by Liv Ryan
This past weekend marked the 20th anniversary of UCB's Del Close Marathon (DCM), an improv festival that featured more 750 shows over 72 hours on 11 different stages. This theatrical spectacle celebrates the legacy of improv legend Del Close, an instructor and mentor to the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade, among other comedy stars.
With so many shows, this year’s festival was largest yet. Theaters were open all night. Lines curled around the city blocks. And the excitement was palpable, even with summer temperatures soaring over 100 degrees.
There was also a heightened sense of nostalgia; next year, DCM will leave New York and take place in Los Angeles. Many thousands of beloved improvisers, comedy fanatics and inspired newbies have come through the festival over the years, with countless friendships and memories made along the way. The following are just a few.
by Connor Ratliff
UCB’s very own Connor Ratliff (Search Party, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) reflects on his DCM experience, starting from 10 years ago, and how it has evolved. Ratliff reveals that he has a special place in his heart for the super-late-night bit shows, which, in his words, "range from 'madcap brilliance' to 'unwatchable slow-motion train wreck,' and you never can predict it based on the title or the listed cast.”
Ratliff captures DCM's special way of forcing you to open yourself up to the unexpected and creating a sense of community, making it profoundly different any other theatrical experience.
By Lara Zarum
To kick off this year's DCM, UCB founders Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, Matt Besser and Amy Poehler, along with other titans like Tina Fey, performed the legendary ASSSSCAT show at Carnegie Hall. This oral history chronicles the show from its conception in Chicago all the way to its move to New York City, as told by the UCB Four, Andy Daly, Horatio Sanz, Chris Gethard, and other comedy greats. It hearkens back to an electric time in improv history, including our own grungy beginnings.
by Aja Hoggatt
Entertainment Weekly's coverage of the Carnegie Hall ASSSSCAT performance features some of the best photos we’ve seen of the event, which include Rachel Dratch, Horatio Sanz and Tina Fey along with the UCB founders. ASSSSCAT is a longform improv show which begins with a monologue spurred by an audience suggestion. Established by the founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade, ASSSSCAT has remained a staple at both our New York and L.A. theaters for 22 years.
by Ale Russian
People's coverage of the 20th anniversary show includes a statement from Poehler reflecting on the road UCB has taken her: “Twenty years ago we started doing improv in a bar where we could barely hear each other… Now we are going to do our show at Carnegie Hall where, you can hear a pin drop. New York has been pretty good to us.”
Matt Walsh, Sasheer Zamata, and More on Their Favorite Del Close Marathon Memories • Vulture
by Katla McGlynn
Vulture's exhaustive collection of UCB improvisers' favorite DCM memories range from the absurd to the sentimental. There's Matt Besser’s recollection of “watching Rob Riggle turn “[John] Gemberling and [Chris] Gethard into a sandwich and pinning their heads to the floor,” and the sense of community that Jason Mantzoukas found in break-of-dawn improv shows. Together they capture the joy, the hilarity, and the beautiful chaos of the Del Close Marathon.
Liv Ryan is a comedian and an intern at Upright Citizens Brigade. She currently attends Wesleyan University.