EPILOGUE: IMPROV EVERYWHERE
In 2005, the UCB opened a theater in West Hollywood that quickly became populated by UCB alumni who had gone to L.A. for work on such shows as Community, Parks and Recreation, and Childrens Hospital. The New York hub has grown to include two theaters, a training center, five touring troupes, and eight Harold teams. About 8,000 students are taking classes this year, on both coasts. On any given night, you can find a group flailing around the 26th Street basement, exposing their strangest comedic impulses (or worse).
GETHARD: It’s hard. Most of my best friends live 3,000 miles away.
DELANEY: When all your colleagues up and leave, it’s a huge bummer. [But] it does make room for new blood. It’s a built-in graduation system.
MOYNIHAN: Every single one of the people on my first Harold team is now working in television. I just got an e-mail about a job, and one of my old students wrote the script. Thank God I was nice to that guy.
CORDDRY: Megan Mullally—who’s on my show, Childrens Hospital—is consistently startled by how supportive the current comedy community is. And it’s largely to do with the UCB. The way they teach improv is to support your partner. If your partner looks good, you will look good by proxy.
GAROFALO: It’s a very democratic, very openhearted approach to group comedy. It’s a positive thing for any of the people that get involved in it, because you can apply that to your life.
ARMSTRONG: The UCB now is what the Second City was in 1980: If you make it there, you’re probably pretty good.
RICHTER: For the next 20, 30, 40 years in this country, the comedy that we will be purchasing as consumers will have some UCB on it.
JON GLASER, writer, Late Night With Conan O’Brien: I went and did [“ASSSSCAT”] a few [months] ago, and Matt Damon showed up.
DELANEY: The sketch-and-improv scene when I came to New York twenty years ago was anemic. Now it’s actually bloated.
POEHLER: Moving to New York and trying to get a show—oh my God, we were naive. But the great thing about taking big chances when you’re younger is you have less to lose, and you don’t know as much. So you take big swings.