4.24.14 Casey & Woods Wherein Neil Casey and Zach Woods improvise together for the better part of an hour. Their humor is slightly more subtle and much better worded than most other humor in improv, but they are still fun to watch, and they work well together. I love Zach Woods in anything, but he has a unique improv relationship with Casey that makes this show one worth checking out.
Being A Performer On An Upright Citizens Brigade Maude (Sketch) Team- Some things you might wanna know or maybe not but I feel like writing them right now...
I get asked semi-often by UCB students while chatting them up in line for shows about Maude Team stuff. What’s being on a team like? What was your audition like? Is it fun? Is it cool? What is a maude team? Who are you?
I was at Sketch Bar tonight, an indie-open mic sketch night run by some fellow Maude Team members, and it was SO FUN. I love sketch comedy and love when comedy students show interest in it. UCB Theatre LA specifically is known more so for its Improv teams/shows, but people forget that the Upright Citizens Bridage show was SKETCH! We memorize scripts and have costumes and we’re funny and entertaining, too!
I don’t know. Listen. I just had an urge to wanna get the word out more about the sketch comedy scene at UCB and my experiences with it.
First off, being on a UCB Maude team has definitely been a positive and super fun experience. A lot of students study improv and have a goal to get onto a house Harold team, but Maude teams are super fun and rewarding also for writers and actors alike. If you were curious about Maude teams or wanting to try out this year/submit a writing packet this blog post might give some insight into the experience. I am not claiming to be an expert or an authorized source of information, but I am passionate about it and love to help people.
HOW DID I GET ON A MAUDE TEAM:
I auditioned to be a Maude actor 2 years ago. It was my first time to audition. At this point in my UCB career I had already been in Besser’s musical that ran for 2 years, as well as acted in a few small sketch shows in bit parts, and wrote a couple Quick and Funny Musicals. I had taken Improv 101-401. You have 3 minutes to audition, so I did 6 characters, 30 seconds on each character. I had rehearsed it in front of my roommate and friends and recorded it on my macbook, then watched it back a bunch, just to make sure the timing was right. I did some celeb impressions and the rest were original characters. Some of my characters were Kesha, Miley Cyrus, Mom who just joined Facebook, and Girl who over-analyzes texts. I made sure each character had a “game” and hit that game once or twice before moving onto the next character. I didn’t just do Kesha; I did Kesha performing a new song where she brushes her teeth with a bottle of Jack, Puts in her contacts with Smirnoff, etc (SEE THE GAME?). I knew they were looking to make sure I understood the fundamentals of the UCB comedy teachings as well as was funny/talented. I sing, so I made sure that talent was in there. I’m a decent dancer so I made sure to stick that in somewhere. I generally play pop-culturey, high energy characters so I felt these ones showed what I’m best at, but made sure to showcase characters with different energy levels and paces. I felt the audition went well but didn’t get my hopes up. Oh, and I wore all black and didn’t bring any props/wigs. Some people do, but I felt it would take up my precious time to fiddle with wigs and felt my all-black clothes made me a chameleon for anything I did.
Then I got a callback. I was given 2 scenes over email: Both two-person scenes, one I was clearly cast as the crazy person and one where my role was clearly the straight-person. I took this as a sign that they want to make sure you understand sketch comedy and that sometimes when you’re on a sketch team (Think SNL) you won’t always be the “funny one” in the scene. Sometimes you set up the jokes for the other person you’re in the scene with and you just have to deliver your lines with commitment and sincerity. So at the callback I took my moment to be a Goof in one scene and in the other scene let my scene partner shine while I reacted to her crazy.
I got a call the next week from Neil Campbell that I got on a team and I screamed and was so happy cause I wanted to get on a team so badly! YAY!
WHAT BEING ON A MAUDE TEAM HAS DONE FOR ME
I have definitely grown as an actor and performer after two years as a Maude actor. Every week I learn new scenes and get directed. My memory for line memorization has strengthened. I understand jokes better and can find them in scripts better. I audition for commercials, TV shows, etc now with a lot more confidence and ease. They say acting is a muscle, so in order to get better you have to work out. Maude is a work out that has made me a stronger actor.
When you become a house team performer at the UCBTLA, you get put on the Performer page. A lot of casting directors go there when they’re casting a part they’re having a hard time finding the right person for. I’ve gotten to go in for tons of TV show auditions from being on the performer page.
