Del Close Marathon 8 Wrapup

In total, I spent 14 hours at the 8th Annual Del Close Improv Marathon. I took in 26 shows across two days, and as can be expected, that much improv leads to one being a bit overloaded. It is hard to look back over that much hilarity and remember individual bits, suggestions given, scenes edited, etc.

But with that said, here are my best attempts at something resembling awards. I should note that these distinctions are only for the shows I saw – I am unable to praise that which I was not in attendance for. The 26 shows were (in chronological order): Kid Dervin, Death League Tea Party, Asia-Town, Neely O’hara, Pax Romana, Rogue Elephant, B-Roll, Primal Bias, I Eat Pandas, Mister Diplomat, Delaney & Merrit: Omlette Vision, The Upright Citizens Brigade, The Academy, Krompf Breakfast, The Improvised Mystery, Ugly Stick, Pearl Brunswick, Flux Capacitor, KNC, Dr. Fantastic, BirdDog, Scheer-McBrayer, The Swarm, Fivesome, MySpace, and Walsh & Roberts.

I should also note that I’m effectively giving one award to every group I really enjoyed. This isn’t to say the ones that didn’t get awards weren’t enjoyable (although a few were not), but these were the real standouts.


The Swarm
What can be said about the veterans? Fast paced, great teamwork, and even a bit of wall breaking. Semantic arguments have never been so much fun. It’s a damn shame they don’t perform anymore.


I Eat Pandas
Mark my words: Glennis, Eliza, and Travis are going to be – if somehow they are not already – the next huge act out of NYC.


Upright Citizens Brigade
Besides the previously mentioned accident: there was trying to jump the cooler over a ramp constructed out of plywood and Ian Roberts. There was Matt Walsh destroying a chair for no reason. There was a six person beer drinking contest. There was a two person banana eating contest, which had a fight on the cooler in the middle of it. There were scenes with nazis and six year old girl hockey pucks.


Krompf Breakfast
Fresh bacon, lots of OJ, bagels, eggs with scallions, and unlimited Bloody Mary refills? KROMPF! Also, the improv was good too!


Flux Capacitor
Flux revisits the same situation from multiple locations. It worked better than I expected, with some great running jokes and unintended hilarity.


Dr. Fantastic
Inspiration used for horrible jokes, and then doing scenes off of those? WHAT A TWIST! No, seriously, it was a good twist.


The Pearl Brunswick
Nothing will make you pay attention like five gifted women singing with all their might.


Out of all the morning teams I saw, Asia-Town ran away with my personal laugh count. Given that I was groggy as shit at that time, this says something.


Walsh And Roberts
Is sour cream a garnish? They argued for 15 minutes, and I’m still not entirely sure.


(given to one performer who stands out across multiple groups, as Jen did last year)

Tim Curcio – holy shit, he was everywhere, and he was great! Go Tim!


The Six Words Of Comedic Death

“Hey, do you guys like comedy?”

If you’ve ever walked through (or near) Times Square in the evening, you’ve undoubtedly heard this phrase. Every night, countless young adults aspiring to be the next big thing in comedy come out in droves trying to sucker tourists into coming to a comedy club. Every time I see a group wandering from shop to shop get suckered into talking to one of these poor souls, my heart aches for them. I want to walk up and shake them free of the poor comedian who will get an extra thirty seconds of stage time if he manages to sell them tickets. But my personal experience has always been limited; I have never in fact been to one of the comedy tourist traps that grace our fair city.

Last night changed this; last night, the shape of the NYC comedy scene finally became perfectly clear in my eyes. Take the post that follows as a warning, as a guide, and maybe even as light entertainment. And please, do not take it as an indictment against particular clubs, or acts, or even the poor folks who hawk tickets on Times Square; this is more a rant against what mainstream comedy apparently entails these days.


Del Close Marathon Review: Saturday 2:30-7:00

Katie and I today sat through four and a half hours of the [Del Close Improv Marathon]( today. Before this week, I can’t actually recall ever going to a single improv event – but now I’ve had a lengthy taste, and I’ll admit that despite a few missteps, I’m hungry for more. Some quick reviews of the groups I saw today (with pictures that are horrible due to my lack of using flash):

### [Aphasia](

Quite funny, plus a little creepy. Good thematic linking between scenes, good flow, all around enjoyable.

### [The Red Shirt Freshmen](

Funny guys. Had a wonderful bit about spending too much time at Best Buy which I’m going to nick a line from for my rotating byline thing.

### [Corporation, Inc.](

Killed me, absolutely killed me. *Corporation, Inc* is improv with a theme – it’s based at some nebulous workplace and all the roles and scenes are improved with that in mind. With a topic so easy to relate to, the scenes linked naturally and everything just clicked. Definitely my favorite out of those that we saw.

### [Chairs](

At first I was a little worried about Chairs, as they played a round of musical chairs and then just sat and improved some character descriptions about people in a high school – but once they got up and out of the chairs, and actually did some scenes, it clicked very well.

Worth noting: Both Corporation Inc. and Chairs featured Jen Malinsky, who in my eyes, stole the show – at least for the time I was there. She completely dove into her characters and really added even more life to a solid hour of improv. Jen, if you’re out there – you rock.

### Mission IMPROVable

> Dear Mission IMPROVable,
> You seem to be under the impression that, when you don’t have any ideas for a scene, you can all run around making strange noises for what seems like an eternity and this will satisfy the audience. I would beg to differ. You guys had something in those last two minutes, with the Vinny Barbarino thing, but the first twenty-eight minutes were lacking.
> Sincerely, Dan Dickinson

### [American Dream](

I was shocked to hear that American Dream were going to be doing, of all bits, Party Quirks – I thought they were being ironic mentioning it, but no, they really went through with the *Who’s Line* standard. The three quirks tossed out by the audience were “guy who won’t stop talking about the weekend”, “girl who can’t stop doing the chicken dance”, and “guy who has a vagina grafted onto his hand”.

Somehow, it worked terribly well – it only took about twelve minutes to get all the quirks guessed, but then they kept going and made a whole complete scene out of it. It was a bit refreshing by this point to have a single scene long-form improv, and there were some really terrible (read: funny) lines in here.

### Delaney & Merritt’s Omlette Vision

Michael Delaney and Billy Merritt worked around some boxes and chairs that were randomly placed by the audience. I was about 50/50 on this one; some of the bits were good and some were just fair. Enjoyable, but compared to some of the other acts I saw, just not really up there.

### [Upright Citizens Bridgade](

This is what we were holding out for – an hour of the original UCB cast, doing…whatever. Three major things stick out about their time on stage:

– The opening bits were entirely derailed by the cast noticing a girl in the front row was writing in a notebook. Confused, they asked her to hand over the notebook so they could see what she was writing – she refused. They tried to guess what she did for a living; they didn’t get it right. Finally, Matt Besser snuck up on her and stole the notebook – only to find she really wasn’t writing anything about the show.

– The stories they were trying to riff off of were strangely pained and overwrought – so much so that they ended up launching into scenes where they were having “UCB Meetings” to discuss how horrible they were. At least it was salvageable in a self-deprecating way.

– The set ended with them pleaing for someone to throw some pot on stage, as they were going to have an NYC vs. LA weed-off; they even shut the lights off to encourage anonymity. The only thing thrown on stage was a bottle of Ritalin. Looks like LA will win by default.