The Upright Citizens Brigade: Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh

Improv comedy cartel

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What do you love about doing comedy in New York?
Amy Poehler: New York is so accessible to the lifestyle we were leading when we first moved there. You can eat really cheaply and buy nitrous at the deli before your show.
Ian Roberts: I remember we did a show at P.S. 122 and I realized right beforehand that we didn’t have a dildo for one of the sketches. We ran out onto the streets and within ten minutes had found a store with a dildo.
Amy Poehler: You’re always ten minutes away from a dildo in New York.

Who are your favorite New Yorkers?
Ian Roberts: Robert DeNiro.
Matt Walsh: Lou Reed.
Matt Besser: There was this comedian who used to perform in Washington Square Park, Charlie Barnett. He influenced Chappelle. I think he died that year [when we moved to the city]. He didn’t have to have a stage. He made his own stage. And people listened.

What’s the biggest thing to happen to the city in the last 13 years?
Amy Poehler: Well, what do you think that answer’s gonna be? For me, it’s the new restaurant next to Kiehl’s.
Ian Roberts: The changing of the Lower East Side.
Amy Poehler: Yeah, when I lived there, you’d wake up and some guy would have taken a shit by your door.
Ian Roberts: That was me.

What’s your favorite place or thing in New York?
Ian Roberts: I’m gonna say the UCB Theatre.
Amy Poehler: During the blackout our theater didn’t lose power for some reason. Everyone in the neighborhood came over and some people slept there. We performed all night.

I was there the first night the theater reopened after 9/11, for performers only. It was a very special gathering.
Amy Poehler: Yeah, in the past 13 years, when the shit goes down, we meet there. It’s a great place to be when the world goes to shit.
Matt Besser: If there’s one place that means something to us besides the theater, it’s Washington Square Park.
Matt Walsh: When we first moved here, we’d go there every day and pass out flyers. No one knew who we were.
Matt Besser: We shot a bunch of stunts there. In the city, no matter where you go, there are people.
Amy Poehler: We shot everywhere. There’s so much free access in New York.
Matt Walsh: The cops were very camera-friendly.

What’s the future of New York? What are your hopes, and what needs to happen?
Matt Besser: We definitely need the Mets in Brooklyn by 2010.
Amy Poehler: I’m pretty excited about the High Line. To me, it represents New York: It’s using available space and it’s up in the sky. And there will be trees up in the sky! Basically I think New York needs more trees in the sky.
Matt Besser: I want them to get rid of that law that inhibits Critical Mass. It’s a great human event—especially in a city filled with buildings and concrete.
Amy Poehler: I wish we had those shared-bike programs.
Ian Roberts: Yeah. I’d get all those bikes. And I’d take them to my apartment.
Amy Poehler: I want to be able to teleport to other neighborhoods. I’ve been waiting for that to happen for a while.

If you could have a drink with anyone else on this Top 40 list, who would it be?
Matt Besser: Jay-Z, cause he’s gonna take me to the Mets game.
Amy Poehler: I’d like to do a speed-dating thing where I’d talk to each for 30 seconds.
Matt Walsh: Derek Jeter.

To the three who’ve moved to L.A., what do you miss about New York?
Matt Walsh: Walking around everywhere, the food….
Ian Roberts: In L.A., you go straight from your air-conditioned house to your air-conditioned car to your air-conditioned office. Walking around in New York, it’s refreshing to know that you’re part of humanity.
Matt Besser: Hot and sour soup at Empire Szechuan.
Ian Roberts: He has an endorsement deal with them.
Matt Besser: I love the way New Yorkers talk to each other. A guy at the dry cleaners once, because of my eczema, looked at me and screamed, “You have AIDS!”
Matt Walsh: I miss the Black Israelites. They used to preach on the street near my apartment.
Amy Poehler: Yeah, Matt, you got called a white faggot every day for a while. You’d wake up, get your coffee and bagel, and get called a white faggot.

Complete the sentence: New York is…
Matt Besser: …everything.
Matt Walsh: …UCB.
Amy Poehler: …full of cheeseburgers.

The New York 40:

Adam Rapp
Amy Sedaris
Anderson Cooper
Basil Twist
Christine Quinn
Christopher Wheeldon
Danny Meyer
David Cross
David Remnick
Derek Jeter
Dick Zigun
Elizabeth LeCompte
Elizabeth Marvel

Eliot Spitzer
Gavin Brown
James Murphy
Joe Torre
John Zorn
Jonathan Lethem
Junot Díaz
Kelly Reichardt
Kiki & Herb
Liev Schreiber
Lisa Phillips
Michael Bloomberg

Nellie McKay
Pat Kiernan
Patti LuPone
Peter Gelb
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Richard Serra
Sarah Michelson
Stephen Colbert
Tim Gunn
Tina Fey
Tony Kushner

Upright Citizens Brigade