Asssscat 3000 Ends the Week with Laughter

SNL Alums Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz Return to Their Roots for Sunday Night Improv


Published: September 22, 2010

It’s a familiar place; the dark, damp space with its multi-stained brown chairs and exposed, overhead piping reminds me of a suburban basement. Wood paneling, like the background of a Ron Jeremy flick, would fit in nicely. Instead there are walls covered in chipped black paint and miscellaneous flyers. A friend grabs a cheap, cold beer from a cooler that has seen better days.

The announcer’s voice invokes a mother’s from the kitchen yelling that more friends have arrived, and some of the most hysterical comedians in the business walk down the creaky steps. Saturday Night Live alums like Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz, members of “30 Rock” and “The Daily Show,” and a slew of other up-and-coming comedians arrive to prove the future of comedy is nowhere near dying.

Welcome to Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, home of Asssscat 3000 and some of the best (and cheapest) improv comedy in the city.

For the past 15 years almost every Sunday at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, actress and comedian Amy Poehler gathers a cacophony of fellow comedians and actors, most of whom have worked with her at one time or another. For an hour and a half, audience members are treated to a rare glimpse of these comedians at their most vulnerable.

Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, located at 307 West 26th St., is the mecca for underground comedy in New York City. Poehler, a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, came to New York in 1996, bringing the troupe’s own brand of improvised comedy to the masses. The current setup holds 150 seats as compared to the original 74-seat black box theater.

There are two shows every Sunday night: one at 7:30 p.m. and the other at 9:30 p.m. The 7:30 show cost $10 and tickets must be bought online. When you arrive, you simply pick the tickets up at the box office the day of the show. For those of you who want to attend the 9:30 p.m. show, it’s free but comes with the price of overcrowding and the risk of not getting in after standing on line for quite some time. No matter what time you decide to go, make sure you get to the theater early enough if you want front row seats.

Asssscat 3000 blends the brilliant comedic history of SNL with the awkwardness of Poehler’s “Parks and Recreation” and leaves room for the strange, but extremely hysterical one-liners of “30 Rock.” The chemistry between the performers on stage make the show that much more enjoyable, leaving the audience reminiscing about some of their favorite moments of SNL or 30 Rock, and yet, feeling so guilty that they only paid $10 to see some of the best performers in comedy live.

The show works like this: audience members yell out random words for Poehler and her team. A monologist, who mediates the skits and introduces the ideas, first tells a story surrounding the concept of the word. Next, Poehler and the improv team start a skit based off events that happened in the story. The members tap each other out when they want to add something or have an idea to improve the skit. One thing leads to another and hilarity ensues.

At Sunday night’s 7:30 p.m. show, the audience crammed into the intimate basement-like setup of the theater only to be entertained by none other than SNL alums Amy Poehler, Horatio Sanz, Seth Meyers, Bobby Moynihan, Rachel Dratch, “30 Rock’s” John Lutz, and Chris Gethard of the new Comedy Central show “Big Lake” in which he co-stars with Sanz.

Because of the intimacy between the comedian and audience member, it feels like they are performing just for you (you might even get lucky and have to sit on the floor at the feet of the performers).  Despite much of the fame and success that is shared on stage, it seems as if nothing else matters but making the audience laugh until their stomachs hurt.

It’s also interesting to see such successful comedians and actors come back to their roots and help re-plant the seed that started their careers so many years ago. Egos do not exist at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater; humility and grace exudes off the stage and that is what’s special about these Sunday nights. You feel good leaving the theater, almost like you made friends with Poehler and Sanz.

Seeing Asssscat 3000 at UCB is one of the best ways to end a long week with a last huzzah and begin Monday with a hopeful pep in your step. With any luck, next weekend you can be greeted and entertained by some of your favorite faces of television and comedy all over again.

For more information, visit UCB on the web at