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:
“I’m writing a book this summer and working on a show with my brother in Sweden, and then Parks starts up really fast,” the Parks & Rec actress told a group of reporters when asked about her summer plans. Could she tell us what the book was going to be about? “I could, but I still have to write it,” she laughed. “It’s about everything! Everything you wanted to know.” (Other Amy Poehler observations – she wears high-heeled Velcro sneakers. So: high-heeled velcro sneakers are officially cool).
She also thinks we have a funny name:
[After explaining what B+B is during the marathon’s opening press conference]
Poehler: And we’re also a bed and breakfast!
Filming Arrested Development season 4 was crazy (but awesome).
“It was an amazing experience cause it was crazy seat-of-the-pants,” said Ian Roberts, one of the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade and Arrested Development‘s “Literal Doctor.” “They had to film it in a really odd way, because they would get some cast member for three days and they just shot everything. So they would explain to me, ‘I know you’re just looking out an empty window, but actually Gob will be there.’ So it was very complicated, but fun.”
Both Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh are too modest about their doctor-playing abilities.
B+B: Who’s better at playing a doctor? [Walsh played a doctor in The Hangover and Martin & Orloff.]
Walsh: Ian Roberts
Roberts: Walsh, absolutely.
B+B: Who’s better at playing doctor?
Walsh: I don’t know! I’ve never played doctor with Ian.
Roberts: I’m going to go with Walsh, too. I’m going to give it all to him in this field.
Matt Walsh (Veep) is the only member of the Upright Citizens Brigade who will pimp out his teammates
B+B: Who would you fuck, marry and kill of the other UCB members?
Poehler: I don’t like that question!
Besser: I’m not gonna do that.
Roberts: I don’t want to answer that!
Walsh: Kill Besser. Marry Amy. Uh…. [pause] Fuck Ian? That’s interesting. Sure, fuck Ian. You painted me into a corner.
Rafi from The League’s impressive beard is that impressive in real life.
“For better or worse, Rafi just winds up looking like me how I’m looking at the time,” explained Jason Mantzoukas, sporting a majestic beard-fro. “So when I’m more clean cut he’s more clean cut, and when I look like a maniac he looks like a maniac. Whenever I show up to hair and makeup they’re always like oh aaaalright, this is just what you look like. There’s no makeup to Rafi.”
The controversy about UCB not paying their performers is “not really a thing.”
“I think the subject is kind of dead,” said Ian Roberts. “We just had an all-theater meeting and there’s not one person involved with our theater that has a problem with our policies. They know that we are pro-performer and the policies actually make it a better experience for performers.”
Likewise, according to UCB co-founder Matt Besser, rumors of the rift between stand-ups and improvisers has been greatly exaggerated. “I think it’s misunderstood that with UCB East we opened up a stand-up club. There’s like four shows there that are stand-up. The guy who started that whole thing [about UCB not paying their performers] doesn’t really care about it that much, he’s more of a guy that starts things on Facebook. So it’s not really a thing,” he explained. That being said, “UCB East is great. There’s a lot of good improv there.”
Zach Woods (The Office, In the Loop) is actually a nice guy, even though the characters he plays are habitually creepy.
B+B: How do you manage to be so quietly disturbing?
Woods: I guess if you’re just born with dead eyes and an unfortunate shaped skeleton it just takes care of itself.
B+B: How do you manage to stay so youthful looking? Do you have a portrait in your attic that ages for you?
Woods: I mean, I’m not gonna say definitively I have a portrait that’s aging for me, but draw your own conclusions.
Ellie Kemper (The Office, Bridemsaids) is very diplomatic.
B+B: Can Men be funny?
Kemper: I think they can! Both men and women are funny! I think it shouldn’t be a discussion. I would say most people aren’t funny, and when they are, they are either a man or a woman and it’s irrelevant.
B+B: Jon Hamm was your teacher in high school. Did you ever have any erotic fantasies about him?
Kemper: I did not have any erotic fantasies about him. But he’s a very, uh – good person.
Doing drugs on stage at UCB is totally NBD.
Stuff always starts to get a little weird at DCM in the late-night slots, and this year was no exception. Specifically, improviser Shannon O’Neill showed up to her 2:30 a.m. set on Saturday night after having supposedly done a little pre-show dosing (and not necessarily of the performance-enhancing variety). “I’m on molly for the first time!” she announced, and then proceeded to regale a stunned audience with some impassioned, serotonin-inspired improv and life advice.
Other late-night highlights: Boston-inspired improv set Wicked Fuckin Queeyah drenching the audience in beer-spray, young Osama Bin Laden (Anthony Atamanuik) performing at least three sets in character (and full bearded regalia).
And finally: DCM is always full of surprises.
On Saturday evening Michael Cera showed up to perform in Gravid Water, a show in which actors memorize lines from real plays while improvisers make up the rest. And Louie C.K. surprised a full house by showing up to perform monologues at Sunday night’s final ASSSSCAT show, although the superstar stand-up comic seemed to have some trouble improvising on the fly. As he said, sheepishly, after a particularly nonsensical bit in response to the suggestion “eggs”: “Did I just break the marathon?”
Tags: amy poehler, anthony atamanuik, arrested development, Arts + Culture, asssscat, del close marathon, ellie kemper, ian roberts, improv comedy, jason mantzoukas, louis ck, matt walsh, parks & rec, shannon o'neill, stand-up comedy, the league, ucb east, upright citizens brigade theatre, zach woods