The Improv scene is burning and the only thing that can save it is letting it burn and getting a new suggestion.
Back in March of 2020, The Upright Citizens Brigade announced that they were laying off all staff and employees. Since then they have announced that the UCB Training Center in LA would be closing for good. UCB is in no way alone, but they are the behemoth in the improv world.
There is a lot of shit talk about UCB around the improv scene, some complaints are more valid than others. Personally, I have nothing but good feelings about my time there and I met so many amazing people that I can almost forgive anything. Still, some people have legitimate gripes like the amount of money you have to spend for the chance to audition for an advance studies class that you have to pay another $450 for. In total if you go through their whole program of four core classes, 101–401, and be “lucky” enough to get into advance studies you will have spent nearly $2,500. Plus all the money you have to spend on weekly practices with a coach and after all that not get paid for performing. So why would anyone sign up for that? Well, if you look at any SNL cast from the past decade and a half you will notice that they all, or most, went to UCB. For most performers though, the best case scenario is maybe an agent will see you on Harold Night and book you in a commercial. What’s Harold Night? Give me a couple grand and I’ll teach you.
As lame as it sounds, Improv is the Punk Rock equivalent for comedy nerds and theater kids. It has always been that way and it always will. It can only get so big before it implodes on itself, Covid-19 only accelerated the implosion. The ashes will be picked up not only by smaller theaters like The Pack Theater, Improv Space, and Westside Comedy, but by the indie scene, where backyard shows and small black box theaters next to an old Radio Shack will host indie teams and Will Hines. It will “Yes And” it’s way back and find it’s new footing. It will come back better because of you and your friends performing a Pretty Flower. What’s a Pretty Flower? Like that one song about a delicious dairy based drink, “ I can teach you, but I’d have to charge.”