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Entries in UCBT-NY (36)



Nicole Byer, Keisha Zollar and Sasheer Zamata are Doppleganger | Photo: Keith Huang

By: Lucas Hazlett

Every year the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre hosts Cagematch, a long-running improv competition where UCB Harold teams and indie groups compete head-to-head with the winner determined by audience votes. So far this season, a triumvirate of ladies (Nicole Byer, Sasheer Zamata and Keisha Zollar) called Doppelganger have made a name for themselves by defeating a pair of UCB Harold teams and accumulating the fourth highest "Votes Per Show" margin in the tournament's history. I spoke with the ladies about their Cagematch experience and what it's like to be a black women in the predominantly white, male New York City-improv scene.

How did you guys meet and form Doppelganger?
SASHEER: We met last year through the [UCB] diversity program. Nicole and I had the same mentor [Christine Nangle]. I met Keisha through the diversity meetings as well. After Harold team auditions we were all texting each other, "Did you make it? Did you make it?" [ed's note: They didn't]. We started talking about getting more active and doing more shows.

What's the origin of your name?
KEISHA: Originally our name was "Rainy Boots." I think what happened is we each had a story about being mistaken for each other. I thought it would be funny to call ourselves Doppelganger because the only reason we were mistaken for each other is we're black girls who do improv!

Most teams in the UCB community perform the Harold or whatever form is en vogue, which lately seems to be monoscenes. What do you guys do in your shows?
SASHEER: We do a Deconstruction with organic transitions. [Our coach] Ashley Ward saw us do [an improv exercise called "Follow the Follower"] and she was like, "Why don't you just do that in your show?"
KEISHA: The most important thing for us is that we have fun and have fun with each other...organically.

What were your thoughts when you defeated a UCB house team in your first CageMatch appearance?
NICOLE (laughing): I was really excited because I don't think anyone anticipated us doing it. And I don't think anyone thought we were going to win by the amount we won by [Doppleganger def. Badman, 97-63]. It meant a lot to me personally because three of the team members were my coaches for a long time. It was nice to show them that they did teach me well.
KEISHA: Someone actually said to me, "When I first saw you three black girls step on stage I thought you could never be funny, and then when you killed it, I had nothing but respect for you."

How has being black and female helped, hurt or frustrated your experiences in classes and performing?
SASHEER: It has hindered people from saying certain things to me as a character, or they will say it but they won't realize what they're saying. I was in a scene where a Hitler class president was classifying people in groups, "We'll put the blacks over there and the Jews over here." As soon as he said that everybody in the front row looked at me. I was like, "I'm not even in the scene! Calm down!"
NICOLE: I don't think being black or a woman has hindered me, or helped me, only because I'm so aggressive I make myself the man most of the time. I play dudes most of the time and I very rarely play black people. Except for once in 101, someone named me Bo'quetha but then I was like "Hey Buffonda," so we were both black people. [Everyone laughs].
KEISHA: Being a part of a female group of strong black women has really helped me to see that my voice is just as valid. If there can be all male groups, why can't I be in an all black female group?

What would your ideal community look like if it were perfectly diverse?
NICOLE: Like a bag of Special Edition M&Ms.

 -- Lucas is a comedy geek who improvises with anyone he can. He can be seen Sat, July 24, with Nobody's Token at The UCBT-NY.


Diamond Lion @ UCBT-NY - 7.12.10

Eliza Skinner & Mike Still (and "Beeper" the Moustache) | Photo: Keith Huang

By: Lucas Hazlett

Last night's Diamond Lion show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre was a hilarious sampling of unusual worlds as explored by improvisers who perform regularly with legendary musical troupe Baby Wants Candy.

Somewhere between Eliza Skinner's mastery of the musical form and Thomas Middleditch's inspired lunacy exist a recently shaved mustache in search of adventure, Seinfeld porn, calendars blocked off for "Sandwich Week," and rapping bar patrons reminiscing about the weird accoutrements (nipple tassles and monkey feet!) left behind by their erstwhile fathers. All set to song. Amazing.

-- Lucas is a comedy geek who improvises with anyone he can. He can be seen Fri, July 16, guesting with Centralia at The Peoples Improv Theatre, and also performing with Nobody's Token at The UCBT-NY on July 24.



Paul Downs | Photo: Seth Olenick

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.


Who's Behind This UCBT Missed Connection?

Look Mom pointed out a M4W Missed Connection that's so dangerously forward, if it were a political cartoon, it would depict the male with bulging eyes and a nametag that says POSSIBLE MANIAC and an aloof female and they'd be strapped in a speeding Hyundai towards a cliff labeled DISCRETION:

I am a nerd for doing this, but let me commit. I am twenty one, a student in improv, and an audience member of the UCB and the Gethard Show. You are a very adorable and cute redhead who is an intern at the UCB and a friend of Gethard's who also helps with his show. You are also absolutely beautiful.

I have only really had one encounter with you other than paying for show tickets or being counted on the ticker as I enter the theater at random shows. I have only had one encounter that you probably don't even recall.

About two or three or four months ago, you and two other girls performed at School Night. You all did, what I recall, an improvised interpretive dance. The dance climaxed with the three of you choosing three audience members to dance with...who did you choose and how do I fit into this equation? Simple. You and I shared a very awkward dance, due to my cowardice.

Now, you are probably saying to yourself: "Jeesh, you, if you know where I intern/perform and see me on a pretty frequent basis, why not introduce yourself and talk to me in person?" Well, to answer that question quite honestly and thoroughly and swiftly, I am a coward. I am constantly telling myself that girls I find intriguing would not be interested in me, only so I have the oppurtunity to avoid conflict and initiation. I am afraid of rejection.

So I find myself on this website typing up an essay in hopes that you or someone who is close to you finds this and I eventually hear back from you. I would love to take you on a date and show you that I am a good guy who just wants to get to know you. I am a very awesome guy, aside from what is mentioned in the paragraph above!

Anyways, I hope you find this and reply!


  • Is this a publicity stunt?
  • Should this lady call the police?

The Honey Shot

Andree Vermeulen | Photo: Thomas Middleditch

  • THE PLUG: Don't miss Andree Vermeulen in "French Toast," happening TONIGHT @ 8PM at The UCBT-NY | $5

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.


The Honey Shot

Jess Allen and James Eason | Photo: Nobody's Sweetheart

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.


The Honey Shot

Jon Gabrus | Photo: Justin Tyler

  • THE PLUG: Don't miss Jon Gabrus in "Blackout Drunk," happening TONIGHT @ 11PM at The UCBT-NY | $5

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.


The Honey Shot

Jim Santangeli | Photo: Quiet Library

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.