Comedy Central has gone through so many phases for how it goes about showcasing young comedic talent, that every so often, an idea becomes reality and years later, you wonder how, exactly.
Such was Comic Cabana, the 1997 summer series on Comedy Central that may have been the first real TV credit for the Upright Citizens Brigade quartet of Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Matt Besser and Ian Roberts. It came a year before they'd get their own Comedy Central series and two before they could open up their own theater in New York City.
A comedy fan named Danielle who goes by schwaggology on Tumblr was up late the other night watching the first season of the Upright Citizens Brigade's Comedy Central series from way back in 1998 when something caught her eye.
Sitting alongside UCB members Amy Poehler and Matt Besser were mostly college-aged fresh-faced kids (just as you'd see in many UCB show audiences today in NYC or Hollywood). But in the third episode of season one, "Saigon Suicide Squad," check out a few faces in particular. As Danielle points out with arrows, you can see what Paul Scheer, Rob Corddry, Nick Kroll and Rob Riggle looked like many years before they were TV famous themselves.
I wanted to find out more about how this episode could attract so much future talent, so I asked Paul Scheer how he got this very early TV credit. Scheer told The Comic's Comic:
"As far as Saigon -- I was in every episode of UCB season 1 sometimes twice an episode (as an extra -- I think I eventually got one line). They used all their students as extras, none of us got paid but they had great snacks. Saigon was a taping of their amazing stage show, so that was an easy one but that was a super fun night up in Harlem.
I think Nick was a freshman in Georgetown. I was still in NYU. But if you watch the 1st season everyone is there. It's fun looking back."
This photo also works as a great advertisement for taking classes at the UCB's Theatres: From students to stars!
UCB original Matt Besser isn't listed in either of these record databases, although he claims to own several comedy records already. Among them: Most jokes told in a minute, most characters in five minutes, and world's tallest joke (see him on a ladder with fellow UCBers Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts supporting Besser? Yep).
Now comes his latest stunt: For the next ten consecutive Tuesday night performances of Comedy Death-Ray at the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles, Besser will attempt to establish a record for most original characters attempted in consecutive weeks at a Comedy Death-Ray show. You see what he's doing here?
As Adam Sandler's new movie begs you, just go with it.
From CDR's Scott Auckerman: “I’ve seen a comedian do ten characters before, but usually that is over a period of years, sometimes decades. To be honest, I don’t think he’ll be able to do it, but we’re willing to give him the stage to try. If he crashes and burns, then that will be entertaining too.”
For his part, Besser says his character parade will include already-popular versions of the Pope and Bjork, but also introduce several new people to laugh along with. “If any of my characters don’t work,” says Besser, “then the character won’t count. But I won’t fail. I will take the comedy record away from the Soviets, and bring it back to the USA.”
The Upright Citizens Brigade recently celebrated its fifth anniversary of going Hollywood with a big night of comedy at its Los Angeles theater in September.
Three of the UCB founders have moved from NYC to LA, and over the years, many popular Harold and Maude players and groups have followed suit. LA Weekly caught up with Messrs. Besser, Roberts and Walsh for an interview, and here's how they explained their motives upon making the big move West:
Matt Besser: The Tamarind Theatre here on Franklin happen to open up and it was during the same time that many of the performers from UCB New York were moving out here, so it was good timing that way. We started with more of a focus on improv in New York. In L.A. there was already improv, so we wanted it to start off with more of a balance between sketch and stand-up for the L.A. branch. That's one of the main differences between the two theaters. Immediately, we had Comedy Death Ray, which in my opinion, is the best stand-up show in town. We also have many shows that combine performers whether it be a game show or a story-type of show. That was always the aim of this theater.
Ian Roberts: Another goal is to have a place that we wish existed when we first started. A place that is friendly to performers and doesn't charge people to do their shows.
Matt Walsh: Even Luna in New York was a great comedy show but it was only on Monday nights, so if you went there on Wednesdays there would be a jam band playing. This is a theater that's known for doing one thing, which is good comedy.
