The Del Close Marathon (DCM) is an annual improv festival put on by the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City since 1999. It now offers several concurrent shows running across multiple venues for 48 straight hours with acts from all over the world.
When I took my first improv class back in 2011 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center in New York, I was in awe from all the old posters hanging in the hallway from the fourteen Del Close Marathons that had already gone by. I had been a fan of the Upright Citizens Brigade TV show and theatre well before getting into performing improv so I had heard of the festival but didn’t really understand it’s significance.
Last year was my first year actually attending the Del Close Marathon and it left a lasting impression on me. I was never going to miss it again, I needed to be there every year. I needed to perform at it. I needed to be able to add that to my accomplishments: Del Close Marathon performer.
This year, I achieved that goal, twice over even! On Friday night at the New York Theatre Workshop, first Big Gulp performed at 7:15 and then the ComedySportz Boston based team, Good Old Boyz, performed at 8:15.
Getting from Boston to DCM proved to be harder than I thought. We tried to leave Boston around noon, but that turned out to be closer to 1:00 with traffic. It then took us another five and a half hours to get to Manhattan (normally a four-hour drive). By then it’s 6:30 and we are waiting in line to get our performer wristbands. We bolt out of the place where we picked up the wristbands and three of us from Big Gulp were in my car as we tried to race over to the venue only to be stopped in solid traffic (due to some police activity). We got loose of the traffic, made it down to the venue, parked in a possibly illegal spot awfully close to a fire hydrant, and ran inside. It was 7:10 for our 7:15 time slot and they came close to replacing us with an improv jam. Lauren, Mickey, and I took the stage at 7:15 and at 7:15:30 Sara, Tao, and Emily come on stage. They had literally just gotten off of a pedicab and walked onto stage, backpacks and all.
Big Gulp at the Del Close Marathon (from left to right: Matt Aromando, Emily Laverdiere, Sara Burns, Lauren Magnuson, Mickey McCauley, Tao Yang). Photo by Laura Miner.
Next up was the Good Old Boyz. Since ComedySportz is a short form improv show and all the acts at DCM are long form, we needed to create something that none of us had really done before. A few days beforehand, we settled on a monoscene (a single scene that would last 15-minutes) with the ComedySportz-style modifier of Revolving Doors where each person has a word associated with them. If the person is offstage and hears their word, they must find a way into the scene. If the person is onstage and hears their word, they must find a way out of the scene. We rehearsed this for 20 minutes between Big Gulp ending and Good Old Boyz getting on stage.
My word was Cheetos. The girl who suggested it apologized for giving is to me afterwards. I told her it was fine, any word works.
Good Old Boyz at the Del Close Marathon (from left to right: Lauren Magnuson, Todd Page, Ben Lewis, Matt Aromando, and Francesca Villa). Photo by Laura Miner.
And then my performances were over. I had two and they were both in one night. In one hour and fifteen minute block. I couldn’t even soak it all in. I arrived, I performed, I moved my car. I had an amazing time seeing all the acts and seeing lots of friends but I hope next year I’m able to appreciate performing a little more. It just went by so fast.
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