The Upright Citizens Brigade, once an improv group and then a show on Comedy Central in 1999 with Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh evolved into an improv theater based out of New York. It has expanded to a comedy empire of sorts, operating two theaters in New York, one in Los Angeles, a website for original content, a touring company, and schools that have become a breeding ground for some of America’s most well-known comedians like Ed Helms, Zach Woods and Ellie Kemper (“The Office”) and Aziz Ansari (“Parks and Recreation”).
Still, despite its reach, most of these spin-offs are not lucrative. In a bonus feature of Besser’s “Improv 4 Humans” podcast released Tuesday night, co-founder Ian Roberts outlined the organization’s finances which have been “in the red” for many years. Roberts said that even now, “the theater as a business barely makes anything.”