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This is a belated, open letter to Jamie Lee Curtis Taete of Vice.com, and his article “Reasons Why Los Angeles Is The Worst Place Ever“. I’m not here to defend LA, or even refute this article in a general sense, I’m only hear to discuss what I believe to be an uninformed, lazy, dense and ridiculous point the writer tried to make about improv comedy in LA:


“I can’t think of any other point in my life where a person has told me that I should go to see an improv comedy show. Because, obviously, improv comedy is utterly crap. Since moving to LA, it’s something that is recommended to me on an almost daily basis. Specifically, The Groundlings. Which you can see in the video above. Am I missing something? I don’t… They’re just… What?” – Jamie Lee Curtis Taete

First, yes. Jamie you may absolutely be missing something. Maybe it’s an open mind, basic research skills, or just good taste. But since you asked, and seem eager to understand improv, I’ll try to help you out.

Improv is not only an entertaining form of comedy; it’s also a place for young comedians, actors and writers to grow as artists. Just as stand up is entertaining in it’s own way, improv is more exciting. You don’t know what direction things will go in, and you feel like you’re part of the show, seeing something hilarious and awesome happening out of nowhere right in front of you, it’s the best. Compare it to live painting, you’re seeing an artist with a blank canvas go to work, and you have no idea what the outcome will be, but by the time it’s over you are looking at a beautifully finished piece.

Is all improv great? No way. Is Vice.com always great? Based on your article, I don’t think I need to answer that question. It looks like you did a basic Google search of improv, looked at the first video that popped up, and used that as an example. That would be like me doing a Google search of Vice, with your article coming up first, and me judging all of Vice based on your article. It’s again, ridculous.

You say, “Obviously, improv comedy is utterly crap.” Let me rattle off a few things that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for improv:

Parks and Recreation

Saturday Night Live

The Office

Children’s Hospital

Happy Endings

30 Rock

The League

A ton of Podcasts

Human Giant

Funny or Die

That is truly just a small handful of things that wouldn’t be if the “utterly crap” that is improv was not around. I could go on, name movies, more TV shows, websites, web series, and just make lists all day, but I fear you wouldn’t listen anyways.

The people at UCBLA, sorry, let me slow down so you don’t get confused. The Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) has locations in NYC and LA. UCB is the home to great, cutting edge comedy. Who founded UCB? You might want to sit down for this. Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh. Have you ever heard of them? I hope so. The performers and writers that have come out of UCB over the past 12 years or so are literally behind ALL of todays best comedy on TV, movies and the web. Click here, or here, or here, and take 1 minute looking at the performers. If you still aren’t convinced, then sadly, it’s your knowledge and opinion of comedy that is “utterly crap”.

You mentioned The Groundlings. Have you been to a show yet to develop an original thought of your own?

Looking back at your other articles, I realized you are the kind of writer who is negative, complains, and is just a total drag to read. Is that how you want to be known? Is that the writing style you think works well for you? Maybe it is. I won’t judge you on your style. But I would ask that you do research, like, 5 minutes of research, or go attend a show, before you make such an ugly statement. It makes you look bad, and lazy.

I’m all about positivity and enthusiasm, so it’s hard for me to even write something so negative like this. But somebody had to. Somebody needed to let you know that what you wrote, in my opinion, is shit, and I hope people didn’t read your comment and develop a judgment based on what you said.

Comedy isn’t all about stand up, over the last 10 or so years, it’s turned into so much more. Comedians use social media, web series and podcasts to spread their humor. They create shows at places like UCB or The Groundlings or Second City that are sold out every single performance. Improv now isn’t what it used to be in the 90’s. Maybe it could be boxed in the “alt-comedy” genre, that’s not for me to label, but in the end, the one thing it most definitely is, is ahead of the wave, and has an influence on media that nothing else is even close to. And you know what? Maybe you should start attending improv, you will no doubt laugh, and maybe that will make your overal writing a little more fun, less hateful, and more positive, or at least your experience in a city you seem to hate with a passion, a little more bearable.


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