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Reader's Choice

Upright Citizens Brigade

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Upright Citizens Brigade was already well-established in New York City when the company opened a theater on Franklin Avenue in Los Angeles in 2005. The new location quickly established itself as a great place to see improv and sketch every night of the week at extremely reasonable rates—admission is never more than $8. And before long, the UCB Training Center also became a popular place for comedy students.

The center offers different levels of core classes in improv and in sketch writing, along with specialized classes such as writing a one-person show and writing in the style of "Saturday Night Live." Courses typically consist of eight three-hour classes and run about $350–$375 per level. Says reader Jason Bowers, "Unlike the oversized and sometimes ridiculous characters that the Groundlings encourage, UCB teaches playing situations for the reality at hand, and the UCB style of improv is very conducive to writing."

Joe Wengert, the academic supervisor of the training center, says, "I think what separates UCB from other improv classes is our regularly updated, unified curriculum. Basically, this means that every student is being taught the same concepts and the same method through the same specific exercises. When you finish the program at UCB, it is like you now know how to speak another language." He cites the core of the program—a concept called "The Game of the Scene"—as a great unifier. "One of the cool things about UCB to me is, once you complete our program, you could get up on stage and put on a show with a group of other graduates from our program, even if you've never performed together before."

Upright Citizens Brigade, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028; (323) 908-8702; www.ucbcomedy.com

Runners-Up:

- Cynthia Szigeti, (818) 389-6485, www.talenttogo.net
- Donovan Scott, (323) 654-2212, www.carolynebarry.com/improv.html
- Tracy Burns, Impro Theatre, (323) 401-6162, www.improtheatre.com

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