On Sunday night, a group of comedy guru-hopefuls (also known as we, the ascending pupils of Upright Citizen Brigade) were lucky enough to be inspired by one of Saturday Night Live’s original writers, Alan Zweibel, and a handpicked collection of stellar improvisers. Zweibel engaged the entire room, packed beyond capacity, with tales of SNL in its beginning stages and the cast that fused to form some of the most monumental moments in televised comedy. His focus was on a young Gilda Radner, and their hysterical friendship which proclaimed “the fight is over when you can make the other laugh.” I have to add here that for the last week I have been particularly engrossed in watching old Gilda Radner SNL videos, studying her fantastic use of over-the-top physicality. In fact, when Zweibel started telling these old stories about her, it nearly knocked me off my feet. (Yes, after standing in the rain for three hours to get in the show, a lack of seats left us stranded on our feet for the two-hour duration.)
I cannot disregard the fact that the group of improvisers included many top comedians and writers. To name just a few: Amy Poehler, Horatio Sanz, Seth Meyers, Rachel Dratch, and Jack McBrayer. (These are just the ones I thought a wider group of readers might recognize.)
I think my heart stopped beating at one point in Zweibel’s first monologue, when he noted that he and his fellow twenty-somethings entwined in the workings of this show felt that New York City was markedly theirs. All fresh from college or whatnot, these “kids” moved to Manhattan (or outer boroughs) and claimed ownership. He dwelled on anecdotes of bar-hopping at two in the morning, selling jokes for seven dollars a piece, coming up with the crazy idea of interviewing “Mrs. Ed” after the male counterpart died, or calling Billy Crystal to find out the likes and dislikes of Lorne Michaels. It was astonishing to me just thinking about these comedy greats just getting started, and trying to make it… sounds a little like….
A group of us from Upright Citizens Brigade have found each other and started working on the side on sketch-writing, then assembling these sketches into short films or live performances. We are still in the beginning stages, but I think this is going in the right direction. I’m not saying that you can expect to see us on SNL next year (haha) but our collaboration is certainly a step forward. I am so thrilled to be conspiring with such an intelligent and witty group of guys and I am absolutely excited to see what we can create.
How’s that for inspiration?