“On The Cusp, Off The Cuff,” - An Improv Comedy Documentary

Via: The Comics Comic

Who decides to pursue a life or career in improv comedy, what are their motivations, and what is the reality of that life and career, really? Especially if you’re living and working in New York City.

A few years ago, Nate Dern set out to humanize the art form by following five would-be performers who hadn’t yet achieved their dreams and goals in comedy, from first-timers auditioning for the Upright Citizens Brigade’s “Harold” improv teams, to actors and actresses on their third or fourth time through the process.

“On The Cusp, Off The Cuff,” - An Improv Comedy Documentary The Home of Improv and Sketch Comedy in Australia
On The Cusp, Off The Cuff spotlights Allie Kokesh, J.D. Amato, John Trowbridge, Riley Soloner and Sasheer Zamata in 2011.

Dern explains his interest and role in this saga throughout the film, providing narrative voiceover along with his backstory (for more on Dern’s life pre-UCB, click here). He interviews Anthony King, who two years ago was the longtime artistic director for the UCB Theatre in NYC; Dern since has succeeded him. Dern also talks with Will Hines, who was running the UCB’s training school — follow Hines on his Improv Nonsense Tumblr for even more lessons in improv comedy! — for background.

It’s a UCB movie, to be sure, with scenes from The Stepfathers (of which Hines is a member) and Death By Roo Roo. But you’ll also learn about indie improv groups such as Zamata’s trio Doppelganger, venues that provide temporary homes for them, the glut of bad improv out there, how TV and film rarely captures the humor and excitement when improvised scenes are funny and great, and even the economic woes of performing improv.

Speaking of economics, On The Cusp, Off The Cuff was produced with more than $8,000 in donations via Kickstarter.

You can find even more extra footage from On The Cusp, Off The Cuff, on the film’s YouTube page.