The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre is movin’ on up. The much-beloved “home to all things comedy” is vacating its longtime basement space in Chelsea and heading north to Hell’s Kitchen. The group have signed a lease to rent a legit above ground theater located at 555 West 42nd Street, the former home of the Pearl Theatre Company. The move is in part so UCBT can comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The lights go out at the Chelsea location (as far as the general public is concerned) after the last show on Tuesday, November 28. The impending move is incredibly bittersweet. Members of the UCBT community have been posting their memories on social media with the tag #ByeChelsea. See some below.
Founded by Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, the Upright Citizens Brigade have been in their current Chelsea location at 307 West 26th Street since April 2003. The 150-seat theater has an open stage, which means it extends into the audience on three sides, allowing for greater intimacy. The space also has a number of charming quirks, including a low ceiling, overhead pipes that been known to leak onto the stage, and large pillars that obstruct audience views. Despite, or as a result of, its drawbacks, a unique energy has coursed through the room.
News of the move broke in mid-October via the Wall Street Journal and this month has felt like one long goodbye. Many performers who cycled through the UCBT returned to bid the space adieu, including Adam Pally, Ben Schwartz, Chris Gethard, Jason Mantzoukas, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Anthony Atamanuik, Rachel Dratch, Scott Adsit, and founder Matt Walsh. We have spent the last few weeks hitting up many of our favorite shows such as Whiplash, Gravid Water and ASSSSCAT 3000. The theater also hosted a not-so-secret midnight Broad City live last night. The show was a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood and found Abbi and Ilana reminiscing for over an hour about all their UCBT Chelsea memories. Others who have shared memories via Instagram and Twitter include UCBT artistic director Shannon O’Neill, ex-SNL-er Bobby Moynihan, Catie Lazarus, Nick Kroll, Paul Downs, Christina Gausas, Scot Armstrong, Connor Ratliff, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert writer Brian Stack, John Lutz, and Ben Schwartz. The crew at the theater also put together a #ByeChelsea audio tour that you can find here.
The UCBT is expected to start hosting shows in the new space in December, but nothing has been announced as of yet. A much more traditional stage set-up, the Hell’s Kitchen theater has 160 seats. The powers that be at UCBT would like the new theater to have the same magic as the Chelsea location, so they are looking at ways to make it more intimate.
For UCBT’s final night, the lineup consists of New Team Harold and Harold Night: Squatter’s Rights!. For information on these shows, visit the website. Also of note, the new theater in Hell’s Kitchen has no impact on the UCBT’s East Village location. You can find out what’s happening there by going here.
UCB. Thank you for teaching me who I am today. Thank you for introducing me to me all my friends. Friends I will have for the rest of my life. Thank you for PCR, Buffoons, The Stepfathers, Five Dudes, The Shoves, Tour Co., Cabtastrophe, The Dogs of St. Christopher, Tick Tick Tick, Real Real World, Buff Truemuscle, Secret Slut, Bullshit Pie, New Jack Titties, Yoinks!, Yellowbelts, and many more. Thank you for giving me a place that helped me get my dream job. Thank you for introducing me to my wife. Thank you for always being a place I could go to feel better. Thank you for always smelling like cigarettes and flop sweat. Thanks to Michael Delaney for believing in me and being my Yoda. Thanks to @spotastic for her endless hard work and filthy filthy mouth. Thanks to Amy, Matt, Matt and Ian. Thank you for Benny and Jawnee. Thank you for everything. I love you and will miss you, UCB Chelsea. Deeply. But also there’s a new theater now so I will see you over there. Don’t Think. #ByeChelsea ❤️ @ucbtny P.S. – New Jack Titties was not a real show but I always wanted to use the name and it fit in just fine.
UCBT Chelsea Memory #26: ASSSSCAT – Somewhere around 2005, I started watching Asssscat almost every Sunday. Rumor was, if they were short on cast, they’d scan the room and see if there were any improvisers to ask and fill in the gaps. After about a year of watching, Jason Mantzoukas walked over to me and said “Wanna play tonight?” and I did. I do not remember anything from that night besides Jason asking me. I kept coming back and watching each week and from time to time I’d get asked. There was one week I didn’t go, I was just having a day, was wearing a shirt I hated and a pair of jeans where the fly kept falling down. Gethard called me around 6:30pm to ask if I wanted to play that night and I had to say no because of my stupid jeans. After that I made sure I was ready every Sunday. And then eventually I became a regular cast member and for the last 4 or so years I’ve been organizing and hosting Asssscat. And I LOVE hosting. And I LOVE Asssscat. We had our final Chelsea Asssscat last night, and it perfect and I could not have imagined anything better. We only started taking cast photos every week a few years ago. So I put up some highlights along with a photo of Gethard and I hosting with Ian Roberts in 2013 plus a little video from last night that captures the energy that we will be bringing to Hell’s Kitchen with us. #ByeChelsea
— Brian Stack (@BrianStack153) November 2, 2017
My last show at UCB Chelsea was with the boys I came up with and love- @adampally & @gilozeri via FaceTime. It was stupid and fun and emotional and felt like Hot Sauce and I’ll miss this theatre very much. #ByeChelsea thank you for everything. pic.twitter.com/I38YIybWGE
— Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes) November 23, 2017