It’s that time of year again: the week when improvisers from across the globe gather in New York for 56 consecutive hours of shows (and parties) sponsored by the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. The 15th annual Del Close Marathon promises to be the biggest yet, with 420 slots featuring house teams from the country’s best theaters (including iO and Second City), indie favorites (like LA’s Shakedown and NYC’s Gadget), reunions (fwand and Mother!), supergroups (Let’s Have A Ball, TourCo Allstars), and, of course, plenty of late night insanity (three words: Match. Game. 76.).
It’s a lot to take in, but we’re here to help.
If you won’t be in New York this weekend, you don’t have to feel left out – shows will be streaming live on Sirius XM’s UCB Radio station. If you’re making the trip, there are a few 2013 updates to note:
If this is your first DCM, it might sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Know that no matter how committed you are, you won’t get to see everything, so don’t get too stressed planning your schedule. One of the best things about DCM is that, wherever you go, you’re likely to see something great, so if a line looks hopelessly long just head elsewhere — I’ve discovered some of my favorite teams, and seen some mind-blowing new formats, completely unexpectedly.
That said, the official DCM app does an amazing job of organizing the lineup and letting you create your own schedule. Since the festival features hundreds of the best teams from around the world, there’s a lot to choose from — here are just a few highlights and personal favorites:
SENTIMENTAL LADY (Friday 5:30pm, UCB Chelsea): This masterful team builds a set from an audience member’s confessed “guilty pleasure.”
BASSPROV (Friday 6:15pm, Hudson Guild): Joe Bill and Mark Sutton (and, usually, Matt Walsh) take a fishing trip together.
WINSLOW (Friday 7pm, UCB East): One of UCBLA’s newest, and most fun, house teams.
IMPROVBOSTON ALLSTARS (Friday 8pm, UCB East): Faculty and featured players from Boston’s best-known improv institution.
JOHN VELVET (Friday 9:30pm, UCB Chelsea): Though they’re a UCBLA Harold team, John Velvet’s also known for their recent exploration of the macroscene.
COLDTOWNE (Friday 11pm, UCB East): The tourco from Austin’s acclaimed training center always has an amazing, high-energy set.
TEAM FINLAND: VSOP (Saturday 1:30pm, UCB Chelsea): From their matching outfits to their bilingual scenes, Team Finland (from, yes, Finland) are enthralling.
THE CURFEW (Saturday 8pm, UCB Chelsea): The cast of The Curfew creates an entire town from an audience member’s memories.
BANGARANG (Saturday 8:30pm, UCB Chelsea): One of the quickest, most connected teams in the game.
REUBEN STARSHIP (Saturday 9pm, UCB Chelsea): A historic New York group that’s (mostly) moved West, with Eugene Cordero, Katie Dippold, Anthony King, Chris Kula, Charlie Todd, and Joe Wengert.
AIRWOLF (Saturday 10:30pm, UCB Chelsea): A weekend team at UCB East, Airwolf’s cast includes some of the theater’s sharpest performers (and also Splitsider editor Adam Frucci).
MISTER DIPLOMAT (Sunday 2:30pm, UCB Chelsea): Formerly the flagship show at North Carolina’s DSI Theater, currently operating out of ImprovBoston, Mister Diplomat can make amazing things from monologues.
SHAKEDOWN (Sunday 3:30pm, UCB Chelsea): One of the teams that helped found the LA Indie Improv Fest, Shakedown’s completely fearless.
HIP HOP PENGUIN (Sunday 6pm, UCB East): If you think hip hop, motivational speaking, and improv don’t mix, think again.
CONVOY (Friday 9:30pm, UCB East; Saturday 9:30pm, SVA Beatrice): Alex Berg, Todd Fasen, and Alex Fernie have been performing together for years, and it definitely shows onstage.
Is there anything more magical than two people who are totally in sync, doing scenes together? Not during DCM.
APPLES & ORANGES (Friday 6pm, UCB Chelsea): Jon Glaser & Matt Walsh
KEMPSAS (Friday 9pm, SVA Silas): Christina Gausas & Ellie Kemper
TWO MAN MOVIE (Friday 11pm, SVA Beatrice): Anthony Atamaniuk & Neil Casey
PUZZLES (Saturday 4pm, T80): Alex Fernie & Deborah Tarica
BURGLARS (Saturday 5:30pm, Hudson Guild): Anthony King & Zach Woods
THE BROTHERS HINES (Saturday 9pm, UCB East): Kevin Hines & Will Hines
MANTZOUKAS AND MORRIS (Saturday 6pm, UCB Chelsea): Jason Mantzoukas & Seth Morris
UCB showcases some of its in-house talent with these faculty teams.
ADEEZ NUTZ (Friday 7pm, UCB Chelsea): What do Alex Berg, Matt Besser, Owen Burke, Nate Dern, Anthony King, Seth Morris, and Kevin Mullaney have in common? They’ve all been Artistic Directors at the UCB Theatre, and they’re all doing improv together for the first time in this show.
UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE (Saturday 7:15pm, UCB Chelsea): Of course you don’t want to miss a chance to see the original UCB lineup – Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh – on their own stage.
HOT FOR TEACHER (Saturday 7:30pm, UCB East): Featuring teachers from the UCBNY training center.
THE FACULTY (Saturday 8pm, UCB East): Samesies, but from UCBLA.
TOURCO ALLSTARS (Saturday 8pm, SVA Beatrice): A few of the performers who regularly represent the theater at festivals and colleges around the country.