While I was in Los Angeles last month, I caught up with the UCB Theatre's L.A. artistic director, Neil Campbell -- whom you can also see onstage in groups doing sketch in A Kiss From Daddy and improv with Last Day of School. Here's what Campbell had to tell me when we sat down in his office before a full night of shows in the theatre:
And now, a brief message from comedian Matt Besser:
My name is Matt Besser, one of the founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and one of the creators of This Show Will Get You High. A year ago I approached the leaders of Comedy Central with the idea to create a sketch show so funny that it had the power to get the viewer high. I theorized that if we can get the kids high on sketch comedy, then they won't have to be in the empty lots and the abandoned malls looking for real drugs like heroin, crack, and worst of all, marijuana. To accomplish this dream I recruited some of the best sketch comedians from the UCB Theatre including Brett Gelman, John Gemberling, Paul Rust, Betsy Sodaro, combined with the directing genius of Eric Appel, plus Nathan Barnatt, Sergio Cilli, Allan McLeod, and Jessica Williams. Upon completion of the experiment, Comedy Central showed it to focus groups where it was determined that it got them way too high. It has since been decided that the safest time to exhibit the special are the hours when only those who are used to being way too high are still awake. On November 2, citizens in communities across America will vote on various marijuana legalization propositions. Before that date, America needs to wake up and realize that you don't need to get high on the weed, when you can get high on This Show Will Get You High.
You likely won't see more than the pilot for This Show Will Get You High on your TV sets, and if you're not watching Comedy Central at 3 a.m. Oct. 27, 4:30 a.m. Oct. 28, or 4 a.m. Nov. 1, then probably not even the pilot.
Until then, however, you can view these two short scenes from the pilot. First, here's a glimpse at the cast and crew on the road, as Brett Gelman emerges from the bathroom after taking a pee break. Did I say after? What follows is Not Safe For Work. Roll it!
And in this bit, Gollum meets "Precious" meets Comic-Con. Lt. Uhura seemed to enjoy it!
We're just a few days away from the start of the 12th annual Del Close Marathon -- that's DCM12 for short (and for Twitter hashtag purposes) -- and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre has released the footage from the show that's always a DCM showstopper: That late-late-night Saturday all-star showcase parody of "Match Game '76," where in recent years, the only things you can count on are Paul Scheer doing his own version of the late Gene Rayburn, contestant Jack McBrayer playing himself and seemingly more frightened every year because he doesn't know how or what the dozens of UCB players (in celebrity characters) will do to taunt him. It's at 2 a.m. Sunday this weekend.
Last year, for DCM11, the cast of characters were played by the likes of Rob Huebel, Brett Gelman, Nick Kroll, Doug Benson, Horatio Sanz, Anthony Atamanuik, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, Chris Gethard, Rob Lathan, Jon Daly, Katie Dippold, Seth Morris, Sean Conroy, Owen Burke, James Adomian and yes, that is Sarah Silverman in disguise as Carl Weathers. Oh, and people also did the show completely disguised as Flipper and Dr. Zaius.
Let's just say it's Not Safe For Work, because it most definitely is. See you this weekend. Roll it!
Back before they were famous for being the Upright Citizens Brigade, the UCB players produced their first feature-length film that spoofed both Spring Break and Girls Gone Wild. Naturally, it's called Wild Girls Gone, and it's only now available for your digital download pleasure via iTunes.
That seemed so random, but then again, this isn't the only random comedy news for today.
We're not sure on the hows, whys are wheres of this, but the original members of The Upright Citizens Brigade will be reuniting for "The Greatest Improv Show Ever" this weekend. Well, that's the title of it, anyhow. High noon Saturday in Solvang, Calif. Solvang? Sure, why not Solvang. UCB co-founder/player Matt Walsh asked overnight via Twitter: "Why isn't all of America talking about this?" Maybe it's because your "Ultimate Comedy Bash" is in Solvang?! Just maybe.
