Arts & Events

Upright Citizens Brigade brings humor to daily student life

Our very own Schneebeck stage was graced with talented performers for a rousing evening of off-the-script comedy two Saturdays ago, on Sept. 22. Three members of the prestigious Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) comedy troupe provided a much-appreciated weekend break in which the lofty thinking Puget Sound students could engage, standing by their troupe motto: Don’t Think.
UCB is an improvisational comedy troupe based in New York City and Los Angeles, producing such established comedians as Amy Poehler, Jack McBrayer, Ed Helms, Bobby Moynihan and many more. The group has theaters in both New York and Los Angeles in addition to a phenomenal national touring troupe, such as the one that stopped by our campus last week, thanks to ASUPS Cultural Events programming.
These comedians performed one hour of “Long Form” improvisational comedy, in which short scenes are interrelated by theme to create a cohesive product.
Although common themes and topics remain consistent throughout the performance, the entirety of the show is composed on the spot without preparation. This craft is honed and practiced as rigorously as any other theatrical skill, and is a standard launching pad for a majority of successful comedic careers.
Our very own improv team, Ubiquitous They, opened the show, providing their usual silliness in several rousing games. The four brave men, Nathan Little, Andrew Kittrell, Jeff Nichols and Kevin Inouye did the University proud by supplying a heaping dose of witty, fast-paced comedy. Their comedy, usually confined to Club Rendezvous every other Friday night, took to the big stage for this event.
The three UCB performers entered the stage humbly, immediately including the audience in the development of the show. As they entered the stage, the house lights rose so that the audience was no longer an anonymous blend of faces but individuals whose ideas would shape the product of the show.
They began by asking who did something interesting that day, and took a couple examples. A round of voting-by-clapping determined camel-petting as the most interesting, and the purveyor of that story was called up on the stage.
They chatted casually about the details of this event, revealing a day spent avoiding homework at the Puyallup Fair. The student was dismissed back to the audience, and the performers launched immediately into their act. They began by incorporating the theme of avoiding homework, by setting up a scene in which a library has run completely dry of books due to an eccentric and frustrated college student, leaving only Clifford the Big Red Dog and other children’s books available for checkout.
This scene transitioned into themes such as a grossly and hysterically generalized perception of Puyallup Fair-goers, the comedically unfortunate professional life of a funeral director and the story of the birds and the bees being expressed through the metaphor of a camping expedition.
The performers then requested read-alouds of ridiculous text messages sent and received by students. The performers would take the content of the message and turn it into a scene, to the delight of the crowd and particularly the recipient of the text.
The crowd was engaged by their own lives being put on the stage and the comedy within them becoming apparent. Picking up on this, the performers made a series of jokes relatable to students at Puget Sound, such as questionable social situations and over-emphasized hometown pride.
This highly personal show drew comedy directly from the busy and often stressful lives of students, bringing a fresh start to the coming week. Students will remember this show each time they hear of the legendary Puyallup Fair, receive a notably ridiculous text message or perhaps find themselves questioning the true meanings of “camping” trips.