Upright Citizens Brigade: An Oral History

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Working with Matt Walsh for the past four years has given me unparalleled access and insight into one of the seminal sketch groups of the late 1990s.  We sat down to talk about where he started, and how he got to where he is today.

TIM SIMONS: So where did you and Horatio meet?
MATT WALSH: Horatio Sanz and I met doing shows at a club called The Roxy on Fullerton in the early nineties in Chicago. Just doing precursor stuff to what ended up becoming the Upright Citizens Brigade.
On Fullerton, were you guys students at DePaul?
No everybody was out of college. I think Raj might have gone to Columbia for a year, I had graduated from Northern Illinois and then moved to the city right after graduation, so nobody was in college when we all met up in Chicago.
Oh, just so you know this is going to be for an oral history of UCB.
What is?
This conversation.
No- oh, you’re recording it.
Yeah yeah. I’ve been recording it.
Well, this is off the record as far as I’m concerned. I thought this was just an informal conversation. So you’re recording this?
Yeah, I’m recording this. So everything from here on out is off the record?
No… everything… you don’t you didn’t have my permission to record this. You said this halfway into what I thought was a conversation in your trailer…
Yeah, well…
… and then you show me that you’re recording it. What are you using it for?
It’s gonna go on the website. It’s gonna go on on Elevated Train.
No, this has to be… will I get to edit or supervise the content in any way?
No not at all. Of course not.
Well then I’m… I don’t approve.
Okay, can we just go back to talking? I was having a really good time…
Well, then off the record applies from here on forward and everything backward.
You can’t re-write the rules of journalism just because you don’t like-
You should look into Maryland I believe it’s a two party state which means you can’t record my voice or my image without me knowing it.
The two parties have to be in agreement-
Yes. A conversation over a phone, say, you have to have two people in agreement. That’s why when they did that show; Jimmy Kimmel with the puppets that were rude, remember that one?
No.
Crank Yankers. Remember Crank Yankers?
Oh, yeah.
They shot that in Vegas. They initiated all those calls in Vegas, so if you would’ve done this in Vegas you could say Fuck you Walsh. But you can’t.
Okay.
Cause we are in Maryland.
And it’s a two party state.
Yeah.
I thought I had permission when I saw Wendy (VEEP 1st Team PA) earlier she was like “Hey yeah Tim, it’s okay.”
Wendy never asked me to record.
Well, no, I asked Wendy earlier today if it was okay if I recorded you, and she said I could, and I’d given permission so two parties have given permission to this recording.
You have to have my permission. Wendy is not-
Look…
-Wendy is not participating in the conversation.
Look, I don’t want to make this contentious. I just wanna do a cool, and I think the readers want a cool oral hist-
This is not contentious. I’m just taking apart your logic. It’s insane to think that if you ask someone who’s not involved with the conversation that then you have blessing to record my side of the conversation. You need my permission.
What was Amy Poehler like when you first met her?
This is… no. I’m not-
It’s just a friendly question about…
Turn it off.
Okay, I’ll turn it off.
It’s not off.
How do you know it’s not off?
Because when I talk the volume the levels change.
This is a Samsung, I switched recently it’s different, so-
Then why is the red dot on the microphone.
I’m just going to put the phone over here…
-and then turn it off
I feel like it’s still on.
It’s not on. Don’t worry about it. We’re just talking. We’re just talking.
Honestly, I’m so tired of talking about UCB. I have no interest in talking about my history like I’m a, I don’t know, a founding father of improv.
I get it.
People have asked me all those questions before.
They have?
Yeah.
Well I don’t want to ask you a question that you’ve been asked a bunch of times, I want this to be…
Exactly.
So, the concept of game, when was the first time that you guys all came up with-
No. *Walsh walks out of the room*

one Comment

  1. Jimmy On September 26, 2014 at 7:29

    This is really great.

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