In 1996, four Chicago-based improv comics—Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, and Ian Roberts—got together to form the group that would become the Upright Citizens Brigade. Fifteen years later, UCB has expanded to the point where its New York and L.A. theaters, as well as its website, are among the top places to recruit future comedy stars. Dozens of today’s comedy stars cut their comedic teeth at UCB, including Paul Scheer, Jack McBrayer, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Kroll, Aziz Ansari, Rob Riggle, and Rob Corrdry. As for the founders, they’ve also done well: Poehler has parlayed a long stint on Saturday Night Live into a starring role on the critically acclaimed NBC sitcom Parks And Recreation, and Besser, Walsh, and Roberts have done memorable guest roles on a number of shows. Last month, the UCB machine expanded further, this time into radio, with Live From UCB airing Saturday nights on Sirius XM’s Raw Dog Comedy channel. Poehler, Besser, and Walsh talked to The A.V. Club about what shows from the theaters will work on radio and what they think they did right (and wrong) in the building of the theater and brand.
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