Preview: Piccolos Upright Citizens Brigade
BY KELUNDRA SMITH
Special to The Post and Courier
New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) is staging laughter at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, with two shows this year. The regular UCB Touring Company show and the “Two Man Movie” are a part of this year’s offerings at Theatre 99, which has taken part in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival since 2001.
Brandy Sullivan, co-owner and co-artistic director of Theatre 99, said it was always a goal to invite the best improvisation acts to be a part of the festival, and UCB Touring Co. has been coming for eight years. Theatre 99 specializes in comedy, and hosts an annual Charleston Comedy Festival.
The UCB Touring Co. usually does two sets that include audience participation, where the word “apple” can become dinnertime conversation, or they look through an audience member’s purse and ask about its contents.
The two companies have created a mutually beneficial relationship, where UCB suggests acts for Theatre 99, and Theatre 99 extends an open invitation to UCB to come to Charleston any time. UCB company members also have taught workshops to local improv actors, and this year’s classes on June 9 are sold-out.
Anthony Atamanuik and Neil Casey are two company members who have taught workshops in the past, and they will be doing performances of their “Two Man Movie” on June 6 and 7. In this “Two Man Movie,” done without set, props, costumes or cameras, audience suggestions are used to create a scenario. The actors create a live movie, where they announce opening credits and set up hypothetical camera angles.
This is the first time UCB will have two shows as part of Piccolo Spoleto.
The Brigade was founded in Chicago, in 1996, by comedic heavy-hitters Matt Besser (of “Reno 911!”), Amy Poehler (of “Parks and Recreation”), Ian Roberts (of “Arrested Development”) and Matt Walsh (of “Veep”), with the goal of bringing high-quality comedic experiences to improv enthusiasts, for low prices. The company’s name is derived from the title of an original show they did before expanding to New York and Los Angeles.
“It’s an hour and a half of silly, improvised, long-form comedy,” Carter Edwards, UCB’s Touring Manager said. “For anyone who has seen improv, this is the best you’ll see, and for people who haven’t seen improv this is a show you’ll never forget.”
Kelundra Smith is a Newhouse School graduate student.