Christina Wright
Upright Citizens Brigade

Wiseguys at the Marcus Center

UCB, the bi-coastal improv company, got big laughs from a small audience in Milwaukee,

By - Sep 24th, 2012 04:32 pm

Upright-Citizens-Brigade-Poster-600Upright Citizens Brigade, founded in Chicago in 1990, has become an institution. It has outposts in NY and LA.  Its alums include Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz, both of Saturday Night Live. The UCB Touring Company, which performs throughout the United States, stopped at the Todd Wehr Theater of the Marcus Center Saturday night.UCB bills itself as “the freshest long-form improv the nation has to offer” and they lived up to that proclamation. Even though the 10 p.m. show was sparsely attended — there were perhaps 20 people in the audience — the four tour members had everyone in stitches for an hour and a half.

It’s a fun show because as an audience member you might just see your contributions incorporated into a sketch. The show began with the flannel-shirt clad Brigade — John Frusciante, Jon Gabrus, Brandon Gardner, and Zack Willis — asking random audience members about their lives. They settled on a guy named Adam who works in advertising for Trek Bicycles. They spun this tidbit into an improv sketch that begat many other wacky scenarios. One scene featured a Hello Kitty engagement ring. Other bits involved a Segway highway, another an Orthodox Jewish cat. A full sketch was devoted to television commercials from the 1980’s. There was a Civil War reenactment.

Improv can be tricky; sometimes it just doesn’t work and it can feel like the actors are trying too hard. The actors knew when to tap-in and tap-out of scenes. They knew a joke had run its course. When improv succeeds, it looks like the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Categories: Comedy, Theater

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