Only at DCM
Some things you don’t get to see everyday.
FWAND (Friday 7:30pm, SVA Silas): This all-star group – reunited for one night only – features Dominic Dierkes, Jon Gabrus, Sean Hart, Kevin Hines, Ellie Kemper, Shannon O’Neill, Gil Ozeri, and Greg Tuculescu.
MOTHER (Friday 10:30pm, SVA Silas): The historic team (which includes Jason Mantzoukas and Jessica St. Clair) will be performing The Soundtrack, one of the formats they helped develop.
NICK KROLL AND FRIENDS (Saturday 7:30pm, Haft Auditorium): A rare opportunity to see sketch and character master Kroll get back to his improv roots.
MIKE BIRBIGLIA’S DREAM (Saturday 11pm, UCB Chelsea): Scenes inspired by stories from the standup / Sleepwalk With Me author and filmmaker.
KROMPF (Sunday 10am, UCB Chelsea): The Krompf Breakfast – where the team, which has been together for a dozen years, serves the early morning audience – is always a highlight.
LA VS NY (Sunday 10:15am, UCB East): Finally, a definitive end to the debate, as decided by a massive number of improvisers from both coasts.
SANDINO (Saturday 10pm, UCB East): While former UCB Harold team Sandino only recently disbanded, this is definitely a highly anticipated reunion.
THE TONY AND JOHNNY SHOW SHOW (Sunday 3:30pm, UCB East): Anthony Atamaniuk and John Gemberling are back together for another installment of this character-driven variety show.
WE CAN FIX YOU (Sunday 6:15pm, UCB Chelsea): One of the most sincere, transformative things you’ll see all weekend, a show where Ian Roberts – whose philosophical approach to comedy makes him an especially insightful advice-giver – attempts to solve audience members’ personal problems (this shit tends to get real – in the past, Roberts has helped people facing illness and abuse, among other things. Comedy!)
After midnight, things get pretty crazy, with UCB Chelsea (and, this year, UCB East) featuring 15-minute “bit shows” based on the most ridiculous premises possible. The bigger improv nerd you are, the more you’re gonna love late night DCM.
STRAIGHT MEN (Saturday 12:45am, UCB Chelsea): In which every player attempts to out-normal the others.
INSIDE THE MASTER CLASS (Saturday 1am, UCB Chelsea): Theater founder Matt Besser leads a handful of students through some rigorous (and ridiculous) exercises.
TEACHING TRANSACTION SCENES IN WHICH THE PEOPLE DON’T KNOW EACH OTHER (Saturday 4:45am, UCB Chelsea): Celebrating the best kinds of scenes, all at once.
THE WALKONAGAINS (Saturday 7:45am, UCB Chelsea): Where tons of walk-ons are welcome, even encouraged.
THE PERFECT SUGGESTION (Saturday 9am, UCB East): We find out once and for all which word inspires the best improv.
HEY EVERYONE GET IN HERE (Sunday 5:15am, UCB East): Group scenes that begin with the subtle line, “Hey everyone, get in here!”
GOODFELLAS IN 15 MINUTES (Saturday 1:15am, UCB Chelsea): Owen Burke gets very, very drunk and attempts to reenact the entirety of Goodfellas in 15 minutes.
UCBW (Saturday 2:30am, UCB East): Like breakdance fighting, except with comedy wrestlers performing a competitive Harold.
MATCH GAME 76 (Sunday 1:30am, UCB Chelsea): One of the weekend’s rowdiest shows, Match Game 76 – in which Paul Scheer channels Gene Rayburn – features dozens of vintage characters played by high-profile performers.
WICKED FUCKIN QUEEYAH (Sunday 2am, UCB Chelsea): Nobody knows how to party – or do improv – like a bunch of fuckin’ kids from Southie.
PIE BABIES (Saturday 3am, UCB Chelsea): We have no idea what this is about, but with a cast that includes Adam Pally, Gil Ozeri, John Gemberling, Dan Black, Gavin Speiller, and more, it’ll definitely be amazing.
ALEX FERNIE’S CHAMPAGNE ROOM (Saturday 3:15am, UCB Chelsea): Witness the Sentimental Lady / Convoy member (and NTSF director) receive a series of horrifying(ly funny) lap dances.
( ) (Saturday 7am, UCB Chelsea): An experimental, free-form, philosophical set from whichever cast members manage to make it to the 7am slot.
DRUNKEN SONIC ASSAULT (Sunday 3:30am, UCB Chelsea): Pure mayhem from Matt Besser.
THE 15 MINUTE SOUND AND MOVEMENT (Sunday 4:30am, UCB Chelsea): An organic game fueled by alcohol and sleep deprivation.
THE ONE MAN SOUND AND MOVEMENT (Sunday 4:45am, UCB Chelsea): Immediately following the group sound and movement, Don Fanelli will attempt to keep the energy going.
BEGINNINGS (Saturday 1pm, UCB East): Wrestling Team talks comedy careers with a few special guests.
IMPROV4HUMANS (Saturday 2pm & 4pm, UCB East): Like last year, improv4humans host Matt Besser will host a rotating cast of improvisers all afternoon.
…and that’s just a fraction of the DCM lineup. Which shows will you be waiting in line for? Give us your recommendations (and DCM pro tips) in the comments!
The 15th annual Del Close Marathon kicks off Friday, June 28 at 4 p.m. and runs until midnight on Sunday, June 30. Wristbands are $30 and will be available at all festival venues; tickets for premium shows are available online, and registration is open for over a dozen DCM workshops.