It's hard to believe it's been well over a decade since the Upright Citizens Brigade first started their weekend-long improv marathon. Since its more modest conception as a two-day festival at one theatre, the Del Close Marathon has expanded exponentially, enjoying its biggest and most diverse year yet this weekend (June 27 - 29). While over 420 (hehe) shows across eight venues may seem intimidating to some, the Del Close Marathon is definitely worth checking out. Passes are $30 (cash only) and can be purchased at any of the venues. They get you into most of the shows, some bigger performances have separate tickets.
This year's lineup is packed with more comedy elite than a Comedy Central roast. Big names include Nick Kroll, Amy Poehler, Aubrey Plaza, Thomas Middleditch (of Silicon Valley), Sasheer Zamata (SNL), the girls of Broad City (Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson), and more. Beyond just the celebrities, this weekend promises to bring some of the strongest improvised comedy you're likely to see anytime soon, so stop by! Here are some highlights from the weekend:
Friday is packed with premium shows. "John and Scott" features John Lutz and Scott Adsit, experienced improvisors and 30 Rock cast members, doing what is sure to be a hilarious hour of two-man comedy. You can find tickets to that show here. The Chris Gethard Show is having a Game of Thrones-style battle to the death to see who gets to attend its Comedy Central pilot (which didn't get picked up) for the first, and only, public viewing. You can buy tickets to that show here. However, for the real improv nerds, the place to be Friday night is the original UCB Theatre in Chelsea. Come for the 4 PM press conference and stay for "Director's Commentary with Ben Schwartz [of Parks & Recreation] & Friends"; "MOTHER" (veteran improv team featuring Jason Mantzoukas (of The League and Jon Daly of Kroll Show).
Saturday, stop by UCBeast to listen in on a live taping of Matt Besser's podcast, improv4humans at 2 PM. Then run back to the main Chelsea theatre for "The Hiking Trip," (featuring Gil Ozeri, Ben Schwartz, and Horatio Sanz), "Mantzoukas and Morris" (with Jason Mantzoukas and Seth Morris), "Casey & Woods" (with SNL writer Neil Casey and Zach Woods (The Office, Silicon Valley). Or check out the late night lineup at the theatre, featuring Mike Birbiliga telling monologues, SNL's John Milhiser improvising, and the original Derrick Comedy crew, minus Donald Glover.
If you've made it to Sunday, dear reader, you've made me proud. And you will be rewarded, in the form of a fantastic afternoon of improv. Stop by the Chelsea theatre for "Baby Wants Candy" (an improvised musical act from LA), "The Mantzoukas Brothers," "Adsit & You," and more. Then run over to the Haft Auditorium to wait on a standby line for the legendary ASSSSCAT, featuring all of the original members of the UCB theatre doing what they do best. Both ASSSSCATs are sold out, but you might get lucky.
So grab your friends, grab a bottle of water (as the Del Close Marathon really is a marathon), and grab your wristbands at any of the eight venues hosting the festival across the city. I'll see you there.