Executive Storytelling with UCB: Unleashing the Power of Narrative

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Stories persuade, inspire, and define. Stories can shape a vision, change behavior, create momentum and even start a movement. Every great story is as much about the words as the emotion, and leaders need to know how to tell stories well. How do you do it? Where do you start?

UCB Executive Storytelling workshops break the process into two distinct steps. The first step is knowing what story you’re trying to tell. Is it a company narrative? A new product story? A personal career story? That first decision is the bedrock from which storytellers make decisions on the story’s important moments, its goal and the overall arc. As for the telling -- and how to connect with others -- you’ll learn from performers who tell real and imagined stories on a regular basis. Our instructors will not only help you master the classic art of storytelling, but show you how to be more comfortable, connected and persuasive.

This workshop can be customized to focus on storytelling for any number of purposes: pitching to clients, launching or revitalizing new products and brands, and even making small talk at networking events.

The workshop typically covers:

  • Better listening: Finding cues to start a story

  • Ways to build emotional connections

  • Being in the moment

  • How to establish conflict and arc

  • Putting a personal spin on a larger brand, division or product story

  • How to structure stories for maximum impact

  • Ways to create a culture of storytelling at your company

UCB executive storytelling workshops run for 2 hours and serve 10 people. If this sounds like something you or company might need, shoot us a quick email at sayhello@UCBindustries.com

5 Ways UCB Can Help Your Organization Have an Unforgettable Holiday Party

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Yes, it’s August and the holidays are a few months away. But if your job happens to involve planning your company’s holiday party, it’s never too early to start thinking about how to make this year’s holiday celebration the best ever. That’s where UCB comes in. Here are five ways we can help you have an amazing and truly memorable event.

1. Have UCB Do an Entire Show about Your Company

Imagine a UCB show all about your workplace and employees and corporate culture. We can make that happen. Our improv shows feature four performers who kick off the show by bringing a member of the audience on stage and interviewing them. The entire show is based on that interview. Picture our cast interviewing the president of your company or a beloved team member, or even a favorite client. It is guaranteed to be an unforgettable night. We can structure these custom UCB shows to run for an hour, 90 minutes or in two parts. Whatever works best for your event.

2.  Add a Celebrity to Your UCB Show

Some of the UCB comedians who regularly perform in our shows include Sasheer Zamata, Matt Besser, Nicole Byer, Horatio Sanz, Anthony Atamanuik, Zach Woods, Shannon O'Neill and Bobby Moynihan. It's something your team is unlikely to forget.

3. Use Our Space

We have five really wonderful spaces: two theaters in New York, two in Los Angeles, and a larger performance/party space in Los Angeles as well. We periodically rent these spaces for parties and special events. The theaters are ideal places to host your own company show and cocktail party.

4. Host an Improv Workshop at Your Holiday Party

Our improv workshops are ideal for breaking the ice and bringing teams together, making for a memorable holiday event. We can work with both small and large groups. A typical UCB workshop accommodates 20 individuals and runs for an 90 minutes to two hours. We can go shorter or longer, and we can add more people to the group with an extra instructor.

We can also do larger masterclass-style workshops for up to 500 individuals. This involves four instructors, ideally working from the stage. They have members of the audience break into groups for different exercises and also bring people on stage to demonstrate. These masterclasses typically run for 90 minutes to two hours -- but for a party, we can put together an event that works for 45 minutes to an hour.

5. Come to a UCB show as a holiday outing

At each of our theaters in New York City and in Los Angeles, we program four shows a night in each space. Attending a UCB show can make for a wonderful holiday outing. We have bars in all our theaters and offer group-discounted rates on tickets.

For more information on working with UCB over the hoidays contact SAYHELLO@UCBindustries.com.

What Clients Are Saying About Our Workshops

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At UCB we work with a wide array of organizations providing improv workshops that help with team building, collaboration, better listening, and thinking fast on your feet. Here’s what some recent clients have to say about working with UCB.

