The Tulane Hullabaloo

Upright Citizens Brigade turns interviews into improv

Taylor DeMulling, Staff Reporter

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What do Mark Twain, peeing in cups and Tinder have in common? They all played a pivotal role in the Aug. 27 comedy show put on by the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improvisation and sketch group that spawned comedy icons like Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari.

Comedy aficionados and students desperately avoiding homework alike filed into the Kendall Cram ballroom and by 8 p.m., the show’s start time, the room was overflowing with people.

To kick off the show, audience members were called up to the stage and interviewed about something exciting that had happened to them in the past week. Laura Stokley, a fifth-year architecture student, lamented the struggle of accidentally removing herself from the entire Tulane e-mail list, as well as delving into the details of her east coast upbringing. Nate Koch, a freshman, bemoaned being kicked out of his dorm in Wall Residential College due to a mold infestation and described his roommate’s considerable Tinder savvy.

The interviews were slow-going, but Stokley and Koch’s stories became the base for the skits that followed. What started out as a frat party featuring a desk belonging to Mark Twain escalated into a desperate attempt to escape the strict regime of the architecture studio, which turned into a preppy girl from Princeton, New Jersey trying to explain to her mother that just because her boyfriend wore a polo without being a polo player, he isn’t a total pleb.

The group excelled in picking out specific details from the interviews that would make a great skit, but they struggled with how long to keep a certain storyline running before they switched things up. Some skits dragged on with only subpar jokes to keep them afloat, while others were cut short too soon. They were starting to finally warm up to a certain story when they would suddenly switch courses.

The performers, Ryan Hitchcock, Josh Brekhus, Kale Hills and Rose O’Shea all succeeded in quickly absorbing the information from the interviews and finding the funny in the mundane. They picked up on the most minor details and managed to turn them into exaggerated, wildly inappropriate skits. Hills and O’Shea led the pack in coming up with new skit ideas on the spot, and were also the strongest in helping the group recover from slower moments onstage.

After exhausting all the ideas from the interviews, the group turned to the audience to shout out any outrageous texts they’d received with absolutely no context. “Friends help friends pee in cups” and “half the width of my phone” became the basis of the next round of improvising.

Overall, the show’s funny moments well outweighed the rough ones, and UCB will go down in history for introducing the concept of a New Orleans Jizz band. They’re really onto something there.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Upright Citizens Brigade turns interviews into improv