Home / DVD Review: The Upright Citizens Brigade – Asssscat!

DVD Review: The Upright Citizens Brigade – Asssscat!

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The Upright Citizens Brigade is an improv troupe that previously had a show on Comedy Central. According to the DVD, stars such as Conan O'Brien, Tina Fey, and Rachel Dratch have guest starred with the troupe. The current members of the group are Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, and Saturday Night Live's Amy Poehler. This DVD is a recording of one of their Asssscat! performances. Featured performers in this incarnation are Chad Carter, Sean Conroy, Andrew Daly, and Horatio Sanz.

Each show starts with a little bit of an explanation. Then the troupe will randomly pick an audience member and start harassing them. The guest monologist is then introduced. After that, the audience shouts out topics. The monologist must talk about the first topic shouted out. The monologist will tell a few personal stories, trying to relate that topic to their life.

After the monologue is done, the improv starts. All of the sketches are inspired by the monologues. They use its theme, setting, or characters. Any of the actors can start a scene, jump in on a scene, or stop a scene. That setup could lead to an interesting and funny show. Sadly, it does not.

The Show

During the audience harassment/show explanation the troupe calls the DVD audience "retards". There is nothing amusing about this; they simply insult the home audience repeatedly.

The monologists for this performance are Tom Lennon and Kate Walsh. Tom Lennon is famous for playing Lt. Dangle on Reno 911!. Kate Walsh is best known for appearing in Grey's Anatomy. They tell stories that are only slightly amusing but never funny. Tom Lennon's topic was medical marijuana. He talked about his experiments with it. Kate Walsh's topic was boyfriend. She talked about breaking up with her boyfriend and then immediately inviting him on a ski trip. While those tales are a bit outlandish, they are not entertaining.

The sketches that came from these topics were not remarkable. For the most part, they were just absurd. One sketch was about how smoking a particular joint was like attending Hitler's birthday. Another was about being trapped in a cave with the only way out being to dance up a cave-in.

One sketch that had potential was about a divorce party. That idea had potential but the comics just repeat the word "blowjob" a lot.

The only sketch that was amusing was about a father who wanted to give his daughter the meanest gift possible. He commissions a painting of her wetting herself at the big basketball game. After that, his daughter falls into a coma. When she wakes up, she apologizes for the way she has been treating her father. Then, he goes back to the store to return the painting. This sketch was funny because it was grounded in reality, even thought it was absurd in concept. It could feasibly happen. The same could not be said for the majority of the skits.

Considering the pedigree of the group, it is surprising they do not know how to structure a joke. A punch line reveals something that takes all of the previous information and tweaks it a little. The audience laughs because they then see the whole scene differently. The Upright Citizens Brigade keeps repeating earlier information as punch lines. Those are not punch lines, they are just repetition.

Special note must be made of Horatio Sanz. He just does not seem like he knows what he is doing onstage. His timing and presence do not mesh well with the other comics. Quite honestly, I rarely laughed while watching this and doubt viewers at home will either. Do not waste your time watching this.

I might be missing something, though. The audience's energy is involved in the comedy of the show. Maybe being in the same room as the comics makes the absurdity and shock value immediate. Considering the group's obsession with marijuana, being in an altered state might help as well.


If for some reason, you want to suffer through more of this, you can.

There are some clips from another performance in "Bonus Round". The other performance actually seems a little more lively and energetic. Most of the sketches concern naïveté concerning sexual acts. For example in one sketch, a guy thinks "eating a girl out" means eating food off her plate. I think these skits are funnier because they are more relatable. Most of us can remember when we were curious about sex but had gross misconceptions.

An interview with the main cast is also featured. It is poorly shot; the camera often moves shakily while the subjects are talking. The cast answers each question with a bad joke, which gets old fast. They all come off as jerks who think they are a lot funnier than they are.

"We Love Our Audience" is another audience harassment session on a different night. They randomly pick a girl out of the audience and start abusing her. I do not know how they think this is funny.

I would hope that this is one of the Upright Citizens Brigade's worst performances. It makes no sense to choose this performance for a DVD release.

Asssscat! tries to be offensive, absurd, and funny. It is slightly offensive, but it is not pushing any envelope. It tries to be absurd, but that does not help it to be funny. It is rarely funny. If you are looking for good, absurdist comedy, go watch some Kids in the Hall or Monty Python. Those troupes understood how to tell a joke.

If you'd like, you can check out the Assscat! trailer.  

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About Mark Kalriess