The bash kicks off on Friday with a "Fresh Faces" show hosted by Paul F. Tompkins and also features "The Greatest Comedy Show Ever" on Saturday afternoon. I'd tell you more, but you can see it's all printed up nice and colorful already! Click on the image to enlarge it. TWSS.
If I were in Los Angeles tonight, then I would definitely be hoping to check out "Pop Genius" at the UCB Theatre. A friend shared this clip with me, and dare I say (nay, no dare needed), this seems to be the kind of game show that would be an instant hit on the TV. Looks like a 21st-century version of Match Game, combined with the silly celebrity world that gets parodied by folks such as Best Week Ever and The Soup, with hints from funny people a la Password or Pyramid. Jimmy Pardo is a natural as a game-show host, as anyone who knows anything knows (although the Internets tell me that Paul Scheer used to host the monthly Pop Genius last year?), and the panels look funny, too. Here's a clip, with a panel that includes Andy Daly, Matt Besser, Danielle Schneider and Andy Richter:
Say the word "Trio" and you'll think of many things (but probably not about the short-lived cable network), which is why when I tell you about "Pilot Season," you'll maybe think of a real thing that happens in Hollywood each winter/spring, but you're not likely to think of the documentary that Trio did about that real-life thing, and definitely not going to say, hey, wasn't there an improvised comedy about that real thing? (Unless you are a comedy nerd to the nerd power, or knew these people personally) Before NBC Universal acquired and terminated the Trio network, the channel was perhaps best known for celebrating TV pilots and programs that didn't get their due in Brilliant But Cancelled. In 2004, Sam Seder (who now co-hosts a daily online show with Marc Maron) wrote, directed and starred in Pilot Season, a six-episode mockumentary about actors and actresses going through the TV pilot process. The cast included -- are you ready for this -- Sarah Silverman, David Cross, Jon Benjamin, Isla Fisher, Andy Dick, Matt Besser, Ross Brockley, Laura Krafft, Marc Maron, Matt Price, Laura Silverman, Brendon Small and David Waterman. And now,
"8 years later," My Damn Channel is giving us another look at Pilot Season. More coming in April. Here's a teaser voiced by Janeane Garofalo, who famously does not have an email or use computers, and yet voices an Internet comedy spectacle. UPDATE: Sam Seder wisely reminded me that Pilot Season was, as explained in this clip, the sequel to a 1997 project Seder and company did called Who's The Caboose? If only that was available on Netflix! Enjoy:
People who know me know I love me some dancing as much as I do the comedy, so when Matt Besser from the Upright Citizens Brigade told me he was reviving Freak Dance, I said, how soon can I get to Hollywood? Oh. Not that soon. Darn it! But if you're in the Southern California part of California, you can witness the musical theater extravaganza, Freak Dance: The Forbidden Dirty Boogaloo, at 8 p.m. Fridays at the UCB Theatre in Hollywood. The show enjoyed a three-month sold-out run in the spring. Here is a lovingly elaborate choreographed video to pique your interest. Enjoy!
Only now unwinding from my second tour through the Upright Citizen Brigade's Del Close Marathon, which ended Sunday night (though starting the tour after an all-nighter to Washington, D.C., and back probably contributed to the fatigue on my end), and wished, as I did last summer, that I had gotten to see more of the 150+ improv and variety shows that happened during DCM10. At least two video cameras captured some of the highlights, which I expect to see online one of these days at UCBComedy.
