The Del Close Marathon is the largest improv festival in the world, founded by the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) in 1999.
The UCB run four theatres and the largest and most important improv school, in New York and Los Angeles. The Upright Citizens Brigade Improvisational and Sketch Comedy Training Center is the only accredited improv and sketch comedy school in the USA as recognised by The National Association of Schools of Theatre. This recognition, achieved in 2010, was a historic moment for comedy as a whole, as well as a recognition of Long Form improvisation as a performance art form, opening up the dialogue about the importance of sketch comedy and Long Form improvisation in educational, performance, and cultural contexts.
Named after Del Close, who is generally considered the father of improv, the festival started in 1999, with 36 shows, in 30 hours and one venue. This year, for its 20th edition, there will be around 750 shows, for 56 straight hours and 11 stages, with performers from all over the world, showcasing the incredible growth of the art form in the world. SO MUCH COMEDY!
Previous years have seen many performers from London heading to New York for that last weekend of June, to see and perform in shows as part of the festival, including Funny Women alumni Alison Thea-Scott and the Free Association’s, all female team, Ladies of the FA County.
This year, there are five troupes heading over from London to perform. I’m ecstatic to say I’m part of two of those groups, one of which is proudly all female, 20% Less, and another one of which that only allowed one male in, The Basic Bitch Crew. I’ll be performing in four shows and not sleeping for the whole of the 56 hours or for as long as I manage to stay up.
If you’d like to find out more about the festival check it out here.