"It was AMAZING!!! The team was skeptical before we got there but everyone had a blast and there were tons of laughs! It was really perfect – thank you again and I will be sure to talk it up to other teams at Deloitte!" – Deloitte

“Every single member of our group was engaged for the entire workshop. That’s extraordinary. I’ve already recommended UCB workshops to my colleagues.” - Nike

"Please pass along my thanks to the team for an amazing time yesterday afternoon! All of our staff had a really great time and your team of instructors was awesome! I think I need to start going to some intro classes." - The New Yorker

"We just finished the training and it was AWESOME, so fun and such a great way to have the team think differently. Definitely want to do more!" - POPSUGAR

"Everyone had a fantastic time at UCB!  They were petrified when they heard at lunch they would be doing improv, truly their faces were blank if not anxious, and after the event they were all raving about the experience." -- WME Entertainment

"We are still laughing from your team’s session on Friday! But beyond being funny, they provided some tremendous training for our entire group. People raved about the session!" - Brunswick Group

"Associates quickly learned how to handle the anxiety of extemporaneous speech with a team consisting of an experienced lawyer and comedian. They also laughed a lot in the process — all for three points of CLE credit." - Labaton Sucharow

"The team had a great time at the training! Thanks again for all of your help. It was a great experience from start to finish." - Twilio

"This is a great program and I would use it again and again!" - Health.com

"They were each phenomenal instructors and having UCB with us was a real highlight for everyone at Edelman. Feedback has been great – the sessions were fun, full of energy and participation yet it also felt like something practical that we can take back to our day-to-day jobs." - Edelman

"The workshop was FANTASTIC!!! Everyone loved it and I think it really brought together the whole group. After the workshop, we could already feel the connectedness of the class which was great to see. I want to thank all of you and the facilitators for a job well done!" - McKinsey & Co

"The workshop was fantastic! Everyone had a lot of fun, and hopefully got a lot out of it. It was a great way to conclude our summit. " - Jukin Media

"The workshop was great! Chelsea was fantastic... Thanks again!" - Boston Consulting Group

"It was an amazing experience for our team-  one that I know will have a real impact in how we work and collaborate with each other. We are all improv converts now :-)So, again, thank you! I very much hope we have the chance to work with you and UCB again in the future." - PwC

"Everyone loved it. The best holiday party we had to date." - New York Cares

If your company is interested in having a UCB workshop, please contact David.Ma@UCBComedy.com.

The Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) Partners with Entertainment Weekly, Moxy Hotels, Chipotle and Other Leading Organizations to Support the 20th Anniversary of the Del Close Marathon

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Entertainment Weekly, Moxy Hotels (A Marriott Company) and Chipotle have partnered with esteemed comedy powerhouse Upright Citizens Brigade, founded by Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts and Matt Besser to support the 20th anniversary of the Del Close Marathon taking place Friday, June 29- Sunday, July 1 in theatres across New York City.

Additional supporting sponsors who are also contributing to DCM include Bronx Brewery, Divvies, Downeast Cider, Final Draft, FORTO, HeadCount, Headspace, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Liquor Lab, Lyft, Nap York, Pilot Kombucha, REBBL, Sixpoint Brewery and Stumptown Coffee Roasters.  

The Del Close Marathon is the world’s largest improv festival featuring round-the-clock improv performances across 11 stages, with over 750 shows and panels over the course of three days. Participants in this year’s DCM lineup include: Anthony Atamanuik, Owen Burke, Nicole Byer, Jessica St. Clair, Jon Daly, Katie Dippold, John Gemberling, Brian Huskey, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll, Jason Mantzoukas, Jack McBrayer, Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Lennon Parham, Natasha Rothwell, Paul Scheer, Ben Schwartz, Zach Woods, Sasheer Zamata and many more.


