Upright Citizens Brigade | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Upright Citizens Brigade


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Upright Citizens Brigade

For five years the Upright Citizens Brigade performed in relative obscurity here, receiving little or no press for their inspired, cranky shows. True, they loved to lash out at authority--in one show, a member impersonating Tribune critic Richard Christiansen became embroiled in a shouting match with the performers. It wasn't always easy to decide whether to laugh or gasp at how gleefully the troupe fucked with their audience's minds. In The Future of Happiness, they herded everyone out of the theater and led us on a merry chase through Bucktown, then ran away giggling like schoolboys, leaving us to find our way back to the theater and our belongings. But for those who loved their comedy fresh, a little strange, and very unpredictable, no one could surpass them. Two years ago, the UCB moved to New York and almost immediately started getting the kind of coverage they never got in Chicago: even the dailies deign to review them. Now they have a series scheduled to begin in August on Comedy Central, immediately after South Park. And their current show, The Saigon Suicide Squad, is a hit both in New York and on the comedy festival circuit. An eclectic, anarchistic deconstruction of ethnic stereotypes, it includes some of the group's most vicious (and hilarious) forays into "the comedy of cruelty," including a killing bit in which Aryan-looking Ian Roberts leads a public apology for the Holocaust to Jewish comic Matt Besser. The UCB will perform The Saigon Suicide Squad as part of the Chicago Comedy Festival, listed in theater. Apollo Theater Center, 2540 N. Lincoln, 773-935-6100. Saturday, May 2, 10 PM. $18.50. --Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still.

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