The Annoyance could give Upright Citizens Brigade a run for its money — someday

Williamsburg gets laugh factory

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn is bringing up a bumper crop of comedians, but the vast majority have honed their craft in Manhattan — until now.

This month, Chicago’s legendary improv theater The Annoyance will start offering comedy classes at Williamsburg’s UnionDocs, making it the first laugh academy in the borough.

“There was no established school with a curriculum behind it in Brooklyn,” said Philip Markle, the new school’s class administrator. “There was a real demand for our type of training.”

Manhattan is home to several improv schools, including the Upright Citizens Brigade, the Magnet, and the People’s Improv Theater, which specialize in a longform style of on-the-fly jokes that makes them a training ground for sketch comedy shows.

The Annoyance brings an entirely different approach to Brooklyn from the Windy City, focusing on the relationships between characters rather than the “game” — taking a premise and running with it — that is the focus of the popular Upright Citizens Brigade.

“We believe there is no right way to do this,” Markle said. “What we’re saying is that this is one way you could improvise that will make you strong and fearless.”

The Annoyance may represent the first real challenge to the prevailing definition of what New York improv is, and Markle hopes to one day open a theater location in Brooklyn, but first he has to get people signed up for lessons.

“[Starting a theater] would be a dream for everyone,” Markle said. “But right now our plan is to fill out the classes until we have a graduating class.”

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

dielaughter from Killing Comedy says:
This is another example of how hipsters have ruined Brooklyn. More stupid jokes! Who needs this kind of entertainment? Not real Brooklynites!
Jan. 13, 2014, 2:48 pm
Anonymous from Bay Ridge says:
"longform style of on-the-fly jokes", that's a gross misrepresentation of any long form that happens at the Magnet, PIT, or UCB.

"focusing on the relationships between characters rather than the “game” — taking a premise and running with it — that is the focus of the popular Upright Citizens Brigade."

Relationships between characters is a core tenant of any long-form (including at the UCB, relationships are an important part of the game in their curriculum), any of the theatre's will tell you that.

I'm excited at the Annoyance having classes in Brooklyn, but I'm not super excited about condescension to the scene that already exists.
Jan. 14, 2014, 12:01 pm
Grandpa from Ditmas Park says:
What do you call a contra-dancing white supremacist? A contrarian!

Now that's funny! Not all this nonsense the kids are into.
Jan. 14, 2014, 1:57 pm
Improv Genius from Manhattan says:
I've studied in both Chicago and New York. The Chicago scene is head and toes above The New York scene. The Chicago scene is a top dog and anyone who does comedy knows that, everyone starts in Chicago and moves to either LA or NY because there are no jobs in Chicago. People are just out there getting good and having fun. It's nice to see some Chicago roots coming to NY to help improvisers get better.
Jan. 14, 2014, 4:26 pm
Incorrect from Coney Island says:
Hundreds if not thousands of comedians have "honed their craft" in Brooklyn, just not necessarily at improv schools. Brooklyn is home to hundreds of small-scale, independently produced comedy shows in theatres, bars, and less conventional performance spaces, where aspiring comedians (whether they be sketch, improv, or standup comedians) use stage time to hone their craft.

Never trust an article written about comedy that isn't written by a comedian. Even then, be wary.
Jan. 14, 2014, 7:21 pm
Crimbor from Fistburg says:
Chicago can eat ——.

Regardless, welcome, guys. I hope you continue to disrupt the classes you take at the NYC schools with your plugs for your own classes.
Jan. 15, 2014, 4:52 pm
UCBKid from Williamsburg says:
The author of this article is a comedian -- she is in fact a very funny improvisor, trained at UCB.

The vast majority of improv done in Brooklyn is done by UCB trained comics.

Sometimes articles are written outside of a community's accepted vernacular in order to articulate an idea to outsiders.

Excited to have the Annoyance in NYC!

"Don't be a Jerk" ~ UCB Curriculum
Jan. 15, 2014, 10:58 pm

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