The Marathon is crazy for improvisers and comedy fans alike, with shows running almost continuously (save for a couple of breaks to clean the theaters) at the UCB home in Chelsea and three nearby theaters from Friday afternoon to Sunday night. Comedians come from all over the country to participate, and even then, to fill all of those hours, the Marathon's programmers schedule some completely off-the-wall shows. I cannot speak for the daytime shows from last weekend, but during the primetime and late-night hours, the atmosphere -- hot, sweaty and reeking of alcoholic sweat -- really favors the louder, crazier uptempo shows over the improv groups that actually try best to honor Del Close and his Harold long-form. It's not a fault of the performers. But after you've seen "Gary Busey" prove he's the smartest expert in the universe, it's hard to pay close attention to all that's going on in the Scramble. And the Marathon peaks at 2:30 a.m. Sunday during the half-hour lunacy that is Match Game 76, and when Horatio Sanz as Heath Ledger's Joker launches a smoke bomb, well, even a troupe hoping to parody Close has no chance. I spent my entire DCM10 at the UCB (sorry, big-time shows at the FIT, but maybe we'll meet again in 2009), and the best shows I saw over the weekend were strong in concept, structure and execution.
James Adomian as "Gary Busey" during The Smartest Panel of Experts in the Universe Ever.
Photo by Keith Huang
I caught up with Upright Citizens Brigade co-founders Matt Besser and Matt Walsh earlier today, or should I say, they caught up with me (thank you, telephones!). Don't know how you're spending your Memorial Day weekend, but Messrs. Besser and Walsh will be among the comedian contingent heading for the Gorge in George, Wash., for this weekend's Sasquatch! Music Festival (the full comedy lineup includes Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, Horatio Sanz, Tim Meadows, Jerry Minor, Rich Fulcher, and Sean Conroy / Brian Posehn / Michael Ian Black / Michael Showalter / Eugene Mirman / Morgan Murphy / Marc Maron / Reggie Watts / People's Republic of Komedy featuring: Andy Haynes, Kevin Hyder, Aziza Diaz, Derek Sheen, and Andy Peters / Seattle School featuring: Mike Min, Korby Sears, and Liza Keckler).
The Gorge routinely wins honors as the best natural outdoor amphitheater from industry watchers such as Pollstar, and for good reason: The main stage has the Columbia River gorge and the setting sun as its backdrop. Been there and done that. Good times. But I hadn't seen comedy there before. Sasquatch has a separate comedy tent at the top of the hill. Enough with the logistics, though. Let's get to my interviews with Matt Besser and Matt Walsh about this weekend's festival, their still relatively new UCB Comedy website, and the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Del Close Marathon in New York City this summer.
Will you guys be camping out on the grounds at the Gorge with everyone else?
Walsh: "They've got RVs set up for us...We'll probably be writing bits right when we get there."
With multiple shows on Saturday and Sunday, how do you pace yourselves to make sure you've got enough funny to go around?
Besser: "Like a marathon? We'll have people standing next to the stage with Gatorade. I won't bother going to the bathroom, if that's what you mean. Yeah, we'll pace ourselves. But no. I think I can sprint. If Chappelle can do it all in one night, we can certainly do it as a group. Am I right?"
Walsh: "Don't get too high. Or drunk. No. I think the bits are written. I think because it's interactive, a lot of it is presentational. We'll be addressing the audience. Guest artists will come on."
How is performing at a festival, or even any larger venue, different from the audiences at the UCB's theaters in New York and Los Angeles?
Walsh: "It's challenging, because it's a big audience. It's more akin to stand-up, addressing the audience. But they're not in a fictional world. We're onstage. At a huge concert. We're not asking 20,000 people to suspend their disbelief that we're in a Starbucks."
Besser: "When you do a festival like this, you're drawing people who have zero knowledge of who you are. The first time we did a music festival like this, it was a Gathering of the Vibes, kind of jam-band festival, I'd say a good portion of the crowd had no idea who we were. This dude yelled out, 'Hey dude, where's your guitar!' We thought he was playing with us but he was serious...I guess."
That sounds a lot like the inspiration for the sketch you guys did at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, right?
Let's watch that sketch!