A lot of UCBTLA Maude Actors are working actors. Their agents/managers/casting director buds come to see their shows. If you’re performing that night those Hollywood big shots in turn get to see you do your thing, too. I have Maude colleagues who have gotten cast/signed from being seen on Maude night. So the exposure is a nice perk.
Also, when you’re on a team at UCBTLA you get sent casting notices specifically sent to UCB to be given to the performers. I’ve gotten lots of auditions from those castings.
The most important and wonderful thing I’ve gotten from being a Maude performer is the FUN. I’m not playing, yall. My Maude show is the most fun 30 minutes of my month. The writers are hilarious and it’s an honor to get to say their lines. I know that’s what every actor says when they win their Emmy, but it’s true! Being hilarious on a stage in front of a packed house having a blast is a BLAST! I’ve made great friends, too. It’s so fun and rewarding.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER IF YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT MAUDE TEAMS
Maude teams cost money. You pay your Coach the standard coaching rate (60/2 hrs) every rehearsal/meeting, plus you gotta get props/costumes for every show. Our Maude team splits the cost of every meeting/rehearsal 12 ways, but some Maude teams have actors pay for rehearsals while writers pay for writer’s meetings. Something to consider if you’re super broke all the time.
Writers meet every week, and the actors meet for the read through and rehearsals. The team figures out a schedule that works for everyone. But if you’re a super mega busy person with an always-changing schedule then Maude would be hard for you to commit to.
Not Too Shabby is Friday nights at UCB at Midnight. When you’re a Maude performer it is highly encouraged to perform at Shabby as much as possible. You can work out sketches for your upcoming show, test out sketches, characters, etc. If you are not willing to sacrifice your Friday nights then Maude might not be your cup of tea.
Also- Line memorization. You gotta memorize a lot of lines in a timely matter. This is a time commitment I didn’t consider when I signed up for Maude and feel it’s worth mentioning. You don’t just show up to the meetings and you’re done with your part of the work. You gotta also set aside time in your week to memorize your parts by the date the coach decides. Just mentioning it cause I’m trying to be thorough.
A FEW OTHER TIPS I’VE PICKED UP OVER THE YEARS
Practice makes perfect. If you’re an actor wanting to get into the UCB Sketch scene go check out Not Too Shabby. Write a character bit or a sketch and grab some friends and perform! Email email@example.com for the official rules and deets. Anyone who’s ever taken a class at UCB is eligible. Also, Sketchbar! It’s Sunday nights at 6 and the Impro Theatre, the same place/night as Crashbar improv. Anyone can sign up to perform, just email firstname.lastname@example.org for info. It’s a super fun, positive space for students to try out their stuff. The guys who run it would also give you notes on your sketch if you asked them. Free advice!
If you plan on auditioning for Maude actor, run your audition for some friends. Perform it a few times on its feet in front of people to get comfortable/confident with it. You can also get a sketch coach to work with you on it- not against the rules. There’s a list of sketch coaches on the message boards, I believe, or message me for some recommendations.
Make your audition really showcase what you’re good at. Above all they’re looking for good actors, not just the goofiest, silliest voices and characters. Good straight men are hard to find. If you have some amazing impressions then get those in. If you’ve got a super dry sense of humor then show that off. You know, play your strengths! And remember that it has gotten super competitive to get on a UCB team, now, so if you don’t make it this year that doesn’t mean you should lose hope and swear off acting forever. A huge majority of the performers on both Harold and Maude teams didn’t make it their first or even second time auditioning. Keep trying, keep practicing, and show em what you got!
I hope this might be a tiny bit helpful to at least one person. I welcome any questions. GO TEAM!
I was talking to this chick the other day and she was like “Oh my god, I can’t believe Kim Kardashian’s pregnant. Oh my god, what’s up with Justin Bieber. This is so crazy.” I was like “Yeah, that’s kind of weird. But you wanna know what’s really crazy, you’ve got a fucking skeleton inside of you.”
this video of the cast singing happy birthday to someone in the FYC panel audience is so cute!! andy blowing a kiss at the end and then joking about putting “happy birthday” in a musical episode?? i love. (also @ dan goor please make a b99 musical episode happen.)
Back in the day, Seth Morris and Ed Helms did a monthly talk show in which they would interview guests as themselves, but in puppet form.
That night, Jason Mantzoukas was interviewed, and took the form of that wolf puppet on the left. When the interview turned to dating, Manzoukas asked the ladies in the audience about having sex on the first date. As the audience clapped, he slooooowly creeped out behind the puppet stage to see who was clapping in response to his question.
I didn’t know who he was at the time, but this was the definitive moment I became a fan of him.