Six Ways UCB'S Tools of Improv Help Organizations Achieve Specific Goals

At UCB, we offer improv workshops to corporations and nonprofits. We work with a wide range of organizations including Google, Nike, Ernst & Young, NYU, and many ad agencies. These organizations typically bring us in to help facilitate team building, collaboration, better listening and creativity. We also get brought in to help deal with specific challenges -- some highly unusual, others more traditional. Here’s a list of some recent tasks and issues organizations have asked us to address:

1. Giving Better Presentations

Most people don’t like speaking in public or getting up and giving presentations. Unfortunately, for many of us, doing so is an important part of our work lives. But we believe that, yes, it is possible to learn how to relax, follow your gut and give great presentations. In our presentation skills workshops, we show participants how to use improv tools to become stronger, more connected, more compelling presenters. We help people with:

  • Thinking faster on their feet
  • How to turn a problem or mistake into an opportunity when presenting
  • How to read a room and adapt accordingly
  • How to listen like an improviser
  • Practical tools for reducing stress


2. Prepping Non-Native English Speakers for Job Interviews:  

An Ivy League University’s business school recently asked us in to help their non-native English speakers prep for job interviews. We focused on helping these students become more comfortable with asking for clarification or expressing that they didn’t understand a question. Helping them become more relaxed, confident and able to go with the moment was key to successful and productive interviews.


3. Helping New Candidates with Campaigning Skills:

The tools of improv have direct applicability to running for office. Today we are working with a number of organizations including Eleanor’s Legacy, Annie’s List and End Citizens United. Our workshops for candidates focus on better listening, collaboration, and thinking fast on your feet. We also drill down on skills like how to read a room, change the energy in a crowd, field criticism and difficult questions, and better frame their personal narratives.

4. Improving Communication Among Residents and Patients

We’re seeing hospitals and patient care groups expressing interested in bringing UCB in for workshops. They see value in applying the tools of improv to everything, from how doctors and nurses listen to patients and convey information, to helping emergency teams read each others’ signals. Stay tuned to our blog for insights and updates as we move forward with this work.

5. Helping Conference Attendees Break the Ice

Our standard workshops serve 15-20 people, but we also offer Masterclasses, which are designed for larger groups up to 500. These are ideal for conferences, particularly at the beginning when lots of attendees don’t know each other. Our improv exercises are ideal for getting people to interact, have fun, forget their worries -- and connect with one another. We get people collaborating in a risk-free way right off the bat. Check out this article from AdWeek about a Masterclass we held at Accelerate, the American Association of Advertising Agencies' annual conference.


6. Guiding Teams Away from Stubbornness

A tech client reached out to us because individuals on his team needed to collaborate better. When working on complex projects, their stubbornness was getting in the way. He saw that many of his team members were not good at listening or seeing the possibilities in others' ideas. Our client was facing a situation where everyone on his team would walk into a meeting thinking they had the best possible idea and would be unwilling to accept anyone else’s ideas, or even work with one another. Our exercises helped this group see the big picture and experience firsthand the value of what it means to truly listen.

7. Better Brainstorming  

This is something we typically do with ad agencies; they’re in the business of both generating and executing creative ideas. They bring us in to add value to the ideation process.

We usually do this in two ways. Our half-day UCB Brainstorming Intensive is structured as a writers’-room roundtable. An agency typically brings three to five creative professionals to the table; we provide three to four writers/comedians and a UCB moderator to run the session. A full-day UCB Brainstorming Intensive includes improv workshops where we use improv exercises and techniques to solve for the creative challenge or question. We then move to a roundtable format to continue generating, evaluating and building out ideas.  

If you have a specific challenge and need help with your team, let us know. We’d love to talk to you about how improv can help. Get in touch at SayHello@UCBindustries.com.