Besser: "Yes. South by Southwest. What was weird about that night. I actually had a guy in the venue who worked there try to kick me out. Four or five lines into the sketch, he walks up and pats me on the shoulder, saying, 'Hey, c'mon, you got to go.' He's saying this into my ear. 'Alright, buddy, we've had enough.' And I'm trying to explain I'm doing a bit without letting everyone hear me! Are my lines too clever?...And then even when I do get onstage, there's one girl, when I say 'Comedy's easy,' Walsh's next line is supposed to be, 'If it's so easy, why don't you try it,' but this girl in the audience says it, 'If it's so easy, why don't you try it?' There's that interesting aspect of people who aren't used to whatever, breaking that fourth wall, that we do."
Walsh says you may expect to see similar things this weekend. "I think some of the things we're going to incorporate will be organic to that (music festival) atmosphere," he says.
Why do more and more music festivals (Bonnaroo, SXSW, Coachella, etc.) want to include comedy into their formulas?
Walsh: "I suppose, one, it's worked before...I would presume they want to attract a wider audience. And there's a lot of down time so they want to entertain audiences while they're in between bands, so it's a simple thing to include comedy. So basically, we're the intermission entertainment."
Besser: "They don’t always work on the same stage, one after the other, that can be rough. But giving them a separate tent, where they can get a break from a full day of music, that can work."
Earlier this year, they also launched UCBComedy.com as "a third stage" for the many performers who now make up the UCB collective at their first two actual stages in New York City and Los Angeles.
Walsh: "It's an opportunity to give them an outlet for their ideas. It's just an extension of the brand. We want to be a network. We want to program things. We've got the two theaters in New York and Los Angeles. To program a Website is a logical next step...The truth of it is, there's so much more video in live shows anyway. That's one thing we've found in Los Angeles."
Besser says two things set UCB's comedy site apart from the other online comedy video sites: 1) live clips from UCB shows, and the fact that they don't allow people outside of the UCB to upload clips.
Besser: "That's our whole philosophy to the site. It's our third stage. It's not open to anyone to upload...It's another way for them to showcase themselves and get their stuff out there. And it's great. Especially if you don't live in a big city, to experience these shows."
One thing I've noticed from comedy fans is that they increasingly go online immediately in search of clips and reviews of shows they've just seen themselves. Have you noticed any of that with uploading clips of live UCB shows?
Besser: "To get footage that's cut the next day, is impossible, unless you're a full-scale production...Some people are big fans and will watch a one-camera feed for 30 minutes, but not everyone."
Any other feedback?
Walsh: "People really like it. Unfortunately, things with bikini-clad women get more hits, because those images in clips have more appeal with young men...there's great variety, though. Clips from live shows. We've figured out how to shoot them really well, like a Comedy Central special, so they appear really well."
How was working on the HBO pilot for David's Situation with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross?
Besser: "That was great. Besides working with Bob and David, who are geniuses. Eric Hoffman is who I started doing, back in Chicago, when I was doing sketches for the first time, I was doing them with him and Walsh, Bean Can Tour, ever Friday night. So that was a reunion. But the show itself is crazy. Like The Young Ones."
Do you think it's an automatic go because of Bob and David's past history with HBO and Mr. Show, or do you still need to wait by the phone? Besser laughs.
Besser: "I would never say anything like that one way or the other. I am not that high up in the process."
In August, you guys will come back to New York City for the 10th anniversary of the Del Close Marathon. Anything special up your sleeves?
Besser: "It's just more and bigger, really...Kim Howard Johnson, who wrote the Del Close book this year. It's a really great book, and the festival is all about him, so Kim is going to start it off first with a panel...that will be special and neat."
Walsh: "There's talk of a Carnegie Hall show, and the marathon itself is a physical task in itself. It's literally 70 hours of endurance. All of us will do 5 or 10 shows...We get people from all over the country to see what other sketch performers are doing, so it's great for the performers, too. It makes it a real festival."
Had you ever thought about setting a world record from Del Close? The Comic Strip Live in New York says it vows to set an official Guinness World Record in June with a 50-hour stand-up show.
Besser: "Hadn't thought about it." Laughs. "Totally, it's been 72. Man, that's your article. Get the real record!"
