Last week I made a pilgrimage to a comedy mecca: the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles.
Over the last decade, UCB has become the nation’s foremost breeding ground for funny people. Founding members Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh have opened three theaters — in New York and L.A. — that serve as showcases for cutting-edge comedy and training centers for new talent.
I went to eight shows at UCB’s 95-seat theater and was floored by the range of comedy and the immense talent on display. The intimate setting made it feel like I was watching my favorite sitcoms performed live in my own living room.
I saw “Community’s” Donald Glover and “House of Lies” co-star Ben Schwartz improvise scenes based on audience members’ worst jobs. I watched “Parks and Recreation” writer Harris Wittels do his first stand-up gig in six months. Casey Wilson of “Happy Endings” was alternately aghast and enthusiastic as she mocked clips of reality TV.
And this was just a random week in February. This level of comic talent is the norm at UCB. If we’re in the midst of another comedy renaissance, then surely UCB is the hub.