Upright Citizens Brigade | 21st Annual Del Close Marathon Recap

by Hannah Jackson

If you happened to be driving anywhere between Upright Citizens Brigade’s Franklin and Sunset theaters on the afternoon of June 28th, you may have seen a large group of people meandering through the streets, singing renditions of “All Star,” chanting “Sell those drugs!”, or asking strangers how much they pay for rent. For the 21st consecutive year—and its inaugural Los Angeles performance—UCB put on its Del Close Marathon, honoring the late comedy mentor Del Close.

Founding member of UCB Matt Walsh, known for roles on Veep (for which he was twice nominated for an Emmy), Parks and Recreation, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, joined performers as they marched from the troupe’s Franklin theater to the Sunset location.

“[Moving the show to LA will] be a good fresh start. It’ll have its own flavor and I’m excited to see what it morphs into,” Walsh said. “It’ll be interesting to see the next wave—because I don’t perform with any of these people—the next wave of kids, like, take it over and just storm the stage at midnight. It’s fun,” he said as he waved to gawking passer-byres.

To kick off the show was a UCB fan favorite, ASSSCAT, which featured a star-studded cast, including Walsh and fellow UCB founder Matt Besser, Andy Richter as the narrator, John Gemberling of Broad City fame, and Owen Burke, among others.

ASSSCAT’s format followed narrator Richter telling stories from his life that inspired improvised scenes performed by the rest of the cast. Themes of the set included arson, jury duty, and—essentially—one long vagina joke.

Richter recalled a story of being gifted a Playboy magazine by his aunt, after which the cast proceeded to improvise a scene in which a child is gifted a host of sex toys by various relatives.

“Keep rolling, Jimmy Kimmel’s gonna love this!” one cast member yelled as another mimed opening a box containing an enormous dildo and a pocket pussy.

Drawing a close to the 55 hours of non-stop improv was the UCB Drag Race: All Tea, All Shade Pride Extravaganza. Five fierce queens—Stepmom, Ozama, Layali Sunshine, Anita Tension, and Bebe Tart—took to the stage to perform show-stopping lip-syncing numbers and improvise the behind-the-scenes drama of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The whole cast! Photo by Jesse Koester.

The whole cast! Photo by Jesse Koester.

In between the numbers, each queen took on her own reality show contestant persona, ranging from Stepmom’s villain to Anita Tension’s best friend (“I came here to make friends, not to win,” she cried). Every queen brought her own flair to her solo lip-syncing number: Ozama had the crowd in tears with her rendition of “It’s Oh So Quiet” with intermittent ASMR chip-munching, cucumber-biting, and…cannibalism. Stepmom expertly plaid the dramatic gold-digging widow, complete with scantily-clad stepsons and a purported sponsorship by Kleenex. Layali Sunshine brought the house down with her gladiator rendition of “Holding Out For A Hero”, complete with chopping blocks of wood and ripping fake foam penises off of her competitors.

Anita Tension and her scandalous romance with a pickle. Photo by Jesse Koester.

Anita Tension and her scandalous romance with a pickle. Photo by Jesse Koester.

At the end of the show the queens thanked everyone for coming out, claiming that an event like this could not have happened 10 years ago. “If you liked this show, tell everyone!” they shouted to thunderous applause.

Stepmom performing her number one hit song, "Kleenex". Photo by Jesse Koester.

Stepmom performing her number one hit song, "Kleenex". Photo by Jesse Koester.