At Least We Tried

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A two-man longform improv show featuring Ian Roberts and Ali Farahnakian that ran on Tuesday nights at 11pm at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York for five weeks in April and May of 2002.


None, formallly. Ian and Ali would talk to the audience for a bit, get a suggestion and then improvise for 30-45 minutes.


The show, which was free, was popular with improv students of that time. Ian and Ali had met in their first improv class, held at IO in Chicago more then ten years before, and were both fast and aggressive improvisers.

Over the five weeks, Ian and Ali had many types of shows: frantic and manic, slow and thoughtful, even self-doubting. Sometimes their opening chat was lengthy and would affect the improv greatly, other times it was short.

Among notable elements of these shows

  • In the introduction to one show, Ali talked about how the French might not approve of longform improv. At the end of the 40 minute set, Ian sat at the front of a stage and in a French accent criticized the show.
  • Two men working on a screenplay, until one of them gets hot and takes his shirt off. Moments later they are draping each other's nutsacks on their faces, calling them "Roman war helmets."
  • The week after a particularly manic show, Ian reported that someone had complained about him on the theater's message board, saying he talked too much, and admitted it had put him in his head. That night's show was more muted, though at one point they did play multiple characters piling into Ali's "panic room."
  • Ali revealed that he had named the show "At Least We Tried" after trying to arrange the letters of each of their names into a neat crossword. "At least we tried," he said. Ian said he assumed it was just a pre-emptive self-deprecating name.

Official Show Description

"The culmination of twelve years of rehearsals and workshops, this fully improvised, two-man show will start by unfolding the mystery of human existence and move on from there. Those who see the show will become captains of industry, leaders of revolutions, and rulers of nations. Those who don't will serve them. Conservatively, the ticket price should be $150 a seat. Due to the Upright Citizens Brigade's foolish unwillingness to take advantage of their audience, the ticket price will be a mere $5. This is a 96.7% savings. There will be only 5 performances of this show ever in the universe. Ali and Ian, two three letter names -- over 400 lbs. of comic dynamite."