Upright Citizens Brigade brings their superstar crew back to town 

Downright Funny

The Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company can't get enough of Charleston. Hot off a successful string of shows at Piccolo Fringe in June, the masters of improvisational comedy will motor back into town Oct. 8. And though they won't be breaking from their trusted UCB formula of riffing off audience suggestions, the dynamics of this tour will be unlike anything any of its members have ever experienced before.

"They are definitely going to be spending a lot of time in the same car and should be a little bit crazy by the time they get to you guys," says touring company director Carter Edwards. "It'll be really fun to watch."

Founded in 1990, the improv and sketch comedy group and school counts Amy Poehler and Zach Galifianakis among its alumni. With so many famous faces to UCB's credit, it would be natural that some up-and-comers might feel a bit nervous standing in the shadows of such giants, but Edwards believes the group generally avoids any implied pressure.

"We try to make it feel like a family and a place where you can do what you love and do it well," Edwards says. "If you make it a safe place, that's where the next great comedy superstars will emerge sort of organically, rather than people having to worry about being as good or getting as famous as Amy Poehler. If you foster the community, the brilliance just sort of demonstrates itself."

Seven-year touring company veteran Gavin Speiller will be making his first visit to Charleston. He dismisses the notion that there's any pressure to live up to a legacy.

"I think we all enjoy that UCB has this great reputation now, but when you start out taking classes and getting involved, you're just interested in doing well at UCB," Speiller says.

When the Touring Company comes calling, it's a sure-fire sign of UCB success. The company chooses its stars from the best performers at its theaters in L.A. and New York. Typical tours find comedians embarking on short stints, which makes this visit to Charleston, according to Edwards, "unique."

Upright Citizens Brigade. Fri. Oct. 8, 8 p.m. $15. Music Farm, 32 Ann St. (843) 722-8904. musicfarm.com


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