If you like Second City you are going to enjoy the improv comedy on the Upright Citizens Brigade DVD Assscat. If you don’t, you probably won’t even if this troupe is much, much better than most. The DVD cover is on the other hand much uglier than anything.
The main reason I am not a fan of improv is too often the skit goes too long a la Saturday Night Comatose. Here, this rarely happens.
This is probably because there are a lot of people on stage for an Upright Citizens Brigade performance. In addition to the regular cast the performance features 4 guest players.
The set-up is one of the guests does a monologue based on an audience suggestion and then the cast does a series of sketches connected to the monologue. When the ideas get thin the guest continues his or her monologue and this leads to another series of skits.
The key to good sketch comedy is the players listening to each other and being willing to get out of the limelight when another player taps him or her out.
The Upright Citizens Brigade are good at both though, of course, there are a couple of moments when one of the actors tries to impose his idea or tack on the player opposite.
What did impress this non fan of the genre is how the troupe could take a premise and smoothly expand it to skits about buzzards in the office or a talking restaurant moose head.
Improvisation sketch comedy really is a matter of taste though fans and non-fans of the genre will agree this is one ugly DVD cover.
The weak point on Asssscat is the camera work and editing is jerky and a little amateurish. You get the feeling the handicam guy had the shakes and didn’t quite know where to place himself and whoever did the editing sometimes had a tough choice between the set camera in the back and the handicam.
Extras on Asssscat include Monologous Interruptus involving an “audience” member and a bonus round of monologues and related sketches.
Upright Citizens Brigade
Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh
Improv Comedy DVD
Shout Factory 2008
60 minutes plus many extra
- 69Excellent improv a la Whose Line
- 68Decent enough comedy DVD if you are the target market.
- 64Very good stand-up documentary
- 64Fourth May comedy DVD
- 6320 years of great stand-up and the 2006 New Orleans fundraiser. Must have.