A longform improv show that runs at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York and Los Angeles. In New York it has run on Sunday nights since the Upright Citizens Brigade moved there in 1996. It's one of the most successful and popular improv shows in the city. Its success led to the UCB getting their own sketch show from Comedy Central and eventually founding their own theatre. It remains the premier show at their theater and the one featuring the top (and most famous) talent.
The 7:30pm show costs $10 and tickets are only available via pre-sale below.
The 9:30pm show is FREE but reservations are not accepted. Free tickets for the 9:30pm show are distributed at 8:15pm outside the theatre on the night of the show.
A guest monologist, often a celebrity, gets a suggestion and tells a true story inspired by it. Then the improvisers create scenes inspired by the monologue. If the improvisers feel they want another monologue, they call the monologist back onto the stage. There's two halves of about 25 minutes each. Each half has only one, maybe two, or (rarely) three monologues, through the structure only requires one.
It's based on the Armando.
In Chicago, the group that eventually became the UCB did a sloppy show in a less-than-friendly bar. When asked what the form of the show was, they off-handedly described it as an ASSSSCAT. They kept that name when doing free-form improv shows. Though the show became enormously successful and features top improvisers, its silly name refers to its roots as a deliberate fuckaround show.
After moving to New York, the UCB - Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh - would perform on Sunday nights for free in various venues, including Baby Jupiter or Rebar. After the show, they'd announce they were teaching classes in improv. Eventually ASSSSCAT was held regularly at the Solo Arts theatre group space. The show and their classes, teaching local comedians the principles of Del Close, became popular.
When the Upright Citizens Brigade television show was in production, the UCB would use ASSSSCAT as a way to brainstorm material for the show. They would videotape performances and review them, looking for ideas to turn into sketches for the show.
ASSSSCAT originally featured the UCB 4 plus whichever of their friends (most from Chicago) they'd invite on stage. Some of the regular ASSSSCAT performers in the early days included Stephen Colbert, Adam McKay, Tina Fey, Miriam Tolan, Brian Stack, Brian McCann, Jon Glaser, Kevin Dorff, Andy Richter, and Michael Delaney.
As the years went on, much of the UCB moved from New York to LA. But ASSSSCAT remained, featuring whoever of the UCB was in town plus the cast of regulars. For a UCBT performer, being asked to give monologues or perform in ASSSSCAT is a badge of honor.
ASSSSCAT originally was performed once at 7:30 and was free, though that usually meant waiting in line for three hours or more beforehand. In 2000, they created ASSSCAT 2000 (eventually named ASSSSCAT 3000) at 9:30. At that point, the 7:30 show charged money and accepted reservations. But the 9:30pm show remained free -- so ASSSSCAT in some form has always been free.
The list of celebrity monologists that have appeared in ASSSSCAT over the years includes: Alec Baldwin, Conan O'Brien, Tina Fey, Chevy Chase, Janeane Garofalo, Robin Williams, Neko Case, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Andy Richter, Sarah Silverman, Chris Meloni, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Walsh, and Gibby Haynes.
In 2006 ASSSSCAT celebrated its tenth anniversary with a live performance at Irving Plaza.