8th Annual NBCU/UCBTNY Diversity Scholarship



NBCU is offering scholarships for students to take classes at The UCB Theatre Training Center in NYC.  A live “Finalists Showcase” will take place in August at The UCB Theatre for 10 finalists selected by the Artistic Director of the UCB Theatre NY and NBCU. The 2018 Diversity Scholar will be selected by both UCBT and NBCU executives based on the performances at the showcase. 

The scholarship recipient must be located in or around New York City. The recipient will be responsible for their own transportation costs to and from New York City for classes. The recipient may use the scholarship towards any UCB Training Center class they are eligible for (based on availability).  


This scholarship seeks to celebrate voices that are underrepresented in professional comedy jobs. Unfortunately, that tends to be anyone who isn't a straight white male in their 20s. So, we invite all performers, particularly women and people from diverse backgrounds less commonly seen on the comedy stages of NYC, who are currently house performers at an improv theater or have completed a core improv course at a recognized longform improv theatre/school to apply. In other words, this scholarship is not for beginners, but for folks with some comedy experience already under their belt. 



Diversity Scholarship Finalist Showcase Date: Thursday August 16th, 7pm, UCBT East Village 

--semi-finalists will be notified by August 3rd; semi-finalists will audition for NBCU and UCBT in a private audition August 10th, Time TBD; finalists to perform at public showcase will be chosen from this private semi-finalist audition. All days/times are subject to change


All applicants must completely and correctly fill out this Google Form (https://goo.gl/forms/1fgDJFmdZjCpk1aM2) and include ALL of the following materials:  


Create a 3 minutes or less video showing us who you are. It must include the following:

30 Seconds or less, tell us why you think you are a good candidate for the scholarship. 

Remaining time should consist of 3-5 characters performed by you. The video does not have to be professionally edited, bells and whistles are not necessary. The Characters performed can be in front of an audience,  filmed in your home or elsewhere. Material must be written by you. Do what you think best shows us your range and talent. 

Videos longer than 3 minutes will not be watched and will disqualify you from consideration.

Video format: 

Link to performance, YouTube preferred

Do NOT send a link/format that requires downloading (like YouSendIt, dropbox etc). 

Do NOT send a password protected or private link 

If you want your video to be watched and considered, follow these rules! 


A performance resume or a list of your performance or comedy background. Please specify which core improv program you have completed, and/or the theater where you currently perform.

Do NOT send a file to download or a link to a file to download. 


You must fill in all requested contact information. 


You must provide info on where you have studied improv. 

Google Form must be completely and correctly filled in or your submission will not be taken into consideration. Here is a link to the form again: https://goo.gl/forms/1fgDJFmdZjCpk1aM2

If you have any questions that have not been answered above, you can email UCBTNY Artistic Director Shannon O’Neill:  spo at ucbcomedy dot com. Please use the Subject:  NBCU/UCBT Scholarship_your name 

PLEASE NOTE: This is not the UCB NY Training Center Diversity Scholarship. For information on that go to - https://newyork.ucbtrainingcenter.com/diversity

We look forward to your submissions!

UCB Partners with New Game Sculptapalooza

Award-winning toy and game manufacturer Educational Insights® (EI) has partnered with Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre to create original content including a commercial, webisode, and instructional video, in support of the launch of EI's brand-new, party game, Sculptapalooza™.

Designed for four or more players, Sculptapalooza offers a squishy new twist on traditional party games and challenges players to sculpt whatever's shown on the cards they draw using squishy, squashy Playfoam® (included). As players race against the clock to sculpt and guess in categories like Straight Up Sculpt, Put It on Your Face, Just Close Your Eyes, Playfoam Props and Sculptor's Choice, Sculptapalooza takes grown-up game night to the next level.

As part of the partnership, performers from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre hit the streets of New York City to play the game with unsuspecting men and women around town—and filmed the interactions.

UCB Creative Director Nathan Russell says, "This game is spontaneous, silly, and is a ton of fun to play. As improv comedians we felt right at home. And working with the EI team was a delight and a true collaboration from start to finish."

