Arthur, a killer all-female team who will help you shake off that hangover.

At 1:30 p.m., head back to the scene of last night’s debauchery. As great as the late-night shows are, my favorite DCM memories are during the Sunday afternoon at the UCBT. Everyone’s sobering up, getting their second wind, and having more appreciation for the experience as it slips away for another year.

Rebecca Drysdale and Scott Adist in Let's Have a Ball at the 2009 Del Close Marathon. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

It’s a solid afternoon, punctuated by Let’s Have a Ball at 4:30 p.m. and Convoy at 5:00 p.m.

Then the piano gets wheeled onto the stage in record time (watch your fingers, stage-sitters), and Baby Wants Candy blows the roof off the place at 5:30 p.m.

A change this year: the afternoon won’t wrap up with Walsh & Roberts, the faux cooking show wherein “stage manager” Owen Burke inevitably gets his ass kicked for our pleasure. In its place is We Can Fix You, with the same cast and presumably similar format, but likely without the audience chants of “mmm, food!”

Tacked onto the end of the UCBT lineup is legendary team The Swarm, back after being absent from last year’s lineup.

And of course? The big Asssscat at the Haft Auditorium on Sunday evening. It’s not quite the same as in the intimate space of UCBT, but still a comfy way to wind down your weekend. (I can’t imagine how much work it takes the Haft to get the hipster stank out of those seats come Monday.)

Have fun, drink lots of water, and get sleep when you can grab it.

(As for me? I’ll be saying “yes, and” to laying in the sun with a beer in my hand.)


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