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'Subculture Club' looks at improv in Los Angeles's UCB Theatre

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood.
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood.
Thrash Lab/YouTube

Ever wonder what the deal was with improv? It’s a big deal in Los Angeles, with schools from iO West to the Groundlings, but one of the most dominant forces in L.A. improv is the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

Thrash Lab’s latest episode of “Subculture Club” takes a look at the L.A. outlet of the UCB Theatre. The short documentary includes interviews with comedians like Paul Scheer, “New Girl” and “30 Rock” writer Kay Cannon, Ellie Kemper from “The Office” and UCB co-founder Matt Walsh.

The 11-minute documentary explores what kind of people do improv, what one of the most famous improv forms “the Harold” is, what makes the long-form improv style of UCB different from short-form improv seen on TV shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, what “the game of the scene” is, improv’s disposable/ephemeral nature, the sense of discovery found in improv and improv as a team endeavor.

(Warning: Includes adult language.)

Some of the ways improvisers describe who does what they do in the documentary:

“It’s a bunch of outcasts, that’s what improv is. It’s all nerds that got picked on when they were growing up.” — Deborah Tarica

“White mid–20s dudes wearing Converse and western snap shirts.” — Alex Berg

“It attracts a type of hyperintellectual, wise asses, smart nerds.” — Jason Mantzoukas

“You can’t be a total dick and do what we do. You’ll get kicked out of every team, you won’t be able to do a scene. So I think niceness is something that I notice.” — Nick Mandernach

“Some of my favorite improvisers are kind, outgoing people.” — Ellie Kemper

“Subculture Club” has covered topics outside L.A., but they’re based in Los Angeles and have mostly covered L.A. subcultures, including teenage magicians at the Magic Castle, Civil War reenactors and the Real Rydaz bicycle club.