Watching Matt Besser's Magical Sack of Dump at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York City, you might have thought that it lacked some planning...but that's all part of the plan. After all, Matt Besser has made his name as an improviser and sketch comedian who helped create the Upright Citizens Brigade in the first place. Who needs planning? We've got some videos and some characters and let's let the audience dictate the rest. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you.
Besser had an hour an 45 minutes in store for last night's audience, beginning even before the beginning, working out his intro with Pat the master UCB tech. This lasted several minutes, with Besser critiquing each and every possible intro Pat offered as the audience filed into the venue. After several minutes of this, Besser said to Pat: "Also, you sound kind of put upon, if you could add a little excitement." Pat attempted such, which only prompted Besser to say: "Now you sound like a DJ." They played upon the notion that Besser had created and produced Comedy Central's short-lived Crossballs, that Besser was a founding member of the UCB, and his roles and the significance of such in Walk Hard and Drillbit Taylor.
Things I learned during the show:
1) Besser has a very NSFW video for his alias as Mark Dunn, King of the 3-Way. And he spent the better part of 20 minutes showing the video and taking audience questions about 3-ways afterward. Apparently, his f*** version of his "Bucket List" includes a 3-way with Hannah Montana and Miley Ray Cyrus. "I call it the best of both worlds...or There Will Be Blood." OK. I'll try not to include too many more spoilers.
2) But Besser wants me to tell you that French DJs, such as J.U.S.T.I.C.E., are robots. That's what he learned last week at the SXSW Playboy party.
3) Robots could never infiltrate the human race as comedians. "They have no timing. They rush the punchlines!" Besser said.
4) His NYC audience broke down along estimated religious heritages of 20 percent Jewish, 20 percent Protestant, 50 percent Catholic and 10 percent other (mostly Muslim).
5) Besser grew up half-Jewish, half-Christian, and now is an atheist.
6) Besser only follows 1.5 of the accepted Ten Commandments, so he suggested replacements for the others. (I won't spoil that for you, just yet)
7) Besser has a theory about who wears what kind of hats.
8) According to track #8 of his CD, "May I Help You Dumbass," Besser attempted to counteract the many phone calls who mistook him for tech support, and did so quite humorously.
9) His version of Pope Benedict has a gay test that only results in one answer. (Hint: You're gay)
10) He looks enough like the founder of MySpace to produce a funny election video.
11) He won't make fun of audience members from Little Rock, Ark., because that's where he is from.
12) His send-up of Last Comic Standing with America's Best Comic contestant/winner Jason Yellow, the deaf, blind, armless comedian, is so damning (in a good way) that he told the audience he'd have to put it online so we could see more of him.
13) Comedy Central will air a special uncensored 90-minute version of ASSSSCAT this Friday night (well, 1 a.m. Saturday), and that special will be available on DVD next week (March 25).
What happens when you look over your handwritten notes a year later? Let's find out as we jog our memories on the 2007 Del Close Marathon, held over the last weekend in July...
Satellites: Oh, this was a fun way to start my Del Close Marathon in 2007, as Ed Helms, Rob Riggle and Jason Sudeikis got themselves all excited about going to another Dave Matthews Band concert. They got nostalgic (Riggle claimed this would be his 217th DMB concert experience), interacted with fans (as in, audience members) and Sudeikis proved his chops playing multiple parts in this half-hour improvised set, including a drug dealer in Detroit and a driver to a show in Miami.
Bro'in Out: With Leo Allen and Seth Morris co-hosting, and guests played by Matt Walsh, Ed Helms, and Matt Besser, among others, with Besser playing the role of MySpace's founder, Tom. "A lot of people don't want to be friends based on first impressions of their voice," said Besser as Tom, who continued to hold the MySpace Tom pose throughout the show. "I have a deformed spine that doesn't allow me to face forward."
Chuckle Sandwich: This Chicago-based quartet opened with a song, and showed why T.J. Miller would soon go on to bigger things. Micah Sherman also showed a bunch of energy at this midnight show.
