Costs make Upright Citizens Brigade decamp to SubCulture

The U.C.B. 4, from left, Matt Walsh, Amy Poehler, Matt Bresser and Ian Roberts.

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | The Upright Citizens Brigade announced last week that it is set to close its East Village location next month. The venue for improv, stand-up and sketch theater, at E. Third St. on Avenue A, opened in 2011.

In an e-mail to the U.C.B. team, Michael Hartney, the group’s artistic director, wrote the “cost of operating two venues in Manhattan has become too high,” according to the e-mail, which was tweeted out by Sopan Deb, a New York Times culture reporter.

The last day of regular programming at the theater will be Sat., Feb. 9, according to a U.C.B. spokesperson.

Extreme costs are forcing the U.C.B. to close its East Village location at 153 E. Third St., according to a spokesperson for the theater. The news comes around a month after employees were laid off at U.C.B.’s Hell’s Kitchen venue, the Times reported at the time.

The theater also announced a new collaboration with the Noho venue SubCulture, at 45 Bleecker St.

“Due to the long-term cost of rent, property taxes and other expenses associated with operating a second venue in N.Y.C., U.C.B. has created this new experience at SubCulture to reduce the financial impact,” the so-called U.C.B. 4 — founders Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts and Matt Besser — said in a statement. “This move allows us to continue to offer a second venue to our performers and audience. We are forever grateful to the incredible staff, performers and countless dedicated U.C.B.-ers who have committed so much time and effort into making it possible for us to perform and view alternative comedy in N.Y.C.”

SubCulture will host “U.C.B. at SubCulture” for performances Friday through Sunday, beginning Feb. 15.

“SubCulture was created as an intimate home for artists to explore and take risks, and I have long dreamed of a comedy residency at SubCulture,” Marc Kaplan, the Noho venue’s founder, said in a statement. “From the start, we have welcomed New York’s top talent to our stage to create unforgettable performances that are the stuff of New York legend. Our new collaboration with U.C.B. will ensure that we are bringing the best talent in comedy to our stage three times every week.”

A spokesperson declined to answer why the theater chose to close the East Village venue over its Hell’s Kitchen location, as well as if future staff layoffs could be expected.

The U.C.B. 4 said the new Downtown collaboration will help the team return to their “underground roots.”

“We are thrilled to work with Marc Kaplan at SubCulture in their incredible space, and we can’t wait to perform there!” they said.

The U.C.B. East Village theater used to be home to The Pioneer theater, which was run by Two Boots Pizza’s Phil Hartman. Hartman said his group does not hold a master lease on the theater space.

“Yes, that was our space, and The Pioneer is almost intact,” Hartman said. “And, yes, we’re sad that they’re leaving!”

Asked if he was worried on the potential impact on sales of slices at his pizzeria next door, Hartman responded, “Little bit, but more concerned because they were good for the ’hood. Hope it remains a theater space!”

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