The Del Close Marathon is basically a congregation of the funniest people around
On Friday, June 26, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade hosted the 17th Annual Del Close Marathon in honor of the great improv mentor, Del Close. The founders of UCB, Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, and Ian Roberts hosted a press conference at the UCB Theater in Chelsea to start off the marathon. At this conference these founding four members talked about what it is like to have such a huge marathon and to have improv troupes from around the world attend this marathon and showcase their talents. Along with this, the four showcased why they are considered some of the funniest people around by going into a bunch of improv scenes throughout the conference, playing off the words from both the founding four members as well as the audience. The Del Close Marathon features 56 hours of constant impov this year and will surely be a huge success like it has been in the past years.
The Knockturnal was on the red carpet. Read our exclusive interviews below:
Q: Can you share your favorite memory of or with Del that you remember?
A: It’s kind of funny because I don’t think I can refer to it as my favorite memory but the thing that really sticks in my mind, there are two – okay one of them is a good one. The first one was that I was doing a scene and at a certain point I started making pop references and Del stopped me and said, “Alright, alright, you had a perfectly good scene but then you ruined it with your inane pop references.” And then later I did a scene, and it’s funny because I have done so many scenes in my life, I can tell you almost nothing I have done, but I remember this because I got a positive compliment from Del, which meant so much and it was a scene where I created a subculture in the scene –we created, my scene partner and I, and we created a subculture of guys who went to abandoned warehouses to race remote control cars but it was treated like cockfighting or bareknuckle boxing. And he goes, “Now that was fantastic. You brought me into this very specific, unique subculture.” And I’m like, “Okay, I get it. Don’t try to be funny, just let the scene go where it goes and be unique and specific, don’t try to repeat comedy, don’t try to do something you think is funny because you’ve seen it before.”
Q: And when did you know that comedy was something that you wanted to do as a career?
A: You know, I think it started in Chicago, yeah, where I really knew, because I really thought more it was going to be acting, whatever that was. I would’ve been fine doing comedic acting but then I met all the guys that we formed the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and that’s where I started to realize that this is really what I love.
Q: And what advice would you give an aspiring comedian who is just trying to get started?
A: I would say join an organization like us or iO, but get in a community of people, that’s so huge. And make sure that they are established and know what they are doing because it’s going to be bad if you get your first instruction from someone who doesn’t really know what they are doing. So I think you need to be in an area that’s big enough to have some good improv training and then it’s going to be great in that community because it’s going to be with people you will know your whole life and one guy is going to be a director, and one guy is going to be a writer, and one guy is going to be an actor, and you all will be giving each other jobs and working together so that’s what I say.
Q: And my last question is about the gay marriage equality act passing this morning so can you tell me your thoughts on that?
A: I am ecstatic about it because my daughter is gay and I want her to have equal rights in this country and I think it is the only thing that made sense to happen and I am so happy it did.
Q: This sort of event that exposes the public to a great level of comedy.
A: I selfishly love getting to see my friends that I haven’t seen in forever. I think this is such a warm community and to see everybody come together and be able to hang out and laugh at each other is just so warm and inviting.
Q: Do you like going to UCB a lot?
A: I do. I haven’t been able to perform as much there recently because of my job but I feel like it is kind of like the bar in Cheers that you can go in and you know everybody there except there are better performances.
Q: And when did you know that comedy is something that you wanted to do as a career?
A: I think it was late in college when I realized that there was nothing else that I actually cared as much about and when faced with the decision post college as to what I wanted to do, the one thing that I love and that I am able to put in 12 hours a day and not worry about it was comedy. So, at that point I got in the car, moved to Chicago and gave it a shot.
Q: What advice would you give an aspiring comedian who is just trying to get started?
A: Trust your instincts and work your butt off following whatever you think is funny and worthwhile but also be malleable and open to other people that are smarter than you, who are more empathetic than you, and who are more excited than you because you have to learn from others if you’re going to get there and find that level of success.
Q: Speak about supporting the event.
A: I feel like this is comedy comic con a little bit but for me it’s just a reunion. I get to see all my friends that I haven’t seen in a while and that’s the best. And we get to perform and be silly and that’s wonderful.
Q: Your entire career has been so successful and you are seen as a role model to many. And your show Parks and Rec along with SNL and all your movies have made you stand out as a positive role model and influence. So what can you say about being such a positive figure in many people’s lives because you are one for me as well?
A: Thank you for saying that. That is really, really nice and actually, just totally changed my day so thank you. I loved that Park and Rec was this thing that felt like, kind of, really special to make and also very special to the fans that watched it so I will pass that on to the people that I did it – made it with because it made a difference in your life because that it great.
Q: And being a role model?
A: It’s great! It’s really, really nice to have people like yourself feel like they liked my work and it’s great. It’s great to meet anybody who likes what I do and it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon, to hear such nice things from you so thank you.