To get your own Sculptapalooza game, head over to Educational Insights now.

Report from the Upright Citizens Brigade: 5 Millennial Trends


Millennials and Generation Z are known to embrace, re-invent and pioneer a multitude of attitudes and behaviors. We see it firsthand at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Our four theaters feature a slew of up-and-coming young performers who develop their voices and professional skills at our training centers. We also utilize this talent to produce content for agencies, brands and media companies, and our touring company performs at colleges nationwide, often getting to know students after the show. Like agencies, we are constantly thinking about our audiences: who they are, what they are thinking and how best to connect with them. Here are five trends our business development and branded content teams have noticed within our own community, and younger communities at large.

Living by Committee

It’s no secret that a personal recommendation is the best recommendation. Young people have taken this to an extreme: advice and recommendations are being crowdsourced among entire groups of friends. Where should I eat? What should I watch? Who knows a good therapist?  Pose a question to your friends and followers, and they’ll all chime in. The most popular or well-reasoned decision is then yours to act upon.

It’s less about what an individual authority recommends (e.g., a columnist) and more about what the crowd, or someone you trust within it, says to do. After all, why struggle through a decision when someone else has already done it for you? Best-case scenario: you get the desired outcome quickly and easily. Worst-case scenario: you get to blame someone else for your mistake.

First Among Friends

Whenever a new movie or album drops, we’re seeing even the most casual of fans rush to watch or listen to that content first. There are few reasons for this. First, people want to get their hot take out there—and being first extends a certain authority and even credit for originality of opinion, no matter how many other people share that opinion down the road. Conversations swirl endlessly around the next big thing, and falling behind in content consumption on the internet can cause anxiety.  

But it’s not just FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). The latest movies, books and music videos are a shorthand through which people discuss and interpret current events -- hence the generation of countless memes. If you’re out of the loop, internet conversations can be lonely and confusing.

And, when it comes to TV and movies, no one wants to be the person who says, “Can we not talk about this? I haven’t seen it yet.”

The Second Coming of YOLO

Though the phrase has been popular for at least seven years, the common perception that “the world could end at any moment, so we have to do something fun right away” has given it a new resonance. We’re seeing friends and colleagues more focused on the here and now, as well as doing things that make them happy, in spite of what the future may hold. Less planning, more spontaneity.

One of our team members shared, “None of my friends have retirement accounts—and they are not all comedians.” He continued: “People are more interested in traveling, doing drugs, things they like, because there is a general feeling of, ‘this could all end; our president could get our whole country bombed."

IRL is Back

After years of swiping left and right, the dating app craze finally looks like it’s winding down. After meeting dozens of people who can best be described as “fine, I guess,” most of the people we’re observing have decided to go back to meeting people in real life. If you ask a twenty-something what dating apps they have on their phone, they’ll name two or three before adding, “But I don’t really use them anymore.”

Most people are less and less eager to slog through dozens of okay-but-kinda-boring dates just for the slim chance of meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right. The consensus seems to be that it’s better to wait until you just happen to find them through whatever series of unlikely coincidences.

Where Nobody Knows My Name: Anonymous Communities on the Rise

Reddit remains the 4th most visited website in the United States. Discord, a chat client intended for online gamers, has drawn 90 million users as of 2017 with ~1.5 million users per week -- with a growing percentage of the company’s servers being used for non-gaming activities like fandom communities, shared interest groups, “Discord Hangouts” with online personalities, and even stock trading and fantasy football.

The appeal is twofold. First, anonymity frees users from the anxiety over your words or interests falling under the scrutiny of an employer or other IRL connections. Second, the performative nature of Facebook, Instagram and most other popular social media networks is eschewed in favor of genuine interaction with the communities users join into. In other words, you can shoot the shit or have focused conversations rather than fishing for likes and/or retweets.

Deidre Sullivan is the head of brand strategy at Upright Citizens Brigade. She can be reached at Deidre@UCBComedy.com