The Smartest Panel of Experts in the Universe Ever: My notes on this are messy, and as I recall, this show was messy, too, and Horatio Sanz was in it. I wrote immediately after this that the UCB theater really cleared out afterward, which made things tough on the show that followed, the low-energy Bastards Inc. Directors Commentary LIVE came next and took on "Dirty Dancing," with players taking on roles as cast and crew from this 1980s movie, and the show completely lost control about halfway through as the players went to greater lengths to one-up each other in their risque comments.
I returned on Saturday afternoon in time to see I Eat Pandas earn a standing ovation at 5:30 p.m. My $20 wristband got me into most shows, but it'd take another $10 to get me a guaranteed seat over at the FIT for the Daily Show/Colbert Report Improv Jam (only about 20 people from the stand-by line got in) as Riggle, John Oliver, Ed Helms and several Colbert writers, including Laura Krafft, took audience suggestions. The first one? Iraq?! "I should probably jump into this one," Riggle said. "Because you're a Marine," another player said. "Everything about Iraq is hilarious," offered Helms. "That guy (pointing to the audience member) should be forced to do 10 minutes on Iraq right now." But they ran with the suggestion and got many laughs. They also played off of a military group that attended a Chicago improv show, and imagined a group of St. Olaf and Carleton College students facing off at the town's only bar.
Arrived back at the UCB to see the end of Ian Roberts' Lazy Man show, followed by the iO Chicago team of Washington Generals, who seemed to be led, at least on this night, by a guy I'd seen earlier in Chuckle Sandwich. According to Jim came next, and no, not about the ABC-TV sitcom with Jim Belushi, but rather Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, and Matt Walsh played Gary Sheffield, and I had to write how one woman in the audience remarked, "It's so ridiculous." Yes, and in improv, ridiculous is usually a good thing. They stopped the show seven minutes early for a Q&A with the audience which just got weirder. Pass the Mic was billed as improvised stand-up, and it seemed more like improvised monologues. As Leo Allen noted at one point, "For anyone onstage, your constant writing is horrible." The show turned out to be a bit of a misnomer, as each player told true and funny stories from his or her childhood, building off of the previous player's story. No one even used the actual audience suggestion of hurdles, by the way. BirdDog, from Chicago, seemed more style than substance, although they also seemed to adhere more to the style of Del Close in doing so, which made it apt. And they did make good use of the mic for a talent show. C,C,+C Improv Factory drew consistently big laughs with quick quips. Cracked Out (Jon Daly and Brett Gelman) got the place more than standing room only and laughing. "There's no booing in improv hip-hop!" Derrick smartly recognized the funny nature of quick flashbacks. Match Game 76 had so many "celebs" onstage, including Paul Scheer as the late Gene Rayburn, Jack McBrayer, Ed Helms (as Mark Spitz), and so many others, that it was hard for anyone to follow -- just sit back and watch the madness unfold. If you're going to follow Match Game, getting the audience's attention with Mexican wrestling masks and attitude might just have done the trick for Senor Bueno. Pajama Jammy Jam spun off from Houseparty with one of the guys from Derrick playing Play from Kid and Play. Oh, Hello, led by John Mulaney, played up the shtick of Upper West Siders trying improv. Drunken Sonic Assault, hosted by Walsh and Besser, hit two out of three targets in their name. A weird Thanksgiving dinner played out next onstage, with Jackie Clarke, Riggle, Rob Huebel, Viking brothers, ghosts and a guy with his balls out named Balls Larry. The program tells me this show was called 2 Gays and a Lez with a Baseball Cap. My Left Fuck You was four guys with laptops using voice software. At 4:15 a.m. on a Sunday. Scheer re-emerged as Darth Vader for Star Wars Bounty Hunter Prov. Things got too weird for words in the next two early morning shows, Nicolas Cage Match and Dane Cookin It Up, with several comedians impersonating the two actors. It's no wonder my notes ended here.