In comedy circles, like all pop cultural circles, there are a handful of meccas for obsessives to make pilgrimages to — Largo in Los Angeles, Saturday Night Live’s Studio 8H in New York, Chicago’s Improv Olympic — but the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York stands tall as comedy’s CBGB.
Opened by Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh in 1999, UCB’s style of comedy is righteously absurd — never saying no to the game, even (and especially) when the game takes them to wildly insane places. Like when the sketch about Besser stealing a Christian camp’s supply of bug juice devolves into the counselors (Roberts and Walsh) running over glass and ingesting poison to guilt him into confessing. (He never does.) For his part, Besser’s onstage madness is distinctly sharp, always cutting through to the inherent silliness of the situation. It’s impossible to say what audiences are in for, but Besser’s weird hilarity is assured.