del close marathon

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You’re Getting a Del: New Doc Gets Up Close With Father of Improv

Still from Thank You Del

Still from Thank You Del

“Watching people struggle to create something on the spot is as much the joy as the joke.” —Todd Bieber

Chances are you’ve never heard of Del Close—and if you have, it’s probably a fair indication that you spend a lot of time watching, practicing, or thinking about improvisation. Not the kind where you have to quickly make up an excuse for your boss about why you’re late for work, or invent the name of a non-existent dive bar to throw your bestie off the scent of what you really did last night—no, we’re talking “improv,” the word bandied around to apply to a collection of theatrical training games that has become an entertainment form in its own right and made millionaires out of many of your comedy favorites. Some of them, including Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Mike Myers, John Belushi, and Chris Farley, studied, at one time or another, under a man named Del Close.

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‘Poehler Late and Irate’ at UCB’s Del Close Marathon Kickoff

UCB 4 From left: Matt Walsh, Amy Poehler, Mass Besser, Ian Roberts. (photo: Rob Scher)

UCB 4 From left: Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Amy Poehler & Mass Walsh. (photo: Rob Scher)

A scattering of camera-wielding press members sat in a darkened Upright Citizens Brigade theater last Friday, awaiting the arrival of the UCB 4 (founders Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh) and the start of the 17th Del Close Marathon “press conference.” This was, of course, a rather loose term for what unfolded, as minutes prior to the start, an improv-enthused audience flooded the theater, swallowing the “press” whole.

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Sigh, Amy Poehler Made Fun of Our Name (And a Whole Lot More From DCM)

Amy Poehler at the DCM presser. (Photo: Anna Silman)

Amy Poehler at the DCM presser. (Photo: Anna Silman)

UCB: Besser, Poehler, Roberts and Walsh. (Photo: Anna Silman)

UCB: Besser, Poehler, Roberts and Walsh. (Photo: Anna Silman)

Roberts and Besser. (Photo: Anna Silman)

Roberts and Besser. (Photo: Anna Silman)

Besser, Poehler and Walsh at the DCM presser.

Besser, Poehler and Walsh at the DCM presser.

Poehler and Besser. (Photo: Anna Silman)

Poehler and Besser. (Photo: Anna Silman)

Ellie Kemper (Photo: Anna Silman)

Ellie Kemper (Photo: Anna Silman)

Zach Woods (Photo: Anna Silman)

Zach Woods (Photo: Anna Silman)

Our best paparazzi shot of new beaus Amy Poehler and Nick Kroll

Our best paparazzi shot of new beaus Amy Poehler and Nick Kroll

Cera and Poehler in Gravid Water (Photo: Joshua Encinias)

Cera and Poehler in Gravid Water (Photo: Joshua Encinias)

Louie C.K. performs at ASSSSCAT (Photo: Tom Meyer)

Louie C.K. performs at ASSSSCAT (Photo: Tom Meyer)

The 56-hour comedy extravaganza known as the Del Close Marathon took place over the weekend. For the improv nerds amongst us, this was the chance to see some of the country’s most talented improv comedians performing at the height of their craft. For the more casual viewer, it was a chance to stalk celebrities, not to mention a whole lot of hey-you-look-familiar faces, running the gamut from Apatow-film-cameo to “that guy from The Office.” Here’s what we took away from it all.

Amy Poehler is busy as hell:
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Don’t Even Think About Asking These Improv Legends to Do ‘Real Housewives’

(Photo: Facebook, Baby Wants Candy)

As mentioned in this week’s comedy roundup, the 15th annual Del Close Marathon kicks off this Friday, with 56 straight hours of improvised comedy taking place across 7 stages throughout the city, including East Village’s own UCB East theater and Theater 80 on St. Marks Place.

There’s reason to range beyond the Bedford + Bowery borders, as well: Baby Wants Candy — the long-running, Chicago-based improvised musical — is one of the most beloved institutions within the improv world and a Marathon fixture, having played over 1,700 shows worldwide.
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