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« The Facetime | Timmy Williams & Adam NewmanBy: Becky Ciletti | Main | Wednesday, March 7, 2007 at 02:02 PM »

From Behind the Bar at the UCBT - IV - By: Margot Leitman

After working at the UCB Theatre bar for almost three years, I've discovered that I have an endless amount of stories to tell. The job was offered to me a while back because I needed a little extra income as my relationship with the UCB theatre community was growing. I've appreciated my experiences working behind the bar at UCB as much as my experiences performing there. Here are some tales I thought I'd share with you this time around.

There have been countless circumstances where I have been bartending and had to jump onstage to do a bit part. Mostly it's a last minute stand up set when someone hasn't shown up, one time I ran backstage put on a wig, a slutty dress, and some smeared lipstick and did a Courtney Love impression in a crazy bit show... things like that.

So one night, one of our more well known performers was doing a bit in a show where he played a purposefully bad stand up comic. He asked me before he went on if about three quarters of the way through his set if I would heckle him from the bar and yell, "You raped me!" He gave me the cue to say the line and I was good to go. I stood watching the show from the bar, and when he finally got onstage, I waited intently for the cue. Just as my cue was coming, like clockwork, a woman came up to the bar and ordered a Bud Lite. I grabbed the beer from the cooler, put it on the counter screamed "You raped me!" at the comedian and then looked at the woman, smirked and said "That will be three dollars please." The look on her face was priceless; moments like that make me love this job.

I can't believe that in all of the previous columns I have never mentioned the Del Close Marathon. The DCM happens once a year for a three day period over the summer. It's nonstop improvisation from groups from all over the country, and I have bartended the mayhem that is the DCM for the past three years. It's a lot of fun, and somehow after every shift, I always end up onstage in some crazy late night show performing some bizarre form of improv. One year I got off shift, threw on a makeshift "sexy turtle" costume and found myself onstage, almost immediately getting lifted up by Rob Riggle and passed around through a crowd of improvisers.

The following year, from behind the bar, I saw some chick walking around wearing remnants of the sexy turtle costume that I had been planning on revamping for an encore performance of the previous year's debauchery. I actually had someone cover me at the bar for a moment so I could go confront the situation. I found the stranger wearing the turtle shell and said, "You probably weren't aware of this, but I'm the sexy turtle. You're going to have to take that off, I was the sexy turtle last year, I'm going to be it this year and basically every year thereafter. I'm sorry, but you're going to have to take off the turtle shell, please." She slowly acquiesced, justifiably looking at me like I was crazy. I went back to work, and realized that I had, as a grown woman, actually just had someone cover my bar so I could defend a handmade turtle costume. I have these moments all the time where I think to myself some variation of, "I'm a grownup, and I'm battling some stranger for the rights to a felt turtle shell." And then I have a second thought, "Maybe I've beat the system. Most grownups have mortgages and babies and divorces to worry about."

In the three years I've worked at the UCB theatre, I've seen a lot of changes. When I first started working there, Owen Burke was the artistic director. I came into work one night and for some reason everyone thought it was my birthday and felt terribly that I had been scheduled to work. It was actually not my birthday, but the day before my birthday. But nonetheless, I received a card signed by all the people there that night including Rachael Mason, Matt Besser, Owen Burke, Chuck D, I can't remember everyone. Then Owen came up to the bar and placed one white carnation in a tiny vase on the bar and said "Real sorry you have to work on your birthday." I couldn't bear to tell him that it actually was not my birthday, so I just simply thanked him. But when someone is running an operation as significant to comedy as the UCB Theatre and still takes the time to place a tiny white flower on the bar for one of his employees, it makes you realize why this place is so special, why it has such a following. As big as it has become, the human aspect of it will always remain, it's not corporate comedy. All founders and people in charge have very hands on relationships with both the theatre itself and its employees and performers.

The night the Red Sox won the World Series I was working. I went to the back to restock and Matt Walsh was sitting back there alone watching the game on a tiny TV with barely any reception, with a long antennae that actually had tin foil attached to it. He said, "Margot, stop working for a second, you gotta see this." I stopped and sat with Walsh backstage staring at that tiny black and white TV as the curse of the Red Sox was finally being lifted. It was so surreal. I know Walsh probably has a nice big screen TV back home in LA, but he'll always be watching the proverbial "game" on that rickety TV backstage at UCB with old friends like me.

See Margot live, away from the bar TONIGHT, March 7 at 9PM as she co-hosts "Stripped Stories" with Giulia Rozzi at Mo Pitkins. This month "My first..." true sex stories with Greg Walloch, Adira Amram and video editor Jon Levin.

From Behind the Bar at the UCBT - III
From Behind the Bar at the UCBT - II
From Behind the Bar at the UCBT - I

Reader Comments (2)

These get better every time.
March 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn
Excellent series. But seriously, that picture is dark as all heck. Better artwork please!
March 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJack

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