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« Birthday Boys/Convoy Interview: Part II | Main | Friday the 13th, Valentine »

Birthday Boys/Convoy Interview: Part I

We sat down with the improv group Convoy and sketch group The Birthday Boys and had them talk about influences, origins, and sketch vs. improv. We broke that massive interview down into weekly chunks. The following is chunk one of that series.

What does it mean to be a UCB comedian? How do you become one?

(TIM/bdb) I guess if you had to boil it down to one thing that makes an UCB comedian it would have to be the understanding of "the game of the scene," which is a concept they teach in classes. Their style of sketch and improv is mainly based on finding an unusual thing, isolating what's funny about it, and repeating that premise by heightening and exploring. It's a tricky thing to do correctly. ASSSSCAT performers are so good at it. Convoy is so good at it. We do our best to follow those same guidelines, even when we're writing sketches about seven dummies who do something stupid. Or six dummies and a weird old lady. Or seven dummies and a duck.

Do you feel because of friend obligations and actually performing that you’re at comedy all the time? And is that boring, or is that all you want to do and you’re studying and it’s exciting?

Alex B/Convoy: No, it’s fun. I mean there’s a little bit of oh, I told so and so I’d see their show, but when I talk to friends from back home with real jobs and that’s what they do , they have their real jobs and they get out of their real jobs and that’s it, they just have like 6 hrs where they have nothing to do. So I don’t know what the fuck I would be doing, except for on Tuesdays when I watch Fringe.

Matt/BDB: We have a really good work/work balance. It’s not like work/life. It’s like we work at our real jobs and then we come home and we’re together (working on sketches) until like midnight or one, or we go see shows.

Alex F/Convoy: For a little while the three of us have not had day jobs, so when you have nothing but a trip to subway for lunch, it makes a trip to UCB your thing to do today.

Alex B/Convoy: Ah! A reason to take off my sweatpants and stop crying.

Jeff/BDB: I envy you guys, though, because you don’t need to prep at all, or uh, maybe you do! If you do improv, and you do like two shows a week, you’re like oh, sweet, let’s do some improv. But the rest of our week is dedicated to getting something to do for those two days.

Alex B/Convoy: Yeah. Sketch is a lot tougher because you need to A. know your shit and then like, your guy’s sketch is clearly thought out, which I think is a rarity at the theatre. So you clearly sit down and think about what things are funny. We just show up.

Todd/Convoy: But we still do rehearse.

Alex F/Convoy: We rehearse every week.

Todd/Convoy: We’ve always rehearsed since we started. And every once and a while there’s a week we have to skip, but like there are so many groups that don’t rehearse and I do think it’s so important to rehearse and although we probably rehearse so much less than you guys because writing is so intensive and when you’re doing a show you want it to be tight to get the timing right.

Convoy has a weekly show Thursdays at 11p, The Birthday Boys do a show the first Wednesday of every month at 8p. For more info on these groups check out and

-Joanna Calo

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